Speaking at the National Press Club Address recently (9 Sep 2015 – Series 2015 – episode 32), US science journalist Jon Entine was alleged by Simon Grose (Canberra IQ) to seem ‘aggressive’ and “defensively ironic” in his pro-GMO stance. Grose suggested that this may be because the GM message is one that seems difficult to sell. Is this the reason why Entine has been chosen to speak at the Agricultural Bioscience International Conference in Melbourne, in a session entitled “Public acceptance of agricultural biotechnology“.
This Guardian video is a candid view of the current state of relations between Indigenous communities and the justice system.
The Senate Inquiry into Domestic Violence in Australia released its interim report this week. Many of the recommendations support the pleas of crisis accommodation services, women’s groups and welfare organisations for reinstatement of funding cut in last year’s budget. Although the final report is not due to be released until July, the current volatile political situation (with the possibility of a double dissolution looming) and the extreme severity of the situation, costing nearly $14 billion in 2008-9 (report p.2), was felt to justify the release of the interim report now.
It cannot be but common knowledge to most Australians that the two men found to be ‘ringleaders’ of the Bali Nine heroin smuggling operation, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, are expected to be executed some time in the coming few weeks. There has been a media frenzy of controversy around Indonesia’s application of the death penalty (see, for example, The Conversation and University of Sydney News), the role of the Australian Federal Police in failing to apprehend the smugglers prior to leaving Australia (see, for example, ABC News , Independent Australia and SMH), and the fate of foreign nationals contravening local state laws (see, for example The Age and news.com.au).
The big reforms that prevail fuse the best of left and right
After the defeat of the Abbott government’s higher education bills in the Senate, Education Minister Christopher Pyne invoked the legacy of past “reforms” that had been violently contested at the time of their introduction but were now accepted. Pyne cast the Abbott government as being on the side of history, but it is a bad history that he evokes.
Polls (and see also) reveal that, generally, Australians are tiring of Coalition rhetoric about Budget emergencies and the harm Labor caused the economy while in Government. Economist Tim Colebatch, in Inside Story, uses the Governments own figures to show that not only is there inherent unfairness in the budget which sits poorly with the electorate, but that the measures are largely insignificant in bringing the budget back to surplus. All the pain for vitually no gain.
Justice targets are measurable goals which aim to reduce incarceration rates for Indigenous Australians. Their addition to the existing Closing the Gap targets, set collaboratively by all State and Territory governments, was announced in August 2013 by then Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin. This was a recommendation of then Social Justice Commissioner, Tom Calma in 2009’s Social Justice Report. How can this be a bad idea?
Perhaps this will get the message across to the people making barbaric policy that sees over 1000 kids seeking asylum behind bars in Australia’s detention centres, here on the mainland and also on Christmas Island and Nauru. A popular movement with respected figures from the sporting, film and television community has been launched with the slogan: We’re better than this.
The video below highlights the key findings from the 6th Productivity Commission Report into the wellbeing of Aborignal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage.
There is cause for hope that the improvements in child mortality, life expectancy, education and employment outcomes will continue to trend positively. However, it is still a major concern that statistics on chronic health problems, mental illness, community and family violence, illiteracy and rates of incarceration and interaction with the justice system remain unacceptably high for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.