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Issue #1739      July 13, 2016


The NSW government’s plan to relocate the Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta has always been regarded as a cynical land grab for developers. The opponents of the move were many and varied – more than 170 prominent people had signed an open letter objecting to the move; local residents, tourist operators, schoolchildren and teachers – all those who regard the museum as part of their lives and experience. The Baird government seemed to be deaf to all the objections. But there is a ray of hope on the horizon for the opponents to the move as the NSW Legislative Council announced the establishment of an inquiry into NSW museums and galleries. It will look into the plans to move the Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta and plans to sell off its Ultimo site. Jamie Parker, Greens MP for Balmain, hailed the decision to hold an inquiry. “This parliamentary inquiry is a major breakthrough … The government can no longer hide behind a wall of bureaucracy,” he said.

While European countries are trying to cope with the huge numbers of people misplaced by wars and conflicts, some politicians there commented favourably on the “Australian solution”. We know that it is nothing to be proud of as mandatory detention and slow resolution of claims for refugee status add to the pain and suffering of the people who had hoped for a chance for a peaceful life. Australian doctors and ethicists drew international attention to Australia’s treatment of so-called “boat people” and advised Europe not to follow its example. In four contributions to the Journal of Medical Ethics there are warnings about the lack of transparency in the Australian system which helps to perpetuate human rights abuses and torture. Most contributors had been to detention centres and experienced the existing practices there. The role of health professionals in the centres raises moral and professional concerns and the contributors to the Journal certainly do not think that Australia’s policies are worth following.

The Labor government in Queensland and the federal Turnbull government are locked in a funding fight which will see 96 most vulnerable mental health patients turfed out in the street. These patients are a danger to themselves and others and can presently access the state’s Housing and Support Program. In a letter to the distressed families and service providers, the Health Minister’s chief of staff said: “Regrettably, the Department of Health’s budget is fully committed. Accordingly, the state has no capacity to fill the gap created by the federal government’s decision”. A spokesman for the Department of Health said extra resources would be available to hospitals and the government was working with organisations that “can provide housing”. The humanity.

Next article – Culture & Life – Air power run amok

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