Inside the system

Nauru riot squad photographed with Hanson at racist rally

Eight guards from the Nauru detention centre have been stood down after posing in a group photograph with racist politician Pauline Hanson. The picture was taken at the Brisbane “Reclaim Australia” rally—part of a national anti-Islam mobilisation on 4 April. The loony-right rallies pedalled racist stereotypes about Muslims being violent extremists and called for an end to Halal food certification.

One of the men, who are all part of Transfield’s private “emergency response team”, or riot squad, uploaded the photo to Facebook.

Last month Simon Scott, a guard who appears in the photo, spewed anti-Islam bile on his Facebook account while calling for a boycott of halal products, saying “Don’t be UnAustralian and buy these products. Let the filthy sub human genetic Islamic filth have it.”

Another guard, Graham Motley, told the Toowoomba Chronicle in 2012 that his experience serving with the Australian Defence Force in Afghanistan had given him a “better understanding of Afghan culture”. Seven of the eight men are former military personnel.

Transfield had only committed to investigating whether the posts violate its social media policy as we went to print. In other worlds, Transfield doesn’t have a problem with employing hardened racists to police refugees fleeing the Middle Eastern and Muslim countries. It just has a problem with their indiscrete use of Facebook. It is Abbott’s refugee policies breeding this extreme racism.

Obama sells more arms than Bush did

As Saudi Arabia bombs Yemen, new research shows Obama is overseeing a record volume of major arms sales. According to Bill Hartung of the Centre for International Policy, Obama concluded $169 billion in arms sales in his first five years in office.

This is $30 billion more than President George W Bush sold in his entire eight year term and means Obama has outsold any President since the Second World War. Sixty per cent of the sales have gone to the Middle East. Saudi Arabia has been the biggest buyer, loading up on attack helicopters, planes, bombs and guns.

“Anti-Terror” harassment at airports takes off

The Government has been undertaking “anti-terror” harassment at airports on a massive scale. New legislation was passed in October allowing the government to cancel passports of “suspected” terrorists. According to a spokesperson for Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, 75,906 “real-time assessments” were made at airports between August 2014 and February 2015. Many of those targeted were pulled off planes, had their luggage searched and were forced to re-book flights.

The harassment is not random but is aimed at supposedly “suspicious” travellers. In September a highly regarded senior imam, Sheikh Shady Alsuleiman, was detained for over two hours in Sydney and missed his flight. He was travelling with a group of pilgrims to perform Hajj.

Federal Government to spend $4 million on TV drama to deter refugees

The Abbott Government plans to spend $4.1 million on a propaganda film to deter refugees fleeing Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.

Despite being funded by the Australian government the film will be presented as a locally produced TV drama in source countries. According to a spokesperson from the Immigration Department “television soap operas and telemovies are proven media to reach the target audience when seeking to deliver complex messages”.

The contract for the film went to Sydney based Put It Out There pictures. Producer Trudi-Ann Tierney worked for four years in Kabul making an “anti-terrorist” police show called Eagle Four which was largely funded by the US government. In her memoire she describes herself as “nothing more than a propaganda merchant”.

Industrial action at Windsor Castle

In April low-paid staff at Windsor Castle balloted to take industrial action for the first time ever. In some cases the wardens involved are paid only $27,000 a year. Despite their low wages they had previously volunteered to be tour guides and translators for free. They accepted an “unsatisfactory” pay offer last year on the condition that an allowance for these duties be considered. It never materialised.

Serco butcher non-clinical services at Fiona Stanley Hospital

The Barnett government’s flagship Fiona Stanley hospital in WA has been plagued by incidents involving contaminated medical equipment since opening in October 2014. Non-clinical services have been outsourced to Serco, a multinational company that also runs the Federal Government’s on-shore refugee detention camps. In early April Fairfax reported that Serco had received its second “notice of breach” due to failure to sterilize medical equipment.

Nurses have reported cases of equipment turning up in operating theatres still covered in blood and tissue from previous operations. In one case bone fragments were found on a drill that was about to be used for a hand operation.

Hospital outsourcing has also caused a whole range of problems outside the operating theatre. An 82-year-old woman was starved for four days after her procedure was repeatedly delayed. Told she couldn’t eat before the procedure, she was repeatedly denied food and came out of the hospital weighing only 34 kilograms. Another man only survived by using his own EpiPen after he was served mushrooms in his meal, despite notifying the hospital that he had a potentially fatal allergy to the fungus.

Ultra-rich buy flying palaces

Airbus and Boeing have begun selling luxury versions of their big airliners to meet the demands of the ultra-wealthy. One secret client just purchased a personalised Boeing 747-8 which was fitted out by Greenpoint Technologies in Washington. Normally capable of holding 467 passengers, the flying mansion features a stateroom, massive dining room, relaxation lounges and an office and has a total of 444.6 square meters of space

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