Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Tasmanian Labor also on the slide

Poll disaster for Government

Just 19 per cent of voters prefer Lara Giddings as premier.

The Labor Government has slumped to new lows in the latest round of public opinion polling.

The ALP was the first preference of just 16 per cent of voters in the latest EMRS poll released today - down three percentage points on the last poll in May.

The Liberal party recorded a six percentage point rise to 44 per cent and the Greens fell three points to 14 per cent.

When undecided voters are excluded, the ALP vote lifts to 22 per cent, the Liberals to 55 per cent and the Greens 18 -- indicating the Liberals could likely have formed majority government if an election was held earlier this month.

Lara Giddings' support as preferred premier has dropped to 19 per cent, down three points, while Liberal leader Will Hodgman is up 10 to 52.

The poll of 1000 people was carried out last weekend.



Australian High Court deals the Gillard Government a lethal blow

If you click on the below link you will be able to read the full transcript of the High Court's decision. Below the link is the abridged version of the judgment.




[2011] HCA 32

Today the High Court held invalid the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship's declaration of Malaysia as a country to which asylum seekers who entered Australia at Christmas Island can be taken for processing of their asylum claims.  After an expedited hearing before the Full Bench, the Court by majority made permanent the injunctions that had been granted earlier and restrained the Minister from taking to Malaysia two asylum seekers who arrived at Christmas Island, as part of a larger group, less than four weeks ago.

The Court also decided that an unaccompanied asylum seeker who is under 18 years of age may not lawfully be taken from Australia without the Minister's written consent under the Immigration (Guardianship of Children) Act 1946 (Cth).  The Court granted an injunction restraining the Minister from removing the second plaintiff, an Afghan citizen aged 16, from Australia without that consent.

The Court held that, under s 198A of the Migration Act 1958 (Cth), the Minister cannot validly declare a country (as a country to which asylum seekers can be taken for processing) unless that country is legally bound to meet three criteria.  The country must be legally bound by international law or its own domestic law to: provide access for asylum seekers to effective procedures for assessing their need for protection; provide protection for asylum seekers pending determination of their refugee status; and provide protection for persons given refugee status pending their voluntary return to their country of origin or their resettlement in another country.  In addition to these criteria, the Migration Act requires that the country meet certain human rights standards in providing that protection.

The Court also held that the Minister has no other power under the Migration Act to remove from Australia asylum seekers whose claims for protection have not been determined.  They can only be taken to a country validly declared under s 198A to be a country that provides the access and the protections and meets the standards described above.  The general powers of removal of "unlawful non-citizens" given by the Migration Act (in particular s 198) cannot be used when the Migration Act has made specific provision for the taking of asylum seekers who are offshore entry persons and whose claims have not been processed to another country, and has specified particular statutory criteria that the country of removal must meet.

On the facts which the parties had agreed, the Court held that Malaysia is not legally bound to provide the access and protections the Migration Act requires for a valid declaration.  Malaysia is not a party to the Refugees Convention or its Protocol.  The Arrangement which the Minister signed with the Malaysian Minister for Home Affairs on 25 July 2011 said expressly that it was not legally binding.  The parties agreed that Malaysia is not legally bound to, and does not, recognise the status of refugee in its domestic law.  They agreed that Malaysia does not itself undertake any activities related to the reception, registration, documentation or status determination of asylum seekers and refugees.  Rather, the parties agreed, Malaysia permits the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees ("UNHCR") to undertake those activities in Malaysia and allows asylum seekers to remain in Malaysia while UNHCR does so.

The Court emphasised that, in deciding whether the Minister's declaration of Malaysia was valid, it expressed no view about whether Malaysia in fact meets relevant human rights standards in dealing with asylum seekers or refugees or whether asylum seekers in that country are treated fairly or appropriately.  The Court's decision was based upon the criteria which the Minister must apply before he could make a declaration under s 198A.

·         This statement is not intended to be a substitute for the reasons of the High Court or to be used in any later consideration of the Court’s reasons.


WikiLeaks centers on ALPs movers and shakers.

Stephen Conroy 'loathes' Julia Gillard as Bill Shorten bides time: WikiLeaks
Stephen Conroy "cannot stand" his boss Julia Gillard, while Bill Shorten harbours prime ministerial ambitions but is willing to wait for his "moment in the sun".

At least that was the impression picked up by the US embassy in a series of meetings during the first year of the Rudd government.

A confidential cable sent by then US ambassador Robert McCallum to authorities in Washington in 2008 identifies the Victorian factional allies as potential thwarters of the rising political fortunes of the Prime Minister - then deputy prime minister.

The cable, published yesterday by WikiLeaks, also identifies "socially conservative" veteran union heavyweights - Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association national secretary Joe De Bruyn and Australian Workers Union national president Bill Ludwig - as being potential obstacles to Ms Gillard assuming the Labor leadership.

A spokesman for Senator Conroy last night flatly rejected the suggestion contained in the diplomatic cable that he loathed the Prime Minister two years before he aided her ascension to the top job.

"Any claim or suggestion that Senator Conroy does not fully support Julia Gillard in either a personal or professional sense is outrageous, ill-informed and wrong," the spokesman said. "Prime Minister Gillard is the best person to lead the Labor Party and the government to the next election and beyond."

Senator Conroy, along with Wayne Swan and Defence Minister Stephen Smith, were famously dubbed "roosters" by former Labor leader Mark Latham for their plotting during Simon Crean's fraught leadership.

In a separate diplomatic cable yesterday, US consul-general in Melbourne Michael Thurston wrote that Mr Shorten made "no bones" about his ambitions in politics.

"Shorten struck us as highly ambitious but willing to wait - at least for a while - for his moment in the sun," the cable said.

But bitter party rivalries are not the sole domain of Labor.

Mr Shorten said last night: "The nice comments are all true, and the
less flattering observations I don't agree with."

The latest cables also reveal deep animosity in Coalition ranks over the leadership of Malcolm Turnbull.

Former Howard government minister Mal Brough told Mr McCallum in Canberra in June 2008 that some members of the Liberal caucus were supporting Mr Turnbull's push for party leadership "only because they wanted to put him in a position to fail".

"Turnbull was only interested in Turnbull and his constant undermining of [Brendan] Nelson had hurt him in the eyes of many of his colleagues," the cable said.

A November 2009 cable - "Opposition melts down over climate change" - says Liberal Party deputy federal director James McGrath, who is identified as a protected source of information for the US, notes that key supporters of Mr Turnbull were pressing him to step aside for Joe Hockey.

Mr McGrath told US authorities that Tony Abbott and Right faction Liberal heavyweight Nick Minchin had told Mr Hockey he would be elected unopposed to the Liberal leadership if he agreed to concessions on the deal Mr Turnbull had struck with the Rudd government on the emissions trading scheme.

A cable providing Washington with a "report card" on the Rudd government for 2009 said government sources had indicated that party elder John Faulkner had refused to be defence minister unless Greg Combet was appointed his junior minister.

Additional reporting: AAP


Gaddafi's alluring daughter Aisha Gaddafi gives birth

Muammar Gaddafi's daughter Aisha has given birth to a girl in an Algerian hospital

Aisha Gaddafi Libya
This photo, found in a family album at Muammar Gaddafi's former
headquarters in Tripoli, shows daughter Aisha hugging an unidentified
guest on her wedding day. Source: AFP

Muammar Gaddafi's daughter has given birth to a girl in Algeria, as Algiers said it decided to grant safe haven to the ousted Libyan leader's wife and three children for "strictly humanitarian reasons."

 "Aisha gave birth very early this morning. She had a little girl. Mother and daughter are doing fine," said a government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Earlier, foreign ministry spokesman Amar Belani insisted that Aisha, her brother Hannibal, their mother Safiya, Gaddafi's second wife, and the fugitive leader's eldest son Mohammed were allowed into the country "for strictly humanitarian reasons."

Libya's rebel National Transitional Council criticised the announcement from Algeria, which has not recognised the NTC as Libya's new authority, amid speculation that it backed Gaddafi throughout the months-long conflict and is troubled by his downfall.

The family was placed under house arrest in the desert town, the newspaper said.

"We have informed the Secretary General of the United Nations, the president of the (UN) Security Council and the president of the executive council of the NTC," Belani said in an e-mail to AFP.

He was commenting on a request issued by the NTC for the return of the Gaddafi family members. The NTC said it has not had direct contact with Algeria about the issue."We hope that the Algerian government... will work with us to arrest this corrupt family that has been oppressing the Libyan people as well as stealing their resources for the past 42 years," deputy chairman of the NTC executive committee Ali Tarhuni said in Tripoli on Tuesday.

NTC spokesman Mahmud Shammam has criticised Algeria for giving the Gaddafi relatives a "pass." "Saving Gaddafi's family is not an act we welcome and understand," he told a press conference in Tripoli late Monday.

Algeria stands apart from other north African nations like Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia which have recognised the NTC as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people, leading some among the rebels to accuse Algiers of supporting the Gaddafi regime.

Algiers is concerned about the "very present Islamist dimension" at the heart of the NTC," explained Kader Abderrahim, a professor and Islam expert at the University of California.
Traumatised by the civil war which ended in 2002 with some 200,000 dead, Algiers has for months been on the alert for a spillover of violence from Libya with which it shares a 1,000-kilometre border.

With Gaddafi's whereabouts still a mystery, there has been speculation that he is hiding out among tribal supporters in his birthplace, the coastal town of Sirte.

Rebels say they are negotiating with civic and tribal leaders for Sirte's peaceful surrender.
Algeria has "since February been accused of supplying military aid to Gaddafi, particularly by providing planes to transport mercenaries," said Didier Le Saout, a North African expert at Paris University. "Algeria will be the state in the region with the worst relations with the new Libyan authorities."

But NTC leader Tarhuni downplayed tension between the neighbouring states. "What I would like to allude to is that the Algerian people are our brothers. Great historic relations connect us. We hope for and welcome any positive initiative from the Algerian government," he said.

Mourad Benmehidi, Algeria's ambassador to the UN, told the New York Times that the spouses of Gaddafi's two sons and daughter have also crossed into Algeria, with several of their children.

Algeria has also closed its borders with Libya in the far south, El Watan newspaper reported on its website, quoting Algerian officials. Algiers, according to the report, wants to block Gaddafi loyalist fighters from fleeing into Algeria to avoid further straining its ties with the NTC.

                                      _____________    |   _____________

Sno Bonneau's challenger

Jack Wilkie-Jans is youthful face of a council candidate

Melanie Petrinec
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
© The Cairns Post

Ambition: Jack Andrew Wilkie-Jans is hoping to get youth issues
into the spotlight as he runs for election to the Cairns Regional Council.
Picture: TOM LEE.

HE'S not old enough to hold an open driver's licence, but 19-year-old Jack Andrew Wilkie-Jans thinks he has what it takes to shape the future of Cairns from the frontline.

The arts project officer has thrown his hat in the ring to run in the Cairns Regional Council election as a candidate for Division 9, taking on Sno Bonneau, who currently holds the seat.

The Kewarra Beach resident hopes to follow in the footsteps of outgoing Division 4 councillor Kirsten Lesina and 22-year-old Federal Member for Longman Wyatt Roy, and prove age is no barrier in politics.

"The age thing is bound to be a problem for some people, but if not now, then when?" Mr Wilkie-Jans said. "It can work if that young person in particular is a forward thinker, and I would like to think I am a forward

Born and bred in Cairns, Mr Wilkie-Jans said if he was voted in he would tackle vandalism, poor street lighting in Smithfield and Trinity Park and the lack of activities available to young
people in the outer suburbs.

As an indigenous Australian, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues are also at the top of his agenda. "Whenever it comes to indigenous issues, the solutions are never made by those people," he said.

The independent candidate said he would like to help find a solution to problems with homeless indigenous people at Chinaman Creek.

The Cairns Regional Council election will be held on March 31, and nominations will not officially open until next year.


Australian High Court rules today on Refugee permanent injunction

Ruling imminent on Malaysia refugee deal

The future of Australia's refugee swap deal with Malaysia is set to be decided in the High Court today. The plan has been stalled by a High Court challenge from two asylum seekers at Christmas Island.

Lawyers for the pair argue Australia could be breaching its international obligations because it cannot guarantee the rights of refugees sent to Malaysia which has not signed the international convention on refugees.

But the Government says it has legally declared Malaysia a suitable place to send asylum seekers after a proper examination of the practical realities there.

The court has also been asked to rule on whether the Immigration Minister as guardian has a particular obligation not to relocate one of the asylum seekers who is only 16.

Five boats carrying a total of 335 men, women and children have arrived on Christmas Island since the Malaysia deal came into effect.

The Immigration Department has confirmed there are 57 unaccompanied minors among them.

If the court rules in favour of the Government, it could be several days before the first group of asylum seekers is deported.

The Government's charter plane has not yet arrived, nor have the Federal Police officers who would escort the asylum seekers to Malaysia.



Will the High Court be pro active and set the tone as far as the Australian refugee policy is concerned or will it be legalistic and endorse the supremacy of Parliament. Chances are that the current make up of the Court will endorse the status quo and rule on strict legal grounds; that the Minister has under the Migration Act the authority to accept or reject who ever he likes.

WikiLeaks | Labor's great financial crisis split with Reserve Bank of Australia

  • Siobhain Ryan

LABOR'S handling of the global financial crisis has come under fresh scrutiny, with a leaked diplomatic cable revealing a split with the Reserve Bank on the economy's ability to recover on the back of the China boom.
A 2009 US embassy cable released by WikiLeaks yesterday exposes cracks in Labor's relationship with the bank during the crisis, with the Rudd government angry that the independent central bank had not cut interest rates harder and faster during the downturn.

The cable shows the government considered outspoken Reserve Bank board member Warwick McKibbin as a stumbling block to its aggressive approach because of his conviction - ultimately vindicated - that China would recover in time to save Australia from recession.

And it reveals the government was so fearful of doing too little to stave off recession that it accepted the risk of doing too much.

The Reserve Bank slashed interest rates from 7.25 per cent in September 2008 to 3.25 per cent in February the following year as the global financial crisis threatened to send the economy into recession.

Mr Kennedy suggested that Reserve Bank deputy governor Ric Battellino and others on the board, who included then Treasury secretary Ken Henry, had been swayed by Professor McKibbin's argument that Australia was likely to be spared the worst of the global economic downturn by a recovery in China in the second half of 2009.

"Kennedy argued that McKibbin could be right, but that the preponderance of evidence is that the current downturn will be much worse," the cable said.

It added the government was concerned that there was a risk that by the time the RBA decided to move, the economy would have deteriorated so much that further interest rate cuts might not have much of an impact. "(Mr Kennedy) stressed that the PM would much prefer the Bank and the government to have to take rapid action to compensate for doing to (sic) much than take corrective action after doing too little," it said.

The Reserve Bank ultimately cut rates one more time - by 0.25 percentage points on April 8.

The Australian economy, which was also supported with $42 billion in stimulus spending by the government, managed to avoid a technical recession, contracting 0.9 per cent in the December 2008 quarter but bouncing back with 0.8 per cent growth in the March 2009 quarter and 2.6 per cent for the 2009 year.

A spokesman for Wayne Swan said yesterday Treasury had made it clear that without the government's stimulus measures, Australia would have fallen into recession. "Instead, unlike nearly all other advanced economies, Australia avoided recession, prevented high and prolonged unemployment and kept net debt at less than a tenth of the level across advanced economies, with monetary policy and fiscal policy working hand in glove to achieve these world-beating results," the spokesman said.

But Professor McKibbin - who has argued that the scale of Labor's stimulus had contributed to overheating the economy during its recovery from the GFC - said Australia's performance during and since the crisis vindicated his position at the time.

"That's why you want the Reserve Bank to be independent from both Treasury and government," Professor McKibbin said. "It would have been good if the government had listened to my advice on fiscal policy at the time. We wouldn't be facing what we do now, which is an exacerbation of the two-speed economy.

"Right now we should be running surpluses and extracting demand from the economy to reduce pressures on the non-mining sectors."

Opposition finance spokesman Andrew Robb said last night the latest US cable highlighted the "extent of panic" within the Prime Minister's office during the GFC.

"Warwick McKibbin's reading of unfolding events proved pretty right," Mr Robb said. "The RBA, after cutting rates by 4 [percentage points] in six months quite rightly kept some powder dry as it was mindful of the inevitable overreaction of the Labor government in relation to stimulus spending."

Mr Robb also attacked the "loose lips" within Mr Rudd's office on Reserve Bank interest rate decisions. "It doesn't really come as a great surprise given what we've learnt since about how the office operated," Mr Robb said.

According to the latest cables, Reserve Bank assistant governor for economics Malcolm Edey told US officials on April 2, 2009, that the bank was "truly undecided" on whether to continue to slash rates, potentially as far as zero, or to keep them on hold. But he believed Australia was set for a worse recession than in the early 1990s.

The cable attributed the indecision in part to Reserve Bank board members' differing outlooks for the economy over the following year. Professor McKibbin, who was the only independent academic economist on the RBA board, finished his term last month and has since proposed a more expert board that excludes the Treasury secretary.

The board's composition has also come under fire from unionists for being dominated by big business. One of the Rudd government's first acts on taking office in 2007 was to announce its plans to strengthen the independence of the Reserve Bank, with Mr Swan insisting since then it was inappropriate to comment on or criticise its rate decisions.

Professor McKibbin said he was "stunned" the government discussed board deliberations so freely in 2009. Mr Kennedy told the US embassy at the time that some Reserve Bank board members were "leery of appearing to be too close to the government for fear they will be blamed for turning a blind eye to excessive deficit spending".


Unions, industry, say they left PM meeting believing she'd consider manufacturing inquiry

Julia Gillard
Julia Gillard meets union and industry heavyweights in Canberra
over the crisis in manufacturing. Picture: Ray Strange Source: The Australian

Unions and industry figures are shocked at Julia Gillard's rejection of a manufacturing inquiry, saying the Prime Minister gave the impression during crisis talks yesterday that she would consider the proposal.

Australian Workers Union secretary Paul Howes, Australian Manufacturing Workers Union secretary Dave Oliver, and Australian Industry Group chief executive Heather Ridout all left yesterday's talks with the Prime Minister believing she would consider the inquiry.

But within hours, Industry Minister Kim Carr had declared the idea a non-starter.

Government insiders also said Ms Gillard had during the meeting rejected calls for a “short, sharp” inquiry into the sector.

And today the Prime Minister denied indicating she would consider an inquiry, saying: “People can get different impressions from a conversation, that's human, that's natural.”

Ms Gillard was speaking after meeting steel workers facing redundancy at Port Kembla in NSW.

Australian Manufacturing Workers Union national secretary Dave Oliver told The Australian Online after the meeting yesterday he was in no doubt Ms Gillard was considering the proposal.“We raised the idea of an inquiry,” Mr Oliver said at the time. “She's going to talk to her colleagues and come back to us.”

Mr Oliver said yesterday he was satisfied with the good hearing the delegation had been given. But while the union and industry figures left Canberra believing an inquiry was possible, Mr Carr's office soon ruled it out.

“We don't believe an inquiry is the right approach to ensuring the continuing prosperity to Australian manufacturing,” he told The Australian Online at about 3pm yesterday.“The approach is to look at the policy framework and examine ways in which it can be reviewed.”The Prime Minister said today she did not want to wait for an inquiry before acting on the issue.

“It's possible for people to take some different takes out of a conversation. My focus is on what we need to do,” she said in Port Kembla. “My focus is on action - I don't want to be held back from acting by an inquiry which would inevitably take some time. That doesn't mean we won't take the best of expert advice along the way.”

Pressed on the reactions to yesterday's meeting, she said: “What I said yesterday was that I wasn't looking at a free-ranging, free-wheeling inquiry into manufacturing, that my focus was on the actions that we needed to take.” BlueScope Steel at Port Kembla has announced 1400 job losses over the past fortnight, blaming the effects of the high Australian dollar for its decision to close export operations.

Labor Left convenor Doug Cameron said he was also surprised and annoyed at the move, describing it as “dumb” and “economically irresponsible”. “I just think it's premature to be saying there should be no inquiry,” he said. “It's economically irresponsible not to take a close look at the manufacturing industry.”

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said he could not understand why the government did not want to hear the facts about manufacturing. Mr Abbott said he had commissioned an industry policy review. “It's very important that we listen to the concerns of the struggling industries of this country,” he said.

“It's very important that government policies are informed by the facts and I can't understand why the Prime Minister doesn't want to listen.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Confidential cable reveals resentment some Liberals felt towards Malcolm Turnbull

Malcolm Turnbull "cared only about Turnbull" and some Liberals supported his leadership only because they wanted to set him up to fail, Howard government minister Mal Brough told US officials.

Mr Brough, the former indigenous affairs minister, lost his seat in federal parliament at the 2007 election that swept Kevin Rudd to power.

But his electoral defeat did not stop him subsequently offering his political insights to the US embassy in Canberra.

A confidential cable - dated June 26, 2008, and provided to the WikiLeaks website - relates a conversation in Canberra between Mr Brough and the then US ambassador Robert McCallum.

Mr Brough told Mr McCallum that the then opposition leader Brendan Nelson was a good man but the public had not warmed to him and his poor polling was unlikely to improve.

He predicted that Mr Turnbull was likely to take over as Liberal leader but would ultimately fail.

“Turnbull was only interested in Turnbull and his constant undermining of Nelson had hurt him in the eyes of many of his colleagues,” the cable reads.

“Some in the Liberal caucus supported Turnbull as leader only because they wanted to put him in a position to fail, Brough declared.” Mr Turnbull was elected leader about three months later.

Another US embassy cable predicted the change would help the Coalition but described Mr Turnbull as “impatient” and “abrasive”.

Mr Brough, who had just become president of the Queensland Liberal Party at the time of his conversation with Mr McCallum, also predicted the end of the National Party federally in the near future.

“If you looked at the Nationals' federal MPs, they were mostly over 60,” the cable says. “Once they left, the Liberal Party or the ALP would win their seats.”

Mr Brough also took aim at then prime minister Kevin Rudd's obsession with control and micromanagement and predicted his popularity would soon fade.

Mr Brough bemoaned the Rudd government's moves to water down the Northern Territory intervention that he had begun and claimed Mr Rudd did not really care about Aborigines.


Earth Law - Jurisprudence

Ten Principles of Jurisprudence

Thomas Berry founder of Earth Jurisprudence
1. Rights originate where existence originates. That which determines existence determines rights.

2. Since it has no further context of existence in the phenomenal order, the universe is self-referent in its being and self-normative in its activities. It is also the primary referent in the being and the activities of all derivative modes of being.

3. The universe is composed of subjects to be communed with, not objects to be used. As a subject, each component of the universe is capable of having rights.

4. The natural world on the planet Earth gets its rights from the same source that humans get their rights: from the universe that brought them into being.

5. Every component of the Earth community has three rights: the right to be, the right to habitat, and the right to fulfill its role in the ever-renewing processes of the Earth community.

6. All rights are role-specific or species-specific, and limited. Rivers have river rights. Birds have bird rights. Insects have insect rights. Humans have human rights. Difference in rights is qualitative, not quantitative. The rights of an insect would be of no value to a tree or a fish.

7. Human rights do not cancel out the rights of other modes of being to exist in their natural state. Human property rights are not absolute. Property rights are simply a special relationship between a particular human "owner" and a particular piece of "property," so that both might fulfill their roles in the great community of existence.

8. Since species exist only in the form of individuals, rights refer to individuals, not simply in a general way to species.

9. These rights as presented here are based on the intrinsic relations that the various components of Earth have to each other. The planet Earth is a single community bound together with interdependent relationships. No living being nourishes itself. Each component of the Earth community is immediately or mediately dependent on every other member of the community for the nourishment and assistance it needs for its own survival. This mutual nourishment, which includes the predator-prey relationship, is integral with the role that each component of the Earth has within the comprehensive community of existence.

10. In a special manner, humans have not only a need for but also a right of access to the natural world to provide for the physical needs of humans and the wonder needed by human intelligence, the beauty needed by human imagination, and the intimacy needed by human emotions for personal fulfillment.

Earth Law

Earth Jurisprudence (EJ) or Earth law recognises the Earth as the primary source of law which sets human law in a context which is wider than humanity.  This is to say that human law is secondary to Earth law.  Earth Jurisprudence acknowledges that the good of the whole takes precedence over the good of the parts. 

 Thus the way we govern ourselves needs to embody an ethical code of practice which requires us to live according to Nature’s laws for the well-being of the whole Earth Community and future generations of all species.

Earth Jurisprudence is the term first used by cultural historian Thomas Berry to name this  philosophy of governance and law which understands that the Earth, not human interests, are primary.  It accepts that humans are born into an ordered and lawful Universe, to whose laws we need to comply if we are to be a benign presence on Earth.

The many interrelated crises, which we are living through now – from mass species extinction to climate change and social and economic inequity – are a result of a radical break in human principles of governance over the last few centuries, where law has been used to legitimise social and ecological destruction. 

Short-term human interests  fuelled by an  insatiable drive to accumulate money and power,  have been enshrined in law in total disregard for  the well-being of the larger Earth Community. This is reflected by the fact that in 1886 corporations were granted the same rights as individuals without proportional responsibilities. However other species have not been given the rights of an individual human.

Earth Jurisprudence provides the foundation for restoring a mutually enhancing relationship between humanity and Nature. It calls on humans to fulfill their responsibilities to the wider Earth Community - to maintain the health of the Earth as a whole and all the different species living on Earth. 

As Thomas Berry pointed out, Nature herself and indigenous peoples, who live according to their  traditional  systems of ecological governance, are sources of inspiration. Earth Jurisprudence gives a name to the philosophy which is embodied in indigenous customs and norms around the world.

This includes the ancestral traditions of Europe such as the Greeks and the Celts. However, the challenge we face now is how we deal with the globally dominant industrial belief in endless economic growth and its lethal consequences for the social and ecological integrity of the Earth.

Within this context, Thomas Berry drafted '
Ten Principles of Jurisprudence', expressed in terms of rights, which he believed should be recognised in national constitutions and courts of law. 

Ai Weiwei attacks injustices in China in magazine article

World-famous artist accuses officials of denying people their basic rights and describes Beijing as a 'city of violence'
Artist Ai Weiwei attacks Chinese injustice
Ai Weiwei was held in detention by the Chinese authorities for nearly
three months earlier this year. Photograph: David Gray/Reuters
Ai Weiwei, the Chinese artist held by the authorities for almost three months earlier this year, has attacked injustice in China in a passionate article fuelled by his own experiences of detention.

He accused officials of "deny[ing] us basic rights" and compared migrant workers to slaves, describing Beijing as "a city of violence" and "a constant nightmare".

But one of the most powerful passages describes how people "become like mad" as they are held in isolation and how detainees "truly believe [captors] can do anything to you".

His remarks, in an article about Beijing published on the website of Newsweek magazine, are certain to anger Chinese security officials. They come days after it emerged that China is reportedly planning to give police legal powers to hold some suspects for up to six months without telling their families. Campaigners say the move would legitimise and potentially increase the number of secret detentions.

Ai's own 81-day detention caused an international outcry. It was the most high-profile case in a sweeping crackdown that saw dozens of activists, dissidents and lawyers held earlier this year. State media said he was held for economic crimes and released in June "because of his good attitude in confessing" and a chronic illness. His family and supporters believe he was targeted due to his social and political activism.

The 54-year-old artist is not able to give interviews but confirmed that he had written the article. He described it simply as "a piece about the place I live in".

Ai's bail conditions reportedly prevent him from discussing what happened to him in detention, although a source gave Reuters a detailed account of events, which included more than 50 interrogations.

The restrictions are also said to ban him from using social media – although he sent a brief flurry of angry tweets recently about friends who had been enmeshed in his case – but not from writing.

"The worst thing about Beijing is that you can never trust the judicial system," he wrote in the Newsweek article. "It's like a sandstorm … everything is constantly changing, according to somebody else's will, somebody else's power."

He went on: "My ordeal made me understand that on this fabric, there are many hidden spots where they put people without identity … only your family is crying out that you're missing. But you can't get answers from the street communities or officials, or even at the highest levels, the court or the police or the head of the nation. My wife has been writing these kinds of petitions every day [while he was held], making phone calls to the police station every day. Where is my husband?

"You're in total isolation. And you don't know how long you're going to be there, but you truly believe they can do anything to you. There's no way to even question it. You're not protected by anything. Why am I here? Your mind is very uncertain of time. You become like mad. It's very hard for anyone. Even for people who have strong beliefs."

The artist described the capital as two cities. The first was one of power and money, peopled by officials, coal bosses and the heads of big companies who help to keep "the restaurants and karaoke bars and saunas … very rich". The second was a place of desperation, he wrote, calling migrant workers the city's slaves.

Ai, who helped to design the "bird's nest" national stadium for the Olympics – but publicly turned on the games before they began – said none of his art represented the capital.
He added: "The Olympics did not bring joy to the people."

He also warned: "Beijing tells foreigners that they can understand the city, that we have the same sort of buildings …

"Officials who wear a suit and tie like you say we are the same and we can do business. But they deny us basic rights."

Ai described people giving him quiet support when he went out last week, for example patting him on the shoulder, but only in "a secretive way" because they were not willing to speak out.

He said people told him to "either leave, or be patient and watch how they die. I really don't know what I'm going to do."

Doubts increase about Tony Abbott's economic grasp

Tony Abbott has intensified doubts about his economic credentials and policy beliefs by leaving open all possible options for solutions to the manufacturing industry crisis.

The Opposition Leader is a victim of his political success. Having stolen much of the Labor base vote, Abbott is reluctant to pledge a firm position on manufacturing one way or another lest he forfeit his voting gains. He has, in fact, two positions.

He says pro-market policy is preferred and "picking winners" is bad, but adds "on the other hand" that a "respectable case" for heavy manufacturing can be made on grounds of national security, economic diversity and avoiding shutting down industry that might be given an economic reprieve later.

Abbott's competing formulas are so general they sanction a Coalition government to do anything it wants on manufacturing. Abbott is resolutely pro-market yet leaves enough justification to be resolutely pro-interventionist. This enables competing advocates to take heart from his declarations.

Abbott embodies the nation's ambivalence. With the public dismayed at the carbon tax and disillusioned by minority government, he is hedging his bets on manufacturing industry policy. In the process, he only intensifies the generic dilemma within the Coalition between support for the market and nostalgic attraction to ad hoc interventions.


Tony Abbott trips on industry protection

Julia Gillard
Julia Gillard and Kim Carr face off yesterday with Australian Industry Group
chief  Heather Ridout, who is flanked by unionists Paul Howes and Dave Oliver, right.
Picture: Ray Strange Source: The Australian

Trade Minister Craig Emerson has savaged Tony Abbott as "a duplicitous hypocrite" after the Opposition Leader called for a debate on steel industry protection while simultaneously declaring his faith in free markets.

And Industry Minister Kim Carr has unambiguously rejected calls by trade unions and employers for a formal inquiry into the future of manufacturing, insisting the sector put its faith in innovation and ruling out any form of protectionism.

Senator Carr's rejection of the idea came just hours after Julia Gillard told key union officials she would consider their plan for an inquiry similar to that conducted by Steve Bracks into the automobile industry in 2008.

Yesterday's developments came a week after steelmaker BlueScope announced it would sack 1000 workers and 400 contractors in NSW and Victoria, sparking union warnings of a crisis in manufacturing.

As manufacturers come under pressure from a high Australian dollar, unions and employers have complained that developers of big mines are not sourcing manufactured items, including steel, from Australian producers and have called for government help to lift local content.

"The government should be investigating what can be done to ensure a genuinely level playing field with a fair go for Australian companies," he told the Committee for the Economic Development of Australia in Melbourne. "If there's a respectable case that can be made for maintaining a heavy manufacturing base on the grounds of national security, the inherent value of a diversified economy or the transitional costs of shutting down capital-intensive industries only to start them up again when market conditions change, there needs to be a forum where it can be addressed."

A few minutes later, Mr Abbott said: "The Coalition's instinct is always to defend and extend the role of markets. Protectionist sentiment can't be shouted down or asserted away -- it has to be argued against patiently, rationally and with a clear appreciation of what's best for people in the longer term."

Dr Emerson seized on Mr Abbott's comments as evidence he was "an unreconstructed protectionist". "Tony Abbott is a duplicitous hypocrite," Dr Emerson said. "He speaks out of both sides of his mouth, seeking to appeal to protectionist sentiments while also pretending to support free trade".

Dr Emerson said Mr Abbott had last week been shamed into dumping a Nationals bill that would have seen Australia flout a World Trade Organisation ruling allowing the importation of New Zealand apples.

He said the Opposition Leader was also supporting a bill on labelling of palm oil in products that was at odds with WTO rules and that Coalition views on anti-dumping measures also put it outside the rules of free trade.

Earlier, key manufacturing unions and the Australian Industry Group met Julia Gillard to call for a formal inquiry into manufacturing, which, like Mr Bracks' car inquiry, would take submissions and propose an industry support plan.

Australian Manufacturing Workers Union national secretary Dave Oliver told The Australian that the Prime Minister had agreed to discuss the idea with her colleagues. "That (Bracks plan) saved the car industry," Mr Oliver said. "The government is already acting to support manufacturing across a range of areas. We think an inquiry would be able to bring it all together."

Despite Ms Gillard's undertaking to Mr Oliver, Senator Carr rejected interventionist measures to address the squeeze on Australian manufacturers and backed adaptation through innovation as the solution to a maintaining a vibrant manufacturing base.
"We don't believe an inquiry is the right approach to ensuring the continuing prosperity to Australian manufacturing," he said.

"The approach is to look at the policy framework and examine ways in which it can be reviewed." Senator Carr said the economy was foisting new challenges on Australian manufacturers that would force the transformation of traditional industries and the creation of new sectors that included new "world-class companies".

While Senator Carr backed giving Australian manufacturers "fair and reasonable" access to major resource projects, he insisted there would be no retreat to protectionism through means such as mandating local content.

"It's no good pretending the world is as we once thought it was in the 1950s, as the Libs would have us believe," he said. "It's about building for the 21st century." Opposition industry spokeswoman Sophie Mirabella said the government could take more immediate steps to help Australian manufacturers that did not violate world trading rules.

However, Ms Mirabella, appointed by Mr Abbott to co-chair an opposition industry policy review, would not name the steps, urging voters to "watch this space". Responding to the government criticism, Ms Mirabella said any response would be within WTO rules.

"For the last three years the government has done nothing to find out what the challenges are for manufacturing. I predict that anything we say, they will say we are just protectionist," she said.

"We've been looking at the parameters of our international obligations, particularly the World Trade Organisation, and we are very mindful that any policy response that we have as an alternative will be within those obligations."

In his CEDA speech, Mr Abbott said Ms Gillard needed to consult more widely about the future of manufacturing. "Instead of telling business what's good for it and abusing people who dare to disagree with her government, the Prime Minister should be talking to everyone involved in manufacturing not just union officials," he said.

Greens leader Bob Brown also attacked Mr Abbott's speech, questioning how the Opposition Leader could on one hand champion the free market while on the other refusing the back carbon pricing, which was designed to use market forces to tackle climate change.

"Tony Abbott's speech today showed just how contorted his two-speed economics policy has become," Senator Brown said. After yesterday's meeting with with unions and the AI Group in Canberra, Ms Gillard released a statement describing it as positive and constructive.

Additional reporting: Joe Kelly