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Birdwatchers highlight declines of seabirds off south-eastern Australia

Thirteen species of seabirds are declining off the coast of south-eastern Australia, a 17-year study by researchers at the Centre for Ecosystem Science at UNSW Sydney revealed. The species include iconic and globally threatened birds such as the enormous Wandering Albatross, as well as locally breeding Flesh-footed Shearwater. Pelagic citizen science data was used in this study.

Was Pontius Pilate right after all? The modern state and Julian Assange

Pontius Pilate, of course, was the judge who condemned Jesus Christ to death, according to the bible. The crime Jesus was punished for was that of leading a religion critical of the values of the Roman state. Modern authorities try to defend their right to have criminal secrets in order to justify pursecuting Assange, who has led a world-wide movement for transparent and just government. If UK or Swedish judges deliver Assange to authorities who then deliver him to the United States, they may claim that they are only doing their duty under the law, just like Judge Pontius Pilate. I am not religious, but I think this is a valuable parable for our time.

Australia’s skilled migrant visa sham - Article by Leith van Onselen

Australian employer groups frequently claim that a strong ‘skilled’ migration program is required to overcome perceived labour shortages – a view that is shared by Australia’s state and federal governments. However, the available data does not support their assertions.

Authorities removing legal protection from nature reserves: study

An https://science.sciencemag.org/content/364/6443/881international study has revealed extensive removal of legal protection for conservation reserves, at a time when the preservation of these areas is more important than ever to biodiversity. The study, published today in Science, involving a global consortium of researchers led by Conservation International, documents how governments from 73 countries, including Australia, have removed more than 500,000 km2 from protected areas and downgraded protection for an additional 1.65 million km2 to allow greater human impacts.

So you tell me, where are we going, Australia? Conspiracy or accident?

There is an accepted truism that when it comes to politics what appears to be a conspiracy is usually just the result of poor government decisions. It is a logical conclusion given that conspiracies require clever conspirators and politicians are generally not seen as being clever. This of course is not correct, its a belief acquired because politicians are continually criticized by the media and even more so by their colleagues.

Like or loath him John Howard was a smart politician – he did after all survive 10 years as PM and won an election after involving us in an illegal war in Iraq. Having said that, how many bad decisions can be made on one issue before we have to conclude that no government could be that incompetent without intent?

Starving, wounded, dying Brumbies: Barmah and Singleton: Parks Vic & RSPCA responsibility

These photographs are of horses at Barmah Vic, and Singleton NSW. As we are aware, they are not native to this country. They were introduced here by pioneers/settlers to help settle this land. They were carted off to war - 300,000 - never to return. They ploughed the fields and transported goods/settlers all over this country. They are used in entertainment, such as rodeos and racing, and even left to die in paddocks. At the end for many are the knackeries, some for overseas human consumption. Horses are not even recognised as “livestock” in Acts of parliament. What a bum deal these magnificent animals have endured from mankind. Now they are being slaughtered by this government, in the name of being ‘feral’ and destroying the land. (Photographs copyright Renee Neubaur. Sincere thanks from Candobetter for permission to use them.)

How will the candidate seeking your vote act to prevent the US plans to kidnap Julian Assange?

As found by the Australian Federal Police in 2010, Julian Assange has committed no crime. Yet, Julian Assange, the courageous and visionary founding editor of Wikileaks, who is not even a citizen of the United States and has never been there, now faces the threat that he will be extradited to the United States from Britain. There he is to supposedly be tried only for the 'crime' of 'conspiring' in 2010, with Chelsea Manning to have her retrieve classified U.S. defence department information which revealed to the world evidence of U.S. war crimes. - the sort of 'crime' that many serious journalists have engaged in.

(Earlier version of) Policies that should be put to voters at the forthcoming Australian Federal elections

The article below is a copy of the earlier, more original version. That earlier version is to be substantially modified. The layout will be somewhat changed. Some content will be added and some of the original content will be modified. That updated version will be at the same location, previously pointed to by other links. It will include a link back to this page. That article, in turn, had been adapted from "Policies that should be put to voters at the Australian Federal elections of 2 July" (5/6/2016).

In the forthcoming Australian Federal elections to be held on 11, 18 or 25 May, the choice of candidates should include candidates who support policies that would attempt to preserve and, where possible, improve our quality of life. Such a candidate, if elected, would begin trying to rectify the harm that has been done in recent years to global peace and stability, our natural environment, civil rights and our quality of life, by corporations, NGOs and governments - federal, state and local. We believe such a candidate would support the policies listed below. We intend to ask each candidate standing for each House of Representatives seat and for each of the 12 Senate seats for each state, whether he/she supports, or is opposed to each of the policies. Particularly defining the decency of any Australian Government now is Policy 53: Julian Assange: Send 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 Melbourne Airport. What British government authority would dare obstruct Australian Federal Police who are clearly acting to uphold the law and to end such a cruel denial of basic human rights?

Anti-Dad review of family law - Senator Spender statement

Senator Duncan Spender of the Liberal Democrats has criticised the Australian Law Reform Commission’s Review of the Family Law System. “The Review is anti-Dad,” Senator Spender stated.
“Many Dad’s who have lost custody of their children might think that the family law system could not get any worse. Unfortunately they are wrong."

Immigration, population growth and voters: who cares, and why? - Article by Katharine Betts and Bob Birrell

Previous research has shown a wide split between elite and non-elite opinion on topics such as cultural diversity, globalisation and immigration. Media professionals and most politicians share these elite views, but large swathes of the electorate do not. The current findings of the survey conducted late in 2018 by The Australian Population Research Institute (TAPRI) on attitudes to immigration and population growth confirm this. They show that the split between elite and non-elite opinion is mirrored in the divisions between voters who are university graduates and voters who are not. This is logical as most elites are now recruited from the graduate class. The gap is wide. Overall 50% of voters want a reduction in immigration. But this proportion rises to 60% of non-graduates while only 33% of graduates agree. (The October/November 2018 TAPRI survey Katharine Betts and Bob Birrell.)

Dogged researchers show dingoes keep feral cats in check

Dingoes play a key role in the conservation of Australian outback ecosystems by suppressing feral cat populations, a UNSW Sydney study has found. A UNSW Sydney study has ended an argument about whether or not dingoes have an effect on feral cat populations in the outback, finding that the wild dogs do indeed keep the wild cat numbers down.

Policies that should be put to voters at the forthcoming Australian Federal elections

In the Australian Federal elections to be held on 18 May, the choice of candidates should include candidates who are resolved, should they win, to do their utmost to rectify the serious threats to the very survival of Australia and the rest of humanity. The most critical of these threats is the threat of nuclear war. Regardless of who is held to be most at fault - Russia, China or the United States - any parliamentarian, worthy of holding office, would use his/her influence to try to remove this threat. Neither the Liberal/National government nor the Labor 'opposition' are doing so, nor, as far as we can tell, are the Greens, One Nation nor any other sitting member of Parliament.

An Open Letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison: Please use the powers vested in you to end Julian Assange's cruel ordeal


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.

You can help make the Australian Government act to free Julian Assange

On Friday 5 April 2019, as revealed by John Pilger on Twitter from a high level source within the Ecuadorian Government, Julian Assange would shortly be expelled from the London Ecuadorian Embassy. Once evicted, he stands to be arrested by the UK police, extradited to the United States where he faces a secret trial based on a secret indictment. He may face many years behind bars - even the death penalty can't be excluded - all for just publishing, through Wikleaks, facts about world events that the public would be entitled to know in a fair and just world.

It is still possible to make the Australian government act to prevent the illegal extradition of Julian Assange to the U.S. and, instead, bring him home to Australia. Should they fail to act, they must be held to account at the forthcoming federal elections.

See also: Be Ready To Act: WikiLeaks Source Says They’re Coming For Assange (5/4/19) by Caitlin Johnstone, The Gestapo Is Coming for Julian Assange (4/4/19) by Paul Craig Roberts.

Lib candidate David Leyonhjelm opposes koala national park denies declining populations

Lib Candidate David Leyonhjelm says Northern NSW koalas are not endangered by logging. Animal lawyer, Angela Pollard, says, "Logging density has doubled, with an extra 140,000 ha of coastal forests targeted for clear-felling. She adds that the previous protections on retaining mature trees have also been removed, and this impacts most severely on the koalas’ main source of food tree. The new logging rules also remove the requirement to check for koalas in the canopy before a tree is felled."

Is immigration into Australia about to surge? Article by Leith van Onselen

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has released visitor arrivals and departures data for the month of January, which posted record annual permanent and long-term arrivals.

In the year to January 2019, there were 835,310 permanent and long-term arrivals into Australia – up 6% from January 2018 and an all-time high. This was partly offset by 546,310 permanent and long-term departures from Australia:

Australian burden of disease for brain disorders almost twice global figure - New Report

Mindgardens Neuroscience Network (Mindgardens) has commissioned a white paper on the burden of disease and cost of brain disorders in AustraliaThe burden of all brain disorders in Australia accounted for 20.5 per cent of disability-adjusted life years, nearly twice the global figure of 11.1 per cent illustrating the scale of the health care challenge. The white paper reports the disease burden associated with neurological, mental health and substance use disorders is in excess of $74 billion. Between 2010 and 2017 substance misuse (drugs, alcohol) grew at 24.7 per cent, followed by neurological disorders at 15.6 per cent and mental health disorders by 8.6 per cent.

Growing poorer

To keep up with global food demand, the UN estimates, six million ha of new farmland will be needed every year. Instead, 12 million ha are lost every year through soil degradation. Australia lost 36 million ha of agricultural land in just the four years from 2005 till 2009. Some of this lost land has occurred because of urban sprawl which is swallowing up some of our best soils close to cities that used to supply the fresh fruit and vegetables. A scathing report by the Royal Commission has gone as far to accuse the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) of negligence and being "incapable of acting lawfully," apparently because they overestimated the amount of water returned to the river by a factor of ten.

'Lives are being destroyed' - legal assistance funding needs urgent review, huge budget boost

The dire state of legal assistance funding in Australia has been highlighted as a matter of critical importance in the Law Council of Australia’s 2019-20 Pre-Budget Submission, with a boost of at least $310 million a year required to address critical gaps in the system.
Additional funding should also be provided to introduce Justice Impact Tests, improve resourcing of federal courts, and establish a National Justice Interpreter Scheme, said Law Council President, Arthur Moses SC.

2GB Podcast: Kelvin Thomson responds to Bill Shorten on wage stagnation in Australia

The opposition leader said this week that the next Federal Election will be a referendum on wages & the Reserve Bank Governor was saying he couldn’t understand why wages weren’t going up more given the underlying strength of the economy. Michael McLaren of 2GB Radio is joined by the Hon. Kelvin Thomson, former Federal Member for Wills now advisor for Sustainable Australia Party’s Clifford Hayes to talk about Bill Shorten’s declaration that the upcoming election will be a ‘referendum on incomes’.

Spirit of Eureka Statement on US intervention in Venezuela and an Independent Australian Foreign Policy

Spirit of Eureka condemns the Morrison government and the ALP Opposition’s compliant endorsement of the US intervention and preparations for a “regime change” in sovereign Venezuela. This points to the urgent need for an independent Australian foreign policy that upholds and promotes the sovereignty and independence of countries to determine their own destiny.

MEETING TONIGHT 20 FEB: Australia must condemn United States sanctions and threats of military intervention in Venezuela

The next Meeting of IPAN in Victoria will be on 20 February, Level 4 Trades Hall at 5.30 pm. This meeting will commence earlier due to a small overlap with a meeting on Venezuela on the same night, at 7pm in the Trades Hall, at which the Venezuelan Consul will be speaking. IPAN meeting will be at 5.30pm – 7pm to enable people interested to learn more about the situation in Venezuela to attend.
Just when you thought all your co-citizens were asleep at the wheel on Australian Government support for America's latest regime change initiative, the Independent and Peaceful Australia Network (IPAN) has issued a response. IPAN reminds us that this is not our decision, nor the USA's to make, but is a decision for the Venezuelan people. IPAN has made several recommendations, including that Australian needs to develop an independent foreign policy.

Video & transcript: Clifford Hayes Maiden Speech to Victorian Parliament 5 Feb 2019

"My objective, with your help, honourable members, is to make Melbourne, and even Victoria, a great place to live. Not merely a great place in population size or area to rival such places as Shanghai, New York, London or Sao Paulo. Such greatness would be mere obesity, with all the disadvantages of such. Not a city or a state where people are crammed into dogbox apartments, living on crowded and congested streets in an environmentally unfriendly concrete heat island. But a spacious city with open skies, open and tree-filled streets, with gardens. An environment where children can play safely, where the car is not king but a servant.
Walkable patchworks of various styles of housing, where one would enjoy walking, cycling or travelling through by public transport. A city of learning, education, the arts and self-supporting industry, where families and communities can thrive. Where the less fortunate who may be living on lower incomes are not segregated into high-rise towers but live in affordable detached or medium-density housing spread throughout the suburbs. Where their children have the same opportunities as other children. Where ghettos of crime and despair are not created. A city where the environment—the living environment—is prized and of prime importance. A sustainable city or cities in a sustainable state. This can only happen when people are proud of their neighbourhoods and where they, as citizens, have control over what they create—the built form, the environment, the infrastructure. This is what, I believe, we as a Parliament can achieve." (Clifford Hayes, Extract from speech.)

Kelvin Thomson joins Sustainable Australia Party, advisor to Clifford Hayes MP

The Hon. Kelvin Thomson, former Federal Member for Wills, is joining the Sustainable Australia Party. Mr Thomson served as an Australian Labor Party Councillor for the City of Coburg from 1981 to 1988, Member of the Victorian Parliament for Pascoe Vale from 1988 to 1996, and Federal Labor Member for Wills for over 20 years from 1996 until the 2016 Election. Mr Thomson will be advising Sustainable Australia’s first elected Member of Parliament, Mr. Clifford Hayes, who was elected as a Legislative Councillor for the Southern Metropolitan Region at the recent Victorian election.

Australian universities’ dependence on overseas students: too much of a good thing - Article by Birrell & Betts

In November 2018 The Australian Population Research Institute (TAPRI) published an analysis of the higher education overseas student industry. It was framed around the remarkable growth in the share of commencing overseas university students to all commencing students over the years 2012 to 2016. This share increased from 21.8 per cent in 2012 to 26.7 per cent in 2016.

Perfect fish fossil offers a glimpse into Devonian period

The discovery of a new fish at a famous WA fossil site is in such good condition that it provides an exciting fresh glimpse into the evolution of species from 380 million years ago. The new fish - named Pickeringius acanthophorus (honouring the late Museums Victoria fossil collection manager David Pickering) - lived in the Late Devonian Period. Its beautifully preserved fossil skeleton was discovered by Flinders University’s Professor John Long at the Gogo Formation, in the Kimberleys of Western Australia. This has become a world famous fossil site, containing superb 3-dimensional preservations of entire fishes in limestone nodules, and has so far yielded more than 50 species.

Video interview of Sandra Kanck, National SPA President

"Media resistance has always been one of the big problems," says Sandra Kanck, who came from a family where there were seven children and she learned early that one wage did not go as far for seven as it might for fewer. From 1994-2009 Sandra served as an Australian Democrats’ Member of the upper house of the South Australian Parliament. Her ‘maiden’ speech in parliament was – predictably for those who know her – about population. For more than nine years Sandra Kanck has been either President or Vice-President of SPA, mostly the former, including reluctantly juggling the role of Acting Treasurer for three months during one of her stints as President.

2018 Victorian election reflections - Article by Sally Pepper

Last night I stayed home and watched as the election results revealed themselves on the television. Quite early in the evening they showed various venues with mature people dressed up in emblematic red t-shirts looking triumphant and trustingly happy. The meaning of this was that the Victorian Labor Government has been returned to power with an increased majority to govern for the next four years.

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