One fact, apparently not properly appreciated amongst the vast popular movement in support of Julian Assange, both in Australia and overseas, is that, in spite of the fact that the Government of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese could make the British Government release Julian Assange today, it has chosen not to.
The final sitting of the Australian Parliament for 2021 is from Monday until Thursday next week. In the embedded video, I explain how, if it chose to, the Federal Government could have acted long ago to force the British Government to end the illegal imprisonment and torture of Julian Assange. Australians must make the government act to free Julian Assange, or else, hold it to account should it continue to fail to do so.
"Biden is like Trump without the Tweets." The British are known for their "permanent opportunism." "Boris Johnson is like a fifth wheel." US State Department falsely claimed it communicated with the French. China is attempting to make the China Sea into a kind of internal sea. Australia is losing sovereignty to America. US submarines would arrive ten years later than the French ones, so urgency cannot be the reason for breach of contract. (French Minister for Foreign Affairs).
Co-dependency is known to lead partners of people with grave emotional and mental problems into embarassing situations. These kinds of compromise are achieved through manipulation by flattery or pressure on approval-seeking and disapproval-avoiding spouses. Was this the situation for Scott Morrison, who, although Mr Biden could not remember Scott's name, a day or two before, was suddenly convinced by Biden and his team, to seriously snub France, whilst leaving parliament mostly in the dark, in a move that will cost us all even more money but also even more than money. Is China really such an unreasonable threat a world, when America has an order of magnitude more military bases than any other country? Do we really prefer to be completely remade in the image of Walmart, as we become just another new military base for the United States? Is this really just another 19th century trade-war, but with nuclear submarines instead of galleons? Jean-Yves Le Drian is the French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs. He was interviewed by lead journalist Laurent Delahousse on France2 News on 18 September 2021, on the subject of Australia's sudden breach of its submarine contract with France for a projected contract with the United States. Inside is a detailed translation of that interview, for any Australians who are interested. The original interview is at Journal 20h00 - Édition du samedi 18 septembre 2021 en streaming - Replay France 2 | France tv.
LAURENT DELAHOUSSE: This evening the contract of the century has been broken and France has called its ambassadors home from the United States and Australia. What will be the outcome of this diplomatic crisis between allies? Answers this evening from the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian, who is our guest.
[Presentation of the other headlines]
LAURANT DELAHOUSSE: A crisis, an earthquake, a conspiracy between allies. It’s hard to work out what’s happening in this affair. The breaching of the contract of the century on submarines is giving rise to consequences that go well beyond economic matters. These highlight a rearrangement of geopolitical maps and it remains to be known where France and Europe will end up in all this.
Before we go to Jean-Yves Le Drian, first, the fact for today: Paris decided to call home its ambassadors in the United States and Australia. (Names journalists Thomas Cuny, Lucie Berbey, and [?Noah d’Intar – unclear] responsible for producing this background segment)
“Alone in the corridors of Sydney Airport, France’s ambassador to Australia leaves the country. Just like his counterpart in Washington. The two diplomats have been called back to Paris for consultation. An exceptional diplomatic decision. Taken by the President of the Republic and justified in this communication from the Minister of Foreign Affairs.”
Communication from the Quai d’Orsay, 17 September 2021: “This exceptional decision is justified by the exceptional gravity of the announcement made on 15 September by Australia and the United States.”
A few hours earlier on the two continents, the French ambassadors spoke in unison of France’s indignation.
Translation from the French translation of the French Ambassador to the U.S.’s statement: “When we learned that the contract had been cancelled, this really made us angry.”
Jean-Pierre Thebault (French ambassador in Australia, statement in English translated into French): “I think it was a huge mistake. A nasty blow to our partnership. It was more than a contract. It was a partnership.”
The return of the ambassadors, France’s retort after the cancellation of Australia’s order for 12 French submarines to the value of 56 billion euros. Basically, Canberra has turned towards the United States and the United Kingdom. Since then there has been a continuing diplomatic crisis between France and these countries.
PASCAL BONIFACE : (Geopolitical expert – Director of the Institute of International and Strategic Diplomatic Relations (Directeur de l’Institut de Relations internationales et stratégiques (IRIS)) : “France, obviously, has been betrayed, as much by the Australians as by the United States, which are allies. And therefore, when there is a betrayal, one cannot accept it without reacting. Otherwise, one loses honour. And therefore it was completely legitimate, moral, and expected, that France should have a strong reaction, rather than be totally humiliated and not react in respect of that humiliation.”
Tonight, the U.S. State Department reacted to the French Government’s decision:
“We have been in close contact with our French allies. We understand their position and we are conscious of their intention to recall the Ambassador to Paris for consultation. France is an essential partner and our oldest ally.”
The emboldened text below is the only part that was verbally translated in the French news
Original U.S. communication appearing on screen :
US DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Attributed to State Department Spokesperson Ned Price: We have been in close contact with our French allies. We understand their position, and we are aware of their plans to recall Ambassador Etienne to Paris for consultations. France is a vital partner and our oldest ally, and we place the highest value on our relationship. The Transatlantic Alliance has fostered security, stability, and prosperity around the world for more than seven decades, and our commitment to those bonds and our work together is unwavering. We hope to continue our discussion on this issue at the senior level in coming days, including at UNGA next week, in line with our close bilateral partnership and commitment to cooperation on arrange of issues, including the Indo-Pacific.
Jean-Yves Le Drian and his American counterpart, Tony Blinken, will again find themselves in New York, at the seat of the United Nations. The Americans hope to continue the dialogue. [Reference to the last paragraph of the US communication above.]
LAURENT DELAHOUSSE : And in an attempt to better understand the Minister for Foreign Affairs is with us. Good evening Jean-Yves Le Drian.
LE DRIAN (FRENCH FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTER): Good evening.
LAUREN DELAHOUSSE : For many French people listening, to recall those ambassadors in response to such a humiliation, may not mean much.
LE DRIAN : It’s very symbolic. There have been lies, there has been duplicity, there has been a major breakdown in trust, there has been contempt. Therefore things are not good between us! Not good at all! It means there is a crisis, and at this moment, there is firstly a symbolic aspect – you recall your ambassadors in order to try to understand, but at the same time in order to show our countries which were once partners that we are really very angry, that there is really a crisis between us, and then, it is also, when the moment arrives, to reevaluate our position, in order to defend our interests both in Australia and in the United States.
LAURENT DELAHOUSSE : Mr Drian, you know as I do, this evening, that this measure isn’t going to stop Joe Biden from sleeping. He is happy with the contract, which is now in his favor.
LE DRIAN : Yes, but the fact that for the first time in the history of the United States and France we have recalled our ambassador for consultation is a heavy political action, signifying the importance of the crisis which exists today between our two countries. Also with Australia.
LAURENT DELAHOUSSE : Have Joe Biden and Emmanuel Macron spoken together?
LE DRIAN : Not to my knowledge.
LAURENT DELAHOUSSE : Has Mr Blinken spoken with you?
LE DRIAN : Today, no. Um, I heard your commentary, according to which there had been consultations with – between the Americans and ourselves – before the announcement. It isn’t true.
LAURENT DELAHOUSSE : Meaning that you knew nothing.
LE DRIAN : - an hour before -
LAURENT DELAHOUSSE : - nothing of these negotiations an hour beforehand. [… unclear]
LE DRIAN : That’s the reason I’m telling you that there has been duplicity, contempt, lying. It’s -
LAURENT DELAHOUSSE : And perhaps -
LE DRIAN : - You can’t play with alliances like that! We are allies.
LAURENT DELAHOUSSE : Mmm.
LE DRIAN : And therefore, when one has an ally, one does not treat them with brutality, with such unpredictability, a major partner which France is. So, there is really a crisis.
This also throws light perhaps on some kind of failure in our research services when one is not up to date …?
LE DRIAN : No. Yes. But really, in fact the agreement which was initiated by the United States an Australia was decided by a tiny little committee and I am not even sure that all the Australian and American ministers knew it.
LAURENT DELAHOUSSE : Mr Biden’s method bears a strong resemblance to Mr Trump’s.
LE DRIAN : Without the tweets.
LAURANT DELAHOUSSE : Without the tweets.
LE DRIAN : But, with a quite infuriatingly pompous announcement. Truth be told, seeing the US President and the Australian Prime Minister in company with Boris Johnson, announcing with such solemn ceremony, this breach and these new commitments, provides so many reasons to question the strength of the alliance.
LAURENT DELAHOUSSE: Are there no allies anymore on the American side? Is there a profound breakdown in trust?
LE DRIAN : There is a breakdown in trust.
LAURENT DELAHOUSSE : And you saw the same thing, well before. We remember 2013 and those French planes taking off. This is something that affected you deeply. It’s a new step after Afghanistan.
LE DRIAN : What’s for sure is that the United States are in the process of recentering their fundamental interests. They are in the process of going back on a particular commitment they had on the international level, and there is a real link between Afghanistan and what has just happened with the Australian contract, except that a true alliance – in a true alliance – people talk to each other. They don’t hide things. They answer our questions. One respects the other. One respects sovereignty. This was not the case. That is why there is a crisis.
LAURENT DELAHOUSSE : What we might have hoped for was, finally, a strong, intense, European reaction. I haven’t heard Mrs Merkel say anything today.
LE DRIAN: Yes, but -
LAURENT DELAHOUSSE : Aren’t you disappointed about that, in the circumstances? That, in the end, France finds herself alone, while power bypasses Europe?
LAURENT DELAHOUSSE : I’m not sure that we are really so alone in this business, because of various conversations we have had in these last 48 hours, including -
LAURENT DELAHOUSSE : Perhaps she [Merkel] will speak -
LE DRIAN : But wait, it’s not over – (Smiling)
LAURENT DELAHOUSSE: It’s not over. (Grinning.) It’s not over. (Turning to audience.)
In fact, in a moment we are going to look at how geopolitics in that region are on the move. And we are going to talk about this. Why has America made this choice and why is there new vitality in the Anglo-Saxon axis, and especially why this Asia-Pacific region has become the priority? It’s not new for Washington, which no longer looks to the west, and Europe, but towards the East and China. To understand what is at stake, [..] Presents background piece.
[Picture of Australian Prime Minister Morrison with a rather stupid smile on his face.]
An unconcerned Australian Primeminister, at daggers drawn with Xi Jinping’s China. He has chosen his side and thrown himself into Joe Biden’s arms in a game of power, in that battle of influences that is playing out in the Indo-Pacific region. Australia is thousands of kilometers from the United States, but the two countries are united by their obsession with China. They can no longer bear that Peking (Bejing) wants to reign over this entire region. They have found their theatre, this submarine contract. For Australia, it’s a kind of all-risks insurance against Peking (Bejing), and too bad for the French.
THOMAS GOMART, DIRECTOR OF THE FRENCH INSTITUTE FOR INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS (DIRECTEUR DE L’INSTITUT FRANCAIS DES RELATIONS INTERNATIONALES (IRI)) : “Australia, which has been the object of multiple pressures from China, has in a way completely switched over into the American camp. That means that this contract also translates into a highly probable form of integration of the Australian Navy into the US Marines, in response to the threat from China.”
An agreement between Washington and Canberra, at a moment when military tensions are more and more lively in the region. Latest episode: [Picture of rows of Chinese ships in the Pacific] This armada of 200 chinese ships that Peking (Beijing) calls fishing boats, in fact a maritime militia financed by China in order to challenge the countries in the region. A perfect illustration of this middle-ranking empire in a quest for supremacy.
ANTOINE BONDAZ : RESEARCHER – SPECIALIST ON CHINA. FOUNDATION FOR STRATEGIC RESEARCH (FONDATION POUR LA RECHERCHE STRATEGIQUE (FRS))
“This confrontation between Australia and China, brooding for years, culminated in 2020. (…) Peking [Bejing] imposed economic sanctions on Australia, with high taxes on wine, beef, barley, and coal. And it is also that economic war that is pushing the Australians to seek shelter under the American umbrella.”
LAURANT DELAHOUSSE : Before we return to geopolitics, what can we do next? What are you going to try to get, to negotiate for, with the Americans?
LE DRIAN : Firstly, there is the agreement we had with the Australians. It was an intergovernmental agreement that I signed myself in 2016 with Mr Morrison’s predecessor. This agreement contained previsions for a situation where one of the parties would want to leave it, since this is an agreement over 30 years.
LAURENT DELAHOUSSE : So, a violation -
LE DRIAN : So, there are arrangements that indicate, firstly, that the party wanting to break the agreement makes this known in writing, which we have not yet received. After that, 12 months of discussion are required, in order to arrive at a potential breaking of the agreement, if one of the parties wants to break it, at the end of 24 months. We are therefore going to act to ask for explanations from the Australians in order to know how they themselves expect to respect the agreement that they themselves signed. But, there is still another point that preoccupies me in this business.
LAURENT DELAHOUSSE : Mmm.
LE DRIAN : We were meant to deliver the first submarines by the beginning of the 2030s on a schedule that would take us to 2050. That’s been breached. It’s been breached, say the Australians, because China has militarized.
LAURENT DELAHOUSSE. Mmm.
LE DRIAN : And it was precisely in order to ensure the sovereignty of Australia that we entered these contracts with the Australians. But, in short, they say the contracts being broken because of China – And what’s America offering, today? What does the agreement just announced contain? There is an agreement to carry out a study which will end up in a contract after 18 months. A contract for nuclear submarines. Which means they are putting back the delivery date for the new submarines to 2040! All this despite the urgent context of China’s rise?
LAURENT DELAHOUSSE: Therefore, you don’t understand.
LE DRIAN: I don’t understand. And maybe that’s Australia’s choice. And they have also chosen to be truly subordinate to the United States in the region - perhaps a form of giving up a part of their sovereignty. It’s their decision, but it gives rise to questions -
LAURENT DELAHOUSSE : The political map is changing there and you are well aware of it. You know that’s been the long-term objective in the region, vis a vis China, since Barack Obama. What will France’s role and place be in that region? And Europe’s?
LE DRIAN : Keep in mind here the rise of a highly confrontational, militarily confrontational, United States-initiated Indo-Pacific strategy in the region.
LAURANT DELAHOUSSE : That’s not our position towards China?
LD DRIAN : It’s not our position. We know very well what China is doing.
LAURENT DELAHOUSSE : That’s not naïve? It’s the third […unclear]
LE DRIAN : Not at all, it’s not naïve. We know very well that China is rearming. We know very well what China’s behaviour is at the international level: How they are also trying in some way to make the South China Sea an internal sea, which they want to control completely. We know all that, and it must not be accepted. But we Europeans are in a situation where we only recently decided, three days ago, on our own Indo-Pacific strategy. We are in competition. We are in a situation of competition, sometimes violent competition. We are proposing an alternative model, but we are not operating within a rationale of systematic military confrontation – even if sometimes it is necessary to use military means.
LAURENT DELAHOUSSE : You have previously been known to use the word ‘innocence’, and sometimes even Europe’s ‘naivety’. Have we come to the end of that approach, on the diplomatic level, in the face of China, in the face of the United States, in the face of Turkey, in the face of Russia? Should we be changing gears, Minister?
LE DRIAN : I think that Europe is emerging from its innocence.
LAURENT DELAHOUSSE : But it seems urgent, Minister.
LE DRIAN : It seems urgent after Afghanistan and this business […] I think that Europe, if Europeans want to remain relevant, they must unite, and defend their own interests together, or their destinies will be totally different and we don’t want to got down that dark road.
LAURENT DELAHOUSSE : […] Two final questions: No santions, or no reactions, finally, vis a vis the role of the British in that deal? Finally, Boris Johnson has a smile on his face: I just got through Brexit. I’m with my Anglo-Saxon friends. I’ve regained my balance in the face of [… ? ]
LE DRIAN : No sanctions. I told you a moment ago that we recalled our ambassadors to see how we could reevaluate the situation. With Great Britain, it’s unnecessary. We are familiar with their permanent opportunism. So, there’s no point in recalling our ambassador to know this. Moreover, Great Britain, in this affair, is pretty much the fifth wheel.
LAURENT DELAHOUSSE : So, Boris Johnson is a fifth wheel. A few months from the election, your opponents will very quickly oppose you on many things. France’s decline, which is an important issue for the President of the republic, could be strongly represented?
LE DRIAN : The subject is respect, functioning alliances, clarity and truth. I think everyone can share this.
LAURANT DELAHOUSSE : No question of leaving NATO?
LE DRIAN : That’s not the issue. The President of the Republic has embarked on a review of NATO’s fundamentals. Regarding these fundamentals, the next summit will be in Madrid. The culmination of the new strategic concept will of course take into account what has just happened, but at the same time Europe must develop its own strategic compass. This will be under France’s responsibility, in the first half of 2022.
[Translation by Sheila Newman]
Australia cannot become a staging point for the U.S. military, we cannot abrogate our sovereignty to the U.S., we cannot encourage nuclear proliferation and risk environmental catastrophe.
Australian peace, environmental and other activists and organisations are opposed to the Morrison Government decision to join the trilateral security agreement between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States (AUKUS) and the development of nuclear submarines.
This authoritarian decision, taken without consultation or engagement of the Australian public, undermines Australian sovereignty, wastes taxpayers money, damages the environment and poses a threat to peace in the region and to global peace.
With this agreement, the Australian Government can no longer claim it is remaining neutral between Beijing and Washington. Now Australia is ‘all in’ with America, regardless of the public.
This agreement also cements military dependence on the U.S. as Australia becomes unable to operate without Washington’s approval. Furthermore, the Morrison Government has also committed to allowing further U.S. military forces into Australia.
This will not only deny Australia the ability to act independently but will also make it complicit in dangerous regional tensions and conflict, undermining global cooperation to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
AUKUS is a step backwards for diplomacy, deepening a Cold War mentality, which has alienated Australia not only from France but our neighbours such as Malaysia and Indonesia.
Building nuclear submarines will impose an extraordinary economic burden on the Australian people. Funding for welfare, education, the environment and healthcare will be raided. These resources should be directed to the health, social and economic needs of workers and the Australian people.
There will also be a significant environmental cost as the presence of these vessels in our cities and harbours is a clear and present danger. There are already nine nuclear reactors on the seafloor from sunken nuclear submarines.
For these reasons and many more, we are calling on the Australian Government to fully withdraw from AUKUS and the development of nuclear submarines.
This statement was issued following an emergency meeting of over one hundred activists from around Australia.
I was talking to someone on the phone about something I had to do. She suggested that I go up and stay in The Lodge with Scott Morrison and work on it with him. She checked with "Scott" and got back to me immediately, that it was OK.
So I drove up to Canberra and pretty soon arrived at the front door of The Lodge. "Scott", who was expecting me answered the door and genially admitted me to a sort of foyer with seating and potted palms whose fronds floated overhead.
We immediately started talking about what we were doing together, which could have been running the country or making a submission about protecting the environment.
Pretty soon though, Treasurer Josh Freidenberg also arrived at the door, happily greeting both of us, seeming not to think anything was wrong.
I said to them "Look, I can't stay if both of you are going to be here."
They hesitated and made some smoothing noises about trying to work it out.
"Josh" said, "You've been vaccinated haven't you?" to which I answered, "Yes," but I said, "That doesn't really help in the situation."
I then left by the front door and made my way out to the road. Almost immediately, I realised that I wasn't sure how to get onto the road out of Canberra towards Melbourne. I seemed to have forgotten about my car and, instead, found a bus shelter with a map. I picked out a straight road right through the middle of the maze of circular roads, which I deduced was Northbourne Avenue. I was quite anxious at this stage and climbed on a bus.
In the bus I was siting next to a young woman and asked her - just as I had ascertained from the position of the sun overhead that I was travelling in the wrong direction - the way out of Canberra. She confirmed that I was in fact travelling in the wrong direction.
I got out at the next stop and tried to walk back the way we had come in search of another bus stop, but I was still on the same side of the road .
I then met a young man, who I asked for help. Meantime, I had realised that I wasn't wearing a mask. I could feel the police nearby and I was desperately trying to hide my face.
The two of us ended up in an outdoor food place which served all sorts of pre-prepared pizza and pie-like stuff. I wasn't at all interested in this fare, but felt obliged to get something, which I brought back to an outdoor table, and sat with this young man, eating.
When we had finished, I frantically gathered up the paper in which the food had been wrapped, fashioning it into a mask, and placed it over my face. We then took off on foot ….
I woke up at this point.
Whilst millions around the world have been protesting for Julian Assange almost nothing has been said for years on the floor of the Parliament of the country of which Julian is a citizen - Australia. This is not because Julian Assange has no support in Parliament. In fact, the "Bring Julian Assange Home" has 26 members. But arcane parliamentary procedural rules have, so far, made it impossible for those 26 supporters of Julian Assange to put his case to the floor of our Parliament. Twice so far, in June and again in August, the Parliamentary Selection Committee has prevented Julian Hill from putting to Parliament his motion (see below) in support of Julian Assange.
What sort of parliament prevents such a large group of supporters of the most famous Australian in the world from putting its case? It is time that ordinary Australians told their local members that this is just not good enough. As I have done below, they must put to Prime Minister Scott Morrison as well as each of their local members: If they are not prepared to raise their voices within Parliament for Julian Assange, then at least allow those who do want to raise their voices to do so. At least allow Julian Hill to put his motion to the floor of Parliament for a proper debate (and not just the 10-30 minutes allowed for each Private Members Motion (PMM) only on Monday mornings - and even that inadequate amount of time has been denied to Julian Hill!).
What have you to fear from a debate on Julian Assange? - Open Letter to Scott Morrison
Dear Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese,
(I have previously, on 11 March, written another Open Letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison concerning Julian Assange and have yet to receive a reply. The earlier Open Letter is here.)
I am writing to request that, as a matter of urgency, you allow a motion concerning Australia's award-winning journalist Julian Assange, which was first foreshadowed almost 8 weeks ago by Julian Hill MP, to be put to the House of Representatives, debated and voted upon.
This motion, which is included below as an appendix, was first foreshadowed by Julian Hill on Wednesday 16 June. Last year Andrew Wilkie had also tried to have a motion concerning Julian Assange debated on the floor of Parliament, but was unsuccessful.
So, after all this time, after more than nine years of the illegal detention and psychological torture of Julian Assange, including more than two years of solitary confinement for 23 hours per day at Belmarsh Prison, and as he faces the threat of extradition to face even worse conditions of imprisonment in the United States for the rest of his life, the Australian Parliament has yet to have any discussion longer than the two minutes duration allowed in Question Time about this Australian citizen!
How can this be? With millions of people around the world crying out for the release of Julian Assange, surely our Parliament should be able to find the time to discuss the treatment, by Britain and the United States, of Australia's most famous citizen?
I had naively thought that that a Parliamentary motion only needed a mover and a seconder for it to be put, but this is not the case with Julian Hill's foreshadowed motion.
Apparently, because, even with the "Bring Julian Assange Home" Parliamentary Group having 26 members, Julian Hill's motion has still been designated a Private Member's Motion (PMM). As a PMM it can only be debated on a Monday, that is, if that Monday is not a public holiday and it can only be debated if the Parliamentary Selection Committee, which is comprised of members of the Government and the Opposition, first agrees on the previous Wednesday to let that motion be put!
And even were Julian Hill's PMM to be approved, a total of only one hour and fifty minutes is allowed to debate whatever seven PMMs are approved of by the Selection Committee - an average of less than 16 minutes, and as little as 10 minutes, per PMM.
So far, even this miniscule period of time has not been allowed by the Selection Committee to supporters of Julian Assange to put their case to Parliament . Twice so far, on Wednesday 17 June and, again, on Wednesday 4 August, the Selection Committee has rejected Julian Hill's foreshadowed motion.
Am I to conclude from this that both the Government and the Opposition fear any debate about Julian Assange on the floor of Parliament, let alone a proper debate in which everyone with a view on Julian is allowed to speak?
On the other hand, if you truly believe that you have fully discharged all of your responsibilities towards Julian Assange, then what have you to fear from such a debate? Why not move a procedural motion to allow Julian Hill's motion to be fully debated on the floor of Parliament?
Surely, then, in the course of the ensuing debate, you can show Parliament, Australia and the rest of the world how both Julian Hill and I are wrong.
Appendix: Notice of Motion by Julian Hill MP (first posted here)
MEMBER FOR CLARKE: I give notice that on the next day of sitting (Monday 21/6/21 - JS) I shall move that this House:
(1) notes that:
(a) the trial and extradition of Mr Julian Assange are inconsistent with international law, and Australian legal standards, and contravene the legal rights and protections for which those laws and standards provide;
(b) the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment has found that Mr Assange 'showed all symptoms typical for prolonged exposure to psychological torture, including extreme stress, chronic anxiety and intense psychological trauma';
(c) several medical reports find that Mr Assange is in ill-health due to prolonged arbitrary confinement, and indeed the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention ruled that the 50-week sentence of Mr Assange for bail violation, which formally ended on 21 September 2019, was punitive and disproportionate given the nature of the offence and the usual sentence;
(d) Mr Assange is facing extradition for an alleged political offence, which is expressly prohibited by Article 4(1) of the Anglo-US Extradition Treaty and an abuse of power; and
(e) Mr Assange is an Australian citizen and, if convicted in the US, faces 175 years in prison, which would be in effect a death sentence;
(2) acknowledges that Mr Assange is a publisher and journalist, as recognised by his 2011 Walkley award and 17 other awards for excellence in journalism and promoting human rights, and that his charges:
(a) are a direct assault on press freedom; and
(b) threaten the protection of others who publish classified information in the public interest; and
(3) calls for Mr Assange to be allowed to return to Australia.
15 June: Parliamentary discussion limited by collusion between Liberal/National Government & Labor Opposition?
For the past 12 months at least, there has been little effective scrutiny of the abandonment of Julian Assange, and worse, by the Australian government in either the House of Representatives or the Senate. This is because, by the seeming choice of both the Government and the Labor Opposition, those who want to raise the issue of Julian Assange, who are members of the Cross-bench and even those who are members of the governing Liberal and National Parties or the Opposition Labor Party, have only been able to raise this issue through a Private Members Motion (PMM - see below for explanation) which requires a lot of effort on the part of that member and which can still be refused by the Selection Committee. Consequently those who want to speak for Julian Assange on the floor of Parliament can do it in two other ways:
- Putting a question to a government minister. As is shown in Greens' Senator Janet Rice's questioning of Foreign Minister Marise Payne on 25 March, the amount of time allowed for the question, the Minister's
obfuscationresponse and discussion about that response, seems to be only two minutes - usually only a fraction of the time necessary to properly discuss most aspects of this issue.
- Tabling a petition as shown in Australia's Parliament must act to end the illegal imprisonment of Julian Assange (8/6/21). On this occasion, after Labor member Peter Khalil presented a petition for Julian Assange and spoke for 1 minute and 19 seconds, no member of the Government took the trouble to respond.
Clearly, discussion of such a crucial issue as Julian Assange warrants much more time than the Australian parliamentary duopoly has , so far allowed to occur.
Not realising these complexities, I previously sent to members of the Group two proposals for motions to be put to Parliament. They can be found in my article Australia's "Bring Julian Assange Home" group must act now on the floor of our national Parliament (31/5/2021). Had either of those motions ever been put, that would have, firstly, given any of the members of the "Bring Julian Assange Home" support group much more time to put his/her case than he/she has been able to so far. Secondly, those hostile to Julian Assange would have been left with no choice but to put to Parliament whatever 'case' they had against Julian Assange. Simply ignoring the issue, as they usually had previously, would have only made them look worse. However, whatever case they would have put would have been quickly torn to shreds in the course the debate. Whilst it is unlikely that this motion would have been carried, every member of whatever House in which that motion was put would be left with no choice but to take a stand one way or the other or to abstain. In these circumstances abstention would not have reflected much more favourably on that Parliamentarian than voting against Julian Assange.
Such a comprehensive debate on the floor of the Australian Parliament would be a massive addition to the arsenal of those fighting for Julian Assange's freedom across the globe.
A search (with the search terms "Julian Assange" - quote marks omitted) through the Hansard of Australia's 46th Parliament, elected on 18 May 2019, reveals a number of powerful speeches in support of Julian Assange by members and supporters of the "Bring Julian Assange Home" group from the floors of both the the House of Representatives and the Senate. Some of these are included below in the Appendix. However, that search also showed that there was surprising little response from members of the Government of Scott Morrison of whom these speeches are so critical. Most of the speeches were not responded to at all whilst, on the few occasions that they did respond, such as in Question Time, neither Prime Minister Scott Morrison nor Foreign Minister Marise Payne bothered to make more than a token pretence at rebutting the substance of these speeches.
15 June: How parliamentary rules allow the major parties to suppress discussion they don't want
The reason is that the rules of Parliament only allow members, acting for either the governing Coalition or the Opposition Labor Party, to easily put motions to be properly debated in either of the two houses. Cross-benchers, of which Andrew Wilkie and most other members of the Group are, are required to go through a complicated process to have a Private Members' Motion (PMM) approved by the Selection Committee before that PMM can even be put to either the House of Representatives or the Senate. Then a PMM can only be put on Mondays, so presumably, in the current sitting week consisting of only Tuesday 15 June, Wednesday and Wednesday a PMM cannot be put. Once a PMM is put, only three speakers are allowed to speak for the motion and three are allowed to speak against speakers and each is only allowed to speak for 5 minutes. The total time allowed for discussion is 30 minutes. As I have written in one of the above update above, Labor MP Julian Hill has submitted a motion to be put this coming Monday 21 June. It still remains to be seen if this motion is put.
Why have so few in Parliament had anything to say about Julian Assange, so far?
So why why have they shown so so little concern for "Bring Julian Assange Home" Parliamentary group? The fact that that group has not yet even put one motion to Parliament in support of Julian Assange seems, to me, to be a likely reason. (Update, 15 June 2021: The reason why there has been so little discussion is because, as shown above, the rules make it very hard for those, mostly Cross-bench members, who are not acting on behalf of either the Government or the Opposition to put any motion not approved of by the major parties to the floor of Parliament. The reason is not, as I had previously wrongly assumed and implied, that members of that members of the "Bring Julian Assange Home" Parliamentary Support Group were willfully failing to put any motion in support of Julian Assange to Parliament.)
The overwhelming majority of Parliamentarians, so far, have said nothing one way or the other on Julian Assange. (Update, 15 June 2021: See previous update.They have clearly avoided coming out openly supportive of the government's abandonment of Julian Assange, knowing that such a stand would most likely cost them support from their electors.
Putting to Parliament a motion requiring the government to act to end the British government's illegal imprisonment of Julian Assange would require this silent majority to make a choice: Either pay the cost of being seen to support the abandonment of Julian Assange by both the Morrison government and the Labor Opposition, or come out openly in opposition to that crooked political consensus.
A motion in support of Julian Assange would massively invigorate debate in Parliament
Whichever choice each member of this currently silent majority chooses to take - support Julian Assange, support the Australian government's collusion with the U.S. against Julian Assange, or abstention - political survival will necessitate that he/she will have see that his/her decision is argued for very forcefully on the floors of Parliament.
The indifference, so far, shown to arguments put by the "Bring Julian Assange Home" group, as shown in the Hansard excerpts included below, will quickly change into a vigorous attempt by the current Government and Opposition leaders to defend their failure to support Julian Assange on the floors of Parliament - an argument they stand no hope of winning in the eyes of most Australian voters, in my opinion.
Below, #foreshadowedMotion">within the Appendix, Senator Peter Whish-Wilson stated on 13 February 2020 that he intended to put the next day a motion in support of Julian Assange. Unfortunately he never put this motion. (Update, 15 June 2021: See above section, "How parliamentary rules allow the major parties to suppress discussion they don't want".) Had he done so, it would now be much easier now to hold to account all those who have betrayed Julian Assange, and remove them from office, at the next Federal election.
However, it is still not too late. The Lower House is meeting later today (Thursday) and there is still time to contact the different members of the "Bring Julian Assange Home" group who are listed in my previous article, Australia's "Bring Julian Assange Home" Group must act now on the floor of our national Parliament (Update, 15 June 2021: I have got supportive feedback from both Andrew Wilkie's office and from Julian Hill. I am now much more aware of the difficulties they face. See above section "How parliamentary rules allow the major parties to suppress discussion they don't want".) and tell each one of them that you would like him/her to put to Parliament today the following proposed motion from that article :
This Parliament finds it unacceptable that Australian journalist Julian Assange, who is not guilty of any crime, continues to be held in London's Belmarsh prison in solitary confinement for 23 hours every day, whilst those who started the 2003 Iraq war have yet to be held to account for this crime against humanity.
Accordingly this Parliament calls upon the British government to immediately expedite, and in a more transparent fashion than previously, all outstanding legal matters concerning Julian Assange including his own appeal against his continued imprisonment.
Should the British government fail to do so, this Parliament instructs Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Foreign Minister Marise Payne, as a matter of urgency, to raise this at the United Nations and at the International Criminal Court.
(Update, 15 June 2021: Last year, Andrew Wilkie submitted a motion to the Selection Committee, which was never put. Right now a Private Member's Motion (PMM) has been submitted to the Select Committee by Julian Hill MP (Labor). Hopefully that PMM will be debated this coming Monday.)
#appendix1" id="appendix1">Appendix: Australian Federal Parliamentarians speak up for Julian Assange
Petition: Mr Julian Assange - Andrew Wilkie, 10 Feb 2020
Mr WILKIE (Clark) (16:35): On Saturday, I'll fly out for London, at my own expense, to visit Julian Assange in Belmarsh Prison. My aim is to check on his welfare and to assure him that a great many people, especially here in Australia, are rightly concerned he is being treated unjustly.
A lot has been said and written about Julian Assange, and there's a broad range of views about the man. But the substantive matter here is quite simply that he's being persecuted for publishing information that was in the public interest, including hard evidence of US war crimes. That the perpetrator of those crimes, America, is now seeking to extradite Mr Assange to face 17 counts of espionage and one of hacking is unjust in the extreme and, arguably, illegal under British law. If the extradition goes ahead, not only would Mr Assange face life in a US prison but the precedent would be set for all Australians—and particularly for journalists—that they are at risk of extradition to any country they offend.
Last week, the member for Dawson and I were presented with the Free Julian Assange petition. It contains nearly 300,000 names and is a powerful document, one that mustn't be ignored by the Australian government. I now seek leave to table this document for consideration by the Petitions Committee.
I table the petition.
Assange, Mr Julian Paul - Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, 11 Feb 2020
Senator WHISH-WILSON (Tasmania) (19:59): I rise to make some remarks about Julian Assange. This Australian journalist faces 175 years—that is, death—in a US jail. And for what? For publishing truthful information in 2010 that embarrassed the US government about their wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and what they thought they could get away with in Guantanamo Bay. Over a thousand journalists from 97 countries have signed a very substantive and detailed statement as to why they support this fellow journalist. Their statement ends:
Dangerous times call for fearless journalism.
I quite agree, and I seek to table this statement.
I'm a proud member of the Bring Assange Home parliamentary group that is working in this building, in Australia's federal parliament, across party lines. It is part of a rising tide of public opinion across the world calling for Assange to walk from Belmarsh prison a free man and to return home. I'm also proud that the Greens have been consistently arguing in this place for over 10 years now for high-level political intervention by our government. I would especially like to acknowledge our former senator Scott Ludlam, and also Felicity Ruby, who have both worked in this building for many years.
In the cases of David Hicks and James Ricketson, the Australian government intervened to bring these Australians home. The same is now needed for Julian Assange. Last week, the parliamentary group was presented with a growing petition, now 270,000 signatures strong and which I understand was tabled in the House today, calling for Assange's freedom. Doctors from around the world have appealed for his release, aghast at the state of his health. Several weeks ago, our foreign minister received a letter from a hundred doctors, stating that if Assange dies then they will want to know what she did to prevent his death. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture has warned that Assange is being denied legal rights and is being subjected to psychological torture that could cost him his life.
There is some good news for Julian Assange, if we can call it that. Thanks to Belmarsh prisoners organising inside the prison, and also pressure from the outside, he is now allowed to mix with other prisoners. That means that corridors will no longer be cleared when he walks through and he will no longer be confined to a cell for 22 hours a day alone in the hospital wing but will be able to speak with other human beings.
At a court hearing on 23 January, Assange's lawyers complained of inadequate access to their client in Belmarsh maximum-security prison to properly prepare his case. Edward Fitzgerald QC said:
We've had great difficulties in getting into Belmarsh to take instructions from Mr Assange and to discuss the evidence with him. We simply cannot get in as we require to see Mr Assange and to take his instruction.
Given the complexity of the case and the life sentence it may impose, it is utterly absurd that his lawyers' visits are so difficult and that he doesn't have access to materials to prepare his defence properly. Surely our government could and should intervene on these matters. I call on them to do so as a matter of urgency.
The judge has now allowed for an extension of the trial, with the case starting for one week on 24 February 2020 and resuming again on 18 May for three weeks. One of the co-chairs of the Bring Assange Home parliamentary group will visit Assange in Belmarsh prison next week, and I look forward to Mr Andrew Wilkie, a fellow Tasmanian, taking the solidarity and support of parliamentarians and Australians directly to this Australian citizen.
The UK extradition treaty does not allow for extradition on political grounds, and of course this case is political. Julian Assange is a political prisoner, and he is potentially about to be extradited to our so-called close friend and ally the United States. Australia is abrogating its responsibility to an Australian citizen and its own sovereignty by allowing Assange's human and legal rights to be violated in accepting the application of domestic US law to an Australian citizen. Journalism is not espionage; bring Assange home. (Time expired)
#10;">Senate Notices - Presentation, #foreshadowedMotion" id="foreshadowedMotion">13 Feb 2020
Senator Whish-Wilson to move on the next day of sitting:
That the Senate—
(a) notes with deep concern that:
(i) Mr Julian Assange, Australian citizen, and founder and publisher of Wikileaks, is currently detained in Belmarsh high security prison in the United Kingdom (UK),
(ii) Mr Assange faces extradition to the United States (US) under the Espionage Act and 175 years in prison for his part in the publication of evidence of war crimes, and
(iii) Mr Assange's physical and mental health in prison is significantly deteriorating;
(b) calls on the Australian Government to publicly make it clear to the US and UK Governments that it opposes Mr Assange's extradition; and
(c) sends this resolution to the House of Representatives for concurrence.
Assange, Mr Julian - Mr George Christensen, 24 Feb 2020
Mr CHRISTENSEN (Dawson) (13:47): As you know, I'm a conservative, and as a conservative I support free speech and press freedom. That's why I went with the member for Clark over to the UK last week to visit Australian journalist and publisher Julian Assange, who's detained in HM Prison Belmarsh in England. He's self-described his state of health as 'not good'. It was clear that he was disoriented, which was obviously the result of prolonged isolation, because he has been in jail and, before that, in an Ecuadorian embassy. Why? Because the US is seeking to extradite him on apparent allegations that he was involved in espionage and conspiracy to hack.
These allegations amount to WikiLeaks calling for information from whistleblowers and then receiving and publishing such information. Well, that's not espionage and that's not conspiracy to hack; that's journalism. Is he a journalist? I'd say yes, and probably more pure than most, but does it matter? Of course not. He's a publisher at the very least, and it shouldn't be a crime to publish material that's in the public interest. In my books, he's actually a hero for exposing war crimes. Whether you think he's a hero or whether you think he's a ratbag, again, it doesn't matter. If he's a ratbag, he's our ratbag, and he should be brought home. No Australian should be facing a situation where a foreign court is deciding whether they should be sent to another foreign country to face trial for simply publishing the truth. My message to both the US and the UK is: bring Julian Assange home now.
Assange, Mr Julian - Senator Peter Whish-Wilson and Senator Katy Gallagher, 24 Feb 2020
Senator WHISH-WILSON (Tasmania) (15:57): I ask that general business notice of motion No. 464, standing in my name for today, relating to Mr Julian Assange, be taken as a formal motion.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Is there any objection to that motion being taken as formal? There's an objection.
In lieu of suspending standing orders, I seek leave to make a short statement.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Leave is granted for one minute.
Photo of MP Senator WHISH-WILSON: This is not the time for this parliament and for politicians to be silent—silent on the extradition of an Australian citizen and journalist to the United States, whose war crimes were exposed. This is not the time to be silent on the criminalising of journalistic activity. This is not the time to be silent on such a dangerous precedent being set—where our friend and ally the United States say about a political prisoner, Mr Julian Assange: 'We want this guy. We want to throw him in the dock'—and give him a virtual life sentence, 175 years—'for exposing our war crimes.' This is the time to be speaking out on an egregious and abusive use of power by one of the most important countries on this planet. (Time expired)
Senator GALLAGHER (Australian Capital Territory—Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate) (15:58): I also seek leave to make a short statement.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Leave is granted for one minute.
Photo of MP Senator GALLAGHER: Like any Australian citizen facing legal difficulties overseas, Mr Assange is entitled to consular assistance. The opposition understands this assistance has been offered by the Australian High Commission in London. The opposition calls on the UK government to ensure that all proper legal process and procedural fairness is afforded to Mr Assange in proceedings now before the UK courts. Given Mr Assange is an Australian citizen, in advance of any extradition request being granted we expect that the Australian government work with the UK government to seek a guarantee from the United States that the death penalty would not be imposed.
The opposition is concerned about reports that Mr Assange's health has been deteriorating. The shadow Attorney-General and the shadow minister for foreign affairs have written to the Australian government to raise this concern and to request that Australia press the UK government to ensure that Mr Assange receives appropriate medical care while in detention pending the outcome of the US extradition request.
Assange, Mr Julian - Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, 25 Feb 2020
Senator WHISH-WILSON(Tasmania) (14:48): My question is to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Marise Payne. Minister, last year youflew to Thailand to lobby the Thai government against extraditingHakeem al-Araibi, an Australian soccer player, to Bahrain. At the time you said publicly your intervention was because you were very concerned about Hakeem's detention and very concerned about his potential extradition to Bahrain. This was the right thing to do. Minister, given that you and your government were so vocal about Hakeem's detention and the risks of his potential extradition, why have you not shown the same zeal and commitment tosecure the release of Australian citizen and Walkley-Award-winning journalist Julian Assange? Why have you not flown to the UK to lobby the UK government or to the US to lobby the US government against extraditing Julian Assange?
Senator PAYNE(New SouthWales—Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women) (14:49): I thank Senator Whish-Wilson for his question. On any examination of the facts of the two matters which Senator Whish-Wilson has put to the chamber, that of Hakeem al-Araibi and thatof Julian Assange, they are qualitatively different circumstances. As the government have previously indicated, we are in regular contact with authorities in the United Kingdom, in line with our consular mandate, and have been assured by those authoritiesthat Mr Assange is being held in appropriate and humane conditions. I can also inform the chamber that I specifically raised the issue of Mr Assange, and his conditions, in my discussions with the Secretary of State forForeign and Commonwealth Affairs, MrRaab, when he visited Australia just a matter of weeks ago. I want to also note for the chamber—and this may go to a further question from Senator Whish-Wilson, at which point of course I would repeat this statement—it is important to note that the Australian government has no standing in any of Mr Assange's legal proceedings and is unable to intervene in them.
The PRESIDENT:Senator Whish-Wilson, a supplementary question?
Senator WHISH-WILSON(Tasmania) (14:50):They certainly are different, Minister. Let me tell you why. Overnight, the UN special rapporteur on torture, Nils Melzer,said that Julian Assange's case is about more than one individual. He said, 'This is a battle over press freedom, the rule of law andthe future even of democracy.' Those are strong words coming from the United Nations. Minister, if you agree with the United Nations about what is at stake here, why isn't your government doing more to intervene in this case and bring Julian Assange home—more than the usual consular assistance?
Senator PAYNE (New South Wales—Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women) (14:50):My personal opinion on what the special rapporteur may or may not have said is not relevant in this matter. What is relevant is the undertakings the Australian government has sought from British authorities in relation to the position on the detention of Mr Assange as the proceedings are awaited. We continue to closely monitor Mr Assange's case, as we would for other Australians in detention overseas in other contexts, and we in fact do. I note that Mr Assange has a very high public profile. For the Australian government, he is a consular client, and one for whom we provide appropriate support, according to our consular mandate, as I said. I appreciate that members of the public, including people in this chamber—self-evidently from Senator Whish-Wilson's questions—do feel strongly about Mr Assange's situation. But it is important to remember that Australia cannot intervenein the legal processes of another country.The PRESIDENT:Senator Whish-Wilson, a final supplementary question?
Senator WHISH-WILSON(Tasmania) (14:51):A few days ago, it was revealed that meetings between Julian Assange and his lawyers had been secretly taped and filmed. This is a clear and egregious breach of legal professional privilege. Minister, do you believe that Julian Assange will get a fair trial in the US, or do you agree with Nils Melzer that, for all intents and purposes, Julian Assange is a political prisoner and he should not be extradited to the US, where he would face nothing but a politically motivated show trial?
Senator PAYNE (New South Wales—Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women) (14:52):Senator Whish-Wilsoncontinues to quote the views of an individual rapporteur—
Senator Whish-Wilson: You've done it on several occasions—
Senator PAYNE: who has made a range of observations, not all of which we agree with. As I have indicated, and I am aware of the media reporting in relation to alleged surveillance of Mr Assange while in the Ecuadorian embassy, I don't intend to provide a running commentary on this case. I don't provide running commentaries on cases before courts in other parts of the world, or in Australia, frankly. We have no standing in the legal matter that is currently before the courts. As is the case for any individual, Mr Assange is entitled to due legal process, which we expect the legal systems of both the US and the UK to deliver. (Time expired)
Assange, Mr Julian - Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, 25 Feb 2020
Senator WHISH-WILSON (Tasmania) (15:39): I move:
That the Senate take note of the answers given by the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Senator Payne) to questions without notice asked today.
The standard response this government has had to any question asked about Australian citizen Julian Assange—award-winning journalist who's being extradited to the US for uncovering their war crimes—has been that, 'This government doesn't intervene in any foreign legal process involving other countries.' I asked the question of Senator Payne today that clearly shows that is not the case. Last year Senator Payne flew to Thailand to lobby the Thai government against the extradition of Hakeem al-Araibi, an Australian soccer player who was being extradited to Bahrain. The minister claimed today—I will go back and have a look at the Hansard—that the cases are very different. Once again I beg to differ.
It was very clear, when I saw the Australian Story that featured the work around a number of high-profile Australians to help secure the release of Hakeem, that he was a political prisoner in Thailand. He was going to be sent back to Bahrain to face potential torture, harm or even a death sentence. Let me tell you what the UN rapporteur on torture, Nils Melzer, said last night and you can tell me that there are no similarities between these two cases. He said, 'The extradition of Julian Assange is a modern show trial.' He said:
The case of Julian Assange is nothing else than a modern show trial featuring politically motivated prosecutors, denial of justice, manipulated evidence, biased judges, unlawful surveillance, denial of defence rights, and abusive prison conditions. What sounds like a textbook example of dictatorial arbitrariness is in fact an actual precedent happening in the middle of Europe, the birthplace of human rights.
It is our ally and friend, the United States, who he is talking about here. It's not Bahrain. It's not a country in the Middle East with a record of human rights abuses. This is the United States of America that the UN is talking about. I recommend senators read this report that was out last night. The language is extraordinary. It is extraordinary that this has come from the UN about the case of Julian Assange.
The minister said, as I just mentioned, that the two cases are quite different. I would agree that in a sense, yes, they are quite different because the UN is clearly saying, as, by the way, is just about every journalist and major outlet around the world—that is, the ones who are speaking out in defence of journalistic freedom and trying to oppose the criminalisation of journalism—that this case is unique because it is not about an individual anymore. This case is about freedom of speech. It is about journalistic integrity. It is about the rights of an Australian citizen. That's what's at stake here. In fact, the UN rapporteur said last night, 'This is ultimately about democracy and whether we want a totalitarian regime that we all sit under.' And I would ask the minister to reflect on her answers and to explain to this chamber and to Australians who care deeply about the torture and the extradition of Julian Assange why these cases are different. I know why they're different. It's because the US is a close ally and a friend of ours. We have an ANZUS Treaty with this country. I understand there's a lot at stake with our close friend and ally, but, because they're a close friend and ally, that's exactly why we have a relationship where we should be adults with our ally and where we should say: 'This is simply unacceptable. You cannot extradite an Australian citizen who has rights on the basis of a breach of a US law.' If this precedent occurs, it is extremely dangerous. Today it's Julian Assange. Tomorrow, it could be your son or your daughter or your brother. This is an egregious abuse of power. It is an appalling abuse of power by our friend and ally the US. This parliament has been silent for too long. I ask senators to speak out on this case and bring Julian Assange home. (Time expired)
Question agreed to.
I also want to remark that the persecution and treatment of Julian Assange are unconscionable. He's an Australian citizen who has the same rights as you or me, and the Australian government's ongoing failure to speak out against his extradition to the United States and demand his return is shameful. It's wrong. It's immoral. And it's offensive for the Prime Minister to say that he should 'face the music'—as if this is any ordinary case! It is not. It is entirely political. It corrupts our alliance with the United States when our government is too scared and too cowardly to defend our own. It corrupts our democracy when our government refuses to fight to defend Australian citizens just because they don't agree with their political philosophy. The precedent that extradition would set would dangerously undermine our sovereignty and have a chilling effect on journalism and the media's ability to hold power to account in this country and across the world.
We need to be very clear-eyed in this House as to what extradition would mean. One of our citizens, an Australian, would face what is effectively a death sentence. The current charges would see him confined in extreme isolation for 175 years. Indeed, it's possible in the state of Virginia, which has the death penalty, that more charges will be laid once he's extradited that would see him killed. Australia has a long history of opposing extradition—a proud history—wherever there is the risk of a death penalty.
If that's not enough, there's the torture which has been inflicted on him. It's an astounding phrase—'the torture that's been inflicted upon an Australian in the United Kingdom'. It should not be said lightly and must never become acceptable. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer, investigated Julian's case. He said he shows 'all the symptoms for prolonged exposure to psychological torture' and his health conditions are so dire that his life is now at risk. When the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture reports on one of our citizens, surely the Australian government should speak up and demand his return. There's nothing but silence from the government. It doesn't matter whether you agree with him, it doesn't matter whether you disagree with him, it doesn't matter whether you like him, it doesn't matter whether you dislike him; he's an Australian and he's entitled to the protection of the government.
Of course, if the death penalty or torture are not enough to spur this government to action, there are broader important principles at stake; there is a lot more to this inherently political case. Let's be clear. He's been persecuted to punish him for exposing war crimes and the misuse of state power. Those who committed the war crimes have never been prosecuted. He's been persecuted to silence him forever in his WikiLeaks project and to scare others into silence. I note that we've had a power failure.
Ms Flint: They're silencing you!
Mr HILL: They're silencing me! They've hacked the parliament! Are we on?
The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Ms Vamvakinou):The mics are on. You can continue.
Mr HILL: I don't personally agree with all that Julian Assange or WikiLeaks has done, but, if we're to protect our democratic values, that must never be the point. This case goes to the importance of journalism and journalists in a democracy holding power to account. Publishing embarrassing, classified footage of war crimes in Iraq is journalistic behaviour supposedly protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. I will quote Kevin Rudd. He said:
If their case is essentially that Mr Assange broke the law by obtaining and disclosing secret information, then I struggle to see what separates him from any journalist who solicits, obtains and publishes such information.
The claim we often hear in response is that 'he's not a journalist'. That is irrelevant. The protection exists in the law for journalistic activity, not some special class of persons. It should extend to all of us, to any Australian engaging in journalistic activity.
What Julian Assange has published is in principle no different than the Pentagon Papers, in 1971, which exposed the truth about the Vietnam War and the actions of two United States presidents. The chilling effect that this US case would have on the media globally is profound. The pursuit of Julian Assange is very deliberate; it's calculated to mute whistleblowing and investigative journalism. If Julian Assange is guilty of a serious crime for publishing classified material revealing war crimes, then democracies are weakened. Media across the world will be too scared to publish in the future if that's what they want. Then there's the dangerous principle of extraterritoriality, which is nerdy and boring and is getting lost in the propaganda. But let's be clear. If this American bid succeeds, the precedent is terrifying for our democracy.
What Julian Assange did in 2011 is not espionage. There's no evidence he attempted to hack into US government IT. There is no evidence he encouraged others to do so. There is no evidence that any lives were lost or serious harm done.Importantly, he's not a US citizen. His actions took place outside the USA. Let's be clear. Under the precedent of extradition that the United States is seeking in this case, anyone who publishes anything that the United States government brands as secretcould be prosecuted under the US Espionage Act—anyone who publishes anything, anywhere in the world, could be extradited to the United States.
Now, unbelievably, the Trump administration has stated that Julian Assange has no First Amendment rights to free speech and free press because he's a foreigner. So,under this precedent, US criminal laws apply everywhere—even when people have never been to the United States, including journalists or any Australian wherever they are—but US constitutional protections don't apply to them. Our government should take this seriously and defend our sovereignty and freedom. I'll just make some brief remarks on the sexual assault allegations. There has been conflicting and sensational reporting for years. Allegations of sexual assault and rape are incredibly serious matters that should not be weaponised for political purposes. The media confusion regarding this is deliberate. Julian Assange shone light and exposed corruption. Suddenly the bright lights turned back on him, and he's a hacker, a narcissist, a spy. He doesn't shower, you know; he's not clean.Then there's the story h e doesn't even feed his cat properly. Then he's a creepy predator. Citizens mustn't suspend critical thinking or their analytical capabilities when such allegations are made.
I'd encourage people to read the United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture case review. These are his conclusions, not mine. He concluded that he's been subjected to a preliminary investigation for nine years with no charges;that the police tampered and rewrote evidence to manufacture these charges;that he didn't run away from interview—he actually went to the police and authorities several times while in Sweden and was given their permission to leave the country. It was only when he was in London that he heard of the secret extradition proceedings in the United States to extradite him that he said he couldn't go back unless Sweden provided assurances that he wouldn't be extradited to the US. They refused to give those assurances. He offered repeatedly to give evidence from asylum, but the objective was to keep the investigation alive, to keep him in suspended animation for nine years with no charges.
Then, magically, of course, the case was dropped, wasn't it, when he suddenly got into British custody and was allowed to face extradition to the United States. Despite all of this—an effective death sentence, torture and manifest injustice—our government refuses to speak up and defend this Australian. Ministers hide behind their weasel word talking points about legal processes and having his day in court. I say again:it doesn't matter if you agree with him, it doesn't matter if you like him, it doesn't matter if you dislike him;he's an Australian with the same rights as you or me and he's entitled to the protection of his government. As Andrew Wilkie and George Christensen—and I never thought I'd be in a club with them in this parliament (… - the remainder of this speech is missing, how much, I don't know, but I will fix this shortly. - JS, 15/6/2021.
#foreshadowedMotionOf2020" id="foreshadowedMotion2020">Correspondence received from Andrew Wilkie's office, Tuesday 15 June
Thanks for speaking with me on the phone just now. As discussed, attached is the motion Andrew submitted for consideration by the Selection Committee last year.
The crossbench have a roster for motions to be selected for private members business each sitting week. Andrew’s motion is not scheduled for selection for some months. But rest assured he takes the opportunity to raise this issue every chance he gets – both in Parliament and in the media. He also visited Mr Assange in Belmarsh Prison at the beginning of last year.
As I mentioned to you on the phone, I’d recommend getting in contact with your local MP, and also the Victorian Senators, to urge them to support the Parliamentary Group to Bring Julian Assange Home, of which Andrew is a co-chair.
Millie von Stieglitz
Office of Andrew Wilkie MP
Independent Member for Clark
This article can be printed on two sides of an A4 sheet from this file (but, please be warned, it costs a lot more to print it as colour rather than as black and white).
Dear Prime Minister Scott Morrison,
I am writing to you concerning the imprisonment, psychological and physical torture, in Britain, of an Australian citizen, Julian Assange, who has committed no crime. So far Julian Assange has endured more than eight and a half years of this, and if the United States' government has its way, this will continue for the rest of his life.
On 11 April 2019, shortly after Julian Assange was taken from the London Ecuadorian Embassy and placed under arrest, Foreign Minister Marise Payne issued a statement:
"I am confident, as the United Kingdom Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt publicly confirmed in July 2018, that Mr Assange will receive due process in the legal proceedings he faces in the United Kingdom." 
If you, Prime Minister, or Marise Payne, have been able to closely follow the legal proceedings to which Julian Assange has been subjected for over one year now, in Woolwich Crown Court, you will be aware of the following:
For breaching bail on 19 June 2012 to seek asylum at the Ecuadorian Embassy, which he is entitled to do under Article 14 of United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 , he was sentenced to 50 weeks imprisonment,  the absolute maximum sentence for this offence;
On 13 September 2019, District Judge Vanessa Baraitser further extended Julian Assange's imprisonment when she ruled that Julian Assange would not be released on 22 September because of the United States prosecution's extradition request, the case for which, it had evidently not been able to fully prepare in the seven and a half years that Julian Assange had been imprisoned for at that point in time;
On every day of the hearing, even before Judge Vanessa Baraitser had listened to any of the testimony or cross-examination, she came into court with her judgement for that day pre-written! 
From the first day of the trial (25 February 2020) Julian Assange was brought in handcuffed, and "confined at the back of the court behind a bulletproof glass screen … from which it is very difficult for him to see and hear the proceedings." 
Magistrate Vanessa Baraitser "refused repeated and persistent requests from the defence for Assange to be allowed to sit with his lawyers." 
Reporting on these preceedings, on 22 October 2019, Craig Murray, who, until then, had been skeptical of claims that Julian Assange was being tortured, declared himself, "badly shocked by just how much weight my friend has lost, by the speed his hair has receded and by the appearance of premature and vastly accelerated ageing. He has a pronounced limp I have never seen before. Since his arrest he has lost over 15 kg in weight." 
Craig Murray continued, "But his physical appearance was not as shocking as his mental deterioration. When asked to give his name and date of birth, he struggled visibly over several seconds to recall both. … his difficulty in making it was very evident; it was a real struggle for him to articulate the words and focus his train of thought." 
On 21 February 2020, during that single day, "Julian had twice been stripped naked and searched, eleven times been handcuffed, and five times been locked up in different holding cells. In addition to this, all of his court documents had been taken from him by the prison authorities, including privileged communications between his lawyers and himself, and he had been left with no ability to prepare to participate in [that day's] proceedings."  Julian Assange was subject to this sort of treatment for the duration of the trial.
"For months, he was denied [physical] exercise and held in solitary confinement [for 23 hours a day] … At first he was denied his reading glasses, left behind [on 25 February 2020 when he was arrested inside the Ecuadorian Embassy]. He was denied the legal documents with which to prepare his case, and access to the prison library and the use of a basic laptop."  
How is this 'due process'? How could this be procedurally fair to Julian Assange?
What I have written above describes only a fraction of the abuse and torture to which Julian Assange has been subjected, just since the court hearings began on 25 February last year. This follows seven years asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy, whence he fled from injustice and in fear for his life. The constraints of asylum have been described as 'arbitrary confinement' by Nils Melzer, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, after he visited Julian Assange in prison. 
In the last two decades alone, the United States, in a rampage of war-crimes leveraged on flagrant lies, has destroyed economies and caused the death of many hundreds of thousands in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, Venezuela, Ukraine and elsewhere, apparently with impunity. In contrast, Julian Assange, who revealed many of these crimes to the world, and who himself has no history of violence, has been kept in solitary, stripped of his health, his clothing, his belongings, friends and family, and justice.
This is not 'due process' and certainly not procedurally fair. Unless this situation is rectified, Julian Assange, who is not a U.S. citizen, faces the prospect of being extradited to the United States, where he will face, in secret, a trial in the eastern district of Virginia, before a jury most likely to be made up from employees and the families of the U.S. intelligence agencies based in that area - in other words a rigged trial, hidden from public view.
Under such unfair trial conditions a guilty verdict is the expectation. Julian Assange stands to be sentenced for up to 175 years imprisonment in solitary confinement in the United States - a fate which he considers to be worse than the death penalty.
Like the many Australians who are well informed about Julian Assange, I consider this treatment of him by the British government an outrage. I would expect your government to act immediately to end this outrage:
If your government truly:
- cares for the welfare of each and every one of its citizens;
- believes in human rights;
- believes in the right to free speech;
- believes in the right of journalists to investigate matters of public concern and
- upholds the rule of law (Australian law, British law, International law and United States' law, including their constitutional right to free speech)
then I would expect of you the following:
To contact British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, advise him that an Australian citizen, Julian Assange, has been illegally imprisoned in Belmarsh prison and request that Julian Assange be released immediately, and assisted to return to Australia or to go to any place he chooses.
To communicate to Boris Johnson that if Mr Assange's detention were to continue, Australia would be raising the matter at the United Nations and, if neccessary, at the International Criminal Court.
 Although this statement can be found on Senator Marise Payne's web page through the link I have given above and on Facebook, I could not find this statement on what is currently Page 19 of the "Latest News" section of your web page, which currently contains news items dated from until 15 April 2019.
The above media statement continued: "We have made 19 offers of consular assistance to Mr Assange since 2019 that have gone unanswered. We will continue to offer consular support." As I have not seen the messages containing the offers of support that Senator Marise Payne said she made to Julian Assange, I cannot comment. I will endeavour to contact Julian Assange's support team for their response.
 "Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees" (1951) United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) at https://www.unhcr.org/3b66c2aa10
 The 50 weeks imprisonment to which Julian Assange was sentenced on Wednesday 1 May 2019 would have lasted until Wednesday 15 April 2020 (if the day on which Julian Assange was sentenced is included). Both the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and the BBC also reported on 1 May 2019 that Julian Assange was sentenced to 50 weeks imprisonment (see WikiLeaks' Julian Assange sentenced to 50 weeks' jail over bail breach at https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-05-01/julian-assange-sentenced-in-london-over-bail-breach-wikileaks/11064356 and Julian Assange: Wikileaks co-founder jailed over bail breach at https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-48118908). See Sunday 22 September 2019, the day Julian Assange was supposed to be released, according to other cited reports is 'only' 24 weeks and 4 days from Wednesday 1 May 2019 - still an outrageous and wholly unjustifiable sentence. I have not been able to find an explanation for this apparent discrepency.
 "Beyond Words" (8/4/2020) by Craig Murray at https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2020/04/beyond-words/
 "Your Man in the Public Gallery – Assange Hearing Day 1" (25/2/20) at https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2020/02/your-man-in-the-public-gallery-assange-hearing-day-1/
 "Your Man in the Public Gallery – Assange Hearing Day 2" (26/2/20) by Craig Murray at https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2020/02/your-man-in-the-public-gallery-assange-hearing-day-2/
 "@njmelzer/state-responsibility-for-the-torture-of-julian-assange-40935ea5d7c3">State Responsibility for the Torture of Julian Assange" (16/12/2019) speech by Nils Melzer, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, at the German Bundestag in Berlin, 27 November 2019 (English translation) at https://medium.com/@njmelzer/state-responsibility-for-the-torture-of-julian-assange-40935ea5d7c3
Melbourne for Wikileaks (@melbourne4wiki) holds vigils for Julian Assange, every Friday, from 6:30pm until 8:30pm, under the clocks at Melbourne's iconic Flinders Street Station. Yesterday, Friday 19 February, I unfurled a canvas banner, 5 meters wide and 1.7 meters deep, with a big picture of Assange on it. No sooner had we raised this banner than we heard loud cries of support for Julian Assange. Support also came from cars, whose drivers tooted their horns, as they drove past the station. (See video below.)
After some time, in which members of the group handed out leaflets and and spoke to passers-by, a succession of people spoke through a megaphone. I was the third speaker. The video of that 7 minute speech was filmed and uploaded to YouTube and is embedded below. Unfortunately the recordings of two other speeches were lost and can't be included here. (I will transcribe my speech soon and include it in this article. Note that in the part where I argue that Julian Assange could not get a fair trial in East Virginia, I said this would be because the "jury was likely to be made up of employees of US intelligence services and their siblings." I meant to say, of course, "employees of US intelligence services and their relatives.")
James Sinnamon speaks at Vigil for Julian Assange
Thanks to everyone who told me my hat looked terrible. I promise never to wear it again.
#transcript" href="/node/6072#transcript">Appendix: Transcript of James Sinnamon's speech
I'm here today to show my outrage at the fact that the Australian government has done nothing, while this heroic, courageous and visionary journalist, Julian Assange has been illegally held in prison, illegally psychologically tortured and now, illegally physically tortured because no reason other than the fact that through Wikileaks, he was able to tell the world what the United States didn't want us to know about what they were doing in their own grubby political world and other countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Libya.
We now know, because of Julian Assange and other whistleblowers  before him, that the American case for their wars against Iraq and Libya and Afghanistan was a pack of lies. We know that because of Julian Assange and courageous whistleblowers from within the ranks of the United States military and within the United States government who know that what the United States has been telling the world is a lie and they've proven this to us. They've given us the information to show us that they've been lying to us. 
Now, because the world knows so much more about what the United States has been doing, it means that they are not able, so easily, to make up a pretext towards another war against another country.
Obviously, two countries that are in America's cross-hairs is Venezuela in South America - they want to take over Venezuela and steal all their petroleum - and they want to take over Iran for daring to be a sovereign independent sovereign country not under the control of the United States.
Now, Julian Assange is an Australian citizen. To report the crimes of the Americans and their allies is not a crime. It's journalism.
To speak the truth is not a crime. It's journalism.
But, in the eyes of the crooked, vile people, that are running the United States, and their allies, it is a crime for people to speak the truth about their crimes, and that is why they have been trying, since 2010, to get their grubby little hands on Julian Assange and they have done that through subterfuge with the help of the crooked Swedish government and the London government, they've fabricated a charge that Julian Assange had sexually assaulted these two women in Sweden.
Julian was quite prepared to go Sweden to answer those charges, but the Swedish government would not agree to prevent him from being extradited to the United States. So, he knew that the Swedish government, in collusion with the United States, had attempted to get him on to Swedish soil only so that they could send him off to the United States.
In the United States there plan was to try him in secret before a jury made up exclusively of people from East Virginia, who are mostly working for intelligence agencies or their siblings.  So it is unlikely that this so-called jury would have [inaudible ] paid any attention to the argument of Julian Assange's defence team. They would have taken about 30 seconds to pronounce him guilty and once Julian Assange had been found to be guilty, their plan was to lock him in jail for 175 years and in his prison term he would be confined to a single cell for 23 hours a day and allowed outside for only one hour a day. 
He would be denied any books, any Internet, anything. His life would be an absolute misery. The people he would be in jail with would be convicted terrorists and other murderers.
The prospect of this was so terrible for Julian Assange that he was clearly thinking of committing suicide rather than allow himself to be locked in jail for 175 years.
Now, all this time, for the last 10 years, the Australian government has said almost nothing. It's been ages - weeks since the Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, has said a word about Julian Assange. All he has said is, "Oh, it's going on in England and it's not really our business to interfere with what the British courts are saying."
Not a word about the complete travesty of justice that Julian Assange is facing with the fact that every day he is brought to court - every day he was tried - he was brought to court inside a cage. He couldn't speak to his lawyers. He couldn't pass notes to his lawyers. He was stripped several times and searched each day before he went into court.
How is that 'due process' according to Foreign Minister Maurice Payne? She calls that 'due process'?
Clearly, this Australian government, that's supposed to have a duty of care towards Australian citizens, doesn't want to know.
They're turning their backs on Julian Assange and doing nothing.
Any government that allows another government - the British government, the American government - to treat any of its citizens, that have committed no crime, in this way, doesn't deserve to be in power.
And what we have to do is, when every member of Parliament asks for your vote at the next election, ask that member of Parliament: What have they done for Julian Assange for the last 10 years whilst an innocent Australian citizen, who has committed no crime, has been tortured physically,  confined illegally and psychologically tortured? Where have they lifted a finger for Julian Assange? Ask them that question and it will be amazed if any one of them can talk to you with a straight face.
What you have to do is you have to find some candidates who do have a backbone and do have principles who are prepared to stand up for Julian Assange. Find those candidates, vote for them.
So what we are going to do is to continue to hold these vigils every Friday night. We're going to try to reach a larger and larger audience, get more and more people to these vigils and these protests and make our voices so loud that it will be impossible for the Australian government to ignore and continue to do nothing for Julian Assange.
It's about time the Australian government acted. If they had a backbone. If they had any decency in them, here's what they would do:
Tomorrow they would send out an contingent of Federal Police.  They would go right to Belmarsh Prison. They would tell the Belmarsh Prison authorities that Julian Assange, an Australian citizen, is being held there illegally by the British government. They would demand that the British government immediately release Julian Assange to come back to Australia. That's what a government with a backbone and decency would do.
Now the Australian government has done nothing. They've barely said a word about Julian Assange these last ten years. Any word they say is to cast aspersions on Julian Assange.
None of these people deserve your vote. None of them deserve to hold office. Make sure you act on that at the next federal election. Thank you.
 On the previous Friday 12 February, I had not gone to the vigil due to the sudden and unexpected, if short-lived, outbreak in Coronavirus infections on that day. On the Friday prior to that, Friday 5 February, the banner had been made with only one tubular canvas slot at each end into which the supporting dowel poles with which it could be held up for display could be inserted. Unfortunately, because of the banner's great size - 5 meters x 1.7 meters - one pole at each end was not sufficient to support the banner. A third tubular canvas slot was needed in the middle. As a workaround, I stood behind the banner (as pictured right) and held it up with my raised arms hands in the middle. After some time this fatigued me and we chose to place it flat on the ground facing upwards. (The image is linked to a short @melbourne4wiki tweet which contains a short video from which that image was copied. That tweet was re-tweeted by "Denver Free Assange" (@DNVfreeJA) The following Friday wooden poles to support the banner were inserted into its three long narrow vertical pockets, as you can see in the video.
 Correction: Julian Assange is, himself, a journalist and not a whistleblower.
 Corrrection: In fact the WMD fabrication that was used to start the war against Iraq in 2003 was not exposed by any whistleblower or Wikileaks. United Nations weapons inspector Scott Ritter. Scott Ritter, who had previously uncovered Iraqi chemical weapons, argued in 2003, that chemical weapons in Iraq didn't exist in quantities substantial enough to pose a threat. He consequently opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq but, for most people, that news was overwhelmed by the vast amount of corporate newsmedia reporting in favour of the invasion of Iraq.
 Two corrections: I should have said that the "jury ... are all working for intelligence agencies or their family" and not the "jury ... are mostly working for intelligence agencies or their siblings."
 Julian Assange would be allowed out for only one hour every day into another adjacent cell as small as his main cell for exercise.
 Correction: During his illegal detention inside the Ecuadorian embassy, which lasted 6 years and 10 months (19/6/12 - 11/4/19) Julian was psychologically tortured, but not physically tortured. This changed after Julian Assange was dragged out of the embassy on 11 April 2019 and imprisoned at Belmarsh. There Julian Assange was subject to both psychological and physical torture.
 Monday 22 Feb 2021, 7:47AM +11 : Upon further reflection, whilst the British government's imprisonment and torture of Julian Assange is clearly illegal, Julian Assange's release is unlikely to occur simply as a consequence of a contingent of Australian Federal police officers attempting to enforce Australian law and international law on British soil.
However, were Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to speak to British Prime Minster Boris Johnson to demand Julian Assange's release, I think it highly unlikely that the British PM would not accede.
If Boris Johnson did not agree to release Julian Assange, Scott Morrison would have this recourse: He could threaten to take the case to to the International Criminal Court (ICC) or to the United Nations. The ICC would almost certainly find the United Kingdom's treatment of Julian Assange illegal, if not criminal.
If Julian Assange's case were ever brought to the United Nations, the United Kingdom's odious complicity with the US government would be clearly shown before the whole world.
In the high likelihood that Boris Johnson would then agree to release Julian Assange, Scott Morrison should then send a contingent of Australian Federal Police to escort Julian Assange from Belmarsh Prison back to Melbourne in order to safeguard him from any further malign behaviour by any agent of the United States government.
This is how a decent and humane national leader would behave.
Australia shows contempt for an international rules-based order, agreeing to join the US and UK with a naval, air and ADF personel presence in the Persian Gulf without any national debate or UN resolution.
PM Scott Morrison announced today that Australia would join an international mission to protect trade through the Strait of Horumz.
The international force consists of the UK, US, Australia and Bahrain.
Spokesperson for the Independent and Peaceful Australia network, Ms Brownlie said: “This is being presented as protection of the flow of oil through the Persian Gulf and in Australia’s national interest, but it is clear the US is chafing at the bit for an opportunity to attack Iran having spent many years imposing harsh sanctions on the people and most recently pulling out of the JCPOA effectively destroying prospects for peace with Iran.”
“It is also worth noting the irresponsibility of our government in allowing our oil stocks to be so low making us more vulnerable to supply issues creating a dependence on the US to provide back-up reserves”
“The last illegal action taken by the US ,UK and Australia was to form the so-called coalition of the willing to mount an attack and invasion of Iraq opening a pandora’s box of instability in the whole region.”
“Australia has no interest in a conflict in the Persian Gulf, and no enmity towards Iran. Such a conflict without a UN Security Council resolution would be illegal, and would expose Australian leaders and the ADF to accusations of the war crime of aggression,” said Ms Brownlie.
Former secretary of the defence department, Paul Barratt, told The Guardian. Australian involvement in potential military action in the Gulf could be illegal, and argued it was “very foolish for us to get involved in this provocative behaviour”.
“This is an application of military force. There ought to be a debate in the parliament, and we ought not to engage in any activity that would foreseeably involve the use of military force without that debate,” he said.
“Australian leaders need to heed the lessons of the past. Its time we decoupled from US foreign policy and act independently in the interests of peace and stability,” said Ms Brownlie.
Independent and Peaceful Australia Network
https://ipan.org.au | fb. Facebook
Dear Prime Minister Scott Morrison,
I write to ask you to act to bring to an end circumstances faced by Julian Assange which certainly have already harmed his health and may well end his life if those circumstances are not rectified soon.
An investigation by the Australian Federal Police into Julian Assange ordered by former Prime Minister Julia Gillard in 2010, found that he had committed no crime.
In spite of that, he was threatened with extradition to the United States to face, in its rigged court system - as attested to by former CIA officer John Kiriakou, amongst others - charges that the United States is not even prepared to reveal to the public. Julian Assange, who is not even a United States' citizen, could face many years of imprisonment - or worse - for merely having made known, through Wikileaks, information that the public should know about world events of recent years.
To prevent this, he sought asylum inside the London Ecuadorian Embassy in October 2012. Asylum was granted to him by former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa as required by International Law.
Unfortunately, Assange's asylum inside the Ecuadorian embassy has been turned by the British government into an illegal detention. This has been found twice - on 5 February 2016 and on 30 November 2016 by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. This illegal detention has now lasted six and a half years and has had terrible consequences for Julian Assange's mental and physical health. In all this time, he has seen no sunlight, had little exercise and has been refused medical attention - clearly a violation of the spirit, if not the letter, of international law.
President Lenin Moreno, who succeeded President Rafael Correa in 2017, has made Julian Assange's already dire living situation worse - putting him under constant surveillance, denying him access to the Internet or even reading material and restricting visitors.
On top of this, there are rumours that the Ecuadorian government may soon expel Julian Assange from the Embassy. Should he be expelled he faces what he has endured so much up until now to avoid - extradition to the United States.
Surely, neither the extradition of Julian Assange to the United States, nor his continued confinement under the degrading conditions he has been made to endure for so long, are alternatives that should be acceptable to an Australian government showing a basic duty of care to each and every one of its citizens.
I therefore urgently request that you act now to end the illegal detention of Julian Assange. You could despatch today a contingent of Federal Police to fly to London, go to the Ecuadorian embassy and escort Julian Assange back to Heathrow Airport and thence back to Tullamarine Airport. I doubt if any British government authority would dare obstruct a contingent of Federal Police clearly acting to uphold the law and to end such a cruel denial of basic human rights.
Should your efforts to free Julian Assange somehow fail, you could try to ensure that he receives fair judicial process in the United States. He should be given an attorney of his choice funded by the Australian government and the United States be asked to conduct the trial in public. Certainly any charges arising from what is already been revealed to the public through Wikileaks should be tried in public.
Only then, if found guilty by a fair-minded and impartial jury, could any of what Julian Assange has endured since 2010 be seen to have been deserved. However, I believe that he would almost certainly be found not guilty if such a trial were to occur and he would then be able to walk free.
So, I appeal to you, even at this late stage, to use the powers vested in you to end Julian Assange's ordeal and to ensure that justice and the rule of law ultimately prevail in this instance.
Scott Morrison appeared on ABC Lateline denouncing the government’s plan to tag and release migrants to the bush as a policy brain fart:
TONY JONES: Can you have a debate on population without a debate on immigration numbers?
SCOTT MORRISON: Well of course you can’t… Two thirds of the increase in population is coming through immigration and so if that’s not part of the debate then I don’t know what these guys are going on about. You’ve gotta focus on the things that you can address. Now they can talk about all these other issues, they’re all really important, but those things are not going to solve themselves in the next term of government.
What you can do in the next term of government is ease the pressure on those problems by throttling back, and if this Government’s not prepared to throttle back then they are trying to put one over the Australian people…
We’ve also made it clear that we’re not comfortable with the 36 million [population] projection…
The Government says it is not about immigration and they want to put out this false hope that they can move all these people around the country differently. Well those who are coming into the country, less than 10 per cent of them currently go out and settle in regional areas and rural areas.
So to hold out some false hope that this problem’s going to be solved because a Population Minister is going to fantastically move people around like has never been done before in our history, is I think unfair to the Australian people to suggest that that is realistic option, certainly in the short or medium term. Long term I think there are still real doubts.
The history of settlement over centuries means that people will come and gravitate to areas where there is population…
Scott Morrison also appeared on ABC’s PM program, where he once again rubbished the ‘migrants to the bush’ policy:
It holds out unrealistic promises that all of this can be turned around by everybody moving to regional areas.
We simply know, through centuries of migration experience, that that simply isn’t how it happens.
Are you confused? Well you should be, because these interviews were done in 2010/2011 when the former Gillard Labor Government was also spruiking a ‘migrants to the bush’ policy to relieve population pressures in the major cities.
Fast forward to 2018 and Australia’s permanent migrant program is just as big as then, but even more concentrated than ever into Sydney and Melbourne, which received 86% of migrants last financial year.
History doesn’t repeat but it sure does rhyme. Don’t fall for the Coalition’s latest immigration smokescreen, especially when it has been cutting regional visas while in office:
Department of Home Affairs figures… show non-regional skilled migration visas have risen every year under the Coalition, while those dedicated to the regions dropped from a high of 20,510 in 2012-13 to 10,198 under the Turnbull government in 2016-17.
The five consecutive years of cuts to permanent regional migrant visas coincided with a rise in the total immigration level to record highs of 180,000 a year, meaning proportionally more migrants were arriving on non-regional skilled visas under the Coalition.
[Article first published on Macrobusiness, October 10, 2018 at https://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2018/10/scott-morrison-slams-scott-morrisons-migrants-to-the-bush-policy/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Daily%20MacroBusiness&utm_content=Daily%20MacroBusiness+CID_a2e8fef423e19939f632e11a3fdeb4df&utm_source=Email%20marketing%20software&utm_term=Scott%20Morrison%20slams%20Scott%20Morrisons%20migrants%20to%20the%20bush%20policy]
Australia may have the world’s highest debt to GDP ratio. We have the lowest ranking in the region (61st) for income security. Our social expenditure is behind Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy's. The OECD has ranked Australia second last in government funding of public education.
The treasurer, Scott Morrison, has just informed us that we have had 25 years of economic growth and the economy is now growing at its fastest pace in four years, meaning we may well set a new record for the longest period of sustained growth.
Well that’s great for the treasurer, he may even get the coveted treasurer of the year award, but for many people growth, fuelled mainly by population increases and their spending on housing, bears no relation to their wellbeing.
There are almost 2.5 million either unemployed or underemployed. Homelessness increased by 20% in the last 5 years, house prices have risen 147% but incomes have only risen 57%. A whopping 720,000 households spend more than 30% of their income on mortgage payments and 850,000 households are at risk of financial hardship and poverty, creating what is now recognised as “Housing Stress”.
Our major cities have sections zoned for densities far higher than would be allowed in Hong Kong and with open space at 0.1m2 per person. Private debt to the banking system, mainly from mortgages, is $1.7trillion - that's 1.7 followed by 11 zero's - which possibly makes Australia the nation with the world’s highest debt to GDP ratio of 123%.
Those are just the visible signs. Using growth as a means of qualifying economic performance is an absurdity, as it reveals nothing of importance.
In terms of expenditure on research, Australia ranks 18th out of 20 OECD countries. Australia's spending at 0.441 per cent of GDP in 2013 was ahead of only Greece at 0.391 and the Slovak Republic at 0.369. That year Japan's expenditure was 0.754 per cent, the US 0.795, and Germany 0.917% of GDP. Recent funding cuts to the CSIRO will see about 36 agricultural and bio-security researchers at the infectious diseases health unit laid off. This is our only facility capable of handling outbreaks like Ebola or Zika. The cutbacks to climate research coincided with an increase in spending on wind turbine noise and coal seam gas research suggesting government intervention on research priorities.
Our record on education is worse. A report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) , which looked at government funding of public education, ranked Australia second last, putting Australia among only a handful of countries where less than half the cost of tertiary education now comes from the public purse, with a higher than average amount directed at private schools. The report also singles out Australia for putting more costs onto university students, part of a policy of both coalition and labor governments, which used full fee paying O/S students to bolster University funding. Overseas student numbers were bolstered by the linking of immigration with study, a process that promises the proliferation of “Mickey Mouse” courses and wide spread cheating. Private educational facilities have been described as the biggest rort in Australian history, one that targeted the most vulnerable in our community and created an estimated $16.3 billion in VET FEE loans by students.
Australia also has the highest proportion of international students, with 17.3 per cent of the campus population coming from abroad. In contrast, the US has just 3.4 per cent of overseas students. Almost all these students are full-fee paying. The figures underscore the degree to which Australian universities are hostage to the international student dollar.
The OECD also collects a wide range of data on government and private spending on social programs. Its latest report shows the Australian government's social expenditure (includes age pension, veterans' pension, disability support pension, unemployment benefits, study and carers' allowances, and other payments) is 19.5 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), which puts it at 13th in the OECD nations behind even Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy, (28%), countries considered to have lower GDP growth than Australia.
We also have the lowest ranking in the region (61st) for income security, which measures older people’s access to money and their capacity to spend it independently and the highest old age poverty rate in the region (35.5 per cent), while our pension coverage (83 per cent) and welfare rates (65 per cent) are below average.
Scarcely anything to be proud of.
 Candobetter.net Ed. "both coalition and labor" inserted after clarification with writer on 9 August 2016.
While the media and political debates focus on cracking down on boat people, Fairfax media have exposed that rampant visa fraud is happening. It's a multifaceted yarn. Up to 9 in 10 skilled migrant visas are bogus.
Militants are suspects in visa frauds. Afghan applicants 90% flawed!
Rampant visa fraud and migration crime involving people flying into Australia are going unchecked while the government focuses on stopping boats, according to secret government files detailing entrenched Immigration Department failings. Leaked confidential departmental documents obtained by Fairfax Media reveal that Australia's national security is being compromised by wide-scale visa rorting and migration rackets operating with impunity.
Internal documents reveal that despite repeated warnings, the department is failing to crackdown on wide-scale visa rorting.
Australia's open borders are a threat to our national security, and can't be justified on any sound basis.
While the immigration debate is anchored on asylum seekers, our open borders are allowing fraudsters to exploit the loopholes in our generous visa system with non-genuine "students", and bogus "skilled" migrants - at a time of record unemployment! There are bogus "skills shortages" that lure students to pay tens of thousands of dollars to study here, expecting a job and residency at the end - when the shortages don't exist! Thousands of foreign cooks and accountants being given visas despite an excess of local candidates.
The whole model of Australia as an Immigration Nation is outdated, and there's no correlation between grass-roots reality, and the number and type of visas distributed.
While there's a lot of media and political attention on a few ad hoc asylum seekers arriving by boats, the overwhelming majority of migrants are arriving by aeroplane, daily, enjoying anonymity and the lack of media attention.
Asylum seekers, and our humanitarian intake of about 20,000 per year, hardly add to our immigration intake, or population growth at all, yet they confuse the public on who our immigrants really are! Refugees make up less than 5 per cent of Australia's annual population growth of around 400,000 people.
This employment migration program and corrupt, especially considering the harsh crackdown on assumed "dole bludgers" who are failing to gain non-existent new jobs! Everyone knows it's going on.
Immigration experts Dr Bob Birrell and Dr Ernest Healy have obtained fresh Australian Bureau of Statistics information showing that 380,000 arrivals to Australia since 2011 had found jobs. But over the same period, net job growth in Australia was only 400,000. Australia continues to grant skilled migration visas to thousands of foreign cooks and accountants despite an excess of local candidates suitable for those jobs.
Afghanistan and Somalia have a trade in passports. Investigators identified a scam of people using each other's passports, after being lost or stolen. A loophole in passports lets people come into the country twice, without leaving first! With all the sophistication of technology this is happening.
A 2010 report reveals that immigration investigators had uncovered a Somali people-smuggling cell in Melbourne linked to terrorist suspect Hussein Hashi Farah, who "is believed to have links to the al-Qaeda offshoot al-Shabab".
The leaked files revealed that tens of thousands of immigration fraudsters are living freely after being assisted by migration crime networks exploiting weaknesses in working, student, family and humanitarian visa programs, and corruption within the Department that allowes the fraud to happen.
There are too many visas, flexibility and categories of immigration, and passports are not secure for all the tens of hundreds arriving each day at our airports. It's mayhem, and open-border chaos.
The immigration Department is dysfunctional, and needs to be closed for investigation. The number of visas is excessive, and our system is clearly porous and unaccountable.
The holes and flaws the system have been exploited. We've (almost) stopped the boats, but now it's time to stop the planes.