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The Australian, News from Australia's National Newspaper

The Australian, News from Australia's National Newspaper

Asia Edition - Wall Street Journal SMH: Politicians too ready to reboard the bad ship bigotry A refugee minority is again the target of shameful political opportunism. THE knee-jerk reaction has kicked in. As soon as the numbers of ''boat people'' became a trickle, the Opposition reverted to its despicable old form, warning of a threat created by a Labor Government ''soft on border protection''. Various media have already rolled out the lazy descriptions of a flood or tide of arrivals. And Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, knowing how the issue has played out in the past, has begun to echo the language of his predecessor, John Howard, after asking Indonesia to stop a boat carrying 260 asylum seekers. Some facts are in order. The panic is all about an increase in boat people, from 148 (out of 3980 asylum seekers in total) in 2007, to 161 (out of 4750) last year, to about 1700 this year. Advertisement It is instructive that most arrivals by boat are now from Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, while the number of Iraqis has dropped.

Leaders in Davos blame bonuses for collapse of trust | Business The head of HSBC has blamed excessive pay for a collapse in trust in the financial sector, as executives lined up at the World Economic Forum in Davos to stress that the economic crisis would prompt curbs on boardroom Stephen Green, HSBC's chairman, said there had been a "huge and growing disparity between different levels of income," and that one positive aspect of the current crisis was that the problem would now be addressed. Other leading business figures also admitted that the outrage expressed by Barack Obama at the bonuses paid on Wall Street after one of its worst ever years meant reform of pay was inevitable. Duncan Niederhauer, chief executive of NYSE Euronext, said: "It is quite clear that some of the compensation models at these firms have to be not just incrementally changed but completely overhauled." Regulators have already indicated that they will look unfavourably on companies that provide short-term incentives for traders to behave recklessly.

Accounting changes add up to turf war PEAK accounting body CPA Australia wants to increase pathways into the profession and the universities are not happy. But while this looks like an arcane argument over accreditation, it involves broader questions of how national qualifications are assessed in a global education market and whether people will always pay for an expensive education when lower-cost options are on offer. At the heart of the dispute between CPA and the Accounting and Finance Association, representing trans-Tasman academics, is the professional body's plan to offer its own study material and exams designed to assess an individual's technical knowledge, gained on the job or through study. From next year passing these exams will offer an alternative to a recognised accounting degree as a prerequisite for CPA's professional level training, said Paul Wappett, the body's executive general manager for international development. It is an argument Professor Chalmers acknowledges, albeit unhappily.

National Times: We should accept Tamils It is hard to see why we won't take these Tamils. They are fugitives from a lost civil war, recent massacres and the threat of genocide. They are beautiful, intelligent and English-speaking. Yet we think it better they starve to death rather than come here. It is certain that if processed here they would be admitted. It is said that their journey is 'illegal' though it is not. Advertisement It is said that 'people smugglers' are 'the scum of the earth' and 'they should rot in hell'. It is said they are 'only in it for the money'. What we are doing is a form of kidnap, torment and piracy; rendition, persecution, and child abuse.

Bankers bite back against regulation threats at Davos | Business International bankers joined forces on the opening day of the World Economic Forum in Davos to warn governments against proposals to limit their activities. Moves to restrict banks to certain types of activities would do more harm than good, they said. Several top bankers were present in the Swiss resort to fight what they fear will be over-regulation in the aftermath of the global financial crisis. Barclays Bank President Bob Diamond said he has "seen no evidence that suggests that shrinking banks is the answer" to preventing a future meltdown. Barclays' Robert Diamond was vocal about his feelings "If you step back and say large is bad, and we move to narrow banking, the impact of that on banks and on global trade, the global economy, would be very negative," he said. Standard Chartered CEO Peter Sands said there was a growing risk that fragmented regulatory initiatives would "create enormous amounts of complexity." Break up of bad banks? Economic confidence up

Get tough or prepare for a flood | Philip Ruddock: The Australian From time to time some people believe that they can bypass reasonable checks and selection criteria to obtain an outcome to which they might not otherwise have been entitled. People smugglers have seen opportunities to profit in these circumstances. While all governments loudly proclaim that they determine who enters and settles in Australia, they should be judged by their record rather than their rhetoric. Like its predecessors, the Howard government was faced with the challenge of unauthorised border arrivals. Yet for almost half a decade it managed to bring people-smuggling to an end. There are a range of measures that can be taken to contain people-smuggling. The Rudd government would have Australians believe that the pursuit of international co-operation is sufficient. The detention enabled the consideration of claims for protection or other reasons to remain in Australia, as well as character, security and health checks.

Bashing the bankers is making Obama go blind It’s the oldest trick in politics: when you’re in trouble, change the subject. And so two days after his administration and party were reeling after losing the special senate election in Massachusetts, President Barack Obama announced a plan that places new restrictions on banks’ activities and overall size. First, he called for a ban on commercial banks (like high-street banks) from trading using depositors’ money unless directly on behalf of customers (so-called ‘proprietary trading’), and from owning, investing or sponsoring hedge funds or private equity funds. Second, he proposed expanding the current cap on the market share of deposits (set at 10 per cent) to other liabilities. Obama’s proposals follow on the heels of other bank-bashing moves in recent weeks. It is obvious that, the more that support for Obama and the Democrats drops, the more they scapegoat the banks. Even if the proposals have been brewing for some time, the timing of the announcement is politically motivated.

National Times: The Tamils are fleeing because no one will ease their plight A Tamil woman and her daughter arrive at a camp for refugees fleeing internal violence in Sri Lanka. The conditions in these camps is one reason for an influx of Tamil asylum seekers. Photo: AP Kevin Rudd has prevented 255 Sri Lankan asylum seekers coming to Australia from Indonesia. The people on the vessel are ethnic Tamils, a group suffering at the hands of the majority Sinhalese following the defeat of Tamil resistance in a civil war that has waxed and waned tragically for the past 26 years. About 300,000 Tamils are being held in camps controlled by the Sri Lankan Army under the most appalling conditions, including a shortage of food, medical supplies and adequate shelter. British Foreign Secretary David Miliband admitted to the House of Commons on October 13 that the British Government was aware that the extrajudicial killing of Tamils has taken place. Advertisement Australia has not sought humanitarian assistance for Tamils detained in the camps.

Nick Bryant's Australia: Seeking asylum by boat or by plane National Times - Zhi Yan: Hardline faction peddles fear and punitive policies for asylum seekers Illustration: John Shakespeare. Fear tactics reminiscent of the Howard and Ruddock years are emerging in the debate on asylum seekers. A hardline faction within the shadow cabinet is pushing the line that Australia is being ''swamped'' by asylum seekers as a result of the Government's reforms to asylum policy. According to this faction, the Government has ''gone soft'' on asylum seekers by getting rid of detention debts and temporary protection visas and by seeking to introduce a formal system of complementary protection and a fairer system of community-based support. They favour punitive policies for asylum seekers, despite the lack of evidence that they deter them from coming to Australia and that seeking asylum is not a crime. It is myopic to look at Australia's asylum numbers in isolation from the rest of the world. Advertisement In the same period, Australia had only a 19 per cent increase. Australia's numbers are small in absolute terms, too.

National Times: Being tough on refugees is pretty weak We're all just like Pavlov's dogs. Last week, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd gave the Pacific Solution a quick polish, rebranded it the Indonesian Solution, and immediately everybody started yelling at Philip Ruddock. Yep, if it wasn't clear by now, ideological and partisan divisions over asylum seekers and boat people are deeply entrenched. But here's the problem. Immigration is a good thing, for migrants and for the places migrants go. The sanest case for strict borders is a paternalistic argument that refugees need to be deterred from making the dangerous journey by boat to Australia. Advertisement So exactly what are we trying to deter? It's not clear whether deterrence even works. But most damningly, deterrence leads to some atrociously illiberal, inhumane policies. Still, Rudd seems eager to depict his Government as tough on refugees. There's a deeper issue at stake about asylum seekers than just migration levels.

National Times: Paul Sheehan - Refugee lobby's 10 commandments The tough border security rhetoric of the Rudd Government has been exposed as mere macho grandstanding. Suddenly the PM is talking about ''illegal immigrants'' and standing up to evil people smugglers. It's spin. The Government's sanctimonious hubris was encapsulated by the federal Labor MP Michael Danby, who, after a tour of the 800-bed, $400 million detention centre on Christmas Island last July likened the facility, a legacy of the Howard government, to a ''stalag'', a ''German prisoner-of-war camp'' and an "enormous white elephant". That would now make Danby party to a policy of cruel military detention, because the Christmas Island detention centre is overflowing. For more than a year, the Immigration Minister, Chris Evans, maintained the pretence that softening policies on asylum seekers would have little material effect. Reality eventually prevailed, so much so that the Government is shipping 200 bunk beds to Christmas Island. Advertisement 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.