Australia’s wildlife beauty spots


This video says about itself:

Australia’s Key Biodiversity Areas: Discover Nature’s Hotspots

20 March 2017

Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) are nature’s hotspots. They are the most important places left for life on earth. Australia’s KBAs are the irreplaceable homes of birds and other wildlife that make our country unique – they are places we love. And many are closer than you might think.

Despite their global significance, many KBAs don’t receive the protection they deserve. As a result, the health of these special places is in decline. But we can turn this around. BirdLife Australia is working with local communities to improve recognition of the value of these places, and finding solutions to the threats they face. Everyone can play a role in safeguarding the future of Australia’s nature hotspots – will you join us?

Thanks to the BirdLife staff and volunteers who generously donated footage for this video: Dan Weller, Andrew Silcocks, Dean Ingwersen, Glenn Ehmke, Wes Cooper, Matt Herring and Reuben Warren.

See also here.

Australian Great Barrier Reef coral problems


This March 2017 WWF video is about the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. It has coral bleaching problems.

Trumps breaks refugee promise to Australia


This satiric video from Australia says about itself:

America First, Australia Second/ Australia Welcomes Trump In His Own Words (Official)

6 February 2017

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Australia: Trump stalling on implementation of refugee deal

Tuesday 28th February 2017

AUSTRALIAN senators heard yesterday that Washington has yet to send security officers to vet refugees held on Pacific islands for resettlement.

US President Donald Trump has reluctantly agreed to honour a pledge by predecessor Barack Obama to accept up to 1,250 refugees refused entry to Australia.

But he said they would be subject to “extreme vetting” before being granted asylum in the US.

Australia pays Nauru and Papua New Guinea to hold more than 2,000 refugees, mostly from Iran, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, in foul conditions condemned by human rights campaigners.

Immigration and Border Protection Department secretary Mike Pezzullo told a senate committee that US Department of Homeland Security officers were set to start vetting refugees on the islands as soon as they were authorised to do so by the White House.

Mr Pezzullo told the legal and constitutional affairs committee he was confident there would be “movement within the next few, several months.”

“The present administration’s made it clear they are currently looking at their vetting thresholds,” he said.

Committee member Senator Nick McKim, who described Mr Trump as “insane,” questioned how Mr Pezzulo could have confidence in that time frame, given that the White House was “in absolute disarray.”

Mr Pezzullo replied that he was relying on advice from US Homeland Security and State Department officials.

State Department officials have already conducted preliminary interviews on the islands to ensure that candidates for resettlement were genuine refugees, he said.

Mr Trump has described the deal with Australia as “dumb” and raised doubts about whether it will proceed.

Extraordinary conflicts have erupted within Australia’s Liberal-National Coalition government, underscoring a profound political crisis that is engulfing not just the government but the entire parliamentary establishment: here.

Australian government emulating Trump


This TV video from the USA says about itself:

Alec Baldwin mocks Trump and his Australia phone call on tonight’s episode

On tonight’s episode of Saturday Night Live, Alec Baldwin returned to portray President Donald J. Trump in a blistering cold open, skewering all the top stories that plagued the administration this week.

Including Trump’s advisor Stephen Bannon as the Grim Reaper.

Though Trump bullied Australian Prime Minister Turnbull in that phone call, that does not seem to stop the Turnbull administration from emulating Trump.

By Anna Pha in Australia:

‘Fortress Australia’- Government seeks Trump-like powers against immigrants

Thursday 23rd February 2017

CLAIMS by Australian media outlets last week that the country’s immigration and border protection minister Peter Dutton is seeking “Trump-like” powers to target visa-holders are not far-fetched.

Amendments to the Migration Act that gained support in the House of Representatives on February 9 and US President Donald Trump’s attempts to ban people from seven Muslim majority countries have strong similarities.

There are differences in form though, with Trump attempting to directly use his presidential powers and Dutton seeking to gain similar powers through thinly disguised parliamentary legislation.

If passed, the Migration Amendment (Visa Revalidation and Other Measures) Bill 2016 would give Dutton and future ministers unchecked discretionary powers to subject any group based on race, nationality or other trait holding a visa — regardless of whether the visa is permanent or temporary — to a revalidation test and possible cancellation of their visa.

Trump’s attempts to ban Muslims from the countries on his hit list have little to do with countering terrorism.

For example, the list does not include Saudi Arabia, one of the most oppressive regimes in the world, which has played a major role in training and funding terrorists.

This is not surprising as Saudi Arabia is also one of the largest importers of armaments from the US and Trump is reported to be set to approve large orders from the Saudi regime that had been blocked by former president Barack Obama.

Trump’s attempted bans have much more to do with the reactionary politics of anti-Islam, xenophobia and authoritarian and demagogic politics of the far-right.

The amendments to the Act share the same politics as Trump’s ban.

They were supported by the Australian Labour Party on the senate legal and constitutional affairs legislation committee. The Australian Greens issued a dissenting report opposing the Bill. Labour did, however, vote against the Bill and it is now before the Senate.

The Bill seeks to introduce a system of online visa revalidation. Visa holders would be required to update information and answer other questions as and when determined by the minister. Failure to meet requirements set by the minister would result in loss of their visa.

The claimed objective of the new visa provisions is a new, 10-year, “longer validity” visitor visa to be used by business people and tourists.

This visitor visa is explained as necessary to compete with other countries offering longer visas to tourists. It would allow multiple visits with a limit of three months each time.

The Bill provides for a trial of the 10-year visa for Chinese nationals only. The concept was raised as a means of making it easier for business people and tourists from the People’s Republic of China to come and go at short notice.

It is suggested that nationals of other countries would progressively be allowed to apply for the 10-year visa.

Dutton argues that over a period it would be necessary to require visa holders to routinely update the information they have previously provided to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

Hence the need for the changes. According to the memorandum of understanding accompanying the Bill, visa revalidation “is designed to manage the risks to the Australian community that may arise in the context of longer validity visitor visas, including a person’s individual circumstances changing over time, or in the event of a serious incident occurring overseas which may create a situation where it is in the public interest to reassess a visa holder’s individual circumstances in light of such an event. The amendments will allow the government to ensure that visa holders continue to meet the health, character, security and other requirements for entry to Australia.”

As well as providing for a routine revalidation system, the Bill also gives the minister the power to personally decide that an individual or class of individuals must have their visas revalidated.

The minister could exercise his or her powers on the basis of which country they are from, their ethnicity, religion, etc. This is referred to as “public interest” revalidation.

The minister’s powers apply to all visa holders, not just to those on a 10-year visa, even though the argument for their necessity was based on monitoring changes over 10 years.

The “public interest revalidation check [is] to manage specific, serious, or time-critical risks in relation to an identified cohort of visa holders,” Dutton said in his second reading speech.

“In such circumstances, issuing a personal ministerial revalidation requirement will immediately prevent specified visa holders from being able to travel to and enter Australia until they successfully revalidate their visa,” Dutton said.

The wording of the Bill leaves it wide open as to what groups could lose their visas and be denied visas in the future.

Already there is legislation on the books that restricts areas Australian visa holders can visit without good reason such as visiting their family.

The revalidation check will require the visa holder to provide information via their secure online account that will allow the minister to assess whether the visa holder passes the revalidation check.

For example, it could result in the loss of visa and denial of entry for people who live in or have travelled through a specific country or a particular area of a country; have travelled through a particular area; have contact with people in a designated region or country; are of a specific nationality or even are the children of immigrants from certain countries.

It could also be applied to specific religious beliefs or races.

It contains the potential for loss or denial of visa retrospectively if the offending behaviour occurred prior to it being considered a security risk or what the minister considers undesirable.

This raises the question of why the government would make provisions for the banning of “cohorts” of people, maybe even nationals from a whole country, along similar lines to Trump, unless the intent is to use them.

Trump makes no pretence about his agenda of banning Muslims or nationals from those seven countries that are on the US’s hit list.

Dutton is not so honest about his intentions. A visa holder will pass a revalidation check if there is “no adverse information” relating to the person, or if there is, that it is reasonable to disregard that information.

“No adverse information” is not defined in the legislation. It is left to the minister to determine what is adverse information.

The minister can delegate power to deny and cancel visas. The minister also has complete discretionary power to determine who is required to undergo revalidation.

While the process is under way, their visas cease to be in effect, denying entry until they pass revalidation.

If someone is in Australia at the time, they would not become unlawful non-citizens at the time, but if “adverse information” is found, then they would have to leave Australia.

The Bill also provides for new classes of visas making it far more difficult to gain citizenship.

Recently leaked documents reveal plans for new types of visas, a longer and more difficult process to gain permanent visas and citizenship and delays in gaining access to social security.

The current government is getting away with these laws after years of successive governments demonising asylum-seekers, then Muslims, and increasingly giving prominence to and normalising the politics of the far-right.

The Murdoch-owned Daily Telegraph, a Sydney tabloid, recently launched a campaign to collectively demonise Muslim immigrants, refugees and welfare recipients. It led with a front-page article claiming that “Middle Eastern migrants are piling up the dole queue”: here.

Donald Trump, Australia and New Zealand


This TV video from the USA says about itself:

Alec Baldwin mocks Trump and his Australia phone call on tonight’s episode

On tonight’s episode of Saturday Night Live, Alec Baldwin returned to portray President Donald J. Trump in a blistering cold open, skewering all the top stories that plagued the administration this week.

Including Trump’s advisor Stephen Bannon as the Grim Reaper.

By James Cogan in Australia:

Pro-Trump Australian senator splits from Coalition government

7 February 2017

After months of speculation, right-wing and pro-Trump Senator Cory Bernardi formally split from the governing Liberal Party today and announced his intention to form a new party, the Australian Conservatives. At this stage, no member of the parliament’s lower house, from either the Liberal Party or its coalition partner, the National Party, has joined him. The Coalition and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, therefore, still cling to power with a fragile one-seat majority.

Bernardi, 47, has represented the socially conservative Christian right of the Liberal Party since he first entered parliament in 2007. The main issues with which he has associated himself are climate change skepticism, draconian immigration policies, anti-Muslim xenophobia, anti-abortion campaigns, opposition to same sex marriage and calls for the repudiation of anti-discrimination legislation. He was a supporter of former prime minister Tony Abbott, who won the 2013 election against the Labor Party, and an opponent of Turnbull, who became prime minister through an inner-party coup against Abbott in September 2015.

A senator from the state of South Australia, Bernardi was seconded to Australia’s United Nations delegation last year, spending three months in the US during the final stages of the presidential election campaign. He paid considerable attention to Donald Trump’s campaign, particularly the latter’s populist

How many times do I have to repeat that ‘populist’ is the wrong word for politicians like Trump?

appeals to immense political alienation and discontent among some of the most desperate and impoverished sections of the American population and his channeling of such sentiments behind America First nationalism, anti-immigrant xenophobia and right-wing economic populism.

Bernardi returned home vowing to develop a Trump-style movement in Australia. On November 23, he wrote: “[P]olitics in Australia needs to change. My time in the USA has made me realise I have to be a part of that change, perhaps even in some way a catalyst for it.”

Bernardi is acutely conscious of the instability that surrounds the Turnbull government. He has split just days after the now notorious phone call between Turnbull and Trump, when they clashed over Turnbull’s insistence that the new US administration honour a sordid refugee deal that had been earlier made with the Obama administration. In recent days, Turnbull has denied US reports that he agreed to certain quid pro quos with Trump to ensure the deal remained. The alleged “reciprocal” agreements ranged from sending more troops to Iraq to sending Australian warships into Chinese-claimed waters in the South China Sea.

Points of difference had already flared after Trump repudiated the Trans-Pacific Partnership following his January 20 inauguration. Turnbull briefly suggested that the trade pact could continue without US involvement and raised, in meetings with Japanese prime minister Abe, the prospect of including China in a revised TPP—an action that would certainly have been viewed with hostility in Washington.

There is no question that the rifts between Turnbull and Trump have heightened tensions within Turnbull’s government. In June 2010, under conditions of a rift between then prime minister Kevin Rudd and the Obama administration, pro-US factions within the Labor Party orchestrated an inner party coup to oust Rudd and install Julia Gillard.

According to Fairfax media, Bernardi reportedly told Turnbull this morning that a leadership challenge was being plotted against him and that “I want no part of it.”

Given the extent of the factional divisions both within and between the Liberal and National parties, the outcome of any leadership spill would be highly unpredictable and could result in a split of some sorts and the fall of the Coalition government.

Bernardi’s statements today serve to underscore his major concern: to prepare for the collapse of the Coalition and Labor Party-dominated two party system that has prevailed in Australia since World War II.

In his resignation statement to the Senate, he declared: “[T]he body politic is failing the people of Australia and it’s clear we need to find a better way. The level of public disenchantment with the major parties, lack of confidence in our political process and concern about the direction of our nation is very strong. This is a direct product of the political class being out of touch with the hopes and aspirations of the Australian people.”

So-called third parties are now attracting an unprecedented 30 percent of the national vote. While Labor’s former working class base has abandoned the party in droves, right-wing populist formations such as Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, Nick Xenophon’s party and Jacqui Lambie’s party have cut deeply into the traditional voter base of both Liberal and National.

Bernardi has pointed to the fact that more than one million conservative voters have shifted from the Coalition to other right-wing formations. Comments he made last year, however, revealed that he is even more concerned over the prospect of mass anger and alienation taking the form of a left-wing, anti-capitalist movement within the working class and among young people. In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald last December, Bernardi noted that if the Democrats had stood Bernie Sanders, rather than Hillary Clinton, Sanders would have beaten Trump in the election because his anti-capitalist rhetoric appealed to broad layers of the population. The South Australian senator recalled being shown “research that found 50 percent of young Americans believe socialism or communism is a preferable system to capitalism.”

In the period ahead, the danger of war with China will soar as a result of the Trump administration’s agenda, while the deepening economic crisis will intensify pressures on the government to slash taxes and cut public spending.

Bernardi’s objective is to divert the rapidly deepening social disaffection into anti-immigrant demagogy and nationalism, combined with calls for corporate tax cuts, the winding back of social welfare and the slashing of government regulations on business.

According to Bernardi, 60,000 people have indicated “interest” on his “Australian Conservatives” web site. He has also developed relations with significant corporate figures, and is closely associated with Western Australian multi-billionaire Gina Rinehart, who has amassed a staggering fortune on the back of iron ore exports to China. Rinehart has heaped praise on Donald Trump, and called for Australian governments to replicate his pledges of massive corporate tax cuts and of winding back corporate regulation. According to several reports, Bernardi and Rinehart together met with members of Trump’s transition team in December.

Discussions are expected to take place, at some level, during the next several weeks between Bernardi and his backers, and Pauline Hanson’s One Nation.

By Tom Peters in New Zealand:

New Zealand government refuses to condemn Trump’s anti-immigrant bans

7 February 2017

New Zealand prime minister Bill English has repeatedly refused to condemn US President Trump’s ban on people from seven majority-Muslim countries—Syria, Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia and Sudan—entering the United States.

Hundreds of thousands of people have protested against the ban in the US and throughout the world, including thousands in New Zealand.

English told Radio NZ that in his first telephone conversation with Trump on Monday he told the president “we don’t agree with the policy, it’s not something we’d put in place.” He described Trump as “warm, civil and very thoughtful”—in an apparent contrast with Trump’s browbeating of Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull.

While saying he “disagrees” with Trump’s anti-immigrant measures, English has pointedly refused to call the policy “racist.” Asked by a TVNZ newsreader on January 31 if he would denounce Trump’s actions as “horrifying [and] anti-Islamic,” English replied flatly: “In the end [the US] make decisions about their policy.”

‘7% of Australian Catholic priests are child abusers’


This video says about itself:

6 February 2017

Seven percent of priests in Australia’s Catholic Church were accused of sexually abusing children between 1950-2010. Journalist Karen Middleton brings more details.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Seven percent of priests in Australia is said to have committed sexual abuse of children between 1950 and 2015. It was already known that child abuse within the Roman Catholic Church occurred in Australia, but not on what scale.

A study by the Australian government further states that the age of the victims was an average of 10 years for girls and for boys 11 years.

The inquiry has the numbers only of documented cases. It involves allegations of sexual abuse. It is assumed that several allegations have been covered up.

Between 1980 and 2015, 4444 Australians reported sexual abuse. The reports came from across the country. In some regions, more than 40 percent of the priests have been accused of child abuse.

Trump quarrels with Australian Prime Minister


This video from Australia says about itself:

1 February 2017

Donald Trump “worst ever” phone call about refugee swap deal. Donald Trump ‘yelled at Australian Prime Minister during “worst ever” phone call about refugee swap deal – then HUNG UP’

President Trump blasted Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull over a refu­gee agreement and boasted about the magnitude of his electoral college win, according to senior U.S. officials briefed on the Saturday exchange. Then, 25 minutes into what was expected to be an hour-long call, Trump abruptly ended it.

From the Washington Post in the USA:

No ‘G’day, mate’: On call with Australian prime minister, Trump badgers and brags

By Greg Miller and Philip Rucker

February 2 at 12:50 PM

It should have been one of the most congenial calls for the new commander in chief — a conversation with the leader of Australia, one of America’s staunchest allies, at the end of a triumphant week.

Instead, President Trump blasted Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull over a refu­gee agreement and boasted about the magnitude of his electoral college win, according to senior U.S. officials briefed on the Saturday exchange. Then, 25 minutes into what was expected to be an hour-long call, Trump abruptly ended it.

At one point, Trump informed Turnbull that he had spoken with four other world leaders that day — including Russian President Vladi­mir Putin — and that “this was the worst call by far.”

Even though Turnbull is a right-winger like Trump. And even though Turnbull defended Trump’s controversial anti-immigrant bans.

Trump’s refugee ban is a matter of life and death for some, including a 1-year-old with cancer: here.

Trump’s behavior suggests that he is capable of subjecting world leaders, including close allies, to a version of the vitriol he frequently employs against political adversaries and news organizations in speeches and on Twitter.

“This is the worst deal ever,” Trump fumed as Turnbull attempted to confirm that the United States would honor its pledge to take in 1,250 refugees from an Australian detention center.

Trump, who one day earlier had signed an executive order temporarily barring the admission of refugees, complained that he was “going to get killed” politically and accused Australia of seeking to export the “next Boston bombers.”

Trump returned to the topic late Wednesday night, writing in a message on Twitter: “Do you believe it? The Obama Administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why? I will study this dumb deal!”

U.S. officials said that Trump has behaved similarly in conversations with leaders of other countries, including Mexico. But his treatment of Turnbull was particularly striking because of the tight bond between the United States and Australia — countries that share intelligence, support one another diplomatically and have fought together in wars including in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The characterizations provide insight into Trump’s temperament and approach to the diplomatic requirements of his job as the nation’s chief executive, a role in which he continues to employ both the uncompromising negotiating tactics he honed as a real estate developer and the bombastic style he exhibited as a reality television personality.

The depictions of Trump’s calls are also at odds with sanitized White House accounts. The official readout of his conversation with Turnbull, for example, said that the two had “emphasized the enduring strength and closeness of the U.S.-Australia relationship that is critical for peace, stability, and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region and globally.”

A White House spokesman declined to comment. A senior administration official acknowledged that the conversation with Turnbull had been hostile and charged …

Trump also vented anger and touted his political accomplishments in a tense conversation with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, officials said. The two have sparred for months over Trump’s vow to force Mexico to pay for construction of a border wall between the two countries, a conflict that prompted Peña ­Nieto to cancel a planned meeting with Trump.

Even in conversations marred by hostile exchanges, Trump manages to work in references to his election accomplishments. U.S. officials said that he used his calls with Turnbull and Peña Nieto to mention his election win or the size of the crowd at his inauguration.

One official said that it may be Trump’s way of “speaking about the mandate he has and why he has the backing for decisions he makes.” But Trump is also notoriously thin-skinned and has used platforms including social-media accounts, meetings with lawmakers and even a speech at CIA headquarters to depict his victory as an achievement of historic proportions, rather than a narrow outcome in which his opponent, Hillary Clinton, won the popular vote.

The friction with Turnbull reflected Trump’s anger over being bound by an agreement reached by the Obama administration to accept refugees from Australian detention sites even while Trump was issuing an executive order suspending such arrivals from elsewhere in the world.

The issue centers on a population of about 2,500 people who sought asylum in Australia but were diverted to facilities off that country’s coast at Nauru and Manus Island in Papua New Guinea. Deplorable conditions at those sites prompted intervention from the United Nations and a pledge from the United States to accept about half of those refugees, provided they passed U.S. security screening.

Many of the refugees came from Iran, Iraq, Sudan and Somalia, countries listed in Trump’s order temporarily barring their citizens from entry to the United States. A special provision in the Trump order allows for exceptions to honor “a pre­existing international agreement,” a line that was inserted to cover the Australia deal.

But U.S. officials said that Trump continued to fume about the arrangement even after signing the order in a ceremony at the Pentagon.

“I don’t want these people,” Trump said. He repeatedly misstated the number of refugees called for in the agreement as 2,000 rather than 1,250, and told Turnbull that it was “my intention” to honor the agreement, a phrase designed to leave the U.S. president wiggle room to back out of the deal in the future, according to a senior U.S. official.

Before Trump tweeted about the agreement Wednesday night, the U.S. Embassy in Canberra had assured Australian reporters that the new administration intended to take the refugees. …

The time the embassy said it was informed the deal was going ahead was 9:15 p.m. in Washington, one hour and 40 minutes before Trump suggested in a tweet that it might not go ahead.

During the phone conversation Saturday, Turnbull told Trump that to honor the agreement, the United States would not have to accept all of the refugees but only to allow each through the normal vetting procedures. At that, Trump vowed to subject each refu­gee to “extreme vetting,” the senior U.S. official said.

Trump was also skeptical because he did not see a specific advantage the United States would gain by honoring the deal, officials said.

Trump’s position appears to reflect the transactional view he takes of relationships, even when it comes to diplomatic ties with long-standing allies. Australian troops have fought alongside U.S. forces for decades, and the country maintains close cooperation with Washington on trade and economic issues.

Australia is seen as such a trusted ally that it is one of only four countries that the United States includes [it] in the “Five Eyes” arrangement for cooperation on espionage matters. Members share extensively what their intelligence services gather and generally refrain from spying on one another.

There also is a significant amount of tourism between the two countries.

Trump made the call to Turnbull about 5 p.m. Saturday from his desk in the Oval Office, where he was joined by chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon, national security adviser Michael Flynn and White House press secretary Sean Spicer.

At one point, Turnbull suggested that the two leaders move on from their impasse over refugees to discuss the conflict in Syria and other pressing foreign issues. But Trump demurred and ended the call, making it far shorter than his conversations with Shinzo Abe of Japan, Angela Merkel of Germany, François Hollande of France or Putin.

TRUMP REPORTEDLY ACCUSES AUSTRALIA OF TRYING TO SEND THE NEXT ‘BOSTON BOMBERS’ TO U.S. “Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Wednesday refused to talk about a report that a weekend call with President Donald Trump came to a blistering head after Trump attacked a plan to resettle refugees in the U.S. as ‘the worst deal ever.'” And HuffPost Australia takes a look at what the call has done to Turnbull’s administration. [HuffPost]