The Australian Senate overwhelmingly approved a package of bills yesterday to fight what the government says is rampant child sexual abuse among Aborigines, clearing the last hurdle for a plan condemned by critics as a racist attack on indigenous rights.
The complex package of legislation passed 56 votes to six, with the major opposition Labor Party supporting Australian Prime Minister John Howard's coalition government. It was approved last week by the House of Representatives.
The government plans to seize some of the powers of the Northern Territory government in response to an officially commissioned report that found child abuse was widespread in indigenous communities on Australia's tropical northern frontier.
Under the plan, alcohol and hardcore pornography will be banned from Aboriginal communities and Aborigines will be forced to spend a portion of their welfare checks on family essentials like food.
Traditional owners will also lose their veto power over who enters Aboriginal-owned land in the Northern Territory, an area the size of Texas but populated by only 40,000 people.
The Senate vote was the final hurdle for the government in implementing the ambitious plan, which also involves increasing policing and medical checks in the Outback. The government estimates it will cost more than A$500 million (US$428 million) in its first year.
Labor had unsuccessfully proposed amendments that would have prevented the plan from being exempt from anti-discrimination laws.
Labor Senator Ruth Webber told the Senate during debate this week that she was critical of the government for failing to consult with Aboriginal people over the plan.
"I find this legislation difficult, but I will not allow my personal difficulties to stand in the way of making children safe," she said.
Senator Bob Brown, leader of the Greens party, called the legislation racist because of being exempt from the anti-discrimination laws that protect every other ethnic group in Australia.
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