Saturday 31st of July 2021

australia's shame...


human rights...


Countries should unite against China's growing economic and geopolitical coercion or risk being singled out and punished by Beijing, former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has told the BBC. 

Mr Rudd said governments in the West should not be afraid to challenge China on issues such as human rights. 

Around the world, countries are navigating a new geopolitical order framed by the rising dominance of China. 

"If you are going to have a disagreement with Beijing, as many governments around the world are now doing, it's far better to arrive at that position conjointly with other countries rather than unilaterally, because it makes it easier for China to exert bilateral leverage against you," Mr Rudd told the BBC's Talking Business Asia programme. 

His comments come as relations between Australia and China have deteriorated to their worst point in decades. The relationship has soured following a series of economic and diplomatic blows dealt by each side. 

Australia has scrapped agreements tied to China's massive infrastructure project, the Belt and Road Initiative. It also banned Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei from building the country's 5G network. 


But it was really Australia's call for an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic that set off a new storm between the two sides. 

China retaliated by placing sanctions on Australian imports - including wine, beef, lobster and barley - and has hinted more may come. 

Beijing has also suspended key economic dialogues with Canberra, which effectively means there is no high-level contact to smooth things out. 


A new battleground


Mr Rudd, who led Australia twice between 2007 and 2013, has criticised the current government's approach to China, saying that it has been counterproductive at times. 

"The conservative government's response to the Chinese has from time to time been measured - but other times, frankly, has been rhetorical and shrill," said Mr Rudd, who is now president of the Asia Society Policy Institute.

The former Labor party prime minister believes it could risk the fortunes of a key Australian export to China: iron ore. 


"They [the Chinese leadership] will see Australia as an unreliable supplier of iron ore long term, because of the geopolitical conclusions that Beijing will make in relation to… the conservative government in Canberra.


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Jacinda Ardern's government will come under increasing pressure to muscle up to China as relations with the superpower return to the fore.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is sure to push the issue with New Zealand's leader when he visits Queenstown for talks with Ms Ardern on the weekend.

AAP can reveal dissent in Wellington, with MPs across the political spectrum dissatisfied with the government strong-arming a debate on Chinese human rights abuses.

This month, Labour used its majority in parliament to water down a proposed debate on whether atrocities committed against Uighurs in Xinjiang constituted genocide.

Instead, the parliament unanimously passed a motion condemning "severe human rights abuses".

One major party MP described that as "weak as water".

Another said the government was "totally beholden to China on trade".

"It's wholeheartedly ironic the debate was suppressed ... I think we will find that the parliament will have to revisit this issue again," another MP said.

Wellington is proud and protective of its relationship with Beijing, which produced China's first free trade agreement with a western nation, and which has not degraded in recent years as Sino-Australia relations have.

Still, China's embassy in Wellington "deplored" the parliamentary vote, saying it "will go nowhere but to harm the mutual trust between China and NZ".

Soon, Kiwi MPs may add their names to their dissent by joining the hawkish Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC).

IPAC is a growing group of MPs in western countries, including Australia, that want western governments to push China harder to admit abuses and change its behaviour.

NZ has just two members; co-chairs National MP Simon O'Connor and Labour MP Louisa Wall.


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And while you're on the subjects of human rights, FREE JULIAN ASSANGE NOW %%%% and contemplate the picture above...

deaths in custody

Last week, 43-year-old Frank Coleman became the ninth Aboriginal person to die in police or prison custody since March.

Key points:
  • Frank Coleman died last week in Sydney's Long Bay Correctional Complex 
  • He is the ninth Aboriginal person to die in custody since March 
  • Human rights lawyer Jennifer Robinson says Australia has not faced "sufficient scrutiny" over deaths in custody at the international level 

Warning: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that this article contains images of a person who has died.

His family say the regularity of such deaths is "incomprehensible" but they do not want the proud Ngemba man to be reduced to another statistic.

"He was an individual," said former partner Skye Hipwell.

"He deserves to be known as an individual, and this needs to be treated as an individual case."

Daughter Lakota Coleman wants to remember her father's infectious energy and his ability to win people over.


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not closing yet...


Indigenous people are still far more likely to be jailed, die by suicide and have their children removed than non-Indigenous people a year after the new Closing the Gap agreement was signed, according to the Productivity Commission.

The Commission today released its first batch of annual data on the National Agreement on Closing the Gap.


But it can’t say how progress on ten of the 17 targets is going due to a lack of new figures to compare against the baseline data being used.

“The Agreement is now 12 months old, but the most recent available data for monitoring these socioeconomic outcomes are only just hitting the commencement date for the Agreement,” commissioner Romlie Mokak said.


“It is likely to be some years before we see the influence of this Agreement on these outcomes.”

The federal, and state governments - alongside 50 peak Indigenous organisations - reached a historic agreement to address the inequality faced by First Nations people last July.

The new National Agreement on Closing the Gap is intended to be a proper partnership, to move beyond what Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt described as a decade of failings.

Among its 17 ambitious targets, the Agreement is aiming to reduce the Indigenous incarceration rate by 15 per cent in the next decade.

But the Productivity Commission’s report said the rate of Indigenous prisoners rose from 2077.4 per 100,000 people in 2019, to 2081 in June 2020.


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