Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Refugee kids flown to Australia

A group of 11 critically ill refugee children and their families has been flown from Nauru to Australia. Speaking at Senate estimates on Monday, Australian Border Force surgeon-general Parbodh Gogna said there had “been an unprecedented jump in the number of people presenting to facilities in the last couple of months”, as well as “other worrying red flags where children weren’t going to school”. Department of home affairs secretary Michael Pezzullo conceded that the recent five-year anniversary of offshore detention meant that “people are genuinely ideating that absent resettlement in Australia”. The news came as Greens leader Richard Di Natale said the party would consider the proposal allowing refugees to resettle in New Zealand and the government stipulation that parliament must ban them from ever travelling to Australia, provided sick refugees were “brought to Australia to get the assessment that they need”. Crossbenchers Cathy McGowan, Rebekha Sharkie and Kerryn Phelps urged the government and opposition to find a solution to the crisis this week, with Sharkie calling the situation “just untenable”. A total of 52 refugee children remain on Nauru.

Prime minister Scott Morrison and opposition leader Bill Shorten have delivered a national apology to victims of institutional child sexual abuse. Speaking in the House of Representatives on Monday, Morrison said the apology was Australia confronting “a question too horrible to ask, let alone answer: why weren't the children of our nation loved, nurtured and protected?” Shorten offered an apology “for every cry for help that fell on deaf ears and hard hearts”, and “for every time that you were not heard and not believed”. Former prime minister Julia Gillard received several standing ovations from the audience, which largely consisted of abuse survivors and their loved ones. Question Time was cancelled for the day out of respect for the occasion.

Actor Geoffrey Rush has claimed The Daily Telegraph made him “look like a criminal” and a “sexual predator” in a series of news reports last year that alleged he acted inappropriately toward another actor during a 2015 production of King Lear. Rush’s defamation proceedings against the newspaper formally began in Sydney’s federal court on Monday, with barrister Bruce McClintock claiming the paper “wanted to counter the success Fairfax had had with the Don Burke story”. Nationwide News, the owner of The Daily Telegraph, has asserted its claims about Rush were true.

And in the United States, LGBT rights activists and health bodies have vowed to oppose a possible government plan to legislate a male-female gender binary. The New York Times reported ($) on Monday that the Trump administration was considering tightening the legal concept of gender to be defined as an unchangeable biological condition set at birth. A Department of Health and Human Services memo, obtained by Times reporters, argued that government agencies should define a person’s gender by “the sex listed on a person’s birth certificate, as originally issued, ... unless rebutted by reliable genetic evidence”. The definition would wind back federal rights for 1.4 million Americans elsewhere on the gender spectrum. Transgender Law Center executive director Kris Hayashi called the memo “a hate-motivated response” to increased visibility of transgender people, saying “this administration intends nothing short of our destruction”.


“What are white people afraid of now? Well, they are afraid the date of ‘Australia Day’ will change; Aboriginal youth are dying but it’s white people who are afraid. White people are afraid of boats; detained child refugees have stopped eating and drinking but it is white people who are afraid.”


“In the very specific sense of perfectly aligning the 54 coloured tiles of a Rubik’s cube, Zemdegs is the fastest man in the world. He has been called the Usain Bolt of the puzzle, though the combination of iron discipline and dazzling mental and physical agility might instead make one think of a concert pianist or virtuoso violinist.”


“We need to address the very real and understandable worries people have about the future without denying ourselves the broader benefits of technological change. Future governments will have to deal with a world in which artificial intelligence and automation will creep into every occupation, from bricklayer to teacher. We, in turn, will need to prepare for a working life that even a few years ago was unthinkable.”


“The Liberal Party had never lost the seat of Wentworth, but all that changed when voters elected independent Kerryn Phelps in Saturday’s by-election. Since the party’s formation in 1944, the two-party preferred vote illustrates just how safe this Liberal seat has been.”


“Tony Abbott was among those who criticised Turnbull for not being active enough in the Liberals’ campaign. ‘I know he doesn’t want to get too involved with Australian politics, I understand that’, he told radio station 2GB last week. ‘I know he is probably enjoying a bit of R&R with Lucy in New York, but I reckon he owes it to the party and the people of Wentworth to give Dave Sharma a solid, clear personal endorsement this week in particular.’ ”



“In the deep, dark Southern Ocean encircling Antarctica lies a creature so bewildering and elusive, it hasn’t been filmed for a year. Behold, the ‘headless chicken monster’, which has been filmed casually swimming near East Antarctica, the first time it’s been filmed in the region.”

Alex McKinnon
is Schwartz Media's morning editor.