WE’RE focusing on relationship issues in our news wrap this week. Find out more about Australia’s beef with Indonesia, and whether Malaysia will become Australia’s backyard for asylum seekers. Joyce Ho reports.
Australia’s beef with Indonesia
The Australian Federal Government has suspended live animal exports to a number of killing facilities in Indonesia after graphic footage of cattle being inhumanely slaughtered in Indonesia was recently aired on ABC 1’s Four Corners program, sparking public outrage.
According to the Four Corners report (A Blood Business), approximately 500,000 cattle from northern Australia are sent to Indonesia every year in a trade worth more than $300 million in order to meet the growing demand for beef here.
Cattle would now be only supplied to the 25 accredited Indonesian slaughter houses meeting the World Organisation for Animal Health Standards, industry group Meat & Livestock Australia told Reuters.
In a report by the Jakarta Post, Indonesian meat importer association executive director Thomas Sembiring said regulations on animal welfare, including the slaughtering of animals, did exist in Indonesia; but acknowledged there were flaws in the implementation of the regulations.
Is Malaysia the solution to Australia’s Refugee Dilemma?
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and her Labor government are facing one of their most controversial and difficult political issues yet with regards to Australia’s refugee dilemma.
Instead of using the former offshore processing centres in Nauru under the Howard government, the Labor Government wants to transfer the next 800 asylum-seekers who arrive illegally to Australia’s borders to Malaysia for refugee status determination – in exchange for 4000 people from Myanmar who have been granted refugee status by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Malaysia.
Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said re-opening the Nauru camp would continue to encourage people smuggling and send the wrong message that asylum seekers would be guaranteed Australian visas.
The UNHCR withdrew its support for the deal after learning that minors would be sent offshore unaccompanied under the proposed plan.
Malaysia is not a signatory to the UN refugee convention, and the nation came under scrutiny in a recent Amnesty International report, which cited instances whereby
“refugees, migrants and Malaysian nationals were subjected to judicial caning for criminal offences, including immigration violations”, and where civilian volunteer officers “often extorted money from migrants and refugees, and sometimes beat them”.
Despite the Government’s assurance that asylum seekers would be treated in a more humane way in Malaysia than they would have been in Nauru, others, like Opposition leader Tony Abbott, remain unconvinced.
The plan has also received criticism in Malaysia. Democratic Action Party MP for Bukit Bendara Liew Chin Tong was today quoted saying that by serving as Australia’s refugee outpost, Malaysia was allowing itself to become the nation’s “backyard” and treat refugees like “tradable goods”.
“It is disappointing that Malaysia, which used to pride itself as a regional opinion leader and a leader in the Muslim world, is entering into such a inhumane deal for monetary rewards of about RM1 billion,” Mr Liew told Yahoo News.
See Time Toast for a comprehensive timeline of Australia’s involvement with asylum seekers.
Australia’s winter wonderland
On a lighter note, we’ve got news that would have skiers jumping for joy.
A cold front is expected to bring at least 20-centimetres of fresh snow to the alpine resorts in north-east Victoria in Falls Creek, Mount Buller and Mount Hotham. Natural snowfalls and sub-zero temperatures will also be creating perfect snow-making conditions over the long weekend ahead.
Senior meteorologist Phil King at the Bureau of Meteorology has told The Age that up to 500-metres of snow has been forecast to fall tomorrow, covering large parts of the Dandenong Ranges, Mount Macedon and surrounding towns.