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Australia MP in court asylum appeal

Suspected asylum seekers arrive at Christmas Island, after receiving assistance by Australian Navy, on 13 October  2012 on Christmas Island.Australia detains all who arrive by boat, and those found to be refugees will not be resettled in Australia

An Australian lawmaker says he has written to the International Criminal Court (ICC) asking it to investigate Tony Abbott’s government over its treatment of asylum seekers.

Andrew Wilkie, an independent, said he wanted the court to assess policies he said were causing “great suffering”.

He cited forcible deportations, compulsory detention and detention camp conditions as areas to be investigated.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison rejected the claims.

“The coalition government will not be intimidated by attention-seeking advocates calling for a return to the failed policies of the past that resulted in unprecedented cost, chaos and tragedy on our borders,” he told AAP.

Australia takes a tough line on asylum seekers who arrive by boat. They are held in offshore processing camps in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Nauru, in conditions that have been strongly criticised by rights groups.

If found to be refugees, they will be resettled in PNG or Cambodia, not Australia. No-one has yet been resettled.

In recent months Australian ships have also intercepted boats at sea. Some have been towed back to Indonesia and another returned to Sri Lanka.

These policies have been condemned by refugee advocates and the UN, who say Australia may be failing to meet its obligations under international treaties.

But the government says its aim is to reduce the number of people dying during the dangerous journey to Australia by boat, and maintains that the policies are working.

Mr Wilkie and human rights lawyer Greg Barns said the Abbott government’s actions were “criminal”, breached global conventions and fell within the jurisdiction of the ICC.

“The effect of the (asylum) policy is that men, women and children are being forcibly relocated and then subjected to arbitrary imprisonment through mandatory and sometimes indefinite detention,” the letter to the ICC said.

“The conditions they are forced to endure in detention are causing great suffering as well as serious bodily and mental injury.”

It is not yet known whether the ICC would consider taking up the case.

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Australia and asylum

  • Asylum seekers – mainly from Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Iraq and Iran – travel to Australia’s Christmas Island by boat from Indonesia
  • The number of boats rose sharply in 2012 and early 2013. Scores of people have died making the journey
  • To stop the influx, the government has adopted hard-line measures intended as a deterrent
  • Everyone who arrives is detained. Under a new policy, they are processed in Nauru and Papua New Guinea. Those found to be refugees will be resettled in PNG, Nauru or Cambodia
  • Tony Abbot’s government has also adopted a policy of tow-backs, or turning boats around
  • Rights groups and the UN have voiced serious concerns about the policies and accuse Australia of shirking international obligations

Australia asylum: Why is it controversial?

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Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-australia-29718017#sa-ns_mchannel=rss&ns_source=PublicRSS20-sa

Australia page for BBC News website

BBC News Australia index

Readers will notice some changes on the BBC News website regarding Australia.

The biggest difference is that we are launching a new Australia page which will be dedicated to giving you more news and features about Australia, as well as showcasing our coverage of Australian sport, business and areas like technology and entertainment.

We have appointed a new Australia editor, Wendy Frew, who will be looking to broaden the range of stories we cover and offer in-depth features on selected stories. The BBC is a truly global news provider, and we believe we can put Australian news in its wider regional and global context.

We are launching a new Twitter account, @BBCNewsAus, which will be key to our news coverage on social media. And we have improved the navigation at the top of some pages to make it easier to find Australian content.

We’re making the changes because Australia is home to one of our largest and most loyal audiences, and we want the BBC News website to better serve their interests and expectations.

The changes are also part of a wider BBC commitment to Australia, which includes a redesigned BBC.com homepage for Australian readers, with a new layout and video player. The BBC will also be producing a series of programmes called Australia Direct to air on BBC World News throughout the upcoming G20 summit.

We would be interested to hear what you think of the changes.

UPDATE : Thank you for your comments so far. I should have made it clearer that all our expanded Australian coverage will be paid for by advertising, which appears on BBC sites outside the UK. None of the money being spent on our new Australian coverage comes from the license fee. Sorry this was not spelled out.

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Iraq approves Australia anti-IS unit

Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari (R) speaks as Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop looks on at a press conference in Baghdad on October 18Julie Bishop (L) met senior officials including Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari

Australia has reached an agreement with Iraq to allow 200 special forces personnel to train local troops to fight against Islamic State militants.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the military would now decide when to deploy the special forces group.

The unit has been waiting in United Arab Emirates for a month, amid a legal row between the two sides.

Australia is a major contributor to the US-led coalition against Islamic State, which controls parts of Syria and Iraq.

It has committed a total of 600 troops to the fight, including the special forces group.

Its pilots began bombing raids earlier this month.

But the special forces contingent was held up in UAE because Iraq would not give the unit the legal protection Australia demanded.

Iraqi families fleeing the Islamic State advance arrive to take refuge in a Kurdish-controlled area in Mullah Abdullah, 15 OctoberIslamic State has waged a brutal campaign to seize territory, displacing many thousands

Kurdish boy Mohammed from Mizra village of Kobane watches with his father their village from the Turkish border in the southeastern village of Mursitpinar, Sanliurfa province, on 19 OctoberKurds are desperate for help, but Turkey is refusing to renege on its long-standing enmity

“We have reached an agreement for a legal framework and now it will be a matter for our military when our special forces will be deployed,” Ms Bishop said at the end of a two-day trip to Baghdad.

Despite a huge effort by the US and its allies, Islamic State militants are continuing to rule over large parts of Iraq and Syria.

In recent weeks, the group has carried out a wave of suicide attacks, and has fended off attacks by Iraq’s armed forces.

Militants are also embroiled in fighting with Kurdish forces in the northern Syrian town of Kobane.

Kurdish fighters claimed to have repelled the Islamist militants last week, but reports on Sunday suggested IS had staged another huge attack on the town overnight.

Western powers have been attempting to help the Kurds, but crucial regional player Turkey has repeatedly stated it will not provide any support to them.

IS staged dramatic attacks on areas of Iraq and Syria over the past year, quickly setting up an infrastructure and local government.

The group is notorious for its brutal tactics, beheading hostages on video and carrying out suicide attacks.

Map of IS areas of control

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Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-australia-29683481#sa-ns_mchannel=rss&ns_source=PublicRSS20-sa

Australia coach McKenzie resigns

Australia coach Ewen McKenzie resigned following their

29-28 defeat

by New Zealand in Brisbane.

McKenzie oversaw defeats in Australia’s past three games and leaves less than a year before the World Cup.

The 49-year-old was also

under pressure 

because of a row over

offensive text messages back Kurtley Beale allegedly sent

about a team official in June.

“My intention was to resign win, lose or draw,” McKenzie said. “I’ve been unhappy with a bunch of things.”

McKenzie, who took over from Robbie Deans 15 months ago, added: “The easiest thing for me is to exit stage left.

“I’ll leave you guys to speculate or ponder, I’ll write a chapter in my book.”

Australian Rugby Union (ARU) chief executive Bill Pulver said: “I did not ask Ewen to resign, but understand his decision.”

Australia take on Wales, France, Ireland and England in November.

The Wallabies are also in the same group as Wales and hosts England for the 2015 World Cup.

McKenzie won 11 of his 22 Tests in charge, including a seven-match winning streak.

But defeats by South Africa and Argentina in the Rugby Championship were followed by Saturday’s loss to the All Blacks, who scored a last-minute converted try.

“Ewen is a world-class coach and a world-class individual who has been committed to playing entertaining rugby for our fans since he started in the role,” Pulver added.

Pulver hopes to appoint a new coach before Friday, when the Wallabies depart for their northern hemisphere tour.

Former South Africa coach Jake White, and Michael Cheika – who led New South Wales Waratahs to the Super Rugby title this year – are likely to be among the candidates.

Pulver said he would be seeking “a coach who can lead us to victory in next year’s Rugby World Cup, represents rugby’s core values, has the support of the playing group and is available”.

Ex-Australia prop McKenzie was assistant coach of the victorious Wallabies for the 2001 Lions tour.

He was also part of the Australia set-up that lost 20-17 to England in a dramatic 2003 World Cup final.

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Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/rugby-union/29673323

VIDEO: Activists blockade Australian port

Hundreds of climate change protestors have attempted to disrupt shipments of coal from a port north of Sydney using their canoes, kayaks and surfboards to form a blockade.

The group included people from countries in the South Pacific who said they wanted to highlight the affects of climate change on their nations.

They said the burning of coal mined in Australia was causing sea levels to rise which will impact low-lying Pacific islands.

Jon Donnison reports from Sydney.

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Australia academic in racism row

Barry SpurrProf Spurr had advised that schools should teach less Aboriginal literature

The University of Sydney has suspended a professor and government education adviser for sending racist emails.

Prof Barry Spurr referred to Aboriginal people as “human rubbish tips” and used racist terms to refer to Muslims and Asians in Australia.

The poetry professor said the emails were part of a “whimsical” game, but students are demanding his dismissal.

In a recent review of the curriculum, Prof Spurr had advised that schools teach less Aboriginal literature.

The emails were obtained by Australian magazine New Matilda, which said they had been sent to about a dozen people, including officials and academics at the university between September 2012 and late 2014.

In them Prof Spurr refers to Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott an “Abo-lover” – an offensive term for Aborigines – and to Nelson Mandela as a “darky”.

The magazine said he also referred to the “modern Brit” as “the scum of the earth”.

‘Mocking repartee’

Prof Spurr does not deny sending the emails but told New Matilda that they were part of a “whimsical linguistic game”.

They were not a reflection of his views nor the recipients’, but were “repartee, mocking, in fact, that very kind of extreme language”, the magazine quoted him as saying.

He said he had always treated all his students with “equity and dignity”.

University of SydneyThe University of Sydney has said that racist, sexist or offensive language is not tolerated

Education Minister Christopher Pyne said in a statement the emails were a matter for Prof Spurr but called them “repugnant”.

He said the government had not made the decision to appoint Prof Spurr as a consultant for the review of the national English curriculum. He was brought on as a specialist advisor by the heads of the review, he said.

One of Prof Spurr’s contributions to the review had been to advise the government to focus less on teaching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander literature. Instead he advocated a stronger emphasis on Western writing.

Prof Spurr wrote that “the impact of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on literature in English in Australia has been minimal and is vastly outweighed by the impact of global literature in English, and especially that from Britain, on our literary culture”.

Michelle Rowland, the opposition spokesperson on multiculturalism, said Mr Pyne could not just distance himself from the comments.

“The buck must surely stop with someone, and it must stop with the minister,” she told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

The University of Sydney said in a statement: “Racist, sexist or offensive language is not tolerated at the University of Sydney.”

The university has suspended Prof Spurr but the the BBC’s Jon Donnison in Sydney said students there are calling for him to be sacked.

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Activists blockade Australian port

Traditionally dressed representatives from South Pacific nations push their canoes into the water as they prepare to participate in a protest aimed at ships leaving the Newcastle coal port, located north of Sydney October 17, 2014.

Hundreds of climate change protestors have attempted to disrupt shipments of coal from a port north of Sydney using their canoes, kayaks and surfboards to form a blockade.

The group included people from countries in the South Pacific who said they wanted to highlight the effects of climate change on their nations.

They said the burning of coal mined in Australia was causing sea levels to rise which will impact low-lying Pacific islands.

About 30 Pacific Climate Warriors, as they call themselves, took to the water in traditional canoes. They had come from countries including Fiji, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Tokelau.

A traditionally dressed representative from a South Pacific nation installs a flag in a canoe on the shores of a beach as they prepare to participate in a protest aimed at ships leaving the Newcastle coal port, located north of Sydney October 17, 2014.

A spokesman said rising sea levels had already forced islanders to abandon low-lying villages.

“We are not willing to drown because of climate change. We are trying to change the narrative from ‘we are drowning’ to ‘we are not drowning, we are fighting’,” Fijian activist George Nacewa told Reuters.

They were joined by hundreds of activists from the group 350.org and others on surfboards and kayaks.

Protesters in traditional canoes and kayaks paddle in front of a ship as it leaves the Newcastle coal port, located north of Sydney October 17, 2014

The barricade at the entrance to the Port of Newcastle – the largest coal export port in the world – briefly interrupted ships heading to open waters, but no coal vessels were blocked.

Police move in to remove protesters in traditional canoes and kayaks as they paddle in front of a ship as it leaves the Newcastle coal port, located north of Sydney October 17, 2014.

Police escorted the demonstrators. There were no arrest though a number of the canoes were moved by police to make way for ships.

Police remove protesters in kayaks and traditional canoes as they paddle in front of a ship as it leaves the Newcastle coal port, located north of Sydney October 17, 2014

Australia is the worst polluter per head of population in the developed world. It is also the world’s largest coal exporter, sending more than three quarters of what it mines to countries including Japan, China, India and Korea.

Milan Loeak, the 26-year-old daughter of the president of the Marshall Islands Chris Loeak, said plans to expand the Newcastle port were “definitely going to have an effect” on Pacific islands.

“We just want to share our stories and make sure that people are aware that the decisions that are being made over here are directly affecting our islands back home,” the Australian Broadcasting Corporation quoted her as saying.

In July, the conservative government repealed a tax aimed at forcing more than 300 of the nation’s biggest polluters to pay for their carbon dioxide emissions.

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said coal would be the world’s main source of energy for decades to come, angering conservationists.

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Virgin Australia buys out Tigerair

Tiger Airways planeVirgin Australia has bought out its stake in Tiger Airways Australia

Virgin Australia will buyout loss-making budget carrier Tiger Airways Australia for A$1 (£0.54).

It would take full control of Tiger Airways from its current 60% stake in an effort to speed up a turnaround.

“We will benefit from the economies of scale and achieve profitability ahead of schedule by the end of 2016,” said chief executive John Borghetti.

Virgin bought its first stake in the venture from Singapore’s Tiger Airways for A$35m last year.

Tiger Airways, however, has struggled to win customers in a slumping domestic market.

“Given the ongoing subdued consumer demand in the Australian domestic market, the growth of the Tigerair Australia domestic fleet is likely to be reduced,” Mr Borghetti said in a statement.

In August, Virgin had said its annual net loss tripled to A$355.6m due to weak consumer sentiment, the country’s carbon tax and the cost of buying the stake in Tiger Airways.

The takeover, subject to regulatory approval, is expected to be completed by the end of this year, Virgin said.

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Australia prof in racist email row

University of SydneyThe University of Sydney has said that racist, sexist or offensive language is not tolerated

The University of Sydney has suspended a professor and government education advisor for sending racist emails.

Prof Barry Spurr referred to Aboriginal people as “human rubbish tips” and used racist terms to refer to Muslims and Asians in Australia.

In a recent review of the curriculum, Prof Spurr had advised that schools teach less Aboriginal literature.

He said the emails were part of a “whimsical” game, but students are demanding that he be fired.

The emails were obtained by Australian magazine New Matilda, which said they had been sent to about a dozen people, including officials and academics at the university between September 2012 and late 2014.

In the emails Prof Spurr, a poetry professor, refers to Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott an “Abo-lover” – an offensive term for Aborigines – and to Nelson Mandela as a “darky”.

Prof Spurr does not deny sending the emails but told New Matilda that they were part of a “whimsical” game of extreme statements. He added that they were not a reflection of his views.

Education Minister Christopher Pyne said in a statement the emails were a matter for Prof Spurr but called them “repugnant”.

He said the government had not made the decision to appoint Prof Spurr as a consultant for the review of the national English curriculum. He was brought on as a specialist advisor by the heads of the review, he said.

One of Prof Spurr’s contributions to the review had been to advise the government to focus less on teaching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander literature. Instead he advocated a stronger emphasis on Western Judeo-Christian culture.

Michelle Rowland, the opposition spokesperson on multiculturalism, said Mr Pyne could not just distance himself from the comments.

“The buck must surely stop with someone, and it must stop with the minister,” she told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

The University of Sydney said in a statement: “Racist, sexist or offensive language is not tolerated at the University of Sydney.”

The university has suspended Prof Spurr but the the BBC’s Jon Donnison in Sydney said students there are calling for him to be sacked.

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Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-australia-29655458#sa-ns_mchannel=rss&ns_source=PublicRSS20-sa

Asylum baby denied Australia visa

Suspected asylum seekers arrive at Christmas Island, after receiving assistance by Australian Navy, on 13 October  2012 on Christmas Island.Asylum seekers sailing to Christmas Island often arrive in rickety boats and have to be assisted by the navy

A federal court has ruled that a baby born in Australia to an asylum seeker is not entitled to a refugee visa.

Ferouz Myuddin, who is 11 months old, was born in Brisbane when his mother was transferred to hospital from a refugee detention centre on Nauru.

A judge backed the government’s earlier ruling that the baby was an “unauthorised maritime arrival” so could not claim refugee status.

Lawyers said he and 100 similar babies could now be sent to Nauru.

The hearing comes as the federal government considers amending the Migration Act to retrospectively declare all babies born to asylum seekers who arrive by boat as unauthorised maritime arrivals, irrespective of whether they were born on Australian soil.

If the amendments are passed, babies born to asylum seeker parents in Australia will have no right to apply for a permanent protection visa and should be transferred offshore.

Ferouz’s family are Muslim Rohingyas who said they fled to Myanmar (also known as Burma) to escape persecution.

They landed on Australian territory in September last year and were taken to the off-shore processing centre in Nauru. Ferouz was born prematurely after his mother was taken to hospital in Brisbane because of concerns over her pregnancy.

‘Ludicrous decision’

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison had previously denied Ferouz a protection visa – which allows refugees to live permanently in Australia – on the basis that he had arrived on Australian territory by sea illegally.

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Australia and asylum

  • Asylum seekers – mainly from Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Iraq and Iran – travel to Australia’s Christmas Island by boat from Indonesia
  • The number of boats rose sharply in 2012 and early 2013. Scores of people have died making the journey
  • To stop the influx, the government has adopted hard-line measures intended as a deterrent
  • Everyone who arrives is detained. Under a new policy, they are processed in Nauru and Papua New Guinea. Those found to be refugees will be resettled in PNG, Nauru or Cambodia
  • Tony Abbot’s government has also adopted a policy of tow-backs, or turning boats around
  • Rights groups and the UN have voiced serious concerns about the policies and accuse Australia of shirking international obligations

Australia asylum: Why is it controversial?

map

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His parents then appealed to the Federal Court but after examining how the family had entered Australia, Judge Michael Jarrett backed the government view.

He said the rule was intended to discourage people smugglers.

Lawyer Murray Watt said he was advising the Myuddin family, currently staying in a detention centre in Darwin, to appeal.

“This is a ludicrous decision given he was born here in Brisbane’s Mater Hospital and he even has a Queensland birth certificate,” ABC News quoted him as saying.

He said his firm – which is representing the families of 100 babies born in Australia to asylum seekers who arrived by boat – would be seeking assurance from the government that the families will not be moved to Nauru until the appeal is heard.

Mr Morrison welcomed the ruling, saying it has “always been the intention of successive governments that children born to illegal maritime arrivals, are taken to have the same status as their parents,” ABC News reports.

Ferouz’s family are also applying for citizenship for him as a “stateless” migrant, saying that as a Rohingya he is denied citizenship in Myanmar.

Children born in Australia to non-citizens or non-permanent residents can automatically get citizenship but only once they turn 10 and have spent most of their life in Australia.

Australia has been clamping down on asylum seekers, particularly those who arrive by boat.

Last month Australia signed a controversial deal with Cambodia to resettle refugees in the South East Asian nation. It also reintroduced temporary visas for refugees, which allow for the refugees to be sent home after a period of time if conditions in their home country are judged to have improved.

Australia’s High Court is also hearing a separate challenge over 157 asylum seekers from Sri Lanka who set out from southern India and were intercepted by Australia security in July.

They were held on a customs ship at sea for a month, initially in secret, Their lawyers argued they were illegally detained, but government lawyers said the decision was made under existing laws.

The court on Wednesday said it was reserving its decision, with a ruling not expected for some time.

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Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-australia-29625556#sa-ns_mchannel=rss&ns_source=PublicRSS20-sa

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