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  1. #141
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    Australian brands failing to pay garment workers a living wage, report reveals

    By Clair Weaver | Oct 29, 2017

    Forida is a busy working mum, who juggles a full-time job with raising her toddler son.

    She and her husband live in a capital city and support his mother, who lives with them and helps with childcare.

    Her situation has a universal resonance, in that she could be anyone's sister, wife, mother or aunt. But there's a difference: Forida earns just 35c/h making clothes for Target Australia, H&M and other global brands.

    Her home is a hot, cramped and mosquito-ridden slum shared with six other families in Dhaka, Bangladesh. They struggle to pay rent and get enough food.

    "If we were paid a little more money, then I could one day send my son to school. We could live happily, we could lead a better life," Forida said.

    The plight of women who make clothes for leading Australian brands like Kmart, Target, Big W, H&M, Cotton On has been thrust into the spotlight by a new Oxfam Australia report, released today.

    While leading retailers are enjoying record profits in Australia’s $27 billion fashion industry, just 2 percent of the tag price of each piece of clothing made in Bangladesh goes into the pockets of the workers who made it, according to the What She Makes report.

    Other women featured in the report include 25-year-old Anju, who makes clothes in a factory for Katies, Millers, City Chic and Rivers. Paid 37c/h, she cannot afford rent, enough food nor to keep her two young daughters at home.

    “What the report does is to really bring the faces and the lives of these women very close to our lives,” Oxfam CEO Dr Helen Szoke told 9NEWS.

    “If you are a mother or if you have sisters or if you have aunties, these are the sorts of women who are actually spending many long hours, many days a week, making clothes that we buy in the shops.”

    The report, which draws on research conducted by Deloitte Access Economics, calls on big Australian brands to pay garment workers a living wage. If the brands passed on this extra cost to consumers, it would only increase the price tag by 1 percent.

    “We are talking about a minute amount – if you are talking about a $10 t-shirt, that would be 10c,” Dr Szoke said.

    “These are actually amounts that could be absorbed by (fashion and clothing) companies.

    “I think Australians would be astonished to know that with such a small change in the adjustment of the price or of what is actually paid by the garment industry, it can make a real impact on the lives of women who aren’t even able to get out of the cycle of poverty, despite the fact they are working seven days a week.”

    Currently most profit from clothing goes to factory owners, wholesalers and retailers. It would take a Bangladeshi garment worker more than 4000 years to earn the amount a CEO of an Australian clothing retailer.

    Dr Szoke said consumers should not boycott brands but rather put pressure on them via social media.

    Oxfam is launching a live company tracker on its website to publicly monitor Australia’s leading fashion retailers, including Kmart, Big W, Bonds, Cotton On and Just Jeans.

    “This is not about consumers being made to feel guilty – this is about empowering consumers to ensure that this difference can be made for the predominately women who are working countries to make the clothes that we are wearing today,” Dr Szoke said.

    Oxfam hopes its report will help bridge the disconnect between Australian consumers and workers at the bottom of the supply chain.


  2. #142
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    Australians support partial ban on Muslim immigration: survey

    Nearly half of all Australians support a partial ban on Muslim immigration, a national survey by the Australian Population Research Institute shows.

    Three quarters of Australians believe the country doesn't need any more people and nearly half support a partial ban on Muslim immigrants.

    An Australian Population Research Institute survey of more than 2000 people also found 54 per cent want a reduction in the annual migrant intake.

    The organisation's researchers, Katharine Betts and Bob Birrell, say the result shows a disconnect between the political elites' commitment to high immigration policies and the concerns of voters.

    In their analysis, they said the results are driven by the impact of population growth on people's quality of life and the rapid change in Australia's ethnic and religious make-up.

    "Australian voters' concern about immigration levels and ethnic diversity does not derive from economic adversity," academics Katharine Betts and Bob Birrell wrote in a report based on the survey.

    "Rather, it stems from the increasingly obvious impact of population growth on their quality of life and the rapid change in Australia's ethnic and religious make-up."

    Australia's population increased by 389,000 people to 24.5 million in the year to March, largely due to the arrival of new immigrants.

    Most people who migrate to Australia are skilled workers (68 per cent) and about a third make the move to be with family.

    But 74 four per cent of those surveyed believe Australia is "already full", with most pointing to roads congestion, hospitals capacity, affordable housing and fewer jobs as evidence.

    Mr Birrell told SBS News that "population pressures" significantly contributed to this result.

    "For most Australian voters, the problems associated with Australia’s very high population growth, which is higher than other developed countries are now starting to bite," he said.

    "We’re seeing that in our survey that most respondents thought that population pressures were adding to difficulties of urban congestion, housing affordability, job competing and the like. It's hardly surprising that 74 per cent of them would respond by saying Australia doesn’t need more people."

    Some 54 per cent want Australia to cut its annual immigrant intake of about 190,000 people and 48 per cent backed a partial ban on Muslim immigration.

    However, another 27 per cent were undecided about a partial ban, while a quarter opposed it.

    The strongest support for the partial ban came from One Nation voters (89 per cent), with more than 50 per cent of Liberal voters agreeing and just over a third of Labor supporters.

    "The willingness to take a tough, discriminating stance on Muslim immigration is not limited to a small minority, but extends to almost half of all voters," the report said.

    Immigration minister Peter Dutton reacted cautiously to the survey results on Thursday, telling 2GB's Ray Hadley that the government was "always looking at the migration numbers" to get the balance right.

    "In the Labor years the number peaked at about 305,900 in one year which was an enormous number, we've got that number down now below 190,000 and as I say, we’re happy to reassess."

    He said new migrants were drawn to the big population centres where pressure on housing and infrastructure was most often felt, however, "In some regional towns they’re crying out for people because they can’t get workers in the meatworks or areas of primary production, tourism, restaurants and so on. So we need to get that balance right."

    Mr Dutton linked the issue to his efforts to reform citizenship laws, which have been struck down in the Senate.

    "We want to make sure that people who want to become Australian citizens … have integrated into Australian society, that are abiding by our laws and ahering to our values."

    More than half of those surveyed feared Australia risked losing its culture and identity, with a similar number saying it had changed beyond recognition and sometimes "felt like a foreign country".

    Australia's political and economic "elites" had ignored rising concerns about immigration, the report said while noting rising support for anti-immigration parties across Europe.

    "Such is the extent of these concerns that they could readily be mobilised in an electoral context by One Nation or any other party with a similar agenda, should such a party be able to mount a national campaign," the report said.

    "If this occurs, the Liberal Party is likely to be the main loser."

    The survey was largely based on the views of Australian-born respondents who were "much more likely to take a tough line on immigration numbers and ethnic diversity than are overseas-born persons (unless they are UK-born)", the report noted.

    The institute commissioned the 10-minute survey from July 31 to August 17 this year, where a random national sample of 2067 voters, drawn from an online panel of 300,000 people, were asked questions about Australia's immigration and population policies.

    The survey's results conflict strongly with research by the Scanlon Foundation a year earlier which found just 34 per cent of Australians thought immigration was too high.

    The researchers conceded that different methodologies may have led to the significantly different results, but said "more likely... the recent increase in media and public attention to the immigration question has contributed to a hardening of voters' attitudes".


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  4. #144
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    More than 50% of those on secretive NSW police blacklist are Aboriginal

    Police commissioner concedes Suspect Target Management Plan has problems, but defends its objectives

    More than half the people on a secretive New South Wales police blacklist are Aboriginal, the state’s top law enforcement officer has revealed.

    The NSW police commissioner, Mick Fuller, says about 55% of people who are currently the subject of a Suspect Target Management Plan are Indigenous, prompting accusations that police are using a “racially biased program” to combat crime.

    The Suspect Target Management Plan – or STMP – is a “predictive style of policing” that uses “disruption and prevention” to identify people who police believe are a high risk of committing crimes.

    In October, researchers from the University of New South Wales and the Public Interest Advocacy Centre released a report which showed the STMP was overwhelmingly aimed at young people and Indigenous Australians, and resulted in “oppressive policing”.

    The report revealed cases where police appeared to use STMPs inappropriately, including as cause to search someone as a substitute for having reasonable grounds to suspect they had committed or intended to commit a crime.

    It prompted Michael Adams, the chief commissioner of the NSW police watchdog, to voice concerns about the use of the STMP, saying the tool was potentially “problematic”.

    On Thursday, Fuller, who replaced former police commissioner Andrew Scipione in March, faced questioning about the STMP from the Greens MP David Shoebridge at a hearing in the NSW parliament.

    He said there were about 1,800 people subject to an STMP across the state. About 55% of them were Aboriginal.

    He also revealed that the youngest person on an STMP was only nine years old.

    Fuller, who since coming into the job has taken a progressive stance on some issues, conceded there were problems with the STMP but broadly defended its aims.

    “I am taking steps to minimise Aboriginal people coming into police custody more broadly,” he said.

    “I believe in STMP and I believe in proactivity, but I am not proud of the incarceration rates of Aboriginal people in New South Wales and I am taking steps to improve that and working with senior police who support our concerns in relation to incarceration of Aboriginal people.”

    He said police were looking to make changes to bail laws so that Aboriginal people in regional areas could give more than one address, which he said would give them a better chance to avoid coming under police notice in the first place.

    Fuller said high incarceration rates for Aboriginal people was a problem across the country, but Shoebridge said the police were “part of the problem”.

    “If your police force is actively targeting in a disproportionate way Aboriginal people using the Suspect Target Management Plan, you are part of the problem because, if you are over-policing them at this point, it is far more likely that Aboriginal people will then be charged, then go to court, and then go to jail,” he said.

    The STMP has faced criticism from the legal profession and justice advocates, who say it unfairly targets minorities.

    It is also secretive. NSW police have refused to reveal what factors they use to determine who is placed on an STMP, and even those who are subject to one are not always informed.

    Sophie Parker, a solicitor at the Redfern Legal Centre specialising in police powers, said it was evidence that Aboriginal people were being disproportionately targeted by the STMP.

    “It is extremely alarming that Aboriginal people – who make up just 2.5% of the population – account for more than 50% of STMP targets,” she said.

    “This is a clear example of oppressive over-policing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

    “Given a child under 10 cannot be arrested or charged with a crime, it is highly inappropriate that they be subject to an STMP.”

    Vicki Sentas, one of the report’s authors, said: “It’s not surprising that it’s disproportionately targeting Aboriginal people given the experience of the community legal centres we spoke to as part of the research.”

    After the report’s release, Adams, who was appointed the first commissioner of the new Law Enforcement Conduct Commission in February, said so-called “risk assessment” tools in law enforcement, such as STMPs, often contained “disguised personal subjective assessments which are not truly objective” and that “on the face of it one would have to question its reliability for predicting behaviour”.


  5. #145
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    Queensland station owner had 40 sets of Aboriginal ears nailed to walls

    A determined writer from W.A is lifting the lid on some of the worst crimes ever seen in Australia. The genocidal killing of Indigenous people in Australia by European settlers.

    Writer Chris Owen who Authored the book, Every Mothers Son Is Guilty: Policing the Kimberley Frontier of Western Australia feels there is a lot more that needs to be done in order for all Australian’s to learn about Australia’s brutal past. He has recently decided that he will be working on another book the outlines even more Aboriginal history from the rest of Western Australia.

    He is also posting some of his research from W.A and elsewhere across Australia on social media. Some of his posts have been shared several hundred times. In his most recent post he posted a diary entry from a young British Settler (Emily Caroline Creaghe) who was passing through Queensland gulf country in 1883. During her stay at Lorne Hills station, she detailed how the station owner (Jack Watson) had around 40 sets of Aboriginal ears nailed around the walls of the homestead.

    It is disturbing how she can write about the weather in one sentence and trophy killings in the next sentence. From her tone it sounds like she is more disturbed by the weather than the owner of the station where she was staying.

    Most of what Chris has posted is information that can be found online. All it takes is a little digging and you will discover the truth about brutal crimes against humanity that took place during Australia’s colonisation.

    It seems that Australian’s have a real fear of this truth and so they should. To this day, there has been no justice for these crimes. Some descendants of these killers still occupy the same lands where their forefathers committed these crimes. The world needs to know about Australia’s history that happened at a time when International laws were in place.

    Serious questions and talks about Australia’s legitimacy as a nation and compensation for the crimes and occupation need to happen. You can help force this to happen by sharing stories like this. We want it to be known all around the world that we are still here, still fighting for justice.


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    Ten-year-olds could be held without charge under new terrorism laws

    by Katharine Murphy - 5 October 2017

    Children as young as 10 could be held by police for 14 days without charge under a new national detention law applying to terrorism suspects, the justice minister has confirmed.

    Michael Keenan told the ABC it was “deeply regrettable” that children could be held under the new counter-terrorism regime, approved by federal and state governments at a special Council of Australian Governments meeting in Canberra on Thursday.

    But he said Isis specialised in the radicalisation and recruitment of children.

    Keenan confirmed the new regime would apply to children “as young as 10”, but he said minors would be subject to “an enormous level of safeguards”.

    There would be additional safeguards for children aged between 10 and 14, and those aged between 14 and 18, he said.

    “I’m very happy for these laws never to be used,” Keenan said, but law enforcement agencies needed to be given authority to deal with all situations when it came to national security threats.

    He said the community would not be well served if an 11-year-old was preparing to commit and act of terrorism, and police had no powers to deal with that.

    The Turnbull government will legislate the 14-day pre-charge detention regime, modelled on an existing New South Wales law, despite previous concerns that such a law might breach the constitution.

    Malcolm Turnbull said on Thursday it was more efficient for Canberra to legislate, given most counter-terrorism operations were coordinated between the commonwealth and a state jurisdiction.

    The new counter-terrorism measures, which include an agreement to share face-matching technology between jurisdictions in real time, have generated concerns among civil libertarians and privacy groups.

    But in signing up to the new regime, a number of premiers argued on Thursday that when it came to the terrorism threat, community safety trumped concerns about liberty and privacy.


    Reporting Australian Terrorists


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    Australia's Gitmo Camp

    Inside the camp, the men were desperate but determined.

    Sick. Hungry. Trapped. They wanted freedom.
    This is Manus Island.

    The New York Times sent journalists into a contested detention camp in Papua New Guinea to investigate Australia’s refugee policy, and the resistance rising against it.

    The men packing the boat with rice, cigarettes and medicine had fled war and persecution in their home countries.
    Now, at 1 a.m., off the coast of a remote island in Papua New Guinea, they were speeding back to the detention camp they hated.

    Why, I asked, would they return to the prisonlike “refugee processing center” where they had been trapped for nearly five years?

    “We have brothers to feed,” said Behnam Satah, 31, a Kurdish asylum seeker, as we cruised over moon-silvered waves on a hot November night. “We have brothers who need help.”

    More than 1,300 asylum seekers have been dumped on Manus Island since the end of 2012 as part of Australia’s contentious policy to keep migrants from reaching its shores. They were all but forgotten until last month when Australia’s attempt to shut down the center and move the men to facilities near the island’s main town of Lorengau hit resistance.

    Hundreds of the men refused to leave.

    Many said they were afraid to move closer to town, where some had been attacked and robbed by local residents. But it was more than that. With the attention of the world finally on them, the camp’s detainees had turned their prison into a protest, braving a lack of water, electricity and food to try to jog loose a little compassion from the world.

    They had already suffered and understood danger. Fleeing more than a dozen countries, they had risked their lives with human traffickers on ramshackle boats leaving Indonesia. And ever since the compound started filling up in 2013, it has been plagued by illness, suicide and complaints of mistreatment.

    But now, by staying there and sneaking in and out by boat, they were risking arrest in a desperate search for self-determination, and to intensify scrutiny of Australia’s migration policy and methods.

    And that scrutiny has come.

    Veteran United Nations officials said this month they had never seen a wealthy democracy go to such extremes to punish asylum seekers and push them away.

    Papua New Guinea officials and local leaders, enraged at how the camp’s closure was handled, have demanded to know why Australia is not doing more to help the men.

    Instead, Australia is cutting services — reducing caseworkers and no longer providing medication, officials said, even though approximately 8 in 10 of the men suffer from anxiety disorders, depression and other issues largely caused by detention, according to a 2016 independent study.

    “It’s a very drastic reduction,” said Catherine Stubberfield, a spokeswoman for the United Nations refugee agency, who recently visited Manus.

    Australia’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection did not answer questions about the service cuts. In a statement, it said general health care was still available and “alternative accommodation sites” were “operational” and “suitable.”

    Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has also doubled down on Australia’s hard-line approach, arguing that offshore detention has been a successful deterrent against illegal trafficking.

    But in Papua New Guinea, deterrence increasingly looks like an incentive for cruelty. Officials, Manus residents and outside experts all argue that Australia has a responsibility to those it placed here, to international law, and to its closest neighbor.

    “They’ve put the burden on a former colony which does not have the resources for many of the things its own people want, like health care and a social safety net,” said Paige West, a Columbia University anthropologist who has done extensive fieldwork on Manus. “This is a problem created by Australia’s failure to comply with its human rights obligations.”

    The detention center, a warren of barracks and tents, sprawls across a naval base used by American troops in 1944 during World War II. The Papua New Guinea Supreme Court ruled in 2016 that the camp was illegal, calling it a violation of “personal liberty.” The governments of Australia and Papua New Guinea agreed in April to close the site by Oct. 31.
    But finding alternatives has been a struggle.

    Some of the men at the camp — all of whom were caught at trying to reach Australia by boat — have been granted refugee status and are hoping for relocation to the United States, under a deal brokered by President Obama and initially opposed by President Trump.

    But nearly 200 of the 843 men still stuck on Manus (women and children were sent to the island of Nauru) have not had their asylum claims fully processed, or their claims have been rejected, leaving them effectively stuck on the island.
    For now, all of the detainees are expected to move to three smaller facilities, near Lorengau, a few miles from the camp.

    Lorengau is not a big place. It is a close-knit rural town with a few thousand people, a single supermarket, a rusty playground and electricity that comes and goes.

    The new detention facilities are set apart from main roads and are closely guarded — we were turned away when a photographer and I tried to visit. But detainees can come and go. And photos, taken by the men, show that none of the facilities were fully operational more than a week after the move was supposed to happen.

    At one of the new facilities, West Lorengau Haus, the electricity and water had not been turned on when representatives of the United Nations refugee agency visited days after the main camp had officially closed.

    “It’s still a construction site — you can’t just move refugees into that space,” said Ms. Stubberfield, the spokeswoman.
    The two other sites also had problems: One had intermittent running water, and the other, the East Lorengau Transit Center, lacked caseworkers.

    Kepo Pomat, who owns the land that facility occupies, said he had issued the authorities an ultimatum: If his company did not receive the caseworker employment contracts, he would kick the refugees off his property.

    Part of the problem is that the governments of Australia and Papua New Guinea are at odds over who is responsible for the men. Australia says Papua New Guinea is in charge of providing for them. Papua New Guinea says it is willing to house the refugees, but it is Australia’s responsibility to pay for them and pursue ways for them to leave.

    “We’ve been urging that the Australians keep up their responsibility,” said Duncan Joseph, a community leader and the island’s Red Cross representative. “The fact that they’ve withdrawn and drastically scaled back services doesn’t change that for us, morally and legally, they are responsible for these men.”

    Many of the detainees who have moved to the new sites reported crowded dormitories and delays with getting food.

    Some did not receive the weekly stipend of $30 for medicine and incidentals they were promised upon arrival.

    Mohyadin Omar, 27, a lawyer with a soft demeanor who fled Somalia in 2013, said the move to the transit center had made him consider returning to Mogadishu. He is a certified refugee who lost his entire family to war. He fears he will be killed back home, but he may go anyway.

    “I’m tortured four years here,” he said. “I’m done.”

    Back inside the main detention camp, conditions deteriorated quickly after the Australians officially left on Oct. 31, cutting off the electricity and water before departing.

    In the equatorial heat, the men who were sick got sicker. Asthmatics needed inhalers. Diabetics needed insulin.

    Mr. Satah, the leader of the supply operation, seemed relieved when our boat pushed ashore. The navy guards and police meant to keep everything out of the camp either did not see us or chose not to intervene. Mr. Satah, a fast-talking former English teacher, smiled he led a dozen men carrying food and medicine toward a container inside the compound.

    “O.K. Brothers, thank you very much — love you, love you,” he said, echoing their expressions of appreciation.

    Though it was after 2 a.m., many of the men were eager to guide me through the camp, where most had lived for more than four years, in many cases without ever leaving.

    They showed off the well they had dug for water, and the protest signs they posted on Twitter using cracked cellphones, cherished like fine crystal.

    Some of the men who stayed at the camp appeared mentally stronger than those who had relocated.

    They made clear they want to be resettled in a third country, neither Australia nor Papua New Guinea. In the meantime, they were surviving. They were defying the authorities. Thanks in part to money from supportive Australians and local boat pilots risking arrest, they had cigarettes, a stash of booze, and a measure of what they have most craved: agency and autonomy.

    “There are many things that brought us to the point where we’ve said we will never go,” Mr. Satah said when he was still in Lorengau gathering supplies. “But remember, we didn’t come here by choice.”

    Behrouz Boochani, another Iranian Kurd who has become well-known for writing from the camp, put it more simply in a resistance manifesto: “All the conversations are driven by one thing, and one thing only, and that is freedom,” he wrote. “Only freedom.”

    Why then have more of the men not tried to pursue a future in Papua New Guinea? After I spent time in Lorengau, it became clear: Even for those who have made a life in Manus, there are real challenges.

    Mustafizah Rahman, 25, an asylum seeker from Bangladesh, married a local woman and opened a shop in a red shipping container near the main Lorengau market.

    There, he said, he is pursuing his dream “to become a multimillionaire.”

    The island’s residents consider him a model of integration. But Mr. Rahman, whose wife is eight months pregnant, remains stateless, he said, without formal residency in Papua New Guinea.

    Lorengau has become increasingly crowded with climate change refugees who have moved there from more remote islands, and Mr. Rahman said he was barely getting by after paying for rising rent and food costs.

    “Not everyone can do this,” Mr. Rahman said, between customers. “We’re really not accepted in this country. If they bring everyone to town, many people will die.”

    The fear of violence is shared by many of the asylum seekers, who have been targets of attacks in Manus and in other parts of Papua New Guinea, as they have been in other countries. A recent Human Rights Watch report documented a series of cellphones thefts and attacks, some involving machetes.

    Kakau Karani, Lorengau’s acting mayor, said that the risks were exaggerated and that in fact, many residents had provided the men with food, lodging and work.

    Around 10 children have been born to asylum seekers and local women, the mayor said, adding, “If we weren’t friendly, we would not be making babies here.”

    Other residents worry that the men are preying on local women.

    Ultimately, both the asylum seekers and the local residents are a mix of potential and risks.

    Some of the detainees are resilient and have learned new languages. Others survive with sleeping pills or drink too much — as do some local men.

    Australia says offshore detention has reduced trafficking and deaths at sea. Mr. Turnbull has rejected an offer from New Zealand to take 150 of the refugees, arguing it would encourage traffickers.

    But for Manus, the effects are evolving and still being tallied. Six detainees have died here. A small number have reached Australia for medical treatment. Hundreds have left, after agreeing to deportation. And 54 refugees from Manus and Nauru have made it to the United States.

    When might more follow?

    Yassir Hussein, one of the camp’s leaders, said he often contemplated ideals like liberty and justice — and what they mean for migration’s winners and losers.

    “We are happy for the lucky ones,” he said. “But why are they lucky? Why are we not lucky?”



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