Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Islanders’ UN climate complaint

A group of Torres Strait Islanders has lodged a complaint against the federal government with the United Nations human rights committee over inaction on climate change. In the complaint, eight Torres Strait Islanders alleged “the effects of Australia’s insufficient plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and its failure to fund coastal defences constitute a violation of their human rights”. In a statement on an accompanying petition, complainant and Warraber man Kabay Tamu said “we have a right to practice our culture in our traditional homeland, where we belong … You wash away the land and it is like a piece of us you are taking away”. Environmental lawyer Sophie Marjanac, who is representing the Islanders, said “Australia’s continued failure to build infrastructure to protect the islands, and to take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, constitutes a clear violation of the islanders’ rights to culture, family and life”.

Police forces in three states are facing criticisms of excessive force and over-policing. In a submission to a Queensland Productivity Commission inquiry into imprisonment, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service detailed police bringing criminal charges against a 12-year-old Indigenous child who broke a coffee mug. In Victoria, a botched police raid on an LGBT cafe and bookshop on Saturday resulted in an innocent man’s arm being broken, prompting anger from Melbourne’s LGBT community. In New South Wales, a video of police forcibly removing a man and his family from an A-League game on Sunday went viral after the man claimed police refused to let him take his disabled daughter to an accessible toilet.

In Sweden, prosecutors have reopened a rape investigation against Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange. Speaking in Stockholm on Monday, prosecutor Eva-Marie Persson said “after reviewing the preliminary investigation carried out so far, I find that there still exist grounds for Julian Assange to be suspected on probable cause of the charge of rape”. The original investigation was suspended in 2017 after Assange refused to be interviewed by Swedish authorities in Ecuador’s London embassy, where he took refuge for more than six years. Assange was arrested by British police last month after Ecuador withdrew its offer of asylum, and could face extradition to Sweden if the investigation leads to charges. Elisabeth Massi Fritz, the lawyer representing one of Assange’s complainants, said “we are going to do everything we possibly can … so that Assange can be extradited to Sweden and prosecuted for rape. No rape victim should have to wait 9 years to see justice be served”.

And the Australian Capital Territory government will introduce nation-first legislation that would recognise animal sentience, imposing harsh penalties for animal mistreatment and more stringent rules for exercising and caring for pets. The amendments would legalise breaking into a car to save an animal from death or serious injury if no other option were available, increase sanctions for animal cruelty and set fines for refusing someone with an assistance animal from entering a public place. City services minister Chris Steel said “the science tells us that animals are sentient”, and that “most dog owners, most cat owners know their animals do feel emotion”.



“The effect of Rugby Australia’s pursuit of sanctions against Folau suggests a de facto ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy on religion. Which is difficult for those whose faith, such as Pentecostals, compels them to share the good news.”


“Ahmed Kilani, sporting a kufi cap and collarless button-up shirt, is on the phone outside his favourite cafe in La Perouse in south-east Sydney. The idyllic seaside is a stark contrast to where he spends his days as a chaplain, consoling inmates and countering extremist doctrines of convicted terrorists in Goulburn’s ‘supermax’ prison.”


“In any other election, Australia’s headline economic figures would have the incumbent popping champagne corks. Twenty-eight years of uninterrupted economic growth, unemployment at 5 per cent, record-low interest rates and a budget in balance are close enough to a beautiful set of numbers. But the disconnect between the economic data and people’s sense of economic wellbeing has rarely been larger.”


“The Liberal Party is promising a post-election post-mortem of its vetting processes after a day of drama in which two candidates were dumped within hours – one for homophobic comments and another over anti-Muslim sentiment ... prime minister Scott Morrison conceded that while the age of social media was proving challenging, political parties needed to do better.”


“Academics have made a cutting claim: Australia is the best place to be an ‘online racist’ ... Governments of all parties have played a key part in making the online sphere an optimal spot for Australians who wish to espouse their hatred.”


“‘It was brilliant’, commented one fan online, ‘bringing back the White Walkers? I never would have seen that coming! And I didn’t, in fact I didn’t see anything, my retinas burned out around the two minute mark.’”

Alex McKinnon
is Schwartz Media's morning editor.