Royal Commission Delivers Report
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse handed its final report to the Government this week. The Commission spent five years listening to evidence and case studies from around the country. The report is predictably devastating. Here’s a snapshot:
- Hundreds of children were sexually abused while under the care of the Salvation Army in the 60s and 70s. The charges include rape, prostitution of children and torture.
- The Anglican Church faces charges of covering up abuse in some of the country’s top private schools, continual sexual abuse in orphanages, and even a pedophile ring operating in the Church of England Boy’s Society. The Commission found systematic flaws that allowed abuses to continue for over 30 years. The Church itself made ‘compensation’ payments of just over $60,000 on average a year.
- Ultra-orthodox Jewish Yeshivah communities faced serious allegations of protecting serial child abusers. The commission investigated the Jewish concept of “Mesirah” which effectively blocks Jews dobbing on others to the authorities.
- 261 witnesses gave evidence against the Catholic Church during the Royal Commission. 7% of priests operating from 1950 to 2010 face sexual abuse claims. The Chairman of the Commission referred 309 matters to the police during their inquiry. The Commission unveiled flaws in the Church’s leadership and a stunning lack of responsibility.
If you’re struggling with some of the issues raised by the Commission, you can find a list of support services here.
The Australian Parliament is waiting on a bill that will financially compensate many abuse victims. The states need to get on board, but it is hoped the bill will be debated in February and passed quickly. Survivors could make applications for compensation in July, 2018.
Photo at the top by Jack Fisher. A group of Care Leavers Network Australia outside the final hearing of the commission.
After a lengthy scandal that we first reported on last week, Sam Dastayari has resigned from the Australian Senate after allegations he well and truly buggered up a trip to China. It’s most likely the end of Dastayari’s career, who was one of Labour’s biggest stars in the past few years. After new allegations emerged that he had accepted donations from the Chinese, his position became untenable.
Turnbull and Bennelong
Despite a slight upswing in the polls thanks to the jubilation of the same-sex marriage win, Turnbull’s still facing a rough time. He appeared on Q&A this week, drawing criticism for his response on Indigenous recognition, and trying to defend himself against claims that he’s ‘anti-China’.
Attention has turned to Bennelong, where a seat has been left vacant thanks to the citizenship saga. Labor and the LNP are in a tight battle. If Labor win, the LNP will lose their one-seat majority in the House of Representatives, meaning that the Turnbull government would find it hard to pass controversial bills without getting the ‘cross bench’ (independent or Greens politicians) on side.
Turnbull took the opportunity to stand in front of some good numbers released by the Australia Bureau of Statistics this week. 41,900 full-time jobs and 19,700 part-time jobs were created in November, apparently, and 2017 has proven to be a great year for the labour market.
QLD and Adani
Pressure continues to mount against the Adani corporation, who want to build one of the world’s biggest coal mines in Central Queensland. After many months of protest by environmentalists and others, the project looks to be hanging by a thread. This week the Queensland Government followed through on its promise to veto a federal loan. The mine proposal must also contend with breaches to environmental law. An attempt to reach out to China for funds has also drawn a blank.
Newly re-elected Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has also begun to toughen up tree-clearing laws that were first put in place by Campbell Newman and significantly aided large-scale mining companies. The tide, it seems, is turning.
In the United States, the Federal Communications Commission made a big decision this week. They voted to repeal ‘net neutrality’, which previously forced major internet service providers to distribute internet access fairly and equally to everyone, regardless of how much they pay or where they’re located. This gives major internet service providers a lot more power to change price, block certain sites, or even mute certain organic movements (like halting the hashtag #blacklivesmatter before it goes viral, or any other protest).
The argument in support of this move is that the internet isn’t a utility, like gas or water, but a product, and should be treated as such by a free market. The argument against it is about freedom of speech, and that in this day and age, the internet has become a utility, and the United States should have no interest in following a pattern of internet control similar to countries like China or Egypt.
The decision will be repealed and debated, however, it represents an important turning point for the West’s relationship with the internet. Even though net neutrality has wide-spread bipartisan support, the FCC caved to months of lucrative lobbying by internet corporations. Seeing a similar exercise in Australia, where there is an almost identical group of very powerful internet providers, is not out of the question.
Scientists on NASA’s Kepler mission have spotted an eighth planet orbiting a distant star, making it the first alien solar system to have as many planets as our own humble system. The planets orbit Kepler 90, a larger and hotter version of our sun (whatever, ours is still great), and lies 2,500 light years from Earth in the constellation of Draco. (Just hang a right off Mercury and you can’t miss it.)
Disney and Fox
Disney has bought bits of Fox for $66 billion. This means that the Marvel universe is finally united under one banner – we might get Wolverine in an Avengers movie now! Also, the rich and white Murdoch family just got richer.
This is the last weekly news summary for 2017. I’ll be back with a final message tomorrow wrapping up the year and announcing some exciting plans for the future. To make sure you don’t miss it, and gain access to exclusive rewards, sign up to the e-mail list.
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