The Guardian • Issue #2036


  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2036

More than a thousand refugees and their supporters rallied outside Parliament House in Canberra on 29th November to demand permanent visas for refugees. Priya Nadesalingam, from the Biloela family granted a permanent visa by the Labor government, told the rally, “I believe the ‘fast track’ system was unfair. The people who interviewed us had no idea about what has happened in Sri Lanka for Tamils. The policies were made specifically to fail us. It has been ten years and people can’t keep repeating this process. We want to build our future. So I’m asking everyone that this has to come to an end. We need to grant permanent residence to everyone, so we can live our lives peacefully.” More than 31,000 refugees and people seeking asylum have been surviving for up to nine years and more, on temporary protection or bridging visas. Others are eking out an existence in the community on expired visas. Labor came to office promising to grant permanent visas to all refugees on temporary Temporary Protection visa (TPV) or Safe Haven Enterprise visa (SHEV), and to scrap the fast-track assessment system that has seen around 10,000 refugee applications rejected. Saajeda, an Afghan refugee, co-chairing the rally, asked, “Why must we keep begging the Australian government to give us safety and permanent protection? It is very clear that refugees from Afghanistan, and other places like Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Iran cannot return to live safely.” Labor has also turned a deaf ear to refugees brought to Australia from Nauru and Papua New Guinea, ignoring the torture inflicted on them offshore and the fact that many now have jobs and families in Australia. Zahra, one of the speakers at the rally said, “The refugees sent to Nauru and Manus have been punished for a decade for seeking Australia’s protection. Offshore refugees have been denied protection just because of the date we arrived. Some people who arrived after 19th July 2013 weren’t sent offshore and will soon get permanent visas. Labor’s policy towards us is like a cruel lottery.”

As the Albanese government’s privatisation plan gets into top gear with its “investigation” into Medicare’s shortcomings, a glimpse of the government’s vision for health care popped up last week. InstantScripts allows customers to obtain prescriptions for more than 300 medicines online by filling out questionnaires that are reviewed by doctors and, if approved, “can be sent in minutes.” You don’t actually see a doctor, which points the way for the government to make real savings. The company had 450,000 “transactions” last financial and is currently the target of a $200 million takeover. In addition, the regulator, the Medical Board of Australia, is auditing InstantScripts because of undisclosed “issues.” Free-market-medicine in action.

PARASITE OF THE WEEK: Telstra has announced it will no longer require employees who are targets of sexual harassment to sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) that gag them from speaking out. Such is the corporate view of the world that rape, too, may be commercial-in-confidence. Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins has noted NDAs silence victims and protect serial predators.

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