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August 2019


By Australian Newsletter

Australia will lead a global push to target online child exploitation in a bid to shut down what domestic intelligence and security agencies claim is an alarming proliferation in the live-streaming of child rape.  Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton will meet with member countries of the Five Eyes intelligence network, which includes the US, Britain, Canada, New Zealand, as well as Australia, to discuss how to harness the unrivalled global reach and cyber capabilities of the organisation to disrupt international paedophile networks.  It is understood that Britain has agreed to elevate child exploitation to a priority issue for Five Eyes, with the US also likely to back it.

It comes as Australian Federal Police (AFP) report a doubling in the number of online child exploitation cases reported last year, with an explosion in the use of live-streaming and digital platforms by networks of paedophiles on the dark web.  Last year the AFP received 18,000 reports of online child abuse material, reflecting an 84% increase since 2017.  Mr Dutton is also likely to argue for pressure to be increased on digital platforms such as Google, Facebook and Twitter, which refused a request to attend a classified meeting last year, to act against the live-streaming of child exploitation, just as they have been forced to act on terrorism and ultra-violence.

The five country ministerial meeting of Home Affairs, Security and Interior ministers is also expecting to feature heated discussions on whether Britain and Canada join the US and Australia led 5G ban on Chinese telco Huawei.  Britain’s openness to allowing Huawei’s involvement in the domestic rollout of 5G has become a sticking point within the Five Eyes community, with the US threatening to withhold intelligence sharing should the UK go ahead.  British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has hinted strongly that he may join the ban, having said during the recent leadership campaign that he would refrain from anything that could upset the Five Eyes alliance.

Mr Dutton, however, has said that while 5G would feature prominently, it was the proliferation in online child exploitation that would form a “significant part of the agenda” at this year’s Five Eyes meeting.  He welcomed the British decision to elevate child exploitation as “a key priority of discussions”.  “There needs to be a greater international engagement in the battle against child exploitation,” Mr Dutton said.  “Now with the internet, pay-per view, offenders can direct material and have it live streamed into their bedrooms. “The bigger picture is how we can disrupt these networks.”

Mr Dutton would not discuss operational options but it would likely involve the enlistment of capabilities of the Australian Cyber Security Centre.  “It is necessary to deal with these people, the prolific nature of what’s being sent around the planet in seconds … the only way you can deal with it is online and trying to strike it out at the same time you are trying to rescue kids,” he said.  “The Five Eyes community is more needed and more necessary than ever.”  Of the 28 citizenship cancellations imposed by Mr Dutton since 2014, 11 have been for people convicted of child sex offences.

The government claims controversial encryption laws passed at the end of last year would be vital in cyber approaches to child exploitation.  The AFP, which argued strenuously for the new laws, but which were resisted by the tech companies, claims Australians were viewing an “unprecedented volume of online child abuse material” with a spike in incidents reported to the US National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children.  Mr Dutton said the Morrison government had pumped an extra $70 million into the Centre for Countering Child Exploitation in the past six months, and was committed to a build-up of operations with Interpol.

Austrac, has also been given a priority mission to track paedophile networks through financial transactions.  Mr Dutton said Australia’s focus was on Southeast Asia, with multiple joint operations with Manila to rescue children in The Philippines.  Britain was focusing on networks and child trafficking in Europe.  A former policeman, Mr Dutton worked in the sex offenders squad.  “I’ve investigated rapes and interviewed young girls and boys sexually assaulted, in many cases it destroys lives” he said.  “We have to do everything we can to protect kids. It’s horrible to believe these people live and breathe among us.  But we need to deal with the reality of that threat.”

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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By Australian Newsletter

A feminist group has accused Victoria’s Labor government of introducing its proposed sex-change bill without adequate community consultation, saying the potential impact on women is significant and largely misunderstood.  The recently formed Victorian Women’s Guild wants to highlight concerns over the government’s Births, Deaths, and Marriages Registration Amendment Bill, which, if ratified, will allow transgender individuals to alter their sex on birth certificates without having to undergo sex reassignment surgery.  The response comes as Coalition MPs seek to oppose the bill, which is now in the Upper House, after opposition legal affairs spokesman Ed O’Donohue flagged concerns about the impact of the reform on identifying sex offenders and other prisoners.

A recent media storm around the case of Jessica Yaniv, a Canadian trans woman who has launched more than a dozen human rights complaints against beauticians who declined to wax her biologically male genitalia, which she retains, is also understood to have been factored into its stance.  The Coalition defeated a similar bill in 2016.  The latest bill, introduced to parliament in June, removes the requirement for an individual to have had surgical intervention in order to “self-nominate” on their birth certificate as male or female or “any other gender diverse or non-binary descriptor”.

According to the guild, the legislation has potential impacts for women’s safety, medical care and sport.  One of its biggest concerns is women will no longer have a right to the privacy of female only spaces as self-identified trans women, including those who remain biologically male, would by law be entitled to access.  The group has been labelled “transphobic” by a group of University of Melbourne students petitioning the university to cancel the guild’s forum on the issue.  The Future of Sex-Based Rights event, featuring philosopher Holly Lawford-Smith and sports lawyer Hayden Opie, “lends both legitimacy and a platform to discrimination against trans¬gender and gender nonconforming people”, the group said in a letter to vice-chancellor Duncan Maskell.

Guild spokeswoman Nina Vallins said while the Yaniv case had captured the public’s attention, there were wide-ranging consequences of the proposed bill, particularly for already vulnerable women such as domestic violence survivors and prisoners.  “These women have a right to safe women only spaces.  It would be unfair on these women who have been victims of male violence to have male people, or to have to worry about male people, in these spaces,” the lawyer said.  “We believe we can look for solutions where people are able to live their lives in a way that they feel accepted by society, but in a way that also respects women.”

Melbourne Law School sports law specialist Mr Opie, said the debate around trans rights versus women’s rights to compete in sport on a level playing field posed challenging questions, but debating the issue did not make a person “transphobic”.  “It’s a shame what we’ve seen so far is a confrontation rather than a conversation,” he said. Ms Vallins said she was also concerned by the lack of consultation on the bill, with the guild’s attempts to discuss concerns with the Attorney-General Jill Hennessy being ignored.  Ms Hennessy, who said the bill was developed in consultation with LGBTI communities, declined to answer questions on how widely the government had consulted on the bill.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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By Australian Newsletter

As the winter night fell in Sydney, thousands amassed in the heart of the city, protesting a radical proposed new law permitting abortion on demand until birth.  The rally began in Martin Place, a pedestrian mall in the centre of Sydney’s business district, at 6 PM and lasted until 9 PM.  Thousands of protestors marched from Martin Place to the front of New South Wales Parliament buildings where legislators in the state’s Legislative Council, or upper house, were debating the bill.

Paul Hanrahan of Family Life International Australia said that he thought close to ten thousand pro-life advocates attended.  There were speeches by the Archbishop of Sydney and other religious leaders and politicians, as well as an ultrasound demonstration that amplified the sound of the beating heart of an unborn baby over the large crowd.  “I’ve never seen this many people at a pro-life event in Australia or so engaged,” Hanrahan said.

Source: LifeSiteNews

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By Australian Newsletter

The tactics of left-wing activist group GetUp in the last election campaign could be laid bare before a parliamentary committee with two Liberal backbenchers preparing to lodge complaints to an inquiry in the May 18 poll.  Liberal MP Nicolle Flint will join fellow Coalition backbencher Kevin Andrews in formally complaining about GetUp’s election tactics, a development which could see office bearers from the activist group hauled before parliament to explain their conduct.  Aggressive tactics in Flint’s seat of Boothby led to vandals attacking her office and the 41-year-old being stalked.

“I will be making a detailed submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters regarding the behaviour of GetUp & the Unions in the seat of Boothby during the election campaign,” she said.  ‘I will provide detailed evidence as to their tactics which included: flooding the electorate with print material personally attacking me.  Flooding Facebook, Twitter, Instagram with personal attacks on me, organising protesters outside my electorate office, at community events, at public transport stops, at Liberal events, at community debates.”

Mr Andrews, the former defence minister, who won his Melbourne seat of Menzies despite a strong campaign against him, will also make a submission to the committee. “I intend to make a submission to the Committee about the activities of GetUp and its affiliates,” he said.  Mr Andrews said that he was falsely accused of supporting gay conversion therapy, a topic he has never even discussed, with GetUp withdrawing the claim only after he threatened legal action.  He was also targeted by a group called Colour Code, which shared the same address as GetUp, and distributed material in Mandarin to Chinese-Australian voters in his electorate labelling him a racist.

Ms Flint, revealed she was stalked during the election campaign and had her election material vandalised.  She told the media she wanted the aggressive campaigns to stop and to make GetUp’s funding more transparent.  “I want to do everything in my power to make sure this behaviour stops in Australia,” she said.  “We’ve got to make sure people like me feel safe in my workplace.  We’ve never seen this level of aggression, and a lot of it was abuse as well.  “We need to fully expose the tactics of GetUp and the unions and how they’ve run these hit campaigns against people like me.

“I don’t believe GetUp is subject to the same political funding reporting requirements that the unions or certainly political parties are.  So where is the funding from?”  A spokesman for GetUp rejected responsibility for Ms Flint’s treatment, saying the group had written a tweet during the campaign condemning the attacks on her campaign office.  “GetUp condemns the sexist and cruel attacks Nicolle Flint and other women, such as Zali Steggall, faced during the election, as well as bullying from within the party.  “We specifically condemned the attacks on Ms Flint’s office at the time. There is no place for that in our politics,” it said.

“GetUp volunteers campaigned in Boothby to champion climate action, by singing alongside children’s entertainer Peter Combe, having heart-to-heart phone calls with their neighbours and volunteering on election day.  “We will continue to hold politicians to account on the issues that matter.”  A GetUp spokesman said the organisation would be “happy” to appear before MPs if they were hauled before the electoral affairs committee.  He also denied the activist network’s funding were not transparent.  “We are of course happy to assist the committee and will continue to do so in order to defend and advance Australian democratic participation” the spokesman said.

“GetUp is strictly regulated under the Commonwealth Electoral Act.  GetUp is obliged to disclose cumulative donations of $13,800 or more in a financial year to the Australian Electoral Commission, as are political parties.  “But because GetUp is passionate about transparency in our democracy, we disclose all cumulative donations of $10,000 or more in real time, unlike political parties, whose donations remain secret beyond election cycles.”

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By Australian Newsletter

Cricket Australia’s new transgender policy has been met with fierce opposition from a number of sources.  The policy will allow self-identifying transgender people to play in whatever category they choose.  This means biological men can play as women.  Prime Minister Scott Morrison has lashed the new policy as “mystifying” and “heavy handed”.  The new policy ensures transgender and gender-diverse people can play cricket at the highest level in Australia. “I think it’s pretty heavy-handed to put it mildly,” Mr Morrison said. “The thing about sport is it should be driven locally by clubs and I have no doubt these sorts of issues are being managed practically at a club level.”

The Prime Minister suggested “there are far more practical ways to handle these issues” and he also “cautioned it was important to  manage it calmly.”  Kirralie Smith, Binary spokeswoman, was also mystified by Cricket Australia’s decision. “Women will be the big losers of allowing biological men to compete as women.  Males have an inarguable advantage having gone through puberty with high levels of testosterone.  It is insulting to women who have worked hard to reach elite levels and it puts them in a dangerous position.  This is a sure-fire way to destroy women’s competitions and to remove all incentives for girls to even participate in the first place.”

Source: Binary

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By Australian Newsletter

There were cheers as the controversial bill to decriminalise abortion passed the NSW lower house.  The bill to remove terminations from the state’s criminal code passed 59 votes to 31, but created a split within the Liberals with many of the party’s 35 MPs opposing the bill.  The proposed laws will now be scrutinised by the Parliament’s social issues committee, before proceeding to a vote in the upper house where it is expected to pass.  Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Health Minister Brad Hazzard supported the bill, but others including Attorney-General Mark Speakman, Treasurer Dominic Perrottet and Planning Minister Rob Stokes voted against the bill.

Now a coalition of upper house MPs from across minor parties have banded together in a plot to thwart the passage of the bill and will launch a fresh bid to prevent sex-selective terminations from being legalised.  The gender selection issue has dominated the bruising debate for Premier Gladys Berejiklian and has trigged deep divisions in all parties.  The issue is so contentious it has changed the stance of Shooters, Fishers & Farmers (SFF) MPs, who hold critical power in the upper house, who will now likely vote against the bill.  Prior to the exposing of the gender-based abortion loophole, the SFF members had been supportive of the bill.

The abortion debate has now split the minor party, with three lower house Shooters MPs having supported it when it passed on Thursday night following three days of fiery debate.  Sydney’s Catholic Archbishop Anthony Fisher has expressed his distress that an amendment to save the lives of babies that are born alive after an abortion attempt was not passed.  “If a civilisation is to be judged by how it treats its weakest members, New South Wales has failed spectacularly,” he said.  “Better proposed amendments, such as one to require that a baby born alive after a failed abortion be given lifesaving care, were defeated.”

In the US, 143 infants were born alive and died between 2003 and 2014 after attempted abortions, according to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.  Liberal MP and former minister for women Tanya Davies unsuccessfully moved a motion to require “termination not to be used for gender selection”.  Instead, members agreed to an amendment by Nationals MP Leslie Williams noting disapproval of the practice.  It requires the health ministry to review and report within 12 months.  A number of minor party members in the upper house have vowed to revive the gender issues when the bill is before them on August 20.

Christian Democrat MLC Fred Nile is already discussing amendments with One Nation’s Mark Latham and several Liberal members, including a motion to prevent sex-selective abortion.  Mr Nile said he would revive the motions that Ms Davies failed to get through the lower house, including reducing the threshold for restrictions of late-term abortions from 22 weeks to 20.  “I think it’s very important to discourage women or families and husband or wife if they want to try and control whether they’re going to have girls or boys,” Mr Nile said.  Shooters Party leader Robert Borsak said he was likely to oppose the legislation after he became concerned over the gender issues.

“I just won’t countenance any situation where there’s a chance for cultural reasons or other for potential parents to be selecting against a female,” Borsak said.  “That’s an anathema to me and I don’t want that to happen.”  He said he believed fellow Shooter MLC Mark Banasiak and Mr Latham would also not support the legislation.  Labor MLC Courtney Houssos is also open to an amendment on sex-selective abortions.  Nine upper house MPs have told The Daily Telegraph they will not support the bill.  Independent MP Alex Greenwich, who originally moved the bill, said Ms Davies’ amendment was “hostile” and “poorly drafted”.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said gender-selective abortion “should not happen”.  “Not one Member of Parliament should think that there is any opportunity in this state for gender-selective abortion to occur,” he said.  But he has been unable to point to a section of the bill that outlaws abortions based on gender.  Other major amendments that were rejected included one that would have strengthened protections for women against coercion to abort, and a motion to allow health services to collect data on abortions to determine their frequency, with claims that it was unfair to asylum seekers who wouldn’t have a Medicare card.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports 

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By Australian Newsletter

Foreign Minister Marise Payne has declared Australia should not let differences with China define an “important” relationship, as the Chinese embassy accuses Liberal MP Andrew Hastie of adopting a “Cold War mentality” after warning its rise could place Australia’s sovereignty and freedoms at risk.  The embassy said the comments by Mr Hastie, the chairman of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, were detrimental to China-Australia relations.  Mr Hastie used a column in Nine newspapers to compare the West’s response to China to that of the French against Nazi Germany.  The response by China’s embassy was swift.

“We strongly deplore the Australian federal MP Andrew Hastie’s rhetoric on ‘China threat’ which lays bare his Cold-War mentality and ideological bias,” the embassy said in a statement.  “History has proven and will continue to prove that China’s peaceful development is an opportunity, not a threat to the world.  “We urge certain Australian politicians to take off their ‘coloured lens’ and view China’s development path in an objective and rational way.  “They should make efforts to promote mutual trust between China and Australia, instead of doing the opposite.”

Senator Payne would not slap down Mr Hastie for his critique and said an Indo-Pacific that was free, open and prosperous was overwhelmingly in the interest of Australia and its partners in the region.  “There are many opportunities for both Australia and China in our bilateral relationship.  It’s an important relationship underpinned by a comprehensive strategic partnership and a free trade agreement which benefits both countries,” Senator Payne said.  “There are differences from time to time but we should not let our relationship be defined by those differences.  We will continue to manage the relationship in Australia’s best interests.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton defended Mr Hastie, saying he was one of the most distinguished members of parliament after serving as an SAS captain.  “Andrew Hastie is somebody who has served with great distinction and it is his right as a backbencher to raise issues that are of concern to him,” Mr Dutton said.  While he refused to comment on Mr Hastie’s opinion piece, Mr Dutton said Australia must ensure all of its partners respected its sovereignty whether it’s in the area of trade negotiations, the allegations of theft of IP or on our university campuses.  We’ll continue to work with countries so people understand the boundaries,” he said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison distanced his government from Mr Hastie’s warning.  The Prime Minister did not reject Mr Hastie’s critique, saying the issues and challenges he had raised were not new.  But Mr Morrison pointed out his colleague, who also chairs the parliamentary joint standing committee on intelligence and security, was not a minister and was therefore free to say what he wanted as a backbench MP.  Mr Morrison said Australia would continue to have a “cooperative arrangement” with China and declared there was more to be gained from the relationship, particularly from a trade perspective.

Mr Hastie said Australia must be clear-eyed about its position in the world as it balanced security and trade interests.  “We are resetting the terms of engagement with China to preserve our sovereignty, security and democratic convictions, as we also reap the benefits of our trade relationship,” he said.  “Right now our greatest vulnerability lies not in our infrastructure, but in our thinking.  If we don’t understand the challenge ahead for our society, in our parliaments, in our universities, in our private enterprises, in our charities, our little platoons, then choices will be made for us.  Our sovereignty, our freedoms, will be diminished.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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By Australian Newsletter

One Nation NSW leader Mark Latham has accused NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian of doing a deal with Independent Alex Greenwich prior to the election to bring the abortion debate on because she was concerned she would fall into minority government at the March state election.  Mr Latham has accused Ms Berejiklian of running the “Berejiklian-Greenwich government”.  Mr Latham said Mr Greenwich was being given a “rails run” by the government, including on introducing a private members’ bill on abortion, when other members introduced private members bills and saw them kicked off to parliamentary committees for six months or not debated.

Mr Latham said Ms Berejiklian, who has a majority of two, had given Mr Greenwich three concessions since being elected: the abortion bill, making him chair of a committee which he said was aimed at killing coal jobs and making him deputy chair of the lockout laws review committee.  He also attacked the cross-party working group which had worked on the abortion bill, saying it was led by Nationals MP Trevor Khan, who he said had been given more power than most ministers.  “Trevor Khan is like a shop steward for the leftist progressive issues of the parliament,” Mr Latham said.

He said of the prospect of a Berejiklian-Greenwich deal: “How else do you explain this convergence of the private members bill that is rammed through the parliament?  “I’m putting two and two together and getting four.  A spokesman for the premier said of Mr Latham’s claims there was a deal with Mr Greenwich: “This is completely untrue.  It did not happen.”  Before the election, Mr Greenwich and fellow Independents wrote to Ms Berejiklian with a series of demands.  After the election, where she did not mention social issues, the Premier said social issues would be her priority in this term.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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