Tuesday, August 06, 2019

#ArrestUs, say women, as NSW debates abortion

More than 60 women who have had abortions urged authorities to arrest them ahead of the New South Wales parliament debating a decriminalisation bill today. Emily Mayo, who had an abortion in 2005, launched the #ArrestUs campaign on Facebook and Twitter, with inspiration from a 1970s abortion legalisation movement that took out newspaper advertisements with the same intent. Mayo wrote on Facebook: “And so it is time again, for those of us who can stand up and speak out to do so. One last time.” Anti-abortion and pro-choice activists will each hold rallies outside parliament in Sydney during today’s debate on the cross-party bill, which allows for terminations up to 22 weeks. It also allows for later abortions if two doctors approve. Liberal NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian will support the bill, while her Treasurer Dominic Perrottet plans to vote against it. Sydney's Catholic Archbishop Anthony Fisher and Anglican Archbishop Glenn Davis declared the state was “on the edge of a precipice”.

The debate comes as the New Zealand government releases its own abortion decriminalisation plan.  Justice Minister Andrew Little yesterday announced measures to remove the statutory test for a person less than 20 weeks pregnant and allow for self-referral to an abortion provider.  “Abortion is the only medical procedure that is still a crime in New Zealand, it's time for this to change,” he said. 

NSW Supreme Court Justice Paul Brereton and staff representing the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force have interviewed witnesses in Kabul as part of their investigations into allegations of war crimes by Australian special forces soldiers. The allegations were revealed in an ABC investigation that subsequently prompted a raid by the Australian Federal Police on the national broadcaster in June. The allegations include an account of Australian SAS troopers responding to the killing of three Australian soldiers by killing three Afghans, with one of the victims alleged to have been either kicked or thrown from a high wall into a ditch while handcuffed and then shot, or shot first then thrown from the wall.

Former Prime Minister John Howard has pointed to political upheaval in Hong Kong ($) as a reason for Australia to align with the US over China, warning the protests could be “a glimpse of the future for Chinese society”. Widespread strikes brought Hong Kong’s trains and airport to a standstill in what is the ninth week of protests demanding the protection of freedoms, on a day that saw cars ramming protesters and police firing tear gas. Howard’s comments come as Beijing hit back at Australian and US officials issuing a joint statement condemning China’s “coercive” conduct in the South China Sea, with the Chinese embassy in Canberra ­responding by accusing Australia and the US of making trouble, highlighting “lingering hegemonic mentality of certain forces in the US”.

Australia has bowled England out to win the first Ashes Test at Edgbaston by 251 runs. Off-spinner Nathan Lyon finished with six second-innings scalps on a fifth-day pitch that took plenty of turn. He is expected to surpass Dennis Lillee (355) on the list of all-time Australian Test wicket takers in the second Test at Lords.

Game, Setka, match
As the Morrison government pushes for legislation to more easily deregister unions, there are questions over timing. Mike Seccombe on the laws already in place and the Coalition’s real intent.


“According to Professor Mark Wooden of the Melbourne Institute, data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey shows almost a third of casual workers in Australia are earning less than the minimum wage. Even after allowing for measurement error, Wooden says, the number could still be as high as 15 per cent of casual workers. With about 2.5 million people on casual work arrangements, that would mean some 350,000 people being paid below the legal minimum.”


“What makes a person willing to undergo organ removal and leave Earth forever, while others just want to lie under their doonas with Netflix? Perhaps McGrath, who will be 50 this year, was primed for the isolated pioneering life: her father was a bookkeeper for government-funding programs, which meant that from age 10 she lived in the desert of the Northern Territory. She honed intense self-reliance, learning by correspondence.”


“Back in Australia for a series of concerts around the country, Sydney-born conductor Simone Young discusses her storied career, the jewel-like music of Richard Strauss and the portrayal of women in 19th-century opera. ‘The composers, however appallingly these women might be treated, clothed these figures in some of the most glorious music ever written. And that’s what Strauss does. Strauss takes these difficult situations and creates compassion for the women in the audience by giving them music that is deeply moving.’” 


“A man who recently moved to Australia to start a new life says he was shocked to be turned away from an Adelaide nightclub, while others were let in. Luckson Guvamatanga, who is in his mid-30s and was born in Zimbabwe, was lining up outside the Signature Lounge on Hindley Street with two friends on Saturday night after having a drink at a nearby pub. He said security at the entrance said management had seen him and his friends, who were also of African heritage, queueing on CCTV and decided not to let them in.”



“Australia’s highest paid athlete, NBA star Ben Simmons, has taken to Instagram to report he had been denied entry to Crown Casino. In a now-deleted video, the 23-year-old Simmons took aim at security after he and a group of his friends were turned away by security who were in the background of his video. The Philadelphia 76ers star also appeared to suggest he and his friends were turned away because of their skin colour.”


“Bastoni walks at least 20-30 km a day, carrying only snacks and water. A rear-view mirror attached to his backpack helps him to avoid obstacles. As he passed through the town of Sragen in central Java, residents looked on with amazement. ‘I think this is crazy and it’s something impossible, to walk such a long distance backwards,’ said Ambyar, who uses one name. ‘But, he has a noble mission ... and we support him. We just hope he will arrive in Jakarta.’”


Max Opray is Schwartz Media’s morning editor and a freelance writer.