Senin, 30 Juni 2014

Federal budget feels pain as savings measures slated for July 1 delayed


By political correspondent Emma Griffiths

Bank notes Photo: The biggest saving that was due to begin today is a two-year freeze on family tax benefits.

Related Story: Welfare review proposes payment cull, assistance

Related Story: Cuts may leave 500,000 young people needing aid

A hole will be punched in the federal budget from today, with major savings measures that were slated to kick in on July 1 held back because of opposition in the Senate.

But today also marks the dawning of a new regime in the Upper House as the balance of power swings from the Greens to a micro-party cross bench of eight Senators, dominated by the Palmer United Party.

The new Senate will sit for the first time next Monday with a legislative agenda swollen by a Government wish list of election promises and budget measures worth billions of dollars.

The biggest saving that was due to begin today is a two-year freeze on family tax benefits, budgeted to save $397 million this financial year and $2.6 billion over the four-year forward-estimate period.

The Government also put a hold on eligibility thresholds for all payments from today, including the childcare benefit Newstart, parenting payments and youth allowance, to save $160 million this financial year and $1.5 billion over four years.

The indexation of the clean energy supplement, paid to all welfare recipients, was also due to be removed today in a cut worth $42.3 million in 2014-2015 and nearly half a billion dollars over five years.

But for opposition in the Senate, single parents would also have been affected by a switch in the indexation from male average weekly earnings to the consumer price index, which would push down the rate of growth in the payment.

This financial year the cuts were worth around $600 million but the delay will reduce that saving - by how much depends on if and when the new Senate passes the measures.

Government seeks to skip budget negotiations with senators

There is also the chance that the Government will seek to skip the Senate negotiations and introduce some of the changes by regulation, which does not require a majority vote in parliament.

Arguably at the top of the legislative list for the Coalition is the abolition of the carbon tax, which will increase today from $24.15 per tonne to $25.40.

PUP leader Clive Palmer last week revealed he would support legislation to "axe the tax" - granting Prime Minister Tony Abbott his core election promise.

However, PUP has put conditions on its support for scrapping the mining tax which is linked to the payment of the School Kids Bonus.

The failure to repeal that tax means the bonus will be paid out to families again this July, at a rate of $205 for primary aged children and $410 for children in high school.

But one significant budget measure - the 2 per cent income tax rise for top earners or "debt tax" - has already been waved through the Senate with Labor support and will begin today.

Those on incomes of $180,000 and above will pay the Temporary Budget Repair Levy for three years, raising $3.1 billion over four years.

Other changes today include:
  • The increase to the Medicare levy from 1.5 per cent to 2 per cent to help fund the national disability insurance scheme
  • The increase in the compulsory super rate from 9.25 per cent to 9.5 per cent - a rate that will be on hold for four years
  • A $10,000 payment to employers who hire a worker aged 50 or older
  • Federal funding cuts for pensioner and seniors concessions - already compensated for by some state governments
  • A one-year freeze on the pay and allowances for MPs and senior public servants saving $20 million over four years

Government says changes to health budgets will make system fairer

Other budget cuts will begin to take effect, including a $217 million cut to public hospital funding, part of a $1.8 billion saving over four years.

Work for the dole arrangements will begin in 18 locations around the country for job seekers between the ages of 18 and 30 with a full rollout expected next July.

Today also marks the beginning of the Federal Government's $20 million Stronger Relationships Trial, which will give couples $200 vouchers for relationship counselling.

Changes to aged-care fees, largely introduced by the previous Labor government, also take effect from today, meaning some people will need to pay more for support.

Income and assets will be taken into account when working out aged-care fees.

The Government says the new arrangements are designed to make the system fairer and will ensure people who can afford to contribute more for their care.

Federal budget feels pain as savings measures slated for July 1 delayed by Senate - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Meet the crossbenchers who will hold balance of power


By political correspondent Emma Griffiths

Related Story: Senate balance of power - Who's who

July 1 marked a new world order in the Senate, with eight colourful micro-party senators holding the Abbott Government's legislative agenda by the throat.

If it cannot secure support from Labor or the 10 Greens senators, the Coalition will need six of those eight micro-party crossbench votes.

Clive Palmer's three Palmer United Party (PUP) senators will hold crucial balance-of-power votes in the Senate - a position bolstered by their alliance with the Australian Motoring Enthusiast party Senator Ricky Muir.

The Government's ability to fulfil key election promises - like repealing the mining and carbon taxes - and enact billions of dollars in budget cuts and changes will rest in the hands of this new crossbench.

Glenn Lazarus

Glenn Lazarus Photo: Queensland senator-elect Glenn Lazarus (AAP)

PUP Senate leader Glenn Lazarus is a rugby league legend known in his playing days as "the brick with eyes".

During a 12-year first-grade playing career, the prop forward won premierships with three clubs - the Canberra Raiders, Brisbane Broncos and Melbourne Storm.

Since retiring in 1999 he has been a coach at both national and state level.

But the rugby league hard man was reduced to tears when the election results formally declared he had won a Senate seat.

As Upper House leader of the new balance-of-power party, Mr Lazarus is ostensibly one of the most powerful MPs in Parliament.

Jacqui Lambie

Jacqui Lambie Photo: Tasmanian senator-elect Jacqui Lambie (Supplied)

Even before entering Parliament, former soldier Jacqui Lambie made an impact with her fighting words.

A former Liberal Party member and failed pre-selection candidate for the Tasmanian seat of Braddon, she has called the Prime Minister and Treasurer "deceitful, lying political politicians" and claimed the Liberal Party is full of "gutless sycophants".

The outspoken PUP Senator told the ABC in May that she wants banks to pay more tax, free university education and has previously listed as her primary policy interests national security, seniors and youth.

Dio Wang

Dio Wang Photo: Western Australia senator-elect Dio Wang (AAP: Dan Peled)

Barely five years after becoming an Australian citizen, the China-born and raised Dio (Zhenya) Wang entered the nation's Parliament.

But it has not been a smooth run into the Senate - the Mr Wang won his spot in the September election, lost it in the recount, and won it again in the re-run West Australia Senate vote.

For most of his time in Australia, he has worked for Australasian Resources Ltd - a company majority owned by his party leader Clive Palmer.

Most recently he was managing director - a position he has since resigned.

Ricky Muir

Ricky Muir explains 'balance of power' Photo: Victorian senator-elect Ricky Muir (News Online Brisbane)

Showing the power of preference harvesting, the motoring enthusiast was elected with just 0.51 per cent of the vote.

Mr Muir struck a deal with PUP to form a voting bloc in October, but it appears to be a fairly loose arrangement.

A former sawmill worker, Mr Muir enters parliament fighting off bad press from a fumbled TV interview and video of him throwing kangaroo dung.

His party lists as one of 20 core values a belief in "minimal government interference".

Bob Day

Family First's Bob Day Photo: South Australia senator-elect Bob Day. (Supplied)

A former South Australian public servant and plumber, Bob Day is also an officer of the Order of Australia for service to the housing industry and social welfare.

He is a former member of the Liberal Party who quit the party after losing a pre-selection battle with Jamie Briggs for the lower house seat of Mayo, when it was vacated by Alexander Downer in 2008.

Since his election representing the Family First Party, Mr Day has called for changes to unfair dismissal laws and says he will argue to allow employers to pay less than the minimum wage.

He has also criticised the PM's paid parental leave scheme and the Government's direct action climate change policy.

He has formed a voting bloc on economic issues with Liberal Democratic Party newcomer David Leyonhjelm.

David Leyonhjelm

David Leyonhjelm Photo: New South Wales senator-elect David Leyonhjelm. (Supplied:

David Leyonhjelm's Liberal Democratic Party pulled 9.5 per cent of the primary vote - a result attributed in part to the "donkey vote" given the first place position on the massive NSW ballot paper.

A former vet turned agribusiness consultant based in Sydney, Mr Leyonhjelm has been a member of Labor, the Liberal Party and the Shooters Party.

He quit the Liberals in protest over John Howard's crackdown on guns after the Port Arthur massacre and has recently argued that allowing people to carry guns would curb crime in western Sydney.

He supports the Government's bid to repeal the carbon and mining taxes, but - like his voting partner Bob Day - is opposed to the paid parental leave scheme and direct action.

Nick Xenophon

Nick Xenophon Photo: South Australian Senator Nick Xenophon

A veteran of the crossbench, independent Nick Xenophon has been in the Senate since 2008.

A former lawyer and state politician - on a No Pokies ticket - Senator Xenophon held the balance of power with the Greens and Family First from 2008-2011.

He has played a key role in debates including on gambling reform and the Murray-Darling basin, and has used parliamentary privilege to level accusations at the Church of Scientology and at a South Australian Catholic priest.

At the last election he increased his vote to 24.9 per cent.

John Madigan

John Madigan Photo: Victorian senator John Madigan (AAP: Alan Porritt)

Elected to the Senate in 2010 with 2.3 per cent of the vote, former blacksmith and boilermaker John Madigan, from Ballarat, formed his political views in a youth group run by Catholic political activist B.A Santamaria - who was a key force behind the formation of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) in the 1950s.

Senator Madigan is the first DLP member of parliament since 1974.

In keeping with those roots, he has conservative views on both social and economic issues.

He is pro-life, against same-sex marriage, opposes the privatisation of state assets and rails against politician's perks.

Senate power players: Meet the crossbenchers who will hold balance of power - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Tony Abbott falls further behind Bill Shorten in latest Newspoll


Daniel Hurst, political correspondent, Tuesday 1 July 2014

Abbott is losing to the Labor leader 34% to 44% in the preferred prime minister stakes, poll shows

Bill shortenBill Shorten has run a campaign against the 'cruel' budget, arguing it was unfair and based on broken promises. Photograph: Alan Porritt/AAP

Bill Shorten has opened up a 10-point lead over Tony Abbott as preferred prime minister and the Labor opposition is leading the Coalition government by the same margin on a two-party preferred basis, according to the latest Newspoll.

The poll, published in the Australian newspaper on Tuesday, provides a snapshot of the political landscape as the new Senate takes effect and the government contemplates the need to secure the support of six of eight crossbench senators to pass any contentious legislation.

Seven weeks after the government delivered its first budget, the poll shows Shorten holds a 44% to 34% lead over Abbott as preferred prime minister. Shorten’s score was up four points compared with the previous Newspoll a fortnight earlier while Abbott’s was down three points.

The telephone poll of 1,161 voters, which has a margin of error of up to 3%, showed the Coalition would attract 35% of the primary vote if an election were held now, compared with 37% for Labor, 13% for the Greens, and 15% for others.

Based on preference flows at the last election these figures translate to a two-party preferred result of 55% for Labor and 45% for the Coalition.

This represents a two-point increase for Labor since the previous fortnight’s poll. The Coalition won the last election when it attracted 53.5% of the two-party vote and Labor mustered just 46.5%.

Asked whether they were satisfied with the way Abbott was doing his job as prime minister, 31% said they were satisfied and 62% were dissatisfied, translating to a net approval rating of -31. The Australian said this net approval rating was the worst for a prime minister since Julia Gillard scored -34 points shortly before she was rolled by Kevin Rudd last year.

Satisfaction with Shorten’s performance stood at 34% and dissatisfaction declined four points to 41% since the last poll, equating to a net approval rating of -7. Shorten has run a campaign against the “cruel” budget, arguing it was “unfair” and based on broken promises.

The leader of the government in the Senate, Eric Abetz, said he believed voters would ultimately accept the budget changes as necessary.

Abetz told the ABC: “I think you are right that people never like to hear a message of belt tightening, but when it is explained to them I believe the common sense of the Australian people and their sense of decency that it is simply economically irresponsible and morally wrong to steal the inheritance of the next generation and leave them with a legacy of debt so we can maintain our lifestyle today – that is something most Australians would not accept as a fair cop.”

He said the government would seek to get as much of its agenda through the Senate as possible “but where the cards fall, that remains to be determined”.

The Coalition needs to secure support from six of the eight crossbench senators to ensure the passage of any legislation opposed by Labor and the Greens.

“I wouldn’t describe them as a motley crew; they’re all God’s children as far as I’m concerned. We will be working with them on the issues case by case,” Abetz said.

“We will be living with these independent senators for six years, all things being equal, therefore it makes very good sense to adopt the prime minister’s approach, which is not to hector or lecture them but to treat them with the respect that they deserve – treat each case on its merit and each senator as an individual or should they wish to be in a party grouping, then that party grouping.”

Clive Palmer, whose Palmer United party holds three crossbench Senate seats and has a loose voting alliance with a fourth, has indicated he will not be easily swayed by government briefings on proposed legislation.

“First of all we don’t have advisers, we have employees that follow our direction and our party policy, we don’t need to be advised on what to think or what’s the difference between right and wrong,” Palmer told Guardian Australia. “I just have my brain which is very effective and I’m

Tony Abbott falls further behind Bill Shorten in latest Newspoll | World news |

Minggu, 29 Juni 2014

What's wrong with a bit of Keating nostalgia, anyway?


Russell Marks

Russell Marks, Friday 27 June 2014

In an age where Australian politicians lack the gift of the gab, nostalgia for the Paul Keating of the Redfern speech and the republic is more excusable than ever

The Hon. Paul Keating (offical portrait)'Oh, for someone who can debate, persuade, convince.' Photograph: flickr

After years of prime ministers who lack flair and political instinct, many Australians are searching their memories for a leader who looked like he knew what he was doing. This side of the Howard, Rudd and Gillard governments, social democrats look into the mists of time and see the hero of Casey Bennetto’s successful 2005 cabaret show, Keating! The Musical, the heroic PJK, cast against a Napoleonic John Howard determined to stop niceness and take over the world.

This is the Paul Keating of our dreams; the man who delivered the Redfern speech, and acknowledged that “it was we who did the dispossessing”; of Mabo and native title; of the commitment to a republic. The Howard years were harder for the dreamers; the nation became a "Brutopia", as Kevin Rudd wrote in 2006.

Now, after the troubled Rudd-Gillard years, Howard's Brutopia has become Abbott’s. Refugees, pensioners, Indigenous Australians, single parents, students, low-income earners and plenty more are set to bear the full brunt of one of the most divisive budgets in living memory. If only a new Keating would spring from the legacy of Irish oppression to champion the rights of the underprivileged!

First as treasurer and then as PM, the boy from Bankstown was drier than anyone Labor had ever offered up. He steered much of the neoliberal policy agenda through the institutions of Australian government. At least in his own mind, he balanced the deregulation with a reasonable welfare safety net. Wistful progressives might recall that the Keating of Redfern Park was also the Keating of “the recession we had to have”, who told one student protester in 1995 to “get a job”.

Now we have a prime minister who promised “no surprises, no excuses government”; who said the worst thing was to break promises; who promised no new taxes but now says they’re necessary to fix the budget, which he can’t seem to demonstrate is broken; who promised he wouldn’t use the budget as an excuse to break promises and who won’t use any of the GP tax revenue to actually fix the budget.

The sheer hypocrisy of it all! Keating's policy lessons, with his graphs and his J-curves, seem like the good old days. When was the last time a political leader set about explaining even the most basic policy advancement to us in a way that respected our intelligence?

Oh, for someone who can debate, persuade, convince. Hell, for someone who can deliver a decent line! In an era when politicians strangely lack the skill of rhetoric, that art most essential to their vocation, Keating nostalgia is perhaps more excusable than ever.

“I want to do you slowly,” he said in parliament, in response to John Hewson’s request for an early election in 1993. “Does a soufflé rise twice?” he asked earlier of Andrew Peacock. "I am not like [John Howard]," he once remarked. "I did not slither out of the Cabinet room like a mangy maggot."

Years later, in 2007, he was asked by the ABC’s Eleanor Hall for a response to revelations Kevin Rudd may have met with a disgraced former WA premier. “Look, Kevin has done something, he’s met Brian Burke,” Keating said.

“But I’ll tell you what he hasn’t done. He hasn’t lied to his nation about reasons for committing Australia to a non-UN sponsored invasion and war. He hasn’t turned his head from the plight of a boat full of wretched individuals looking for shelter, and then adding insult to injury by saying they threw their kids overboard first.”

Imagine a member of the 44th parliament reframing a situation like Keating could, with wit, confidence and more than occasional invective. Whereas Tony Speaks: The Wisdom of the Abbott – an earlier book of quotations I put together – is mostly gaffes, backflips and hypocrisies, The Book of Paul is a mixture of sharp retorts and light-on-the-hill vision. No wonder so many of us are a little too fond of the self-described Placido Domingo of Australian politics.

What's wrong with a bit of Keating nostalgia, anyway? | Russell Marks | Comment is free |

Asylum seeker boat not heard from in 24 hours


Oliver Laughland, Sunday 29 June 2014

Australian customs believed to have intercepted vessel carrying Tamils but immigration minister refuses to comment

scott morrisonScott Morrison arrives at the press conference in Melbourne on Saturday. Photograph: David Crosling/AAP

A boat said to be carrying more than 150 Tamil asylum seekers including young children has not been heard from for nearly 24 hours as speculation mounts that it has been intercepted by Australian customs.

On Saturday the immigration minister, Scott Morrison, refused to confirm the boat’s existence despite numerous reporters and asylum advocates having spoken to people on board.

It appears to be one of a number of boats possibly intercepted by Australia in the past two weeks. Guardian Australia revealed on Monday that a boat was understood to have made two emergency calls to search and rescue in New Zealand after getting into difficulty off the north-west coast of Australia. Another boat departing from Java carrying 50 asylum seekers was reported on Saturday.

Ian Rintoul, of the Refugee Action Coalition, told Guardian Australia he had last spoken to a passenger on board the boat carrying Tamils about 24 hours ago and had been told there were 37 children on board, including a one-year-old baby, and 32 women.

Rintoul said the boat was leaking oil and had run out of diesel around 175 nautical miles from Christmas Island.

It was understood at that point that the boat had been contacted by Australian authorities and had left the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu on 13 June, meaning it had been at sea for nearly two weeks.

“They told me there were a number of sick children on board, some had been vomiting, although it wasn’t a medical emergency,” Rintoul said.

The Labor MP Alannah MacTiernan, who was on Christmas Island on Saturday night, said immigration staff on the island were “on standby waiting for instructions” and had been told both boats had been intercepted.

“They're saying that two boats have been intercepted and the ship on which they're being loaded is in Christmas Island waters,” MacTiernan told the ABC.

The Greens’ immigration spokeswoman, Sarah Hanson-Young, said she was concerned that those on board the two boats were being held on “prison ships” rather than being brought ashore for processing.

“Where are these people?” Hanson-Young said. “They haven’t been brought ashore to Christmas Island. They should be immediately, and we should be looking after those children.”

Hanson-Young said she understood the Australian customs vessel Ocean Protector was intercepting the boat from south India.

On Sunday afternoon Christmas Island shire president Gordon Thomson told Guardian Australia there was still no sign of either boat reaching Christmas Island.

In May Guardian Australia revealed photographs from inside the Ocean Protector showing the cramped living conditions for intercepted asylum seekers. The pictures were hand-drawn by asylum seeker children on the canvas bunks.

On Sunday Morrison’s office did not respond to a request for comment. A day earlier he said in Melbourne that there were no significant incidents at sea to report. “I am advised that I have no such report to provide to you today.”

He would not confirm if there was a boat, if it was in Australian waters, or if the government had taken any action.

Asylum seeker boat not heard from in 24 hours amid silence from government | World news |

Jumat, 27 Juni 2014

Federal Government not confirming reports of asylum seeker boat



Prime Minister Tony Abbott has deflected questions about reports of a leaky asylum seeker boat 300 kilometres off Christmas Island.

Fairfax Media says it has spoken to two people claiming to be on the boat with 151 others.

One of them, a woman identifying as Tamil, said it left southern India on June 13.

The Refugee Action Coalition says there are 37 children on board the vessel, which made contact with marine rescue authorities on Thursday night.

Mr Abbott brushed off questions from the ABC about the reports on Friday night, saying "we will be doing what we normally do in respect of Operation Sovereign Borders".

He would not say whether assistance would be sent to the vessel.

A spokesman for Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said the Government does not confirm border protection activities unless they involve extreme risk of safety to life at sea.

Refugee advocates, who say they spoke to people on the boat on Thursday, believe it has an oil leak rather than the vessel itself leaking.

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said she had been told the boat was carrying 153 asylum seekers including more than 30 children.

"They've come from India and they're not far from Christmas Island," she said.

"They are saying that the boat is in trouble. They're obviously coming to Australia to seek asylum and are calling for help.

"Now, if the boat is in trouble, as per the reports, then the Australian Government needs to act quickly, to ensure that there is no further sinking of the boat and there's no fatalities."

Senator Hanson-Young says any decision to turn the boat around is likely to create issues for the Government.

"This boat cannot be turned back to Indonesia, it hasn't come from Indonesia," she said.

"And if the Prime Minister is considering creating a new diplomatic row with India then he needs to be very clear about that with the Australian people."

Federal Government not confirming reports of asylum seeker boat off Christmas Island - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Group Evaluation

For fair assessment of answer scripts, teachers in many schools in the country are practicing group evaluation. It is evident from various facebook updates and calls from fellow teachers elsewhere in other schools. It's a good move for schools in Bhutan. Unlike single teacher evaluation, group evaluation gives no room for biased assessment. 

Science group
In my school teachers form groups in their respective subject department. To make assessment even fairer my school has given index numbers to all students. Writing index numbers instead of names facilitates fair assessment, in that it prevents teachers from the likelihood of awarding extra marks to their favorite students and low marks to those they don't like. We are more or less emulating BCSEA's way of doing assessment. 

Although long and tiring, there is fun in doing group evaluation. We get to eat variety of refreshments. Teachers take turns to serve refreshment to the group. Each day there is something new to eat and there is a competition about who would bring the best refreshment. It is also a time to talk about a range of issue from government's lopsided pay raise; to how it would affect village folks; to world cup; to how teachers' pay does not commensurate with their work; to soap opera; to fashion celebrities; to the rocketing price of commodities in the market; etc. Another good thing about group evaluation is that teachers can spend their summer break freely. Normally teachers do assessment during the break but group evaluation finishes everything before the break and leaves no outstanding work.   

5 minggu, 50 cerita @cepu

"Cause life is a journey, not a destination"

"Karna setiap langkah kehidupan harus dinikmati, karena cerita ini mungkin hanya akan muncul sekali seumur hidup"

1. Akhirnya waktu ini dateng jugaa,,,saatnya gelombang terakhir berangkat. Uda bukan saatnya cuma liat2 foto2 temen2 yg uda duluan, tapi saatnya kita ngerasain sendiri sensasinya

2. 20.30, kereta sembrani berangkat dari gambir menuju sebuah kota kecil nun jauh disana -Cepu-

3. Kurang lebih pukul 4 pagi, Pertama kali nginjekin bumi cepu. Keluar kereta jam 4 pagi sambil sibuk loncat2 dr kereta n slg bantu turunin koper yg segambreng gegara g dapet peron. Sampe di luar stasiun, pada bingung mau kemana, karna g ada yg bilang kita harus kemana. Puluhan orang tumpek breg di stasiun, dengan tujuan yang sama,,,namun belum saling kenal

4. Ini tempat tinggal kita 5 minggu kedepan--Wisma patra 1 buat wisma cewek n wisma patra 2 buat wisma anak2 cowok

5. Hari pertama ada gladi resik pembukaan acara. Dan kita duduk per masing-masing angkatan. Hari pertama penyesuaian udara n cuaca karna di cepu ini bener2 puanaasss. Hari pertama,,,angkatanku ini hening bingiiidd,,,,

6. Hari kedua, libur tanggal merah,,, sibuk cari topi buat seminggu pertama karna gosipnya bakalan dijemur panas-panasan besok .. #fulllapangan ;p

7. Semua diawali dengan Dinamika kelompok yang seru di nglajo. Kata yang paling nge hits waktu dinamika kelompok -- gagal move on (dan ini hasil tulisan saiaa sebenernya #pengakuan😔). Dari cerah, keringetan, jadi warna serba putih semua gegara bubuk tepung lengket2 hasil permaenan anggaran vs korupsi ;p

8. Libur tgl merah kedua - judulnya sepedaan keliling cepu. Nemu yang namanya taman seribu lampu, jajan jajanan pasar, melintasi perbatasan jawa tengah dan jawa timur, n ngeksis foto di tulisan cepu kota minyak (antara taman seribu lampu-bravo)

9. Dapet jatah PBB untungnya cuma 2 hari. Dari 2 hari ini, kejadian paling bikin ketawa itu pas langkah tegap, tetiba ada adegan sol sepatu mutia lepas ditengah jalan,,, ;p (adegan selanjutnya bak iklan mentos ,,,hihihi) -km lucuukkk bgt muuuutttt ,,,,,

10. Pelajaran pertama w/ WI paling kece,,,bu santiii,,,semua pasti setuju kalo WI ini cara ngajarnya paling kecee. Mulai dari games perkenalan, nyusun quote sampe bikin drama (lawak club, mencari bakat). Semua mungkin setuju, ini awal yg kece buat angkatan 6. Pelajaran bu Santi, komunikasi efektif ;)

11. Seru itu tetiba Kamar B1 (Baca: Indah, gulis, Iin) klik sama kamar B4(marina, nila, sesya) : mayoritas anak E. Dan kebetulan temen satker yang cowok sekamar sama anak2 E pulak. Jadilah kita tetiba nemu geng makan malem bareng. (Sebut saja namanya geng avontuur en cruisen)

12. Avontuur on cruisen: Ngebuat malem-malem di cepu, paling engga berwarna. Jalan-jalan malem, entah cuma ke indomaret ato skalian cobain kuliner di cepu ini. Jalanan di cepu asik, beda banget sama jakarta. Bisa jalan santai n jalanan super sepi, dan tanpa polusi udara.

13. Masuk ke Minggu ke dua ... temen2 di wp3 uda mau pada pulang ...  saatnya ngumpul bareng satker gelombang cepu. Reza milihin RM Sapring. 2 minggu dicekokin sama makanan wisma, tetiba makan ikan bakar itu berasa sangat lezato skali .. bahkan sampe nambah-nambah.

14. Angkatan 6: Minggu ke dua di cepu...angkatan 6 uda mulai nunjukin gejala2 keseruan, kekerenan, dan kekompakan ... kita juga sepakat n 1 suara buat bikin piknik bareng satu kelas. Dan meeting persiapan piknik pun dimulai .. (aakkk,,,syenengnyah bisa ngerasain piknik bareng 1 kelas .. berasa balik ke jaman-jaman sekolah dolooo)  #dan tanda2 kejayaan pun dimulai

15. Pagi itu ada olahraga pagi. Jam 5 kita mulai ngebentuk barisan. Pas sang pelatih bilang buka formasi buat olahraga, langsung dong ya....angkatan 6 ngeganti tu kata2 "korsa korsa korsa" jadi "sesya sesya sesya" #dan sesya pun jadi hits di minggu ke2 (dan seterusnya ;p)

16.  Lagu2 yang selalu dinyanyiin setiap hari... pagi dan sore hari... sampe ud saking kebawanya, tetiba kalo nggumam, yg muncul itu lagu dibawah ini,,,


Inget adegan foto diatas? Lupak ini pelajaran apa,,, tapi kita diminta buat 3 tim, trus tugasnya adalah bikin mesin manusiaa. Kelompok pertama bikin mesin game chucky doll, tim kedua bikin nots2 di piano,n tim ketiga dengan mesin drillingnyaa (kalo g salah ;p),,,

18. Itu cerita waktu dikelas. Kalo siang itu jatahnya keasikan kelas, kalo malem jatahnya jalan-jalan malem.. sama avontuur en cruisen. Bener2 enak di cepu ini,,udara bersih (walo agak panas yaa ;p), jalanan lengang didepan wisma, jadwal stlh jm pelajaran bebas bisa ngapa2in.Kali ini giliran kita cobain yang namanya sate Blora

19. Weekend minggu kedua tibaa!! Ini yang ditunggu-tunggu sama kebanyakan orang di WP1 n 2. Akhirnya kita uda diijinin buat jalan keluar kota. Kali ini tujuan kita ke Bandungan, barengan sama aontuur en cruisen:p. Inget jalan rusak spanjang purwodadi, Elf tanpa AC, Goncangan yg bikin mabok, Soto semarang yang mungil tapi enak bingid, Semarang yang panas n macet cet cett,,,,lumayan terbayar pas nyampe di candi gedong songoo,,,recharge ama dingiinnya udr di bandungan ;)

Oyaa,,inget juga dong after hari h, kita masi bareng2 ngegerombol ke wp3... bawa 10 orang cowok, badan gede2, modal sedakep ama berdiri ngerubung (biar keliatan sangar cuy ;p) ... kasusnya g usa diceritain la yaa,,,tp mlm itu semua kereen la ya pokoknya!!! ;)

20. Bandungan slese, sorenya mampir foto eksis di depan lawang sewu,,,karna uda malem, g ada niatan juga si ya buat masuk,,,, untungnya ada guide bruno mars asli semarang (baca:aris) kita yg tau spot foto terkece buat foto sama lawang sewu.., yeayy!

21. Minggu ke tigaa ,,,,, puncak ketenaran dan semangat angkatan 6. Didukung pulak sama bapak tentara juki. Mulai dari lirik2 lagu yang diubah-ubah, gerakan2 nyanyi modifikasi, n yg hits banget itu gerakan ala iwak peyek (yg tadinya ni gerakan cm co doang, skarang semua ikt goyang!)

22. Ceng-cengan pun semakin menjadi,,, cowok2 semakin menggilaa,,,Mulai dari serangan foto2 yg tetiba diedit2 pake luv2 an, serangan foto dp bareng pacar masing yang tetiba menuhin pic wa, ceng cengan setiap waktu setiap saat, n semua pasti g bakal lupa sama kata2 "pagi syesyaa!!" (Pake nada iklan pagi raisa ;p)

23. Puas sama keonaran yg dibikin angkt 6 siangnya, malemnya avontuur en cruisen tetep beraksi... kali ini judulna dolanan padang bulan.

24. Week end minggu ketiga! Yeayyyy,,,, Tawangmangu menanti angkatan 6!!! Perjalanan cepu-tawangmangu-sarangan yang super kece n asik. Mulai dari ngobrol ngobrol kelompok kecil di elf, karaokean nyanyi2 (paling kompak banget kalo pas lagunya luka lama ;p-baca:khusus elf1,,,,elfnya titis mutia si kabarnya lomba tidur ;p)

25. Perjalanan Tawangmangu - Sarangan bener2 keren,...dan untungnya mobil sempet berhenti karna ngos2an. Jadilah kita bisa nikmatin indahnya bukit2... foto2 selfie pake tongsis hits nya mba anas, begaya ditengah2 jalan (mumpung jalanan sepi), sambil ketawa tiwi.

26. Sarangan - tempet ini g seindah bayangan, tp cukup seru pas kita mutusin naik speedboatnya (sayang cm bisa 4 org 1 speedboat). Ada yang belanja, ada yang sibuk jajan, ada yang cm nikmatin pemandangan.

27. Acara hari itu ditutup sama koordinasi dari ibu sie konsumsi kita yang super kece. Ngehandle makanan yang super rempong dr 38 orang, dan dia berhasil tanpa komplain,,, (sejak ini - n kemampuan jawab2 pertanyaan dikelas, rating ka bunga melonjak tinggi)

28. Dan kitapun semua setuju, hari itu kita kompak banget. Kebersamaan yang kerasa banget. N kemana2 bener2 barengan, g misah2. Hari itu keren, ditutup sama lagu kagung rebus yang tiba tiba jadi trend di minggu berikutnya gegara ketawanya sesya pas dengerin lagu itu (kata saksi dr elf 1 ;p).

29. Minggu keempat.. angkatan 6 bener2 gagal move on dari vacation kemaren. Semua sepakat kalo kita harus adain acara se trendy itu lagi. Meeting kembali di gelar disuatu malam, didalem kelas. Kita sepakat buat ngadain acara makrab di akhir minggu ke 4. Ketua terpilih fajar, sie acara duet maut antara kiki n tongam, sie konsumsi tentu saja mba bunga n mba anas, si perkap sama om john, n yg paling oye adalah sie domumentasi: imam, mas arif n iko. Semua spertinya ud pny konsep biar bikin makrab kita super keren!

30. Minggu keempat: semangat nyanyi mulai menurun. Entah karna kecapekan, entah karna tentaranya g bikin semangat, entah karna kompornya lagi g mood ;p. Itu kl di luar kelas,,kl didalem kelas mah teteepp ribut! Kata "idiiiihhhh"-ala jagung rebus sampe kata lalat yang tetiba muncul uda jadi kosa kata sehari-hari.

31. Kelas mulai hambar karna Cara penyampaian materinya bikin ngantuk. Posisi posisi belajar pun mulai jd sortan bidikan kamera.

32. Ini kebiasaan kita, angkatan 6. Setiap selese 1 materi n mau change WI, kita selalu adain sesi foto bareng 1 kelas sama masing2 WI nyahh

33. Sie dokumentasi makrab: gerakan bawah tanah buat wawancarai anak2 pun mulai berjalan. Satu persatu korban berjatuhan. Kali ini anak2 cowok yg lebih ekspresif. Tapi g ada satupun yang bocoran rahasia serangan pertanyaan dr sie dok.

34. 19 juni... angkatan 6 lagi pada keranjingan nyanyiin lagu sandiwara cintanya-republik gegara sesi kuis tebak lagunya pak syafril. Waktu jalan, waktu mau masuk kelas, waktu pak syafril mau mulai pelajarannya,,langsung pd kompak nyanyi lagu ini. #posisi lagu jagung rebus nya syesya untuk sementara tergeser sama lagu ini ;p

35. Dan hari yang ditunggu pun tiba...MAKRAB makraabb!! Dari sore cewek2 uda sibuk tusuk bakso sosis buat barbeque, yang cowok sibuk sama bakaran2nya. Yang lain sibuk ngehias hias ruangan,,,spontan,,,tp hasilnya keren yak man temaann ! ;)

36. Acara malem itu diadain didalem kelas. Pembukaan dr sang ketua (baca: fajar) sama pak syafril. Acara dilanjut sama games2,, tebak kata, idbullaga, chicken dance, sampe truth or dare. Kita juga diminta buat tulisin di sebuah kertas, 1 kata / kesan2 tentang temen2 kita dikelas. Semua ribut, semua dapet komentar dr temen2nya (entah terduga ato g keduga). Yang paling nge hits buat malem itu slaen yg cowok2 kayanya punya mba anas semata niii ;p "peace mbaa!!"

37. Dan tiba di acara yang ditunggu-tunggu. -Catatan akhir prajab- .

Dimulai dr pembukaan yang keren bak nonton bioskop, video2 pas kita nyanyi2 n seru seruan dilapangan, kumpulan foto- foto kebersamaan kita pake backsound lagu i remember, n dilanjut sama video hasil wawancara ... berikut hasilnya dlm bentuk tertulis ;p
- 1 kata untuk angkatan 6?
   Kompak, hebat, keren, rame, heboh, solid, mantap, gokil, luar biasa, oke, gila, merdekaa!!!
- 1 org yg menarik di kelas:
  Cewek : syesya (skor 8), indah (skor 4), hani (skor 3), kiki (skor 3), bunga (skor 2), maria (skor 1)
  Cowok: ardo (skor 5), tongam (skor 4), john (skor 4), rio (skor 2)
----------Demikian sekilas info video------------

38. Minggu kelima - akibat dari tulisan di selembar kertas tadi malem (dan beberapa kasus pendukungnya-baca: kasus radit) tetiba kelas berubah kaya pesantren seharian :p . Hahaha,,kalian lucuuukkk!adegan hari itu hits banget lah ya,,,,dan yg paling terpukul itu om fajar sama bees yang g dpt skor sama skali di video ituu  ;p . Pembicaraan tentang rating dan menaikkan rating pun dimulai....

39. Hari berganti hari... g kerasa, tinggal 5 hari lagi kita disini .... semua kerasa punya mimpi super kece slama 5 minggu terakhir ini.

40. Minggu-minggu terakhir kita menggalang semua kekuatan kita. Mempraktekan apa yang disebut dengan pelajaran team building dan menyusun strategi perang sedemikian rupa. 1 malam sebelum ujian, kita ada disebuah kelas, belajar bareng-bareng 1 kelas tnpa terkecuali, makan menthok bareng-bareng n doa bersama... #target kita semua : tidak menjadi 10 terbawah ;p

41. Hari ujian pun tiba,,,kayanya kita semua sepakat kalo kita alhamdulilllah sukses hari itu. ;p

42. After ujian hour itu saatnya menggila... foto rame pake tongsis hits nya mb anas, lempar-lemparan orang, berburu foto selfi bareng anak2 sekelas,,,,mencetak kenangan sebanyak2nya , dan tentu ajaa,,,,,, karaokeaan di kelas tercintah

43. Oiyaaa,,,, di minggu kelima ini,,berkat video makrab ituh,,,tetiba berdiri KFC (alias: kiki fans club -nia rahmadani kw 3 ;p). Popularitas kiki langsung melejid selama beberapa hari. Kata sapaan yang tadinya "pagi syesya" pun sementara berubah jadi "pagi kiki" :p

44. Malam inagurasi ... angkt 6 dengan dresscode serba gelap mendominasi sayap kanan tempat duduk peserta. Dengan gaya tongsis ala angkt 6 yang tetep akan eksis foto dimana aja, gaya gerombolan para cowok2 berbadan besar pake baju hitem berdiri dibelakang dan ngerokoknya yang khas, gaya joged2 anak2 cowok..g mau ketinggalan juga sesya titis n ka lany buat eksis nge joged dangdut! John yang eksis nyumbangin suaranya malem itu, ratingnya langsung melejit diantara angkatan lainnya.

45. Hari ini hari terakhir... hari terakhir kita semua ada disini.. penutupan dilakuin di pusdiklat migas. Ada cerita hari ini,,,ardo wakil kita semua buat sampein pesan kesan ke panitia, bunga jadi juara 1, friska ke 2, dan bees ke tiga. Anak2 langsung pada heboh... bees naikin rating sampe 300 % ;p

46. Acara angkatan 6 ditutup dengan foto bareng dan membentuk lingkaran. Ada perwakilan dari kita yang ngucapin isi hati. Saia ambil kutipan kaka bunga yang berhasil bikin kita mewek...

"Terimakasih buat temen2 semua, udah ijinin kita semua disini buat ngerasain rasa dan suasana yang sama lagi kaya masa-masa sma3 dulu. Bisa ada dikelas lagi, bisa ngalamin diceng2 in lagi"

47. Makasyi yaa temen2 semuaa,,,,
* kaka lany yang super super lembut dan baik hati,
* kaka bunga yang keren banget disegala acara n jawaban2 yang keren waktu dikelas,
* kaka anas dengan ajakan maennya ama tongsisnya yg bikin angkt 6 tambah kece!,
* adek sesya si anak kecil yg jadi kesayangannya anak-anak dikelas .. dapet pelajaran banyak dari adek sesyaa,
* kiki si nia rahmadani kw3 yg baru nge hits di minggu2 terakhirr.... will miss u
* titis .. si tampang bocah tapi tnyata ud s2 ,,,g ada lo g rame tiiss!!!
* Mutia dengan sol sepatunya yang tetiba copot n ketidakmauaannya buat g jalan jauhhh,,km lucuk bangeet syiiii,,,,
* kaka yosi dengan suara khasnya,,,yang kl teriak kadnag org lain g denger jugaa,,,aakkk kaka yosiiik...kamu imuuutt
* asti dengan akting sekretarisnya taufan dengan kata subhanallah nya yg paling hits
* hani yang lugu n cantikkk
* friska yang selalu bisa jawab pertanyaan2 dikelas seputaran hukum... makasyi uda bantu kitaa ;)
* kaka endah yang tadinya kupikir pendiem,,, ternyataaa,,,rame jugaakk!
* kaka dinaa yang cantik
* kaka maria dengan style jilbab n kacamatanya yang khas. Pembawaan super tomboy girlnya bikin kita gampang mengidentifikasi kl ini mariaa

48. Makasyii buat temen2 yang cowok jugaa
* Tongam yang selalu bs jadi komporrnya angkatan 6, entah buat nyanyi ato buat dikelas
* Bees dengan logat khas jawa timur nya n tampangnya yg kt anak2 mirip mr.bean. selalu bisa bikin anak2 ketawa ama celetukannya
* Taufan dengan julukan khas lalat nya ,suara bebi romeonya n selalu tiba muncul dengan muka khasnya yg bikin ketawa
* Ardo dengan panggilan khas nyaa,,opung. Dan dengan ejekan bully dr anak2 "inget lampu, inget opung kita!" Sama emote di wa yg mirip bgt sama opung "peace pung!". Opung ini juga baikkk ;)
* Darmadi dengan sebutan resminya "pak mentri" . Setiap gerak geriknya selalu dibidik para wartawan. Terbukti foto2 nya selalu menjadi top news di surat kabar per wa-an angkt 6
* John ... pria berbadan kekar yang langsung naik daun waktu nyanyi lagu sandiwara cinta di pelajaran pak syafril
* Fajar dengan logat sunda yang khas ,,,, selalu inget adegan "kecewanya fajar karna g ada skor di catatan akhir prajab"
* Iqbal takodama dengan logat khas aa gym... jd ngerasa lagi masuk pesantren kl ngobrol sama beliaunyaa ;p "Peace!"
* agus dengan suara khas nya ... julukan paling hitsnya adalah "pak ustad"
* bayu yang super tinggi.. kalo pas awal2 selalu dimintain tolong hidupin lcd
* M. Iqbal .. cowok paling muda di angkt 6, suka maen hp kl dikelas,,,,tp kl ditanyain tau,,,, (hmmmm)
* Arif: ini dia satu2 nya dikelas yg emg bener2 kalem tanpa pencitraan ;p. Selamat mas ariff,,,buat kelahiran anaknya ;)
* anggiat -- adegan paling terkenal n melekat itu waktu drama anak buah brengsek vs bos baik2... peran : enjiee
* chrismant -- pencitraan yang selama ini kayanya diem, biasa aja,,,ternyata yang mimpin joged oplosan waktu malem inagurasi,..emang semua tnyata bocor aluus ;p
* Mail .. bapak2 beranak 1,5 yang super duper jail kl dikelas. Suka iseng sm siapa aja..
* hadi -- adegan paling melekat ya pas drama bos brengek anak buah baik2 . Peran: bos brengsek ;p
* Haikal ,, selalu pake baju bola!
* iko .. akkkk,,ko ak jrg ngobrol sama iko yaa,,bingung mau nulis apaa
* imam ... julukannya sebagai om wiki, selaku siap sedia memberi informasi trkini langsung dr embah google. Video prajab yg digarap brg mas arif terbukti sukses ngebuat ketawa tiwi anak2
* Rio -- orang padang yang selalu nanya ttg nasib s2 nya disetiap kesempatan ;p . Kata2 yg hits: sakitnya itu disiinii (sambil pegang dada -gaya rio)
* radite dengan pencitraan diem pada awalnya, biang onar ditengahnya, sampe pernah tobat sehari dr keonaranya, dan ternyata kembali jadi radit yg ribut ;p #gagaltobat ;p
* Riza -- koh riza yg ngakunya introvert, padahal mana mungkin ;p yg dikira sm org2 itu china tnyata jawa tulen ;p
* Ronald -- terkenal sejak awal permainan dinamika kelompok n kepilih jadi ketua kelas. Sukses buat usaha s2 nya yak! Smpe ktmu di eropa sanaaa ;)

49. Makasyi juga buat temen2 avontuur en cruisen yang selalu nemenin jalan2 ;) -mail, aris, jimi,marina, sesya, nila, gulis, iin, darmadi, iqbal, chris, ronald, hansen, joel, aul, aul den, prima-

50. Bahagia itu karna ada ditengah-tengah kalian ;)

"Kita semua pada awalnya punya pikiran beda2 tentang tempat tujuan kita, cepu. Sebuah kota kecil yang panas dan jauh dari hiruk pikuk jakarta. Tapi setelah 5 minggu disini, kita semua satu kata-satu rasa, kita beruntung ada disini, beruntung bisa masuk kelas ini, beruntung bisa saling mengenal"


- indah kusumastuti-

#ditulis dalam perjalanan dari cepu menuju jogja, dibaca dimana saja ;)

Kamis, 26 Juni 2014

Asylum plan defies law and decency


By Greg Barns

Cruel and inconsistent Photo: Scott Morrison's proposed changes are cruel and not consistent with the obligation this country has under the Refugee Convention. (AAP: Alan Porritt)

Scott Morrison's tough new plan to send asylum seekers home if they have a less than 50 per cent chance of torture or persecution defies a longstanding High Court ruling and breaches our international obligations, writes Greg Barns.

As the number of refugees in the world tops 50 million, it is extraordinary that a wealthy democracy like Australia would be making it more difficult for desperate people to come here and seek security.

But that is exactly what Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has done when yesterday when he introduced changes to the Migration Act that seek to overturn almost three decades of legal authority on the assessment of risk of persecution or serious harm if a person is not granted refugee status in Australia.

Under the 1951 Refugee Convention, to which Australia is still a signatory, a refugee is a person who, "owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality ... or country of former habitual residence".

A "well-founded fear" has been interpreted since 1989 in Australia to mean that a person seeking refugee status must show that there is a real chance of their being persecuted if returned to the country in which they previously lived.

In 1989 High Court Chief Justice Anthony Mason, in a decision called Chan, set out what is termed the "real chance" test. He wrote that it:

Clearly conveys the notion of a substantial, as distinct from a remote chance, of persecution occurring ... If an applicant establishes that there is a real chance of persecution, then his fear, assuming that he has such a fear, is well-founded, notwithstanding that there is less than a 50 per cent chance of persecution occurring. This interpretation fulfils the objects of the Convention in securing recognition of refugee status for those persons who have a legitimate or justified fear of persecution on political grounds if they are returned to their country of origin.

The decision in Chan was affirmed in another decision of the High Court called Guo in 1997. This test has been applied consistently in tens of thousands of cases since 1989.

But Minister Morrison wants to undermine Australia's Refugee Convention obligations by replacing the "real chance" test with a new "more likely than not" test, which would mean that an applicant for refugee status in Australia would have to demonstrate a "greater than 50 per cent chance" of them suffering significant harm or persecution if returned to the country they fled.

Extraordinarily Minister Morrison claims that such a test will still enable Australia to meet its international obligations. This is simply wrong.

The "real chance" test or variants of it have been adopted in many countries because it is so patently unfair to read an international law designed to assist desperate people in a restrictive way that undermines the intent of the law. The US, New Zealand and Canada are all examples of jurisdictions that do not insist on a 50 per cent or better type test.

The test Mr Morrison proposes is essentially a balance of probabilities type test.

In other words, an asylum seeker would have to prove it more probable than not that persecution or serious harm would happen to them if Australia refused them a visa.

Such a proposition is antithetical to the Refugee Convention because it wrongly applies a principle of law that is suited to cases where it is events in the past that are being examined.

In a civil action where a person is, for example, suing the Commonwealth government for mental and physical harm that is alleged to be caused by their detention on Manus Island, what a court is examining is events in the past - the period the person was in the centre.

A court can decide that it is more likely than not that the Commonwealth caused harm to that person or did not, as the case may be, by reference to what has happened. But in the case of an applicant for refugee status the court or decision maker is being asked to look into future - what would happen if that person were sent back to the country where they lived?

When assessing the future, unless one has a crystal ball or some mystical power, then it is intellectually untenable to make prognostications that persecution is more likely than not to occur. The nature of the future, particularly in unstable parts of the world, makes decisions about what might happen to a person more difficult.

It is right to err on the side of caution because what is at stake is a human life and the responsibility of a country like Australia to not send individuals back to situations where they are tortured or killed.

Minister Morrison's changes, if they pass the Senate, would inevitably mean an increase in the number of people shunted back to situations where their lives would be at grave risk.

This is cruel and it certainly is not consistent with the obligation this country has under the Refugee Convention.

Greg Barns is a barrister and a spokesman for the Australian Lawyers Alliance. View his full profile here.

Asylum plan defies law and decency - The Drum (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Parliament teeters between infantile and absurd


By ABC's Jonathan Green

No guarantees Photo: This is our unfolding reality: a Parliament of constant bargains and no guarantees. (AAP: Daniel Munoz)

Our Parliament seems to be teetering between the infantile, the grotesque, stubborn stalemate and the absurd - so maybe a double dissolution is the best outcome, writes Jonathan Green.

Chris Kenny's probably right:

Yes. Maybe the best thing we could do is wipe the slate clean and start again. Dissolve both houses, present the unpicked litter to the people and have us make of it what we will.

Because at the moment, our politics just seems to have stopped making sense.

What's the ordinary punter to pull from a day in our parliament like yesterday?

Another day in which Question Time was its routine and tedious farce of expulsions, shouts and gibes; all "suppositories of wisdom" and "irritable bill syndrome"?

Just moments of puerile byplay on a day in which our Government also decided that if you are seeking asylum on the basis that you face less than a 50 per cent chance of torture in your home country, then maybe we should just send you back to take that chance.

But hey, never mind torture. "Irritable bill syndrome!" Ha! Hilarious. Our bipolar Parliament, in turns asinine and inhumanly cruel.

At this point we might need to remind ourselves that torture is more than just a selection of vowels and consonants, an empty, almost theoretical possibility in a bill that whispers through our lower house. We might want to recall that torture is the systematic application of pain and wit-snapping terror to the point at the which the victim crumbles, losing what vestiges of dignity and humanity they might have preserved in a mess of screams, blood and tears.

And to what end? Perhaps no more than that degradation. A process you might endure by accident of your faith, your name, some dumb fault of circumstance.

And that might be enough to lead you to mock execution: a blindfold, a gun's cold and hollow steel pressed to the skin of your head and then ... an empty click of the unloaded chamber and the sudden smell of your own terrified stink. That's torture. The use of electric shock, of beatings, stabbings, sexual assault, sensory deprivation, asphyxiation. A 50 per cent risk? More likely than not? Well, what are you worried about? What are we worried about? Go home and take your chance.

Welcome to the cold shoulder of the Migration Amendment (Protection and Other Measures) Bill 2014.

Don't let the middle school japery of Question Time fool you, nor the dumb show of rote public announcements, the stupid repetitions of the day's empty and mandatory phrases, the vaudeville-for-dummies of politics.

This is still a Parliament capable of consigning nameless and desperate wretches to unmentionable horror. In our name.

And then Glen Lazarus, Clive Palmer and Al Gore walk into a bar. Sorry, the Great Hall of our Parliament.

Lazarus, Senator elect, the man formerly know as the brick with eyes, walks out to introduce a press conference featuring his eponymous party leader and Clive Palmer's new ally in the fight to save the world from climatic calamity, former US vice-president Al Gore.

But Palmer, for all the superficial absurd pantomime of his late afternoon stunt, has played canny politics around the carbon tax; a tax that he will repeal at the price of a sleeper ETS, a trading scheme lying in wait for the world.

This is a prospect Prime Minister Abbott will need to either accept or drive his Government to the brink of dissolution and the vagaries of a new election.

This will vex the Liberal party ... Palmer's ETS is a prospect uncomfortably close to the scheme that so offended the party it deposed Malcolm Turnbull in Abbott's favour. Will they swallow it now, even in the shadow form proposed by Palmer, in order to quickly "axe the tax"?

It's a move of such quiet cunning that it must make some in the Government wonder at the prospects for the budget once Palmer sinks his teeth in, and whatever other legislation he sees fit to turn to his own cunning purposes in the upper house.

And this is our unfolding reality, a Parliament of constant bargains and no guarantees, with a government struggling to hold its course.

The PM seems to have little patience for it, especially when it comes to the budget, that set of bold but unheralded desires, things never tested by a popular vote and now set out in bills that will bowl up again and again to test the determination of a teetering Senate. A house whose resolve is still a mysterious unknown.

A determined PM said of his budget on Tuesday night, "We may not get it through the first time or even the second time, but I think we will get it through."

Twice rejected will be enough to take both houses to the people, a prospect that some in the PM's camp, like Mr Kenny, are coming to consider; maybe even welcome.

And perhaps the only way for all of us to reset this strange machine of our Parliament, a body of men and women elected in a process that hardly gave informed consent for the parade of transformation our Government seems determined, subsequently, to implement.

Sending refugees to take their chance with torture, Medicare co-payments, even a gutted ABC. We weren't asked.

And in that vacuum of consent is the new Senate's opportunity: its excuse to impose confounding stasis on this Government. This was a Government elected on a slim set of slogans and precious little detail, one that can hardly insist on the obedient respect that might have accompanied a precisely detailed mandate.

Nothing was made plain pre-poll and now everything is in play.

Perhaps that is the gift that a return to the ballot box might bring: a new vote that might force both parties to spell out a clear set of intentions.

It could be our best chance to rule a line under an unfortunate period in our politics, a time caught in a narrow band between opportunism and self interest.

Because for the moment our Parliament seems to be teetering between the infantile, the grotesque, stubborn stalemate and the absurd.

Jonathan Green hosts Sunday Extra on Radio National and is the former editor of The Drum. View his full profile here.

Parliament teeters between infantile and absurd - The Drum (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Abbott, Palmer and Gore - a play in three acts


By Simon Cowan

Greg Hunt Photo: Greg Hunt's somewhat bemused response to Clive Palmer's climate policy suggested he was pleased with the turn of events. (AAP: Alan Porritt)

Clive Palmer's climate policy announcement, flanked by global warming campaigner Al Gore, certainly was high theatre but was this play a tragedy or a farce? Simon Cowan writes.

While the presence of Al Gore suggested a stunning political victory for the Greens and Labor, and it is tempting to cast Clive Palmer wielding the dagger as Macbeth, we shouldn't be so quick to cast Abbott in the role of Duncan.

The press conference was stage managed right down to the surprise twist, with questions such as "how will this global emissions trading scheme (ETS) work?" and "did you kidnap Al Gore to get him here?" cut short by an apparently urgent dinner.

Palmer has proposed that Australia legislate an ETS that would only take effect when China, the US, Europe, Japan and South Korea operate similar (possibly linked) schemes. Palmer later clarified that abolishing the carbon tax was not conditional upon supporting this global ETS.

The end result seems to be that, while the Renewable Energy Target (which wasn't under direct threat) and the rent-seeking Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) remains, the carbon tax appears finished along with the Government's deeply unpopular Direct Action plan.

In giving the Government's somewhat bemused response, Environment Minister Greg Hunt seemed pleased with the turn of events. Given that the Palmer-Gore ETS isn't linked to the carbon tax, and that the Government is freed from the terrible Direct Action policy, the Government may be able to let the ETS fall into legislative no-man's-land and live with the one-off budget impact of the CEFC.

Not perfect policy by any means, but it seems Tony Abbott isn't in receipt of Clive Macbeth's dagger this time. Perhaps, given who shared the stage with Palmer during the announcement, this one targets the representatives of the environmental movement?

Two of the main objections to the carbon tax scheme are that Australia was moving ahead of other countries with such a high price and that Australia's carbon tax simply exported our emissions to other countries.

However, we were assured by the Climate Change Authority and others that many countries were also pricing carbon. The Palmer-Gore ETS puts that Labor-Green argument to the test. If our major trading partners really are taking the same level of action as Australia then the ETS may have a genuine impact on the level of global emissions. If they aren't though, then the scheme isn't real.

Australian climate policy would rest on whether China really is serious about climate change.

While it's strange that one of the world's leading climate change advocates would lend his name and credibility to Palmer's policy, the theatrics of Palmer are but Act 2 of this Australian political play. Act 1 involved the imposition on the country of a carbon tax the people had not voted for.

It has become almost cliché to say that convincing the Australian public of the need for meaningful reform is all but impossible, certainly in climate change policy. The truth is that politicians have simply stopped trying to communicate with the public.

Kevin Rudd had a chance to take his ETS to an election and convince the public it was the right thing to do. He chose not to do so, trying instead to work it through Parliament via various deals. Julia Gillard had a chance at the 2010 election to convince people of the need for a carbon tax. She chose not to even try, instead attempting to justify it on the basis of a deal with the Greens.

It cost both Rudd and Gillard the confidence of the country and consequently their prime ministerships.

Why should the public support reforms they don't understand, to address problems that they haven't been convinced need urgent, drastic action?

The Howard government should already have taught politicians this lesson. Howard's failure to convince the public of the need for WorkChoices, instead relying on his control of the Senate to push through the legislation and convince the public it worked afterwards, led to his defeat.

Amazingly the Abbott Government, having given both Rudd and Gillard an abject lesson in how not to sell reforms, has chosen not to convince the public of the need for budget repair or healthcare reform but instead to play political games on what really constitutes a broken promise.

The marked difference between the public response to the first Howard-Costello budget and the first Abbott-Hockey budget can be directly attributed to the current Government not walking the public through the (very real) budget challenges facing Australia in coming years.

It has tried to skip the step where they make people understand just how bad the coming fiscal crunch is and it is being punished for it.

Into this gap steps the masked figure of Clive Palmer breaking the fourth wall of political theatre to tell the public what is "really going on". It's a strategy that has gathered a lot of (surprisingly) favourable media coverage, and the balance of power in the Senate. But will it be good for the country? I guess we will find out in Act 3.

Simon Cowan is a research fellow at The Centre for Independent Studies. View his full profile here.

Abbott, Palmer and Gore - a play in three acts - The Drum (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Rabu, 25 Juni 2014

Australia's foreign policy clumsiness is losing us the Asia-Pacific


damien kingsbury

Damien Kingsbury, Wednesday 25 June 2014

The odd arrangement between Tony Abbott and foreign minister Julie Bishop is manifesting as a poor feel for the nuances of foreign policy. The consequences for the region are real

foreign ministers'Australia is now explicitly viewed as a problem by an increasingly nationalist Indonesia.' Photograph: Getty Images

After balking at its first diplomatic test over revelations of spying on Indonesia last year, there was still a reasonable expectation that the new government would quickly find its foreign policy feet. Julie Bishop as foreign minister was intended to present a firm but friendly policy face to the world, while Tony Abbott got on with domestic policy.

It appears now, however, that it’s actually Abbott who enjoys the world stage, while Bishop seems constrained in her ability to act. In a deeply enmeshed world, this arrangement is manifesting as a poor feel for (or a lack of understanding of) the nuances of foreign policy.

Australia is now explicitly viewed as a problem by an increasingly nationalist Indonesia, eyed with suspicion by an assertive China and with anger or tepid acceptance by formerly close regional friends.

Comments by Indonesia’s two presidential candidates, Joko Widodo and Prabowo Subianto, made ahead of this year's election, cast Australia as the problem in formerly close bilateral relations. Bishop’s failure to offer a quick apology over Australian spying on Indonesia was an "own goal". The apology eventually came, but it was too little and much too late.

This was exacerbated by Australia’s policy of unilaterally pushing asylum seekers back into Indonesia waters, transgressing Indonesian territorial sovereignty and, more recently, returning asylum seekers in Australian-supplied life boats. Bilateral cooperation put on ice last year will probably stay in the deep freeze until at least 2015.

Even further to the north, Australia’s downgrading of ties with long-standing friend, Thailand, was justified in response to the May military coup. But this led to an angry rebuke by junta leader, general Prayuth Chan-ocha, who will remain as Thailand's head of government for at least 18 months. Australia has, for the time-being, lost not just Indonesia but Thailand’s support in regional forums such as the strategic Asean regional forum, the east Asia summit and others.

More locally, Australia’s relationship with Papua New Guinea is under renewed pressure, following corruption investigator Sam Koin’s call for Australia to "take a greater interest" in allegations that embattled PNG Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill. Last year O’Neill criticised then-opposition leader Tony Abbott’s "completely untrue" claims over Australian aid to PNG being linked to an asylum seeker processing agreement.

''We are not going to put up with this kind of nonsense,'' he said. ''We are helping resolving an Australian issue.

There is little doubt that PNG is riddled with problems. As PNG’s largest aid provider, Australia has a right to be concerned over good governance. But this interest is increasingly unwelcome.

Earlier this year, Australia moved to normalise relations with Fiji, following the 2006 coup. Unfortunately for us, Fiji has long since dumped Australia as its dominant regional partner. We've been replaced by China’s, which offers "soft power" diplomacy, in the form of loans and investment. Fiji also recently welcomed Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono as a sign of strengthening relations with Indonesia, as it increases its own influence as a growing regional power.

China is playing a similarly more influential role with Australia’s other Pacific neighbours. The status of the Pacific as Australia's backyard has long since dissipated – Australia’s aid program has been contorted to fit changing domestic politics, our economy can't match growing regional powers and our strategic orientation remains transfixed by the distant spectre of militant Islamism.

Australia’s largest trading partner, China, has tolerated Australia’s diplomatic clumsiness. After Abbott identified Japan as Australia’s "best friend", he responded to China's partially concealed irritation by assiduously courting the growing regional power during his recent Asian trip. These negotiations were, in turn, conducted while Abbott walks the tightrope of a US alliance competing with Chinese trade.

Globally, the Australian government’s enthusiasm for supporting a return to Iraq before the US has defined its own policy position, its questionable approach to climate change and now its failed attempt to overturn the Tasmanian forest world heritage listing, has left Australia further diplomatically isolated.

Foreign policy primarily reflects domestic political concerns and there is little doubt that the Australian government would like to see a seamless link between the two. How likely is that dream? While the government struggles under the critical appraisal of a disenchanted electorate, the international stage looks more like a minefield – in part of its own making – that it seems only marginally equipped to avoid.

Australia's foreign policy clumsiness is losing us the Asia-Pacific | Damien Kingsbury | Comment is free |

Abbott completely isolated by Palmer's "inconvenient senate"



Clive Palmer's emissions trading announcement effectively leaves Abbott completely isolated on climate policy.

clive palmer

Clive Palmer with former US vice president Al Gore in Canberra on Wednesday 25 June. Photograph: Mike Bowers

Clive Palmer's shock announcement on Wednesday night next to former vice president Al Gore has been very cautiously welcomed by Australia's environment movement.

Palmer's announcement effectively leaves Abbott completely isolated on climate policy, both domestically, and as Al Gore's presence demonstrates, internationally as well. It is remarkable that one of Australia's largest coal barons has firmly declared his support for renewables, taking action on global warming, and introducing an emissions trading scheme.

Senior leaders of some of the largest environment groups told me that they welcome Palmer's position on the renewable energy target, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Climate Change Authority, while approaching the details with caution and a large grain of salt. It was labelled as "definitely surprising", "very smart politically", "surprising" and "courageous".

There are no details behind Palmer's announcement, and it is unclear what approach he will take with his decision to support the abolition of the carbon "tax" and its replacement with an emissions trading scheme. Palmer also stated that he would not support prime minister Abbott's "direct action" policy, criticising it as a waste of money.

Kelly O'Shanassy, the new CEO of the Australian Conservation Foundation, who is organising the Climate Reality project that Gore is in Australia for, said "keeping the 'clean three' of the RET, the CEFC, and the CCA is great news for all Australians. It's great to see that Clive Palmer has the courage to listen to the voices of Australians when they say they support clean energy and they support cutting pollution."

Several recent polls showed that a large majority of 72 per cent of Australians support keeping or expanding the renewable energy target. Similarly, the polls show that Australians support putting a price on carbon, and just 22 per cent support the discredited "direct action" policy.

The Clean Energy Council was effusive in its congratulations. Deputy Chief Executive Kane Thornton described the announcement as "a Titanic boost for the clean energy industry". Increasing the proportion of Australia's energy from renewable sources would mean lower costs for consumers and potentially thousands of extra jobs. Kane said in a statement, "what we need is policy stability to unlock these benefits, and the best outcome for the industry is if the policy is left alone to continue working."

A senior environment campaigner noted to me that "we are approaching Palmer's announcement with caution, especially on the RET. This is not the first time the Palmer United Party has made an announcement about renewables, only to see it reversed less than 24 hours later."

What is clear is that Tony Abbott's offensive against renewable energy and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation are effectively dead.

CEO of Environment Victoria, Mark Wakeham said to me, "Palmer's announcement is definitely surprising, but is a pretty productive intervention that will change climate politics in Australia. The government should now give up on its attack on the RET and the CEFC immediately."

Ben Pearson, the head of campaigning for Greenpeace Australia-Pacific agreed, saying to me: "if this position holds, Palmer has turned climate politics on its axis."

The most ambiguous part of Palmer's announcement related to his position on the carbon price. He has said he wants to abolish the carbon tax and replace it with an emissions trading scheme. The catch is that he doesn't want the ETS to kick in until our major trading partners have one.

I spoke to someone intimately involved in creating the architecture of the carbon price under Labor and asked them whether what Palmer was proposing was even possible. If Palmer votes to keep the architecture of the carbon price, by simply amending the existing legislation to set the price to zero dollars, and delays the automatic linkage of the carbon price to Europe's scheme, then it would be relatively simple to re-start Australia's emissions trading scheme in the future.

ACF's O'Shanassy said, "what the Palmer United Party has proposed around the carbon price is basically like taking the battery out of your car. The car still runs fine, and a smart person can always come along, replace the battery, and be off to the races."

However, I'm told it would become a "nightmare" if the entire carbon pricing framework was torn up and rewritten from scratch.

National campaign director for the Wilderness Society, Lyndon Schneiders, told me that "it's fantastic that Palmer is supporting an ETS and retaining the renewable energy target. It would be great to now see him to renounce his Galilee coal projects."

The CEO of The Climate Institute, John Connor, however, described the potential repeal of the carbon price as "ugly" and said it was unclear "whether the Palmer United Party's call for an emissions trading scheme is a pre-condition for repeal of the carbon price and exactly what is intended. The devil is in the detail."

This concern was held by several other eNGO leaders, who told me that they fear Palmer is more interested in creating a political bargaining chip, rather than having any real commitment to climate action.

The cautious welcome to Palmer's announcement extended beyond the environment movement.

I also spoke to several union leaders, and the opposition Labor party.

Colin Long, the Victorian secretary of the National Tertiary Education Union, a union that has been a strong advocate for climate action, told me that "Palmer's acknowledgement of the importance of dealing with climate change is significant, and the idea of an ETS is an improvement on Abbott's useless "direct action" corporate subsidy policy. Palmer's commitment to the renewable energy target and the CEFC is a great relief and will hopefully thwart the Coalition's attempt to destroy the renewable energy industry."

Long-standing carbon price supporter and national president of the union representing coal miners, Tony Maher of the CFMEU, told me, "our concern about abolishing the ETS was that it would mean we had to renegotiate all the consumer and job protections all over again in the future. It's not clear whether PUP is proposing to leave all those protections in place or not. We will be urging them to do so."

Federal Labor also welcomed Palmer's support for an emissions trading scheme. An opposition spokesman said, "Labor's position on climate change has not changed. We will not support the repeal of the carbon tax unless there is a credible alternative that will deliver meaningful action to tackle climate change."

It is clear that Palmer (and Gore) has completely rewritten climate politics in Australia. Why he has done this is not clear, and there are elements of incomprehensibility in what has said.

However, as a political tactic, it could potentially be a master stroke, and consigns Abbott's almost non-existent climate policy to the dust bin. As Greenpeace's Pearson quipped, "tonight Al Gore has delivered Tony Abbott an inconvenient senate."

Abbott completely isolated by Palmer's "inconvenient senate" | Alexander White | Environment |