In a move intended to symbolize a softening of Australia's tough immigration policy, Immigration minister Amanda Vanstone last Friday began work to cut away razor wire ringing a detention center in Sydney.
The government has long been criticized by human-rights groups and refugee activists for its policy of locking up all illegal immigrants caught sneaking into the country in centers ringed by wire-topped fences and patrolled by private security guards.
Immigration authorities also were criticized in a recent government-ordered inquiry into the wrongful detention and deportation of two Australian citizens -- one of whom was locked up for months in an Outback center and the other sent to the Philippines.
Vanstone said the removal of the wire at Villawood detention center in western Sydney was a demonstration that the government is committed to improving its immigration detention policy.
"The cutting down of the razor wire is a clear indication of the government's good faith," Vanstone said on Friday.
But protesters dismissed the ceremony as a stunt.
"There is no policy change and that's what's desperately needed," said Ian Rintoul of the Refugee Action Coalition. "There are people rotting inside."
Three protesters were detained when they tried to disrupt the wire cutting. Vanstone scoffed at their protest.
"Are the protesters actually suggesting we leave the razor wire here? I don't think so," she said.
EVOLVING SITUATION: Of the latest cases, 23 percent were found to be asymptomatic, but the coronavirus strain in Da Nang is more contagious, authorities said A COVID-19 outbreak that began in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang more than a week ago has spread to at least four city factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700, state media reported yesterday. Four cases were found at the plants in different industrial parks in the central city that collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said. Vietnam, praised widely for its decisive measures to combat the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in late January, is battling new clusters of infection having gone for more than three months without detecting any domestic transmissions. Authorities yesterday reported one new
WARNINGS OVER COMPLACENCY: The curves of new infections in numerous countries is climbing, while others see the the first new infections in months Spikes in COVID-19 infections in Asia have dispelled any notion that the region might be over the worst, with Australia and India yesterday reporting record daily infections, Vietnam fretting over a new surge and North Korea urging vigilance. Asian nations had largely prided themselves on rapidly containing initial outbreaks after the coronavirus emerged in central China late last year, but flare-ups this month have shown the danger of complacency. “We’ve got to be careful not to slip into some idea that there’s some golden immunity that Australia has in relation to this virus,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters. Australia recorded its
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
The Australian government yesterday said that it plans to give Google and Facebook three months to negotiate with media businesses fair pay for news content. In releasing a draft of a mandatory code of conduct, Canberra aims to succeed where other nations have failed in making tech firms pay for news siphoned from commercial media companies. Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that Google and Facebook would be the first platforms targeted by the proposed legislation, but others could follow. “It’s about a fair go for Australian news media businesses, it’s about ensuring that we have increased competition, increased consumer protection and a sustainable