The Guardian • Issue #2082


  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2082

Inaction by the Australian government is leaving refugee families in Papua New Guinea destitute. Despite promises from the PNG Immigration Minister that the problem would be fixed, refugees still have no food vouchers, income, or access to medical help. Families have run out of food for their children; refugees have been left without electricity because they do not have the money to keep it connected. Electricity in Port Moresby costs up to $150 a week. Even drinking water has to be bought. Some money has been raised by friends and supporters in Australia for the last week, but it is nowhere near enough to buy sufficient food and keep the power on for the 62 refugees and their families still in limbo in PNG. Despite efforts to raise more money, there is no money to even provide food vouchers for this coming week.

While no refugees have been evicted, service providers have still not been paid by PNG Immigration, and the threat made in a letter last week remains. The CEO of accommodation provider, MRT told one family to “move out,” and added, “I can close all the accommodation anytime.”

“Clare O’Neil must urgently provide the money needed to guarantee that refugees have the services that they need to survive. There are two new babies to be supported,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition, “We know there have been meetings between Home Affairs and PNG Immigration, but nothing has come of them.” While PNG and Australia argue the toss about who is responsible for the refugees’ welfare, service providers are not being paid and refugees in PNG are facing increasingly desperate circumstances. “Doing nothing is not an option,” said Rintoul, “Labor is spending over $400 million to keep Nauru open as an offshore detention facility, but they have found nothing to support the refugees they sent to PNG in 2013.”

PARASITE OF THE WEEK: the NSW government.

NSW paramedics are currently the lowest paid in the country thanks to the state’s wages policy. United under the slogan ‘Value Our Service,’ the paramedics are facing a wages policy in the form of a law that’s been in place since 2011, which  makes it illegal for NSW public sector workers, such as those working in emergency services, to receive a pay rise above 2.5 per cent without trade-offs.

In order to achieve their deserved professional rates of pay, NSW paramedics, members of the Health Services Union, have chosen to fight for professional recognition. In order to get a pay rise from the Industrial Relations Commission (IRC), you need to find savings of $4 million for every 1 per cent pay rise above 2.5 per cent. This means trading off conditions (such as penalties) as the Ministry of Health sees fit. Paramedics in NSW are registered professionals with a high level of clinical skills and responsibility. Professional recognition would reflect the clinical excellence of this workforce. It would mean delivering better patient care despite your postcode, and higher remuneration for paramedics. Other industries that have professionalised have fought for and won pay rises as big as 39 per cent. Members of the Ambulance Division of the HSU will fight for a pay rise that is in line with the value of service that NSW paramedics provide.

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