Tag Archives: australia

Manus, Nauru and an Australian Detention Legacy by Dr. Binoy Kampmark

It could be called a gulag mentality, though it finds form in different ways. In the defunct Soviet Union, it was definitive of life: millions incarcerated, garrisons of forced labour, instruments of the proletarian paradise fouled. Gulag literature suggested another society, estranged and removed from civilian life, channelled into an absent universe. Titles suggested as much: Gustaw Herling’s work was titled A World Apart; Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago likewise suggested societies marooned from the broader social project. But these were intrinsic to the bricks and mortar, in many cases quite literally, of the Soviet state. 

In the case of countries supposedly priding themselves in the lotteries of exaggerated freedom, the influence of this carceral mentality is less obvious but still significant. In Australia, where offshore processing of naval arrivals and its own offerings of gulag culture were made, six years has passed since Nauru and Manus Island became outpost of indefinite detention.

manus01_400During the years, legislation has been passed encasing these outposts in capsules of secrecy, superficially protected by island sovereignty. Whistleblowing has been criminalised; concerned doctors have been expelled; suicides, sexual assault and psychological mutilations have been normalised in the patchwork monstrosity that involves compromised local officials, private security firms and funding from the Australian tax payer.

A most obvious consequence of this is the cultivation of a thuggish lack of accountability. Australian politicians keen to visit the handiwork of their government have been rebuffed. Greens Senator Nick McKim had been trying to splash out some publicity on the anniversary, paying a visit to Manus Island. He noted a deterioration in conditions since his 2017 visit.

On Thursday, he was approached by two immigration officials who informed him that he would be deported. He had been attempting to see East Lorengau camp, was denied entry, and his passport confiscated. To SBS News, he expressed his disappointment “that they are threatening to deport me because I am here to expose the truth about the treatment of refugees, to lift the veil of secrecy that’s been draped over Australia’s offshore detention regime.”

A mistake is made in assuming clear dates of commencement in terms of a distinct Australian approach. Australia was, after all, itself a penal colony, an experiment in distant punishment and obsessive control. It made, in turn, prisoners of the indigenous population. Brutally, its various authorities relocated individuals to missions, camps and compounds. A paternal mentality, one that has never left, took hold: we know what is best for you, be it the Bible or the dog tag. Infantilism, exploitation and dispossession thrived as mentalities.

Despite being an active participant in the post-war movement to establish an international refugee regime protecting human rights…

For the rest of the article, check HERE!

Leave a comment

Filed under ovi magazine, politics

Corporate Gangster: Adani’s Pursuit of Scientists by Dr. Binoy Kampmark

The Adani conglomerate should be best described as a bloated gangster, promising the earth even as it mines it. Like other corporate thugs of such disposition, it will do things within, and if necessary outside, the regulatory framework it encounters. Where necessary, it will libel detractors and bribe critics, speak of a fictional number of as yet non-existent jobs, and claim that it is green in its coaling practices. It will also hire legal firms claiming to be trained attack dogs and hector the national broadcaster to pull unflattering stories from publication and discussion.

adani01_400_01As a marauder of the environment, the Indian mining giant has left little to chance. It has politicians friendly to its cause in Australia at both the state and federal level, but it faces an environmental movement that refuses to dissipate. It also has a problem with environmental science, particularly in the area of water management. Conditional approvals have been secured, albeit hurried in the aftermath of May’s federal election, and even here, further testing will have to be done.

Given the inconveniences posed by scientists wedded to methodology and technique, the company did not surprise in freedom of information findings by the environmental group Lock the Gate that it had asked the federal environment department for “a list of each person from CSIRO and Geoscience Australia involved in the review” of the Groundwater Dependent Ecosystem Management Plan (GDEMP) and Groundwater Monitoring and Management Plan (GMMP).

In a bullying note to the Department of Environment and Energy (DOEE) in January 25 this year, Hamish Manzi, head of the company’s environment and sustainability branch officiously gave a five day limit to the request, claiming that it “simply wants to know who is involved in the review to provide it with peace of mind that it is being treated fairly and that the review will not be hijacked by activists with a political, as opposed to scientific, agenda.” Manzi had noted “recent press coverage regarding an anti-coal and/or anti-Adani bias potentially held by experts reviewing other Adani approvals.” For Manzi, the only expert worthy of that name would have to be sympathetic to the mining cause.

The corporate instinct is rarely on all fours with that of the scientific one. The former seeks the accumulation of assets, profits and dividends; the latter tests hypotheses using a falsification system, a process that can only ever have fidelity to itself. The corporate instinct is happy to forget troubling scientific outcomes, and, where necessary, corrupt it for its ends. Where the science does not match, it is obviously the work of ill-motivated activists or those inconvenienced by conscience.

The Union of Concerned Scientists in February 2012, through its Scientific Integrity Program, supplied readers with a list of fields where science, and scientists, have been attacked or compromised. More importantly, it notes how governments become the subject of influence, their decisions ever vulnerable to wobbling. “Corporations attempt to exert influence at every step of the scientific and policy-making processes, often to shape decisions in their favour or avoid regulation and monitoring of their products and by-products at the public’s expense. In so doing, they often attempt to fundamentally alter the decision-making process.”

For the rest of the article HERE!

Leave a comment

Filed under enviroment, ovi magazine

The Dangers of Values: Brenton Tarrant, Fraser Anning and the Christchurch Shootings by Dr. Binoy Kampmark

The argument that the Christchurch shooter, suspect Brenton Tarrant, or the views of Australia’s Senator Fraser Anning, seemingly holding a lone torch, are somehow not representative of the broader whole, be it Australia or New Zealand, is a self-deflecting exercise. They are the uncomfortable mirrors of ruin, actual and perceived. They are the voices of people who can either be marginalised and confined or addressed.

Tarrant’s views sizzle with clenching anxiety, shot through the desire to recover what has been lost and what has been taken. It is deprivation, and it is not so much nostalgia as castration and insufficiency. How to overcome that? The response is spectacular violence, one that seeks to “show the invaders that our lands will never be their lands, our homelands are our own and that, as long as white man still lives, they will NEVER conquer our lands and they will never replace our people”.

annin001_400Australian Senator Fraser Anning, with the bodies still warm, decided to wade into the debate. “Does anyone still dispute the link between Muslim immigration and violence?” he posed on Twitter. He had no time for the “clichéd nonsense” that the Christchurch killings were the result of poor gun laws or those “holding nationalist views”. “The real cause of bloodshed on New Zealand streets today is the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place.”

Marginalisation, coupled with severe muzzling, is the preferred formula to such individuals. A petition to remove Anning from parliament, for instance, has reached 750,000, a move that will do wonders to martyr him and make way for crude shrines. “We call on the Australian government to expel this man who blames victims for their own violent deaths, and uses references to genocide to further his hateful agenda.”

Repeatedly, remarks have been made across the politically smug spectrum that neither the shooter, nor the reactionary senator, represent the “values” of Australasia. Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister, Penny Wong, has dismissed Tarrant’s views as alien and incompatible. “He is not who we are.” Ditto Anning, deemed a freak. “I say to the people of New Zealand, I say to all people, Mr Anning does not represent Australia, he does not represent our values, he does not represent who we are.”

This is self-denying, camouflaging guff; individuals like Tarrant and Anning are, in of themselves, representative of a particular strain of thinking of alienation, morbid fear of extinction, a terror of being subsumed. Call it bruised White ego, the governing classes left out in the cold. Call it a sense of drowning and asphyxiation and falling into social and political irrelevance. They are the ones whose views suggest a loss of control, and, fundamentally, a loss of power. Consider Anning’s remarks on March 12: “I can see what happened in the UK where 429 Muslims are in political office now and hold massive influence over law making including introducing Sharia law.” Those of Wong’s persuasion would do well to consider that many Australians of a certain ilk and background are, however delusional, terrified about the incompatibilities of Islam and the Anglo-Australian legal system.

The rest of the article, HERE!

Ovi magazine

Leave a comment

Filed under ovi magazine, politics

A Fancy Hypocrisy: China, Australia and Coal Mania by Dr. Binoy Kampmark

Fear them for their technology; fear them for their ideology and their authoritarianism. But embrace interference and involvement in the economy if it involves coal. This is the fancy hypocrisy of Australian politics, one driven to lunacy and inconsistency by that dark and dirty love.

The contrast between a fear of Huawei, on the one hand, and an eager opening for a Chinese state-owned enterprise barging its way into the Australian market suggests that those in Canberra have finally twisted themselves into knots. The latter is particularly striking – the China Energy Engineering Cooperation (CEEC), the designated monster behind what promises to be 2000 megawatt of coal generation in the Hunter Valley north of Sydney. Two plants billed as users of efficient coal-fired technology will supposedly take root in the “failed industrial zone” and give it life. The cost would be in the order of $8 billion and generate over $17 billion worth of carbon liabilities.

coal000001_400Australia’s dinosaur political class is delighted at the latest foray into environmental spoliation. “This is exactly what the market needs,” chuffed Coalition backbencher Craig Kelly. Furthermore, to show that the conservative wing of politics is happy to forfeit any laissez faire credentials regarding the economy when needed, Kelly is keen for generous taxpayers’ support. “If the Government needs to underwrite it, if it needs a little help, then that’s what we should be doing.”

Gone from the conversational babble was China’s February announcement through the Dalian Port authorities restricting Australian coal imports. “The goals are to better safeguard the legal rights and interests of Chinese importers and to protect the environment,” explained Geng Shuang of the Chinese foreign ministry. The point is worth reiterating, since similar bans were not applied to the coal from other states. The indefinite ban was the bitter icing on that particular issue, confirming prolonged clearing times for Australian coal since the start of February.

The announcement of the mining venture had its predictable reaction in the environmental movement in Australia. The Greens federal member for Melbourne was aghast and, as is his wont, got into the realms of hyperbole. Protests would ensue; mass disaffection would take to the streets. These latest coal plans, according to Adam Bandt, “will make the Franklin Dam campaign look like a Sunday picnic.” What of, he said, any acknowledgment of the recent climate shocks gripping the continent? “We just had our hottest summer on record. If Labor and Liberal [parties] give this project the tick of approval then you will see civil disobedience in Australia on a scale never seen before.”

Interference by China in Australian matters is enchanting printing presses and stalking the corridors of power in Canberra. Like other obsessions, it is clear that this one is inconsistent and variable, manifesting in various forms like an inconsistent fever. James Laurenceson’s Do the Claims Stack Up, Australia Talks China, concludes that “in each case, the evidence base [on interference] is shown to be divorced from the claims found in headlines, news reports and opinion pieces, revealing just how widespread has become the discourse of the China Threat, China Angst and China Panic”. When it comes to coal, the threat transforms; China Blessing, or China Grovelling come to the fore. (The Yellow Peril becomes the Yellow Salvation.)

For the rest of the article HERE!

Ovi magazine

Leave a comment

Filed under enviroment, ovi magazine

Who Really Rules?

Ovi magazine with Professor’s Murray Hunter article: Who Really Rules Australia?: A tragic tale of the Australian People starts a campaign/a series of articles and essays that will include most possible countries all around the world with the question Who Really Rules? trying to find or at least reach some answers.

In his article Professor Murray starts pointing:

An inconvenient question

The question of “who rules Australia?” is always answered with pet ideas and different theories. We can see symbols of power allWho really rules? around us, but the exercise of real power and influence is rarely a public event. Defining and identifying who really rules Australia is like trying to pinpoint where consciousness exists within our brain. It is complex and illusive. We may have some idea about different entities who potentially exercise power, but can’t put any single entity under any precise scrutiny. Besides the formal means of power through authority, ownership and control over regulation, etc., much power is the result of inducement, compromise, promises, flattery, coercion, threats, favors, and even goodwill. Making the situation more complex is that different groups exercise power and influence over different aspects of society. Finally is rule in Australia in the hands of an “oligarchy” that dictates, or is it more likely that the group(s) that rule Australia are more like a football umpire who can influence the flow of the game, with the power to influence formulation of new rules end of season for the next season? 

Surprisingly formal academic papers about “who rules Australia” are almost non-existent. A multitude of internet articles, review articles, opinion, and even lectures and documentaries exist online about who rules the world. However in Australia it doesn’t seem a question that academics have bothered to write too much about, except for the prominent Australian public intellectual and writer Donald Horne in the mid 1980s, who asked the question in an obscure essay “Who Rules Australia?”

Horne meticulously examined rule from the perspective of our history, significance of the crown, formation of our political system, parliament, political parties, federalism, the role of the media, unions, and banking; proposing that Australians live under a myth about who actually rules them. Although the situation today is very different from the time Horne reflected on these issues, much of his description concerning “who rules Australia” is still valid today. What may be even more starkly relevant is Horne’s conclusion, which Australians at the time and even now have taken little notice of.

My intention is to take up from Donald Horne’s commentary, update it, and postulate this inconvenient question again in Australia today. Many people know the parts of the puzzle, but by putting them altogether the author hopes it may lead to a more thorough understanding about the intricacies of who really rules Australia.

This paper will do so in the format of looking at each section of potential influence upon Australian society, starting with an encapsulated summary of Australia’s sovereign history.

Leave a comment

Filed under economy

The fire-hit Australia

Australia’s Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has vowed his country would rally after the worst bushfires in its history. Mr Rudd told MPs that areas devastated by bushfires would be rebuilt “brick by brick” and “school by school”. The death toll so far is 173, but it is expected to rise significantly as the operation to recover bodies continues.

Knowing or better suspecting that arsonists are behind this the only thing that needs rebuilding and that urgently is their mind. The nightmarish thing is that most of them doing it so they can build and sell which makes greed the motivation and the guilt more discussing!

Leave a comment

Filed under enviroment