Quizzically Musing

Watching the madness

Archive for October 2011

What Stops a Nation? A Horse Race or an Airline?

with 4 comments

Tuesday is Melbourne Cup Day, the “Race That Stops A Nation”.  I don’t know why any more – most of the runners are not Australian horses!  Today, however, there is something much bigger stopping our nation: Qantas.  The national airline, the one that still calls Australia home!

Reading The Age, which is carrying several articles and a live Twitter feed, Qantas didn’t see fit to inform the Government of the plans to ground the airline.  Qantas gounding seen hurting airline and economy is one headline.

It came as an embarrassment for Prime Minister Julia Gillard who was hosting a  summit of Commonwealth leaders in the western city of Perth, 17 of them booked  to fly out on Sunday with Qantas.

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/business/qantas-grounding-seen-hurting-airline-and-economy-20111030-1mq1g.html#ixzz1cDJC5gC0

This is big.  Not only are many of the Commonwealth leaders stranded, the impact on the Cup will be dramatic.

Who is at fault here?  I don’t know.  I’ve had my own issues to concentrate on of late and to be honest I’ve not been keeping up with the situation other than catch snatches of commentary on the radio whilst driving to work.

I DO know this is not good for our international reputation and I do know the government should have been keeping a closer eye on the situation.  To all those involved, perhaps it is time to find a common ground for the benefit of our nation.  I’m not suggesting the unions back down if their claims are valid (are they?) nor am I suggesting the airline cave in either.  I am suggesting there has to be a common ground you can all reach.

Reach it now, before we look too damn stupid on the global stage.  We have one of the world’s strongest, if not THE strongest, economies at the moment.  But we let this happen?  How did this happen?

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Written by Robyn Dunphy

October 30, 2011 at 9:55 am

Another death in detention

with 6 comments

“You can’t keep someone locked up for two years behind an electrified fence and tell them they’re free. All he wanted was one day of freedom – one day – and they wouldn’t give it to him. Well now he’s free.” – A close friend of a refugee named Shooty* spoke these words to us after Shooty died in immigration detention at 3am Wednesday.

The above is the headline introduction to an email I received today.  In the hope of gaining even a small number of additional supporters for the cause, I am republishing this email here.   What is REALLY clear here is that we, Australia, are risking people’s lives.  This young man had been granted refugee status, yet we still kept him behind bars.  Not good enough.

Yesterday news broke of yet another life lost in our detention system. A young Sri Lankan man took his own life after nearly two years of detention inside Villawood — despite being granted refugee status (but not release) earlier this year.

 It was supposed to be a day of celebration. Only a few weeks ago he had asked to spend this Wednesday at his friend’s nearby home, celebrating the Hindu holy day of Diwali, “the festival of lights.” Yet, despite no objections from Serco (the private security firm running Villawood) and the fact that four guards were set to accompany him, the Department of Immigration refused his request – claiming it wasn’t a “compassionate or compelling reason” for a day’s release from Villawood.

Who stands accountable when a man is locked away for seeking asylum, refused even a day’s respite after nearly 730 days of captivity and finally takes his own life in despair? Tell our government enough — end this disgrace. 

http://www.getup.org.au/detention-disgrace

While yesterday’s observance of Diwali was meant to be a “celebration of the victory of good over evil and the uplifting of spiritual darkness,” unfortunately the long-term detention that Shooty suffered broke his spirit. Sadly, a friend yesterday described Shooty as “one of the strongest” in detention and “the last person I expected to commit suicide.” When others were down this was a man who lifted their spirits and kept them positive. “He was loved by everyone.”

 Yesterday the Minister for Immigration confirmed 462 others who have already been granted refugee status and have had health and security assessments are still behind the razor wire right now, awaiting their final security clearance. But it doesn’t need to be this way: ASIO, the government agency in charge of performing these security checks, says there’s no legal requirement in their Act for refugees to be kept in detention. Meanwhile, there have now been six suicides in detention since Labor took office, and transition to community detention hasn’t been happening fast enough.

It is a sad day when a young man finally on the edge of freedom breaks under the weight of an inhumane system and takes his own life. Tell our government, never again:

http://www.getup.org.au/detention-disgrace

Thank you for using your voice,

The GetUp team

* NB: We’ve used the young man’s nickname over fears that family members, still in Sri Lanka, may face reprisal if his real name is publicised.

Support is available, in Australia, for anyone who may be suffering depression or other mental illnesses by calling Lifeline on 131 114

Written by Robyn Dunphy

October 27, 2011 at 7:05 pm