Fairer Conditions Spell Good News For Firefighters

Across the state over twenty five fires are still burning but
that number is falling and is far down from the more than seventy
that have blazed in remote areas over the past two months.

Around two hundred and fifty fire-fighters from interstate have arrived,
over the past several weeks and have set up at a specially assigned base camp
near Stanley in the state’s north-west.
The Tasmania Fire Service say this has been the biggest mobilisation of interstate fire-fighters ever in Tasmania.

TFS chief officer Gavin Freeman said that shift to favourable weather conditions
should mean more fire-fighters will be able douse the blaze’s edge
rather than meerly hold containment lines and thus start to push back against the bulk of the fires.

“We’re now able, because the fire conditions have abated, to get closer in
to where the fire edge actually is with tanker crews to extinguish
the fire directly without taking large tracts of land out,” he said.

“There’s still a lot of work to do, a lot of mopping up to do.”

He also stated that the next few days should be vital in aiding crews before the weather warms up, later in the week.

“We’re pretty confident that we’ve got some solid lines
around these fires, but we’re at the hands of the weather,” he said.

“There still could be the possibility of unpredicted wind changes or unpredicted strong winds that these fires could escape.”

Mr Freeman said he expected the interstate crews should remain at the Stanley home base for the next fortnight,
to bolster the line of Tasmanian crews working at the borders of a blaze covering more than 60,000 hectares.

“We have some plans in place to continue that on through March if need be, but I don’t anticipate that will be the case,” Mr Freeman said.

For more information, please visit: www.fire.tas.gov.au

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Human rights commission and Muslim Australians

A new report from the Australian Human Rights Commission has found that Muslim Australians suffer discrimination and abuse on a daily basis. Since the Lindt Cage siege last year communities say that the discrimination has been particularly noticeable. Research finds that the Racial Discrimination Act has only a limited ability to protect Muslim Australians because “religious identity” is not covered under the act.

Many claim hostile treatment towards Muslim Australians is impinging on people’s freedoms. There are reports that many Muslims were changing where they shopped, and that a group of Muslim musicians had cancelled a performance due to fears that they would be attacked on public transport.

The Human Rights Commission found that there is little distinction between religious and racial discrimination for many Muslims. “Being on the receiving end of anti-Muslim sentiment is often described in terms of racism.”

Despite this, the Racial Discrimination Act still only has limited ability to protect Muslim Australians because it only covers discrimination based on race, colour, ethnic or national origin, or immigrant status — not religion. This is different from the protection that is granted to Jewish Australians however, as the Federal Court has found that they have a common ethnic origin.

Mariam Veiszadeh, the founder of Islamophobia Register of Australia, said there had been an increase in reports of verbal and physical violence against Muslims since the group began tracking cases a year ago. The cases include attacks on Muslim women targeted for wearing Hijabs, Niqabs, and Burqas, assaults on public transport, online threats, property damage, and graffiti.

Australia has an extremely long history of racially fueled violence and hatred; often spurred on by propaganda spread by groups such as Reclaim Australia, and through the ignorance of politicians looking to widen the gap between Australians and immigrants.

Jakob Barrett

Prime Minister speaks about gender equality

Malcolm Turnbull’s ideal cabinet would be a 50-50 split of men and women, Mr. Turnbull remarked recently, following the new Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s gender-equal cabinet announcement on Wednesday night.

“This standard won’t be met in Australia until women have better representation in Australian politics,” Mr. Turnbull said on ABC radio on Thursday. “In an ideal world you would have 50-50 but we don’t have an even ratio of men and women in the Parliament. The fundamental problem at the root of the issue is this: there are not enough women in the House of Representatives and in the Senate.”

More parties need to be more proactive to encourage women to stand for pre-selection; Mr. Turnbull also pointed to the importance of female role models, whether they are politicians or sports stars. Women have long been under-represented in the media and politics as role models and because of the disparity in the number of men and women that lead our country.

Mr. Turnbull’s cabinet includes women in their respective roles for the first time in our country’s history including Marise Payne as the Defence Minister, and Kelly O’Dwyer as the Minister for Revenue, the Assistant Treasurer.

More still needs to be done better represent the minorities in Australia, including the members of the LGBT+ community, and members of racial groups such as Indigenous Australians.

Jakob Barrett

University terrorism threat

One of the UTAS cyber security teams discovered a possible threat to the university’s campuses this  week. The infamous social media site 4chan was rumoured to be the source of the concern. An email was sent to staff and students warning them of a potential threat and a joint security force between the police and university were set up to ensure the safety of the people on campus.

Police Commander Glenn Frame said earlier that threat to UTAS was ultimately not credible and ordered police resources to be withdrawn from the campuses at Hobart, Launceston, and Burnie. “As a result of analysing the threat, in conjunction with other jurisdictions, we can advise we do not consider the threat to be genuine and does not pose a risk to staff and students.”

A UTAS spokesperson said that the threat was similar to that against the University of New South Wales wherein a 4chan user claimed to have obtained a handgun of sorts and warned UNSW students that should not go into campus the following day. Anti-terrorism police descended onto the UNSW campus yesterday in response to the threat in Sydney.

The threat against UTAS arrives at a stressful time for students since many are starting to prepare for end of year exams.

Jakob Barrett

Rising temperatures bring fire dangers

A fire in Geeveston has been downgraded after Thursday’s high alert, having been contained by the Tasmania Fire Service through the use of tankers and a helicopter.  A total fire ban was declared across the southern Tasmania as temperatures surged. Hobart saw temperatures reach 30°. The municipalities of Brighton, Derwent Valley, Hobart, Sorell, Central Highlands, Glamorgan Spring Bay, Huon Valley, Southern Midlands, Clarence, Glenorchy, Kingborough and Tasman were all placed on fire bans.

The Tasmanian Fire Service has been preparing for a dangerous season. Standard rules for fire bans are in place so no fires may be lit or allowed to remain alight in open air. No spark generating tools or tools that use a naked flame such as welding or grinding tools may be used in open air. Wood, charcoal or other solid fuel barbecues may not be used either. Public gas and electric barbecues are not banned as long as the barbecue is a fixed permanent structure.

For further details and alerts visit www.fire.tas.gov.au

Jakob Barrett

New magistrates for the north-west

The North-West coast will be getting two new magistrates in a move that the Law Society believes will alleviate the long wait between court hearings. According to the President of the Law Society of Tasmania, Matthew Verney, even child protection matters can take months to get hearings on the coast, which is diabolical, he says. Even police matters can take months to get hearings.

Mr. Verney said that the Society would welcome the new appointments, “This is an example where the government has got it right,” Mr. Verney said. “Since we ceased having three magistrates on the coast, there’s no doubt the lists have blown out. That’s no criticism of the court, there’s only so many hours in the day.”

The North-West coast currently only has two permanent magistrates – Mrs. Melanie Bartlett, and Mr. Andrew McKee – and the coast has been getting a circuit magistrate from Launceston for five days per fortnight. One of the new magistrates will be replacing Magistrate Bartlett.

Jakob Barrett

Sydney shooting labeled act of terrorism

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Saturday that the Muslim community should not be blamed for the actions of the 15-year-old boy who shot and killed a NSW police officer in Sydney’s west. The Prime Minister has labeled the incident in Parramatta as an act of terrorism.

“This appears to have been an act of politically-motivated violence so at this stage is appears to have been an act of terrorism,” Mr. Turnbull told reporters in Melbourne. “The Australian Muslim community will be especially appalled and shocked by this. As NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione and the Premier Mike Baird have noted, we must not vilify or blame the entire Muslim community with the actions of what is, in truth, a very, very small percentage of violent extremist individuals.”

Mr. Turnbull has spoken to the director-general of security at the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) and Andrew Colvin; Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police about Friday’s shooting. The Prime Minister has also spoken with Attorney-General George Brandis about working on de-radicalisation programs for at-risk individuals, including vulnerable teens.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten agrees with Mr. Turnbull’s sentiments regarding any form of retribution towards the Muslim community, saying, “voices of division and disunity should not be allowed to dominate the national conversation”.

Jakob Barrett