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    « Death and taxation | Main | Another week down »
    Tuesday
    May302017

    Top news of the week

    May 23 to May 29 ... Indigenous community leaders resolve to be heard in parliament ... One Nation staffer arrested for assault charges ... Dutton glad to see Yasmin Abdel-Magied booted off the small screen ... DIBP processes applications sluggishly as it urges "fake refugees" to hurry up or be deported ... Week@TheKnees with Sohini Mehta 

    More than 250 leaders from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia gathered this week at Mutitjulu near Uluru for the national convention on constitutional recognition. 

    On Friday (May 26), Professor Megan Davis delivered a powerful statement on behalf of the group asserting that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' sovereignty had never been ceded or extinguished.

    Given structural problems such as high rates of incarceration, youth detention and child removal, the statement rejected 'symbolic' recognition in favour of a marakatta, a Yolgnu word for treaty.

    "In 1967 we were counted," the statement read. "In 2017 we seek to be heard."

    The proposed treaty commission is a significant departure from symbolic forms of constitutional recognition that have received bipartisan political support, as well as federal funding: the organisation Recognise has received millions of dollars in funding over the past five years to gather support for the "recognise" movement.

    The commission would not only work towards a treaty, but also engage in a public truth-telling process "the same way they have done in other countries in the world," Davis said. 

    The delegates' reform agenda prioritises a parliamentary voice for Indigenous peoples. Cape York leader Noel Pearson and Cape York Institute research fellow Shireen Morris argued in the Australian Law Journal this month that this was "the only proposal for substantive and practical constitutional recognition which is both legally sound as well as potentially politically viable". 

    They argued a constitutional protection against racial discrimination, though one of the most popular proposals at the Uluru convention, is not politically viable. 

    *   *   *

    Black: arriving at the Brisbane watch-houseSenior One Nation adviser Sean Black was arrested in Brisbane on Wednesday (May 24) and charged with three counts of common assault and three counts of assault occasioning bodily harm.

    Black has been under investigation since a complaint was lodged last August. It appears he was arrested after failing to show-up to a scheduled interview on Wednesday morning.

    A Labor figure in the 1990s tasked with puncturing support for Pauline Hanson's party, Black served on Logan City Council for four years and now works for Queensland One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts. 

    In February, Roberts defended Black, saying:

    "While it's terrible that Pauline and I are subjected to lies and smears to try and discredit us politically, it's totally unacceptable that when they can't find dirt on us the media go after our staff". 

    Black has previously been tipped for state leader if the Queensland election gives One Nation a greater parliamentary presence. 

    *   *   *

    In a belligerent crackdown on so-called "fake refugees" backed by federal Labor, Peter Dutton said Australia isn't "going to be taken for a ride by the thousands of people who are refusing to provide details about their protection claims."

    Asylum seekers that don't apply for refugee status by October will be deported as the government seeks to clear the "legacy caseload" of the 30,500 people who arrived in Australia by boat without a visa between August 13, 2012 and January 1, 2014. 

    According to departmental figures extracted at a senate estimates committee hearing last week, 7,194 of those 30,500 people had not lodged their paperwork as of 14 May – a week before the deadline announcement. 

    Greens senator Nick McKim offered an uncontroversial figure: between 3,000 and 4,000 people were on waiting lists for legal help to fill out the 43-page application form. 

    The departmental officials sheepishly reported that the average processing time for lodged applications was between 261 and 312 days, and that the time frame had "trended up" in the past two months.

    McKim responded to this information with suitable indignation: 

    "At the same time as the government ... has made a decision to impose ... an unreasonably tight deadline for lodging the application, the length of time that it is taking the department to assess these applications is getting longer." 

    *   *   *

    Abetz: coal firedHours before a Senate estimates grilling by Senator Eric Abetz, the ABC axed the Australia Wide program hosted by Yasmin Abdel-Magied a month after she posted a seven word Facebook status on Anzac Day criticising Australia's involvement in wars abroad. 

    Abetz instead spent his estimates time asking why the ABC doesn't run any positive stories about coal.

    "One down, many to go," Immigration Minister Peter Dutton - a self-professed free speech warrior – told 2GB radio's Ray Hadley during their regular Thursday morning catch-up, complaining of "a cultural problem at the ABC". 

    On Tuesday (May 23), the ABC was targeted by online Quadrant editor Roger Franklin, who wrote: "Had there been a shred of justice, that [Manchester] blast would have detonated in an Ultimo TV studio."

    Editor-in-chief Keith Windschuttle has since issued an apology, while one of the magazine's board members, Nick Cater, said the piece was a "despicable thing to write".

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