Tuesday, June 09, 2020

Push to close the gap in prisons

A meeting will be held today ($) to discuss more ambitious targets to reduce Indigenous incarceration, as a new study finds three quarters of the Australian population is biased against Indigenous Australians. In the wake of mass weekend protests, Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt is pushing for each state and territory to adopt specific incarceration targets, reports The Australian. Federal and state officials will meet Aboriginal representatives including Pat Turner, the chief Indigenous negotiator for the Closing the Gap “refresh”, today. It comes before a meeting of state and territory leaders to negotiate the scrapping of a 2018 draft agreement and adoption of stricter targets on July 2. Indigenous leaders are also pushing for more changes in health and education. Labor senator Malarndirri McCarthy has called on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to convene a national cabinet on Indigenous incarceration and deaths in custody. The news comes as Guardian Australia reports that a new study based on 11,000 unique responses to an implicit association test found 75 per cent of Australians are biased against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

In the United States, Democrats put forward sweeping police reform legislation, as mass protests continue across the country. According to a summary document obtained by CNN, the legislation includes a ban on chokeholds, as well as the creation of a National Police Misconduct Registry “to prevent problem officers from changing jurisdictions to avoid accountability.” The bill also encourages city and county law enforcement operations to mandate racial bias training and restricts the transfer of military-grade equipment to local law enforcement. Meanwhile, bail has been set at $US1.25 million for the Minneapolis police officer charged with the murder of George Floyd.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann will today face questioning from a Senate committee over the $60bn Jobkeeper accounting error. Treasury boss Steven Kennedy, tax commissioner Chris Jordan and other senior Australian Taxation Office staff will also front the committee. It comes as the Morrison government is set to announce legislation to extend the life by six months a measure that allows small businesses to instantly write off the value of assets worth up to $150,000 per item.

Australian Federal Police helped prove that fragments found in the wreckage of MH17 and in victims' bodies came from a Russian-made Buk missile, a Dutch court has heard. Prosecutor Thijs Berger explained to the District Court of the Hague on Monday how the AFP matched unique fragmentation shapes found inside the missiles that matched fragments within the victims bodies. Russians Oleg Pulatov, Igor Girking, Sergey Dubinsky and Ukranian Leonid Kharchenko are being tried in absentia in the Netherlands for the murder of 298 passengers and crew, including 38 Australian residents. The lawyer for Pulatov asked the court to postpone proceedings, arguing the defence team has not had enough time to review the case file and to counsel its client due to coronavirus travel restrictions in the Netherlands and Russia.


“When Shorten took on his portfolio last June, one of the first things he did was read Carney’s forensic 2018 critique of robo-debt ... ‘That got me thinking: if the Commonwealth is folding 200 times, this is cherry ripe for a class action,’ says Shorten. He spoke with Peter Hanks, QC, who had been working with Victoria Legal Aid on robo-debt, and arranged a meeting with Peter Gordon and his team from Gordon Legal. ‘I laid it all out to them,’ Shorten says. ‘I said, “This is worth you taking on as a class action”.’”


“In January 2019, Santosh and Amita received a new delivery request. They accepted it, but Uber’s app gave them a ‘recommended’ route that required them to take an immediate left turn. ‘We were in the right lane; we could not take left turn,’ Santosh says. ‘We went straight. We were late by 11 minutes.’ Uber blocked Amita’s access to the app, cutting her off for good. Santosh helped Amita claim unfair dismissal at the Fair Work Commission … But, like The Castle’s Darryl Kerrigan when he took on the airport consortium, Santosh had few answers to Uber’s in-house counsel.”


“The scenes of marches and rioting came as the country endures the world’s worst outbreak of Covid-19, and added to the sense that the world’s greatest power, which aspires to be a global champion of human rights and democracy, is in a state of collapse. The European Union said it hoped the US swiftly resolved the issues related to the protests and called for ‘respect for the rule of law and human rights’. In London and Berlin, protesters denounced American racism.”


“Children in families experiencing job loss are more like to start school developmentally vulnerable, to repeat a grade, to leave school early and may be less likely to attend university. As stress in the home increases, children and young people’s health and well-being often suffers too. Extreme employment stress, for example in jobless households, can compromise the quality of parenting and home environments. Providing basic necessities can be challenging, and lead to poorer child nutrition.”


“Education Minister Dan Tehan announced on Monday the fee-free childcare relief package would end on July 12 and the old funding model, combining subsidies and fees, would be switched back on. Childcare centres will also lose access to JobKeeper wage subsidies … Georgie Dent, campaign manager for The Parenthood, warned families were ‘struggling financially and are no longer in a position to pay for the fees they could barely afford before the pandemic’.”


“An arrow to the groin labelled ‘hygiene’ and a headline stating that ‘a woman is not a scaled-down man’ feature in a Department of Defence effort to explain the female form. The ABC has obtained a slide from a Defence presentation depicting a female soldier wearing a combat uniform, smiling while holding a gun. It lists skull thicknesses and varying hygiene needs as foremost among the distinguishing features that matter when Australian men and women are engaged in the act of defending their nation.”

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