Friday, April 16, 2021

Indigenous anger at 30 years of inaction

The 30th anniversary of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody has sparked protests and fresh pushes for reform across the country. More than 470 Indigenous people have died in custody since the royal commission report was tabled, five of them since the start of March. Protesters marched through Perth’s city streets on yesterday’s anniversary, while in NSW a state parliamentary inquiry tabled a range of recommendations, including the investigation of deaths in custody by an independent watchdog rather than “police investigating police”. It also called for a person’s Aboriginality to be considered in granting bail, with Indigenous defendants 20.4 per cent more likely to be refused. The report recommended the age of criminal responsibility be raised from 10 to 14, with Indigenous children disproportionately jailed. A leaked national draft report meanwhile commissioned by a meeting of attorneys-general floated raising the age to 12, but has hit roadblocks including a Queensland state government election commitment to not change the law. The Australian Capital Territory plans to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14 within a year, while the Northern Territory will raise it to 12.

Controversial changes to the National Disability Insurance Scheme eligibility assessment  process reported in The Saturday Paper will be delayed until the second half of this year at the earliest. New Government Services Minister Linda Reynolds met with state and territory disability ministers in Adelaide on Thursday, where The Australian reports she confirmed that the proposed assessments would be paused until the end of pilot trials and further consultations. Disability advocates welcomed the decision, but many want to see the three-hour assessment plan canned entirely. “A privatised assessment system where a person with disability’s future would be determined by a tick-a-box assessment with a stranger over a few hours was not the NDIS thousands of Australians fought for,” said Blind Citizens Australia acting chief executive Sally Aurisch.

A group of taxpayer-funded aged care homes allegedly funnelled $31 million into the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. More than $22 million in rent and fees was paid by St Basil’s alone, which ran a home in Melbourne where 45 residents died in Australia's deadliest Covid-19 outbreak, reports the ABC. A commercial real estate agent said the rent was at double the market rate. The church was meanwhile funding the lavish lifestyle of a new archbishop, including the purchase of a $6.5 million Sydney apartment with harbour views.

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla has revealed that vaccine recipients will “likely” need a third dose between six to 12 months after they are fully vaccinated, and that new shots could be needed every year. Speaking at a CNBC event with CVS Health in the United States he said, “A likely scenario is that there will be likely a need for a third dose, somewhere between six and 12 months and then from there, there will be an annual revaccination, but all of that needs to be confirmed.” The Pfizer vaccine is set to underpin Australia’s Covid-19 vaccination rollout following rare blood clot concerns linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine, including a suspected case in NSW yesterday.

The real story behind Christine Holgate’s exit
Six months after the chief executive of Australia Post, Christine Holgate, was forced out of her job, she’s now broken her silence. Holgate claims that she was bullied, and has revealed the real reason she believes she was targeted. Today, Paul Bongiorno on what really happened at Australia Post.

“Last week’s commitment by the federal Labor Party, if elected next year, to remove a levy on electric vehicles was welcomed by the EV industry. Unfortunately, such commitments are rare at a federal level. Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s comment on electric cars at the last election – saying their inability to tow boats or caravans would ‘end the weekend’, a claim he has since denied making – are still remembered by the fast-growing EV sector.”

“I’ve frequently been asked, ‘If you feared police so much, why did you join?’ The truth is I joined to eradicate the immense fear that Aboriginal people, including me, have of the police – but mainly for my children. I wanted to stop the cycle of fear and mistrust that my family feels. But after serving just a short time, I realised these fears were well and truly justified. I could have, and probably should have, quit long before I was medically discharged unfit for duties. But I was not a quitter, and I had the old saviour mentality. I wanted to make change.”

“As we have tripped over the autumn equinox, it is time to start farewelling the vegetables that have filled our summer and early autumn months. It is also the time to start thinking about what to do with green tomatoes … The relish is my new favourite thing. Not only does it call for green tomatoes, but it uses zucchini as well – a double triumph of using up the last of the harvests before the shorter days and colder nights cover the leaves with a soft layer of mould and render the plants done for another year.”

“Labor Senator Kristina Keneally has accused Peter Dutton of cancelling her trip to visit a Tamil family from Biloela who are being detained on Christmas Island. Senator Keneally, Labor’s spokeswoman for Home Affairs, said the Australian Border Force had on Wednesday afternoon confirmed she could visit the family. But she said 22 minutes later she received an email saying Defence Minister Peter Dutton had ‘determined that the Special Purpose Aircraft can no longer be made available’ for the trip.”

“Kristina Keneally will make her own way to Christmas Island, where she plans to visit the Tamil family from Biloela held in immigration detention, a day after accusing Peter Dutton of personally intervening to cancel her trip … She also confirmed she would be leaving mainland Australia on Thursday evening for Christmas Island on a commercial flight. ‘I thank Virgin Airlines for assisting my office with last minute booking arrangements. I also thank Australian Border Force for their assistance and prompt approval of my request to visit the family,’ she said.”

“Bec Goddard, who watched the Adelaide Crows’ first premiership from the coach’s box and second from the stands, delves deep into her mental catalogue of Eastern philosophy to find something that fits. ‘There’s an old Chinese saying that says you can have 100 stars, but they’ll never equal the light of the moon. That’s the best way to describe her,’ Goddard says. ‘Because there’s only going to be one Erin Phillips.’”

“Amid criticism at home and abroad over plans to release treated water from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear power plant into the ocean, Japan’s officials turned to a familiar playbook: use a cute character to explain the safety of the move. Within just a day, the big-nosed, tadpole-like character called Tritium — which looks a bit like a Pokemon and is named after the radioactive element that the government plans to dilute and release into the ocean — was scrapped and an apology issued.”

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