News Bulletin January 2008
Dear friends and supporters,
The year has turned again, and we extend our best and warmest wishes to you for 2009!
In this Bulletin:
We're entering our eighth year of full-time operations, but even while much has changed through the work of tens of thousands of citizens in our country, it's also clear that the work of a citizen-driven initiative such as Project SafeCom is not diminishing.
It's easy to argue that 2008 did not end well. Of course we had a near-crash of worldwide financial markets, but the response by governments left a miriad of possibilities untouched as they propped up what is essential an unsustainable and failing system. See the salient comments here. At Project SafeCom we've also been seriously affected (see below). And with Kevin Rudd's disturbingly low and politically motivated carbon reduction targets (more below) the year ended in embarrasment for many people in our country.
Grieving for Gaza
The new year did not begin well either. Gross and brutally disproportionate human rights atrocities have created a river of civilian and children's blood in Gaza (see here), so it's appropriate to point to Independent Australian Jewish Voices, the Shministim and to informed opinion by Robert Fisk and John Pilger compiled on our website here and note the excellent work of Antony Loewenstein.
We've prepared a letter/petition platform on our website to the Hon Stephen Smith MP, Australia's Minister for Foreign Affairs. If you're dismayed about what's happening in Gaza, and you demand more of the Australian government in response, click the button to explore and write your letter!
Marking a new start
With many thanks to David Coulter, who helped re-develop our database, our News Alerts and Bulletins, sent a number of times per year to you, will look better, and will be personally addressed to you. To change the email address you're receiving our news alert through, use the links at the bottom of this mailout to send us your instructions.
During 2008 we added more than 100 pages to our website, and with more than 70,000 visitors per month, who, in May 2008, accessed more than 140,000 pages, we're now well established as one of Australia's top resources on human rights issues. See the grey box in this email for a taste of the 2008 archived pages.
Become a member and claim your free book!
From the moment you're reading this message right up till February 5, we're offering a free product from our online shop to you, if you sign up and take out a 2-year membership. Your $55 payment for a membership until 30 June 2010 needs to be with us on 5 February 2009, and if it is, we'll be including a book to the value of up to $35 to everyone who applies to become a paid-up member and completes the online application here.
Becoming a paid-up member of our organisation brings you many benefits: through our round-the-clock intensive media monitoring role we keep you abreast of all the human rights, environmental and sustainability news, and of the 'hot' current affairs issues in the country with our members-only newsletter, while all our products are available at a discount to you, and you'll be very well connected to all the issues at stake in our changing times.
Kevin Rudd's climate troubles
The way the Australian government ignores, silences and spins the grave dangers to our planet's climate, as expressed in the "tiny but opportune" carbon reduction targets, must remain the prime and overriding concern for all citizens
Our Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who promised so much during his election campaign, is in serious climate trouble. Professor Garnaut, his climate change advisor, has lambasted the minuscule carbon reduction targets, while another climate scientist, NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies Professor James Hansen has written an open letter to Barack Obama about Australia's coal-fired power stations - telling Obama that our country's coal export "guarantees destruction of much of the life on the planet".
We need to tell Kevin Rudd and Penny Wong that the Golden Calf of the economy pales in insignificance when we consider that the planet needs to be inhabitable for all of us - and we will do this as one of our major campaigns of the year - starting in February, when Parliament resumes. For now, all the news, commentary and condemnation around the release of the 5% carbon reduction targets is brought together on the page here for your reading.
Christmas Island's House of Horrors
Just before he went on holidays Immigration Minister Chris Evans approved the opening of John Howard's House of Horrors on Christmas Island, and while a mere 200 boat-faring asylum seekers arrived during 2008, conservative politicians yelled, trying again to get traction for their much-discredited fear campaign about millions of climate refugees trying to come to Australia.
The opening is extremely disturbing news, because the Christmas Island Gulag was roundly condemned by welfare and rights groups and NGO's following an inspection visit by more than 50 representatives in August. The announcement came on the back of warnings that another seventy boat arrivals could be expected - yet just a few days later 26 passengers of two boats that had arrived in September, were cleared by Immigration for protection visa applications. Why was it opened and who initiated this decision? See our website for the questions and issues failing to be posed by reportage in the media.
Global becomes local financial crisis
The global economic crisis is, as this article posted to our website suggests, indeed an historic opportunity for transformation, but just a few of the many positive opportunities of the crash have been mentioned, and only marginally, by the world's politicians.
Many of you will know Project SafeCom's rationale, often expressed in mailouts: "We exist because you want us to exist" - when we indicate as well as accept the huge support expressed for our work - support found right around the country. Well, the financial crisis has come to visit us as well: We've lost about 70% of the monthly income to our general account, while our pledge account income has shrunk by around 60%. So, now is the time to arrange your periodic financial support for us!
Banking details: See our website, or Bendigo Community Bank Fremantle | BSB: 633000
The real migration crisis
Although Australia's dealings with asylum seekers arriving by boat to seek our help and protection from persecution were the initial trigger for our organisation's establishment more than seven years ago, Project SafeCom was formed to have a life-span not determined by the previous government administration of the Howard government. We'll be around for a lot longer - with your help.
All signs are pointing to a rapid deterioration of the world's climate change indicators. The real migration crisis was not the one some politicians claimed we had during and following the 2001 'Tampa election' - that was 'a politician's crisis, not a refugee crisis - but it is still to come. When people will be forced to leave their homes and countries, Australia needs to also do its bit. That's why we, as the only independent, citizen-driven organisation in Australia in this area, stand at the crossroads of climate change, human rights and the treatment of refugees and displaced people.