Saturday, November 26, 2005

Not a good time to be in Australia

It's funny how we normally think that Australia has it so much better off than us - better shopping, better pay, better weather (well the last is certainly true at the moment). We tend to ignore additional taxes that they have, the poisonous animals and well, the fact that it's full of Australians :p But in the last few months the difference has become truly alarming. While we push for a rise of the minimum wage, nice union striking at Starbucks this week, and start legislating improvements to the student loasn scheme, Australia has had quite different things on its mind.

Issue number one is its push from above to change their version of the employment act. It's a way I suppose of fully privatising employment and emphasising a hands off approach from the govenment. They want to see an end to unions and essentially to worker's rights. Things like rights to public holidays are due to go and instead of turning to an Employment Relations Act for comfort it's all going to come down to the individual contract that you negotiated - and boy will you not want to get that wrong. There's already been one protest held in Auckland and hopefully more are due to come.

Issue number two is the War on Terror and the excuse it allows to put in draconian measures. The current push is to allow new legislation that will allow people to be held without charges if they are suspected of terrorism or breaching national security. This doesn't necessarily mean that they've been making bombs or casing public areas merely that they have looked at the wrong website or been seen talking to the wrong person. If they are 18+ then there right to as single phone call can be denied. If they are under 18 they will be allowed to contact one guardian however that person will not be permitted to tell anyone else or they can be charged with committing a treasonous act/breaching national security etc... So, in theory, Daddy might find out but not be permitted to tell his wife? No lawyers, no appeals to the media, not even knowing necessarily why you've been seized and detained...that's pretty scary shit and a good beginning to a police state.

Issue number three for anyone who's been reading the news this week is draconian measures in relation to questions of citizenship. I wish I'd kept the article so I could remember his name (it was in Thursday or Friday's paper) about a guy who on release from a 2-3 year jail term for thievery was forcibly deported to Siberia. The man had lived in Australia since he was two years old and could certainly be considered an Australian citizen. However, since he had been born overseas he was sent to a country that he could not remember, where he had no family and no money and has been captured by international cameras huddled outside the embassy trying to get back home. International courts have already ruled Australia's actions as illegal but this doesn't currently help the guy shivering in a Siberian winter instead of basking in an Aussie summer. In another case investigated a woman had been forcibly deported who had only lived outside of Australia for the first six months of her life.


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