National: Trump’s Presidency Might Disrupt Australia-US Refugee Resettlement Deal

The election of Donald Trump into US presidency could overturn the Australia-US refugee resettlement deal, experts say.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced that refugees on Nauru and Manus Island would be relocated to the US through a one-off deal.

Under the deal, refugees who do not accept resettlement to the US would be sent to Nauru and provided a 20-year visa to stay or return to their origin country.

However, concerns arise that Trump might not keep the agreement when he takes office in January.

“In all likelihood, the only way it’s going to happen is if the refugees are transferred to the US before inauguration day [January 20],” Niels Frenzen, immigration clinic director at the University of Southern California school of law told Radio National.

“If the US has not already begun its own vetting or so-called background checks until now, if you look at the time the US has taken to vet Syrian refugees … it’s unlikely that that could be accomplished in a few months.”

Mark Krikorian, the executive director at the Centre for Immigration Studies said Trump, whose policies contradicts the agreement, might not keep the deal.

“We [America] have a good relationship with Australia — one of our closest allies in the world,” Krikorian said.

“If this were a unique situation that there was no way for Australia to deal with, I could see extending them a helping hand, but this is just a matter of shipping these illegal immigrants to the United States.”

Both Krikorian and Frenzen suggest that the resettlement could be finished before January 20 under several conditions.

Frenzen said refugees could be settled before Trump’s inauguration if vetting had been “ongoing” and the US had been negotiating with Australia since January.

Krikorian also suggested that President Barack Obama might accelerate the processing period, as he had previously sped up the assessment of Syrian refugees from 18-24 months to only three months.

“It’s entirely possible the administration will rush the admission of the illegal immigrants you all have offshore in order to get them in under the wire before January 20 when Trump becomes president,” said Krikorian.

International: Trump’s Appointment of Stephen Bannon Stirs Controversy

US President-elect Donald Trump has stirred controversy over his appointment of Stephen Bannon as the White House chief strategist.

Bannon was Trump’s campaign leader and the chief executive of conservative website Breitbart News, which he declared in July as “the platform for the alt-right”. The website has accused President Barack Obama of importing “more hating Muslims”, relating influx of refugees to disease spread, and telling female victims of cyberbullying to “just log off” and stop “screwing up the internet for men”.

Bannon has been accused of changing the Breitbart site to attract far-right, extremist followers, with anti-“globalist” views. Southern Poverty Law Centre tweeted, “Stephen Bannon was the main driver behind Breitbart becoming a white, ethno-nationalist propaganda mill.” The Council on American-Islamic Relations also criticised the website for publishing “misogynistic and racist stories targeting women, people of colour and immigrants.”

“[Bannon] is a vindictive, nasty figure, infamous for verbally abusing supposed friends and threatening enemies,” Ben Shapiro, former Breitbart editor said earlier this year.

In 1996, Bannon’s ex-wife, Mary Louise Piccard accused him of domestic violence. In 2007, Bannon allegedly objected sending his daughters to a California school because he “didn’t want the girls going to school with Jews”.

Bannon also said that women leaders in the US “wouldn’t be a bunch of dykes that came from the 7 Sisters schools”, but they would instead be “pro-family” and “have husbands”.

Bannon has expressed dislike of cultural and political elites. In 2010, Bannon told Political Vindication Radio, “What we need to do is bitch-slap the Republican Party.” Last year, he accused House speaker Paul Ryan of being “a total and complete sellout of the American people.”

“What drives Steve is the way the political establishment is holding back American politics,” said Joel Pollak, editor at large at Breitbart.

“It is a sad day when a man who presided over the premier website of the ‘alt-right’ – a loose-knit group of white nationalists and unabashed antisemites and racists – is slated to be a senior staff member in the people’s house,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive at the Anti-Defamation League.

 

National: Turnbull Says Cabinet May Consider Changes to Australia’s Racial Discrimination Act 18C

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has indicated that his cabinet is considering an inquiry into freedom of speech in relation to section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, a backflip from his August statement that the Government had “much more pressing priorities”.

Section 18C makes it unlawful to “offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate” people based on their race or ethnicity.

Turnbull said the Coalition conservatives’ calls for a parliamentary inquiry into the issue had “considerable merit”.

“There is a view that the bar that is set is too low, in other words, that proscribing conduct which insults and offends is too much a restriction on free speech,” Turnbull told ABC Radio on Monday.

Turnbull also called for the Human Rights Commission to “urgently review” the way it handles section 18C complaints after a Brisbane judge dismissed a case against three Queensland students.

The students were accused of social media vilification of an Indigenous officer on campus.

“What it shows is that the Human Rights Commission must urgently review the way in which it manages these cases,” he said.

“To have a case like that – which will have involved the expenditure of considerable Commonwealth money, taxpayers’ money, considerable money on behalf of the students, imposed enormous stress on them – and have it chucked out, struck out as having no reasonable prospects of success, what the court was saying, what the judge was saying to the Human Rights Commission is, ‘You’ve been wasting the court’s time. You’ve been wasting government money.'”

A number of Coalition politicians have voiced their support for an inquiry.

Liberal senator Cory Bernardi tweeted, “It’s about time, but the real question is why it has taken so long? The abuse of 18C has been evident for years.”

Liberal backbencher Andrew Hastie said while the Government would like to protect minorities, it also sought to defend “one of the most important elements of democracy, which is free speech”.

The opposition has criticised Turnbull’s backflip. “The Prime Minister is willing to trade race hate protections to protect himself from his backbench,” said Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.

National: One Nation Senator Denies Climate Change is Happening

One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts has claimed that the CSIRO’s climate change science had no “empirical proof”.

In his Monday press conference, Roberts released his 42-page report titled “On Climate, CSIRO Lacks Empirical Proof”, in which he wrote that the agency “relies on unscientific Australian and overseas manipulations of data that have fabricated warming temperatures”.

Roberts also published his letter to Dr Larry Marshall of the CSIRO, saying that climate policies is detrimental to “key industries” and people’s job security.

The report also criticised former Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s carbon tax policy and claimed that Great Barrier Reef is not “dying”.

“We have had complete failure of science in policies that has cost Australian taxpayers and citizens and Queensland residents billions of dollars and has cost lives,” said Roberts in the press conference.

Roberts said the CSIRO and weather bureau should face an independent inquiry over the lack of “empirical evidence” that human activity affects climate.

The CSIRO maintained its position in a statement: “CSIRO stands behind its peer-reviewed science on environment, climate and climate change.”

National: Barnaby Joyce Accuses ALP of Communism

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has accused the Labor party of “communism” in a speech at the National Farmers’ Federation Congress in Canberra.

Joyce said foreign ownership was a threat to patriotism, and that Labor’s policies, including native vegetation management, would result in “dispossession” and therefore communism.

“I thought about how Labor dispossess people of their private assets with tree-clearing guidelines – ‘vegetation management’ as it’s euphemistically called,” Joyce said.

“This essentially took away ownership from private individuals and gave it to the community. The dispossession of the individual for the community benefit, without the community paying for it.

“While I was marking my 184th lamb that I’d just picked up, I thought, ‘there’s a word for this — it’s called communism’.”

Joyce closed his speech by repeating his statement on opposing foreign ownership of agricultural land. “It’s the whole essence of patriotism, the love of one’s country is best delivered when you own that country,” Joyce said.

“The love of one’s country is best delivered when you own that country. I may like your car but I love mine. Likewise, I find your house very interesting but I want to go home to mine … And believe me, there’s one thing that people are not keen to do and that is die for a rented country.”

When asked whether his speech was too harsh given the presence of Chinese ambassador Cheng Jingye in the congress, Joyce told ABC, “China more than anybody is moving towards a market economy. Ever since (former leader) Deng Xiaoping decided that was the direction they should go, they’ve been exceptionally good at it and private ownership fundamentally underpins your attachment to an asset.

“I love the fact that if my daughters want to, they can go on to the farm that I bought – that’s my aspiration, that’s what makes Australia a great place, and it does build up this idea of patriotism – the love of the earth that you stand on because your indelible connection to it and I’m sure a lot of indigenous Australians would agree with me as well.”

Labor’s Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Joel Fitzgibbon said Joyce’s populist statement on foreign ownership “is a zero sum game”.

“Overcoming those challenges and capitalizing on the opportunities will take new thinking, hard work and co-operation,” Fitzgibbon said.

“And it will require all of us to spend more time talking in positive rather than in negative tones.”

International: 1960s Activist and Politician Tom Hayden Dies

American social activist and politician Tom Hayden has died at the age of 76 in California following stroke-related complications.

Hayden was a key figure for the anti-war and civil rights movements in the 1960s. He was the founding member of Students for a Democratic Society and the main author of the group’s 1962 manifesto Port Huron Statement.

Hayden was one of the organizers of the 1968 anti-war protests at the Democratic National Convention, for which he was convicted on incitement and conspiracy charges. He was also involved in Martin Luther King’s civil disobedience campaign against racial segregation.

Hayden won the 1982 election to California state Assembly after a number of losses and went on to win a state Senate seat in 1992. In total, Hayden served for 18 years.

Hayden has written and edited 20 books on politics and inequality and has taught at UCLA, Scripps College, Pitzer College, Occidental College, and the Harvard Institute of Politics.

National: Solicitor-General Justin Gleeson Resigns Amid Conflict with George Brandis

Solicitor-General Justin Gleeson has resigned after an open conflict with Attorney-General George Brandis, following the latter’s decision to restrict parliament members’ access to the former’s legal advice.

As Junkee’s Osman Faruqi explained, Brandis’s legally-binding decision in May to restrict access meant that “no minister, including the Prime Minister, could seek legal advice [from Gleeson] without going through Brandis”.

Gleeson said he had been left out of the discussions surrounding public matters such as anti-terror legislation and same-sex marriage. Brandis has been reported seeking advice on same-sex marriage from former Solicitor-General David Bennett after rejecting Gleeson’s advice.

The outgoing chief legal officer also said his resignation does not indicate a backtrack from “any position I have taken in relation to matters of controversy between us”.

“It is not Mr Gleeson who should have resigned today – it is Senator Brandis,” Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said. “The Commonwealth has lost from its service a great legal mind and one of the most experienced constitutional lawyers in this country as its most senior legal adviser.”

“It’s imperative that we have somebody of absolute integrity [for the Solicitor-General role], it’s imperative that we have somebody who is not afraid to give advice which will be potentially distasteful to the government of the day,” Law Council of Australia president, Stuart Clark said.

“We had that person in Justin Gleeson.”

International: Thailand Dispels Concerns Following King’s Death

Thailand has reaffirmed that royal succession and election will not be a concern following the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

The king died at the age of 88 and was the world’s longest-reigning monarch, having presided the country for 70 years.

Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn said he would delay the ascension to the throne to mourn his father with the people for an unspecified period. In the meantime, the head of the royal advisory council, Prem Tinsulanonda will stand in as regent.

“[The prince] said at this time everyone is sad, he is still sad, so every side should wait until we pass this sad time,” said Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha.

“When the religious ceremony and funeral have passed for a while, then it will be an appropriate time to proceed.”

The Bangkok Post newspaper also reported that the general election scheduled for next year will not be delayed.

“The government has reaffirmed its commitment to following the roadmap for general elections scheduled for late next year,” the newspaper said.

The government also stated that the economy and government will continue to work as normal.

National: NSW Premier Mike Baird Backflips on Greyhounds Racing Ban

Five greyhounds have been killed since last week, when NSW Premier Mike Baird backtracked on his decision to ban the racing.

Baird and deputy premier Troy Grant announced that a panel will report to the state government about reforming the sport and “providing the most stringent, safest racing environment to eliminate avoidable injury”.

Baird said that he and his government were “wrong” about the decision to close down the industry after three months stating that the ban was “the right thing to do”.

“I got it wrong, we got it wrong, the cabinet got it wrong and the government got it wrong,” Baird said.

Baird said his advisor on the industry closure, Dr John Keniry had said that “there is now a deep appetite for change, for reform in the industry… [the industry is] desperate to change.”

The decision to ban greyhound racing from July 1, 2017 was a result of special inquiry headed by Michael McHugh, which found that up to 68,000 greyhounds had been euthanised in the past 12 years due to slowness and incapability to continue competing.

Brenton Scott, chief executive of the NSW Greyhound Industry Racing Alliance said cases of track euthanasia “represents an extremely small 0.13 per cent of runner. However, the industry accepts that every possible step must be taken to avoid any track euthanasia going forward.”

Fairfax’s Sean Nicholls said the reversal is likely caused by oppositional media and industry campaign, as well as predictions that the Liberal Party might lose the November 12 Orange by-election.

Technology: BlackBerry to Stop Making Its Own Phones

BlackBerry has announced that it will stop making phones in order to focus on software development.

The production of handsets will be leveraged to a new, Indonesia-based joint venture called BB Merah Putih. This venture will be led by PT Tiphone, an affiliate of Indonesia’s largest carrier, Telkomsel.

Chief operating officer and general manager at BlackBerry, Ralph Pini said the decision enables the company to continue bringing BlackBerry devices to the market and develop “state-of-the-art security software for devices”.

“BlackBerry is no longer just about the smartphone, but the smart in the phone,” said BlackBerry CEO, John Chen. “Through this strategy, there will continue to be BlackBerry-branded devices in the market; when you see our logo it means security, from our class-leading enterprise software to devices secured by BlackBerry software.”

BlackBerry smartphones have long been overtaken by Apple and Samsung, with current market share of 0.1 per cent and recorded losses of $670 million in the last quarter.

BlackBerry was known as the inventor of smartphones, with the launch of BlackBerry 850 in 1999. It was popular among business executives and heads of state, with President Barack Obama as one of the world’s most prominent fans of the phone product.