Thursday, May 31, 2012


The Hon. PETER PRIMROSE [9.03 p.m.]: I make a contribution to debate on the Electricity Generator Assets (Authorised Transactions) Bill 2012. My comments will reflect some of the views already stated and will clarify some of the points that need to be reiterated. I opposed the privatisation of electricity assets when the former Labor Government proposed it and I do the same now that the O'Farrell Government has proposed it. On 28 January last year Premier Barry O'Farrell promised to keep the State's electricity generators in public hands. Today we are set to see the ultimate betrayal by the Premier. Premier O'Farrell's plan to sell off the State's electricity assets will send electricity bills soaring for families that are already struggling with the rising cost of living.

Families across New South Wales are already having difficulty meeting the rising cost of heating their homes and Premier O'Farrell's broken promise on electricity privatisation will only make things worse. For example, in South Australia electricity prices increased by more than 30 per cent following privatisation. The O'Farrell Government has already passed on an 18 per cent increase in household electricity bills and New South Wales families cannot take another huge price rise. Premier O'Farrell promised to do everything in his power to reduce the cost of living for families, but there is nothing in this bill to protect families from huge electricity price hikes. If Premier O'Farrell had any idea about the cost of living pressures that New South Wales families are already under, he would keep his election promise and dump this bill.

Contrary to some of the other views that have been expressed, I do not blame the Shooters and Fishers Party for this bill. I do not blame the Christian Democratic Party either. I disagree with many of their policies, but this bill is not theirs. It belongs to the Liberal Party and The Nationals in New South Wales. They own it and they should, and will, continue to own its ramifications for many years into the future. This bill is about trust, honesty and integrity—more accurately, it is about the Government's lack of any of these qualities.

Premier Barry O'Farrell went to the last election promising to raise the bar on ministerial standards and accountability. He promised that he had, "Absolutely no plans to privatise the State's electricity generators". And yet today the O'Farrell Government has this bill to sell off the State's publicly owned electricity generators. Just weeks before the election the then Opposition leader, Barry O'Farrell, made a solemn commitment not to privatise electricity. This has been quoted on a number of occasions this evening, and I will quote it again:

We have absolutely no plans to privatise either the generators or the poles and wires.

That was a statement by Barry O'Farrell in the Lithgow Mercury on 28 January 2011. In Government the Premier has turned his back on his promise and is selling off our publicly owned electricity generators. He is breaking the five conditions on electricity privatisation set down by the Coalition in 2008. The Coalition described these conditions as being fundamental to protecting the public interest. Without going through them at length, I will reiterate what those five conditions are. The first condition states:

All sale and/or lease arrangements be subject to the Auditor-General reporting to Parliament before finalisation of the sale or lease. These arrangements would include, but would not be limited to:

Timing and price; conditions for workers, pensioners and low income earners; and price guarantees for consumers.

But Premier O'Farrell has made no commitment for the sale of the State's generators to be subject to an Auditor-General's review or to parliamentary debate before the transaction is finalised. The second condition states:

Completion, release and adoption of a rural communities impact statement focusing on, among other issues, jobs, prices and service levels.

However, no rural community impact statement has been released for debate on how this privatisation of electricity generators will affect jobs, prices and service levels in rural New South Wales.

The third condition states:

Establishment of an independent oversight body comprising the Auditor-General, a community representative and a financial expert to monitor the use of funds realised from the sale.

What happens in reality? Of course, the funds are proposed to go into the Restart NSW Fund, with amounts being released on a discretionary basis by the Treasurer with no community representation. The fourth condition states in part:

... establishment of a parliamentary oversight committee to guarantee delivery of improvements in clean, green and renewable energy investment resulting from the sale.

What is the reality? No oversight committee has been proposed or established to ensure any proceeds from an asset sale are used to promote green and renewable energy. The fifth condition states:

Retention of the so-called poles and wires businesses in public ownership, and appropriate safety nets for pensioners, low-income families and employees as determined by the Auditor-General.

Once again, what is the reality? This sale has no protection or safety net, no guarantee about the retention of poles and wires in public ownership, no safeguards against price rises for pensioners, no safety net for household and family electricity bills, and no protection for low-income families.


Given the interjections from members opposite it is obvious that this is stinging. I apologise for that. However, as I said, this is the Government's bill and members opposite will have to wear it for years to come. It is very distressing to me that this is causing concern opposite. As the Hon. Mick Veitch said, many members of The Nationals are obviously concerned about this legislation, and it is obvious from what we are hearing from the Hon. Dr Peter Phelps that even he is concerned about what will happen. The Opposition's major concern is that this will not end here. Premier Barry O'Farrell is reportedly planning to go even further with his electricity asset sales plans. The Daily Telegraph of 30 November 2011 stated:

Mr O'Farrell's office was quietly briefing an angry business community that the Government would go with a plan to sell the poles and wires at the next election—2015.

Premier Barry O'Farrell has broken his promise not to sell off the State's electricity generators. He has thrown away his own guidelines for the sale of any public electricity assets. He said that those guidelines would promote trust in government and that they were fundamental to protecting the public interest. He intends to go further with plans for full privatisation. I oppose this bill.

Monday, May 28, 2012


Jenny Haines, 27.5.12

In all the argy bargy of recent Australian politics, it is useful to contemplate what Australia would be like now, if a conservative government had been elected in 2007.

There would probably be an unemployment rate in the double figures, a conservative government having engaged in massive sackings in the public sector and having refused to assist unprofitable firms in the private sector. That’s the market!

One or more of the Australian banks, large or small would now be bankrupt, there being no government guarantee of borrowings. That’s the market!

There would have been no stimulus packages which everyone took with glee, spent, then promptly forgot that the government ever gave it to them. Never was the government so popular when those stimulus packages were being handed out. But memories are short in politics.

Schools would not have the facilities that they now have as a result of the schools building program. Yes there were problems!  They were massively overstated.

Higher education would still be staggering along, taking in larger and larger numbers of direct paying overseas students to stay alive.

National health reform would never have commenced. My own profession nursing would be running on larger and larger numbers of lesser skilled workers, because like the Howard Government, the conservative government that succeeded them would not allocate monies to universities to educate sufficient numbers of registered nurses to meet workforce needs, much less the huge shortage of registered nurses nationally.

We would not have had a carbon tax, when just about every other country in the world is moving to address climate change through either a carbon tax or an emissions trading scheme.

We would not have any mining tax and the massive profits from our resources would continue to go out of Australia to overseas countries.

Refugee boats would have been turned around where the conservative government thought they could get away with it. More refugees drowned.  More navy personnel would have been speaking out about their disgust at what they were being asked to do. Hysteria about refugees coming by boat would be a fever pitch again, while the majority of refugees who fly in by plane are ignored. Nauru would have been re-opened and once again we would be hearing and watching on the news, stories of refugees isolated from any chance of fair processing of their legitimate claims, taking desperate measures in their despair.

The gay marriage debate would never have reached even the stage of the permission of civil unions in several states, and there would have been no conscience vote allowed in Federal Parliament on the issue of gay marriage.

This is not to say that there have not been stuff ups, mistakes, and initiatives that have been badly explained to the electorate by the Rudd, and then Gillard Governments. Nor is it to make any excuses for what has happened. But it is useful, as we contemplate a possible Abbott Government in the near future, to think about what that government would look like.

How would an Abbott Government cope with GFC Mark 2, now underway in the world? Most likely they would cut government spending drastically, and let the market sort it out. That would cause a lot of economic, financial and business pain. Unemployment would definitely be in the double figures. Would they guarantee the banks? If not, some of them would be in trouble. Would they hand our stimulus packages? Probably not.

The education sector would face similar disparities in government allocations to those faced under the Howard Government where private schools were able to build new blocks and swimming pools, while public schools held classes in poorly heated demountables. The universities would have to continue to take in larger and large numbers of directly paying overseas students.

The health system would continue to be State based with devolution of decision making to the local level, read, the Coalitions mates, the medical profession. The empowerment of nursing would stop eg through Nurse Practitioners having Medicare rights. At the other end of the nursing profession, the deskilling of workface nurses would continue in deference to employer cost modelling.

The carbon tax would be abolished and lighter imposts placed on big business to monitor their carbon emissions. Tim Flannery’s appointment would be abolished and not replaced.

The mining tax would be abolished, and several government programs would be left without sufficient funding, including further stages of national health reform.

Refugee boats would be turned around. More refugees drown. Relations with Indonesia would reach an all time low as the Indonesians resent the Coalition preaching to them about their responsibilities.

Still no conscience vote allowed on gay marriage in Federal Parliament.

With parts of our media rabidly campaigning against the Gillard Government in every word, in every breath they take, it is worth reviewing the last 5 years and thinking deeply about what we want for Australia’s immediate future. Tony Abbott is a chimera. He is good at selling a message, especially a negative message. But he is not a leader, and he is not the leader this country needs at this crucial time in our history. We need to get this right. It is so important for all of us.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


An unpublished letter to the SMH, 21.5.12

The Victorian State Conference of the ALP over last weekend unanimously passed a resolution calling on the Federal Government to implement  the policy of the National Conference of the ALP, and the Recommendations of the Joint Select Committee into Australia’s Detention Network re those refugees who are locked up indefinitely because they have received an adverse assessment by ASIO. These people are declared refugees. They cannot be returned to their own country.  There is no right of review or appeal. If they were an Australian citizen there would be a right of appeal. But these people are refugees. We leave them in detention. Some of them suicide. Last week Rajini and her children were, without notice, flown from Melbourne to Sydney and placed in indefinite detention because there is an adverse ASIO finding against them. This is indeed a profound injustice.

The ALP National Conference called for an Independent Security Monitor to advise on establishing a mechanism for independent review of the adverse security assessments that ensures procedural fairness while recognising that processes may be required to protect intelligence sources and methodology, (Chapter 9, Paragraph 161, ALP National Platform.)”

Recomendation 27 and 28 of the Joint Select Committee Report calling for review and appeal mechanisms needs to be implemented. Lives depend on it. The mental health of refugees detained indefinitely depend on it.

Jenny Haines

Sunday, May 13, 2012




On Monday 14 May, 12.30pm, Aboriginal passports will be issued to two
Tamil men currently held at Villawood Detention Centre who have being
indefinitely detained and denied permanent visas in Australia on ASIO
‘security’ grounds.

The Original Nation Passports - issued by Indigenous Elder Robbie
Thorpe of the Treaty Republic - are being given to the Tamil men by
Indigenous Elder Ray Jackson in a ceremony to be held in front of the
Villawood Immigration Detention Centre on Monday.

Robbie Thorpe stated, “Indigenous people never ceded Sovereignty over
Australia. The Australian Government has no legitimate right to grant
or refuse entry to anyone in this country, let alone lock up people
fleeing war and persecution”.

“We are issuing passports to these men because its what any
reasonable, humane society would do. We expect these men to be
responsive to Traditional Law, and respect the Indigenous customs of
this land. If they do this, which we expect that they will, then they
will be welcome to live amongst us,” said Robbie.

Ray Jackson, President of the Indigenous Social Justice Association,
said that “locking people up doesn’t solve any problems, it only
causes harm. We have seen that time and time again with Indigenous
people, and now the government is making the same mistake with Asylum
Seekers. This has to stop. The Australian Government must stop
imprisoning Indigenous people, and they must stop imprisoning asylum
seekers. I am proud to welcome people in need into our community”.

Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition stated,
“These Tamil men are in a heightened state of distress. They have come
from a dangerous and extremely repressive situation in Sri Lanka, and
have been thrust directly into indefinite incarceration for no good

“The latest attempted suicide on Friday 11 May by a Tamil that has
been refused security clearance highlights the terrible situation for
the ASIO-negative refugees,” said Ian. “They are condemned to
indefinite detention, without charge or trial. There is no right to
know what evidence ASIO relies on for the negative security finding
and there is no right to review or appeal negative decisions.”

“The Labor government has been sitting on its hands since last
December’s ALP national conference called for the independent security
monitor to review the handling of ASIO refugee assessments,” said Ian

The indefinite detention of ASIO negative refugees is the subject of a
complaint by ASIO negative refugees in Australian detention to the
Geneva UN High Commission for Human Rights. The Australian government
has been given until July to respond to a complaint. The recent
Parliamentary Report into detention has also called for refugees to
have the same rights of review and appeal for their ASIO assessments
as Australian citizens.

The Original Nations Passport Ceremony will be held at 12.30pm, Monday
the 14th of May, in front of the Villawood Immigration Detention
Centre (Miowera Road entrance). All are welcome to attend.

Media Contact:
Shane Reside, Cross Border Collective, 0400 526 313

For Comment:
Robbie Thorpe, Treaty Republic, 0415 801 170
Ray Jackson, Indigenous Social Justice Association, 0450 651 063
Ian Rintoul, Refugee Action Coalition, 0417 275 713


by Robin De Crespigny, Penguin Books,  2012.

“In determining appropriate sentences I have kept very much in mind that the present offences are by no means in the most serious category of offences contrary to section 232A. In particular, these are not cases of people smuggling where it is intended to introduce non-citizens into this country secretly and with all the dangers of illegal entrants carrying diseases, plant or animal life, which could pose a serious risk to Australia's primary production.

There was no attempt here by the prisoners to hide from the authorities or disguise what they were doing. The offences, whilst serious are correctly described as people trafficking offences rather than people smuggling. Similarly it is significant that none of the prisoners is an organiser. Each played a small but vital role in bringing non-citizens here.”

These are the words of sentencing judges as they sent destitute Indonesian fishermen to prison,  not for any crime at all – these are sentencing notes that have been available for 10 years on the website and have been presented to the senate in various enquiries over the past 8 years yet now we have  the absurd circumstance of jailing Indonesian children as young as 13 in adult prisons with rapists, thieves and murderers for this non-crime.

In each case it was stated that it was not people smuggling but simply transporting the passengers directly to the authorities as requested by the passengers who had mostly fled Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan and most of whom had been tortured in Indonesia and Malaysia.

The problem is that it is not in any law in the world but Australia anything to do with people smuggling as a new book
”the People Smuggler”  by Robin Decrespigny has clearly shown and as international law dictates.

In 1999 Ruddock supported by Con Sciacca brought in vicious penalties for anyone who assists refugees, including Australians who helped them here.

In many cases going back to 2000 we have been jailing Indonesian children who strangely are all deemed to be 19 according to a now discredited X-ray test. 

It has taken a decade but Hamish McDonald, journalist on the Project, and Mark Plunkett, barrister, have brought to the attention of the public that we are torturing young children in adult maximum security jails for 5 years mandatory terms even though the courts have maintained for over 12 years that they are not people smuggling.

The elephant in the room that is ignored by all the media and discarded by the government in senate committees is the “Smuggling of migrants protocol by land, sea and air” that Ruddock signed in 2000 and ratified through parliament in 2004.

Article 19 of that protocol states:

Nothing in this Protocol shall affect the other rights, obligations and responsibilities of States and individuals under international law, including international humanitarian law and international human rights law and, in particular, where applicable, the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees and the principle of nonrefoulement

as contained therein.”

The UNHCR were so concerned they went on to say in the pleniary hearings:

3.      The Protocol against Smuggling, for instance, contains a number of provisions which may impact on smuggled asylum-seekers. The authorization to intercept vessels on the high seas, the obligation to strengthen border controls and to adopt sanctions for commercial carriers, or the commitment to accept the return of smuggled migrants may indeed affect those who seek international protection. A number of comparable provisions of the Protocol against Trafficking may have a similar effect.

4.      During the sessions of the Ad-Hoc Committee, UNHCR therefore emphasized the need to reconcile measures to combat the smuggling of migrants and the trafficking of persons with existing obligations under international refugee law. The Office welcomes the adoption of a saving clause in both Protocols, designed to safeguard the rights of asylum-seekers and refugees under the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees, in particular in relation to the principle of non-refoulement.

5.      In addition, UNHCR appreciates the adoption of provisions for the protection of smuggled migrants, such as the obligation of States Parties to take appropriate measures to afford smuggled migrants protection against violence and to take into account the special needs of women and children. The Protocol against Smuggling is also clear in that it does not aim at punishing persons for the mere fact of having been smuggled or at penalizing organizations which assist such persons for purely humanitarian reasons.

Now the result of the government repeatedly ignoring every legal expert and human rights organisation is the country is:

1.   Ali Jasmin, aged 13 on arrival, deemed to be 19 based only on a wrist x-ray taken by a gastroenterologist with no bone x-ray experience and on the test which is itself discredited.

2.       And so it was in February 2010, when a teenager named Ardi headed down to the water. That is his only name. He is 16, he believes, although he has no way of confirming it. Few people here have more than a basic education -- Ardi made it to Year 3 -- which makes reading a luxury, and legal documentation like birth certificates a rarity. He is an orphan, too.


These children are all in adult prisons in breach of the law that says children should not be jailed but sent home.  None of them had a lawyer prepared to enter their birth certificates in court because they are not nice and modern like ours, none of the judges noticed they were dealing with very young teenage boys, none of the prison guards spoke out, not one person pointed out in the media or courts that they were jailing children as young as 13.

To make it worse instead of using the smuggling protocol to protect those who merely assist refugees in their legal travels to seek asylum the government are keeping these children and hundreds of adults in prisons without charge until all refugee cases are settled.

Why you ask?   Because until the claims have been settled the refugees who come by sea are not deemed to have entered Australia – they then arrive on an Australian jumbo and the Indonesians are charged with smuggling.

AS the Perth Chief Justice stated in March :it is risible to call it people smuggling”.

But the government are so determined to “send a message” now 16 year old Ali Jasmin rots in Albany prison with murderers and rapists.

Friday, May 11, 2012




A Tamil refugee with an ASIO negative security finding attempted
suicide in the early hours of today (Friday) morning. He is the second
ASIO negative Tamil refugee to attempt suicide in less than a month at
the misnamed Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation (MITA)
detention centre.

The Tamil man, in his early30s, had attempted suicide by hanging and
was dropped down by fellow refugees who found him at around 1.30am
this morning.

The Tamil refugee, the first Tamil to receive a negative ASIO finding,
had been in detention for 37 months. He was taken to hospital by
ambulance, unconscious and with a weak pulse. His present condition is
not known.

It is the second time, in less than a month, that ASIO-rejected
refugees have attempted suicide at MITA. Many of the ASIO rejected
refugees have now been in detention for three years or longer.

“The attempted suicides highlight the terrible situation for the
ASIO-negative refugees,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the
Refugee Action Coalition, “They are condemned to indefinite detention,
without charge or trial. There is no right to know what evidence ASIO
relies on for the negative security finding and there is no right to
review or appeal negative decisions.

“The Labor government has been sitting on its hands since last
December’s ALP national conference called for the independent security
monitor to review the handling of ASIO refugee assessments, said

The indefinite detention of ASIO negative refugees is the subject of a
complaint by ASIO negative refugees in Australian detention to the
Geneva UN High Commission for Human Rights. The Australian government
has been given until July to respond to a complaint.
The recent Parliamentary Report into detention has also called for
refugees to have the same rights of review and appeal for their ASIO
assessments as Australian citizens.

“Chris Bowen must urgently address the recommendations of the
Parliamentary Inquiry into Immigration Detention that call for
refugees to have the same rights of review and appeal for their ASIO
assessments as Australian citizens. This is becoming a matter of life
and death,” said Lucy Honan, from Melbourne Refugee Action Collective.

For more information contact Ian Rintoul (Refugee Action Coalition)
0417 275 713 or Lucy Honan from the Melbourne Refugee Action
Collective, 0404728104


Red News Readers,

It must surely be a badge of honour to be sacked by Michael Williamson. An officer showing some concern for the members of the HSU in the midst of all this mess would be welcomed by the members but not by the embattled Willimson forces, which must be shrinking in numbers every day. Roll on the administration.

Jenny Haines

SMH, 11.5.12

Nicole Hasham

A SENIOR manager who demanded reform of the scandal-wracked east branch of the Health Services Union has been sacked, plunging the organisation into further disarray.

The controversy came amid claims 3000 members have left since October and as paramedics met with key union officials to demand an end to instability.

The termination of the union's senior industrial manager, Andrew Lillicrap, outraged delegates and a senior executive, who questioned why he was not extended the same industrial rights as the general secretary of the allegedly corrupt union branch, Michael Williamson.

The Herald understands the manager was sacked following a meeting with ambulance delegates yesterday, who passed a resolution calling on Mr Williamson and other executives to stand down. Mr Lillicrap supported their right to move the motion, apparently angering senior officials.

It is believed the termination was instigated by Mr Williamson.

"I believed reform should have started much earlier. Instead, what they have given members over that time is spin, rubbish and inaction," Mr Lillicrap said, adding he would fight the dismissal.

Mr Lillicrap claimed the union had lost 3000 members since corruption allegations were made in September.

HSU East officials and Mr Williamson did not comment.

Last night, the NSW Industrial Relations Commission was given the power to appoint an administrator to the troubled Health Services Union east branch.

A government bill, which gave the NSW Minister for Finance that power, was amended by Labor, the Greens and Shooters and Fishers Party MPs. The commission will have 28 days to make an appointment. The legislation could also apply to any other union.

Read more:

Sunday, May 06, 2012


Boat surge leads to huge profits

May 6, 2012,

Michael West, SMH.

A surge in asylum seeker boats has delivered an explosion in profits for the private company operating Australia's detention centres.

Serco Australia, a division of a British multinational, enjoyed a 45 per cent rise in net profits to $59 million last year.

The revenue of the company, which has the mandate to run the immigration detention services on behalf of the federal government, almost doubled from $369 million to $693 million.
Serco Australia's compliance with local laws on reporting financial statements has been less impressive. Once again, in contravention of the Corporations Act, its financial statements were filed late this year.

And the disclosure in its accounts, according to a leading academic in the field of accounting and regulation, failed to comply with Australian accounting standards.

''Rules are rules,'' said Jeffrey Knapp, a senior lecturer at the University of NSW. ''Serco has broken them. Serco Australia Pty Ltd is a reporting entity and should do a general purpose financial report like BHP or Telstra, including full disclosures of related-party transactions and balances.''

Serco's high cash flow, low debt levels and 35 per cent profit margins would make it the envy of the corporate elite. Few of Australia's top 100 companies matched the profit rises or margins of Serco when they last reported. Serco's profits had also doubled the year before.

The rise in the number of asylum seekers since the breakdown of the government's Malaysia plan has led to an increase in detention centres from 12 to 20 across the mainland, Tasmania and Christmas Island. In the 2010-11 financial year, a total of 8874 people were taken into detention. It has also meant a lucrative new $1 billion contract for Serco, in a deal renegotiated with the government last December. A contract to manage the immigration residential housing program had blown out from $44.5 million to $85.6 million.

It is difficult to tell from Serco Australia's financial statements how profitable is the outsourcing of immigration detention.

A spokesman for Serco, Paul Shaw, declined to respond to questions in detail but said the company worked hard to ensure that its reporting was thorough and compliant. ''Our report was due on 30 April and was submitted on 4 May. We will honour a late fee if ASIC deems it appropriate.''

A spokesman for the Minister for Immigration, Chris Bowen, blamed the opposition for the increasing numbers in detention because it did not accept offshore processing.

The opposition's immigration spokesman, Scott Morrison, said that, after Labor blew out the borders, the blowout in the budget was inevitable.'' .

Read more:

Saturday, May 05, 2012


Dear Friends,

  There are a number of Hazaras in the community on BCV or CD who have been failed at IMR and in the COURT.

Some have failed at IMR and are unable to get representation at COURT because there is no legal error.

This does not mean that they are not refugees on convention grounds but simply that there is no legal error on which a lawyer can take the matter to COURT.

  The problem is that all that is left is what is a called the ITOA

process- International Treaty and Obligations Assessment. We fear that this is nothing more than a pro forma TICK OFF of The INTERNATIONAL CONVENTIONS to which Australia is signatory so that they can wash their hands as they send someone back. The IAAAS providers  ( government legal assistance ) are supposed to put in submissions. SOME (who will remain

nameless) who offer a minimalist service for their contract payment are putting in a proforma generalist submission which has no relevance to the individual asylum seekers case. This will have no effect on the decision made but then it is not expected too. The system is a sham.

Back to the problem facing the asylum seeker. Hazaras are being called up to DIAC and told that they have failed and must go back to Afghanistan or be forcibly removed.

  The fact is that the Australian Government at this stage has not secured permission to return Hazaras by force to Afghanistan- no matter what they claim.

NO HAZARA has been sent back by force recently. A few have returned voluntarily to save family. They went with heavy hearts - one man said "what use is a visa to me if all my family is dead".

DIAC SAY that they are required to tell people that they have to return or be forcibly removed because it is part of the process.

Three days ago a Hazara man went into DIAC. He had just heard that his son had been killed by the Taliban. They had captured they boy with four others. Two escaped and two were killed.The boys were told that they knew who the boy was and named his father. The Diac officer told this man he had to go back.

We all know that the REFUGEE DETERMINATION PROCESS has become  a REFUGEE EXCLUSION PROCESS. These guys have not had a fair assessment. They were detained in isolated locations with no access to advice. The IAAAS lawyers they are given by rote. They have no choice - they can be lucky and get the good lawyers or unlucky and get the others. They can get an interpreter who they do not understand and do nothing about it. The process is deeply flawed. To fail means that you are unlucky not that you are not a refugee. It is so flawed that it has now been changed but not for those who went into the system before the 24th March 2012. Is it about as fair as the lottery which sent Australian conscripts to Vietnam. Lambs to the slaughter.

What we can do is to remind those unlucky ones not to give up. Remind them that they cannot be sent home no matter what DIAC are instructed to say by the brute politics. Remind them also that the fight is not over.

Howard tried this on last time and in the end many of those who rotted in detention for 5, 6 and 7 years were granted visas and are now Australian citizens.

  It is not much but lives may depend on it.


Pamela Curr, 5th May 2012

Campaign Coordinator

Asylum Seeker Resource Centre

12 Batman st West Melbourne 3003

ph 03 9326 6066 / 0417517075



Red News Readers,

Despite the plaintive cries by the parties in the RNS cleaning and portering dispute , it is more likely the poor old patients, who everyone seemed to have forgotten about in the Industrial Commission , who are the meat in the sandwich!

Nice to see that the Labor Party has recognised, at last, its mistake in contracting out the cleaning and portering services at RNS. It was indeed a mistake that has cost patients and staff dearly,  but the problem now is we have a government that is committed to PPPs and they are not going to pay out this contractor just when they are trying to prove that PPPs are the way forward in NSW. Gillian Skinner and Treasury I say this to you, this PPP is not appropriate to the hospital system.  Pay it out now before any more patients are harmed. Employ skilled porters and cleaners who have knowledge and experience of the health system. A new building at RNS is going to be wonderful, but the problems with quality and safety of care are going to persist unless you deal with the portering and cleaning contract forcefully.

Jenny Haines

Patients are at risk in the Royal North Shore blame game,

write Amy Corderoy and Anna Patty. SMH 5.5.12.

Hugh Richardson was freezing. The 78-year-old, who had just suffered a minor stroke and was having a series of tests in Royal North Shore Hospital, had been waiting for more than half an hour to be moved back to his room.

His thin hospital gown provided barely any warmth against the draughty hospital corridor. A nurse had covered him with towels, but they made little difference.

''They were trying to get someone in to wheel me back to my ward, but they couldn't get anyone because there was no one available,'' he says.
Mr Richardson was one of the lucky ones. This week the Herald obtained a letter written by the Royal North Shore Hospital Branch of the NSW Nurses' Association outlining the impacts of a shortage of cleaning and portering staff.

It told of incontinent patients waiting up to two hours to be cleaned; of a patient with the highly infectious superbug MRSA being left in a hospital corridor because no clean single room was available.

The dispute stems from a $1.1 billion public private partnership to redevelop Royal North Shore Hospital and provide so-called ''hotel services'': cleaning, the portering of patients, and food.

Since the contract was signed in 2007 by the Labor government and the consortium InfraShore, backed by the Royal Bank of Scotland, the hospital has expanded and bed numbers have risen.

But the company subcontracted by InfraShore to run the hotel services, ISS Health Services, says it cannot meet the increased costs.

ISS Health Services says it has been trying to resolve the problem for more than a year, going through a dispute resolution process after first formally complaining to the government last May.

But the department says the consortium ''has not used the dispute resolution process available in the current contract''. The health department has consistently refused to answer questions about how many beds are operating at the hospital.

In the end, it was the union representing the cleaning workers, the Health Services Union, that brought the issue to a head 12 weeks ago after ISS Health Services slashed its casual workforce.

While its state office was dealing with allegations of corruption and police raids, local Royal North Shore Hospital members of the union were forcing the government to the negotiating table through the Industrial Relations Commission.

In the IRC court this week the NSW government's Health Infrastructure, ISS and InfraShore agreed to provide 20 extra staff for an additional two months, in excess of the month ordered by the judge.

However, hospital staff say the problems run deeper than job cuts, and aside from the agreement to provide extra staff there was little consensus elsewhere.

The situation descended into farce with the government, InfraShore, ISS Health Services and the union each telling the court they were the ''meat in the sandwich'', stuck between other warring groups.

The president of the HSU East Royal North Shore branch, Colin Lee, says since the job cuts 15 staff have been injured keeping up with the increased workload. More have been disciplined when tempers flared and fights erupted between cleaners and other hospital staff frustrated at delays.

Lee says staff are also upset by having to implement savings measures, ignoring unclean areas or not providing extra items such as food when patients request them.

''It affects them greatly … it becomes embarrassing to staff when they have to say no to patients.''
At the heart of the issue is the question of whether services such as meals, cleaning and patient movements should be privatised.

The opposition health spokesman, Andrew McDonald, a paediatrician who still works in public hospitals, speaks fondly of the cleaners who have worked alongside him. He says he worked as a cleaner for three months while studying medicine in the mid-1970s.

''Cleaners and porters are clinicians just like nurses and allied health staff,'' he says.

It was a ''mistake'' for Labor to outsource the cleaning and portering services at the hospital, he says, and the Health Minister, Jillian Skinner, must intervene.

''To allow this mistake to be compounded is unconscionable and a dereliction of duty,'' he says.
McDonald says if the minister was working in a hospital and refused to respond to an issue putting patients at risk, she would be subject to disciplinary action.

''You just can't say that it's not your job,'' he says.

Senior health bureaucrats have told the Herald they are becoming increasingly frustrated that Skinner is not taking responsibility for the crisis and is instead ''trotting out'' health bureaucrats including Cliff Hughes from the Clinical Excellence Commission and the chief executive of Health Infrastructure, Robert Rust, to comment on her behalf.

A health administrator says ''it is pretty unusual for something to get to this point where the minister doesn't get involved''.

When the Port Macquarie Hospital public private partnership failed, the former government bought it out.

Bureaucrats say it is unlikely the O'Farrell government could afford to buy out the Royal North Shore partnership, the biggest of its kind for a hospital in NSW. ''And even if they could they wouldn't want to because the government wants to do more PPPs,'' the administrator says.

Skinner stands by her hands-off approach, however.

''A politician intervening is not going to fix this problem … The ministry has been engaged in this since the beginning of April,'' she says.

She says private public partnerships are fundamental to the future of infrastructure development in NSW.

''There will be PPPs provided there is interest from the private sector in building hospitals and in providing some non-core clinical services,'' she says.

''The question is about the quality of the contractual arrangements.

''The big lesson is make sure all parties are clear about their obligations and the contract is clear and fair and the cost and prices are clearly agreed and accepted.''

Dr Tony Joseph, the chairman of the hospital's medical staff council, says the issue is bigger than catering and cleaning. He says the public private partnership was doomed from the beginning.

''The contract was signed for a hospital without enough beds, and by the time doctors secured more beds, the development plans couldn't be appropriately modified,'' he says.

''[The public private partnership] affected the infrastructure as well as the delivery of services.''
Joseph says he can see why the public private partnership model is attractive, as it delays government expenditure.

''But in the end the government still has to pay,'' he says, adding that it is locked into a long-term contract with a private company, even if things go sour.

The Royal North Shore InfraShore contract is for 28 years.

Joseph says public private partnerships are incompatible with the goal of local clinicians being given control of their own hospitals.

''Previously, individual wards had their own cleaners and their own orderlies and the nurses controlled them … as soon as a patient left the nurse manager would order cleaning to start''.

Now, they must request cleaners and wait for someone to have time to do the job, creating inefficiencies.

Clinical staff say poor or delayed cleaning can lead to deadly hospital-acquired infections, which are estimated to cost the Australian healthcare system about $40 million annually.

When Craig Gaudion was a patient at Royal North Shore last year he developed an infection with the dangerous Klebsiella bacteria that was resistant to treatment.

He was in hospital for complicated spinal surgery, an attempt to fix chronic hand pain from nerve damage he developed after surgery at another hospital.

He says he was put into a room that was essentially a ''filing cabinet'', not set up for patients. All night people came in and out of his room, and at one point he was told he would have to urinate in a sink because there was no toilet.

''All the nurses and doctors were really helpful, but these are world-class people working in Third World conditions,'' he says.

The infection he developed eventually meant he could not work for nine months, and meant the spinal implant he had entered hospital for in the first place had to be removed.

The assistant secretary of the NSW Nurses' Association, Judith Kiejda, says ''bean counters'' think they can cut corners on services such as cleaning, without realising the risks.

She says the association is often called in to put out ''spot fires'' in the hospital system when corners are cut, and she is fundamentally against public private partnerships in healthcare.

Asked to respond to the treatment of patients Hugh Richardson and Craig Gaudion, a spokeswoman for Royal North Shore said patients were placed in ''clinical treatment rooms'' as a ''capacity management strategy'', and because they were close to nurses.

She said at times patients are required to wait on trolleys in corridors between procedures, and it was ''common practice'' to cover them with towels.


Wednesday, May 02, 2012




Refugee advocates have condemned the latest moves by Serco and the
Department of immigration to maintain their extra-judicial punishment
of asylum seekers.

Yesterday, (Tuesday 1 May) five asylum seekers were moved from
Darwin’s Northern Immigration Detention Centre( NIDC) to Christmas
Island. Four of them were the long term Iranian asylum seekers who
staged a roof top protest at NIDC, less than two weeks ago.

“Serco and immigration are making good their threat to ruthlessly
punish anyone who is involved in any kind of protest action. This
extra-judicial punishment regime is a complete violation of asylum
seekers’ human right and it must be stopped,” said Ian Rintoul,
spokesperson for the Refuge Action Coalition.

“The protesters have not been charged with any offence yet they are
being exiled to punishment compounds on Christmas Island. Serco is
becoming the judge, jury and punisher of asylum seekers.

“Serco’s punishment regime is like something out of ‘One Flew Over the
Cuckoo’s Nest” with asylum seekers subjected to isolation and
mistreatment in order for them to learn to be compliant with a
dysfunctional and damaging detention regime that is literally driving
them crazy. The Catch-22 of NIDC is that you would have to be crazy
not to protest,” said Rintoul.


“We are also shocked to hear that NIDC is once again being filled with
asylum seekers. We were told by DIAC regional manager that NIDC was
being closed, yet Afghans from Wickham Point have been moved there and
now more people are being there from Christmas Island.

“NIDC is a hell-hole; a nightmare of self-harm and attempted suicides
that should be closed.”

For more information contact Ian Rintoul mob 0417 275 713