1 year ago




106 SENATE Tuesday, 14 February 2017 this is doable, but it is not inevitable. It is going to take political courage, determination, and a change of government in three weeks' time in Western Australia. A week ago I launched the Energy2030 plan with our East Metropolitan spokesperson Tim Clifford, and he said: I have been door knocking for weeks taking out policy directly to people's doorsteps and there has been overwhelming support in the community. I never thought a person with my background would ever be in a position where I would be launching an historic initiative like our battery storage policy. So if you know someone in Western Australia, can you do us a giant favour and tag them in this video. Please share it. Personally I cannot think of a better favour that Western Australia could do the rest of the country than voting Colin Barnett and his One Nation partners into the bin on 11 March. The most important thing is to prove to young people that we are determined not to abandon them to the kind of hothouse future that Premier Barnett, Ms Hanson, Mr Morrison and his pet lump of coal are setting up for them. I hope some of these individuals live long enough so they can be around to get a glimpse of the future they are setting up for those who are too young to vote but I doubt it. The negligence of this generation will probably not be punished. It will be long after these old men have died that the impact of their contempt for the generations will be felt. I honestly believe that there is still time to prevent the very worst impacts of what we have set in motion but there really is no more time to stuff around. We have proven that we do not have an engineering problem. We do not have a technical problem. We have a very substantial political problem. On 11 March, a little more than three weeks from now, we can take a decisive step to solve part of a problem. What I find most perverse is that the same people working hardest to prevent clean energy companies from getting a start in Australia are the same ones who are most horrified at the idea of giving safe harbour to refugees. It is about the most brutal failure to put two and two together imaginable. Here is one obvious example. There are around 170 million people living in Bangladesh, so about seven times the population of Australia. Most of these men, women and children—sisters, brothers, grandparents, grandchildren—live on alluvial flood plains on the edge of the Indian Ocean. Conservatively, 10 per cent of the land area will be inundated and lost if the sea level rises one metre. Not in a slow and gradual manner but given effect by violent storm surges and hurricanes. So how many people do we realistically think will be on the move by mid-century? Like many in here, I am at risk of becoming numb to the statistics of suicides, murders, mental illness, sexual assaults and rapes on the island internment camps that are Australia's national shame. But it is essential that we do not turn away from the horrors being inflicted in our name because the way that we treat desperate people forced to flee their homes will be the issue that defines whether or not the human family survives this century. Last week, the Australian government began forcibly deporting people from Manus Island. The UN Refugee Agency has said that no deportations should take place because there are concerns about how people's refugee claims have been assessed. Asylum seekers on the island have provided dozens of examples of procedural mistakes, inconsistencies and perverse decisions. Legal avenues for these asylum seekers have not been exhausted, and many of them have not yet been subject to the possibility of judicial review. The detention centre in Manus Island was declared illegal 10 months ago. The PNG Supreme Court ruled last April that the indefinite detention of asylum seekers on Manus Island was unconstitutional but nothing has been done to close it down. Today the Liberal and Labor parties washed their collective hands of responsibility by refusing to support a Greens motion opposing these forced deportations. I said I would avoid statistics, so let us learn a little more of one individual's story. Iran, the theocracy that the United States government inadvertently set in place when the CIA helped overthrow a democratically elected government in 1953 has long refused to accept any person who is repatriated involuntarily. This means that these individuals face the prospect of indefinite detentions or worse when they are forced to go back to Iran having fled that place. One such person is the Iranian asylum seeker and cartoonist known by pen name Eaten Fish. Eaten Fish is 25 years old. His real name is Ali. He suffers severe mental illness. He has been on a hunger strike for 16 days as of today. He is bleeding from his stomach and he is becoming more and more unwell. His ability to communicate and be lucid is deteriorating and he is desperate. Eaten Fish has received a deportation notice but he wants people to know that he is not on hunger strike for that reason. He is on hunger strike because he has been the victim of sexual assault, chronic sexual harassment and abuse in Australia's immigration prison camp. He cannot bear the suffering anymore. He is petrified of being moved from his supported accommodation back into the general area and he is petrified of being returned to Iran and executed. His refugee determination status process was an obscene joke. During the determination, and he CHAMBER

Tuesday, 14 February 2017 SENATE 107 was so unwell that he was unable to present his case. All of this has been documented. It has taken Eaten Fish a year to talk about his experience and now he wants people to know what is going on. The Australian government has been petitioned many times both from within Australia and from internationally asking that Eaten Fish be brought to Australia for medical treatment. Cartoonists Rights Network International is one such group, and they write the following: It is with profound alarm and sadness that we learn that our friend and colleague … Mr Eaten Fish, currently held in an Australian refugee rendition camp in Papua New Guinea, has decided to undertake a hunger strike. He is a man who has given up hope, cannot struggle any longer, cannot face the future that is being forced upon him, and would rather die than submit to the indignities of further inhuman treatment. Today the Greens stand once again against this unacceptable treatment of asylum seekers by this government and by the ALP, who initiated the establishment of these camps in the first place. We urge you to transfer this critically ill young man to Australia, or you risk another death on our hands. I would like to acknowledge Senator Nick McKim, our spokesperson on this issue, and the work done by Senator Hanson-Young over many years on this issue. The Greens will never give up while these camps remain open. I also take this opportunity to say that we will not forget the young men who have died in our care in these death camps: Reza Berati, 24, also from Iran, died from head injuries after he was beaten to death by security personnel who were paid by Australian taxpayers to protect him; Hamid Khazaei, 24, also from Iran, died from medical neglect after a treatable foot infection; Faysal Ishak Ahmed, 27, from Sudan, fell ill and died on Christmas Eve 2016 after seeking medical treatment 13 times in two months. On the death of Faysal, Manus Island detainee Abdul Aziz Adams said, 'This system is designed to kill us one by one.' Colleagues, this system shames us one by one. It is time that these camps are closed and that the people were brought here to Australia. Housing WestConnex Senator RHIANNON (New South Wales) (22:01): Last week Flo Seckold, who has lived in Millers Point all her life, left her home for the last time. Like many, she had been turfed out as the New South Wales Liberal- National government begins their public housing sell-off in Millers Point. Flo worked at the Bushells factory. Her husband, Teddy, was a wharfie. Teddy was one of the first arrested during the green bans action to save the area from the Sydney Cove Redevelopment Authority demolitions, back in the sixties and seventies. They were together for 62 years until Teddy died three years ago. The day after Teddy's funeral, Flo was sent a letter to tell her that her home was to be sold off. In 2014 the New South Wales government announced the sell-off of public housing in the Millers Point area, and since then people have been forced to move out. Flo has been a central part of community campaigns against the public housing sell-offs in Millers Point, and I want to congratulate her and say that I am deeply for sorry for what has happened. Flo's story, sadly, is a common one. People across the country are being shifted from one property to the next if they live in public housing. Australia has weak protection not just for public housing tenants but for tenants in the private sector as well. Callous state governments are flogging off public housing for a quick buck. There is little recognition that houses are more than just bricks and mortar, that houses are homes for people. Much of the discussion in the media around the housing crisis has focused on young people. While young people are being locked out of the housing market, older people are also increasingly suffering housing stress. Late last year I met with representatives of the Older Women's Network, Zonta International and Equal Rights Alliance. They highlighted the situation of tens of thousands of older women who are in severe housing stress, right on edge of being evicted. A hostile housing market, climbing rents and a lack of rental security, a lack of appropriate public housing, public housing sell-offs, the closure of women's refuges and a lack of homelessness services all leave older people—in particular, older women—increasingly vulnerable to housing stress and homelessness. Many older women will come into retirement on small pensions and with not enough superannuation after a lifetime of unpaid family labour, unequal pay and structural disadvantage. A lack of affordable, accessible and secure housing makes that situation so much worse. Between the 2006 census and the census in 2011 there was a 19 per cent increase in the number of older homeless people. Roughly 17 per cent of people experiencing homelessness in Australia are older than 55. The latest Rental Affordability Snapshot report from Anglicare characterises the dire housing situation for single older Australians living on the pension. Less than 0.1 per cent of private rental properties in the Greater Sydney and Illawarra region are appropriate and affordable for a single person getting by on the age pension. On the North Coast that figure is 1.1 per cent. In the ACT, with the exception of one granny flat, the only rental properties that were affordable for an older individual living on the pension were share houses. CHAMBER

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