“Since his arrest and imprisonment by UK authorities, we have seen the US Government take the draconian action of compiling charges which would result in the imprisonment of Assange for 175 years [1], an assessment by a UN body seeing Assange as the victim of concerted abuse involving 4 democratic nation states over numerous years [2], and a misleading statement being issued by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) over accusations of its failure to protect a citizen [3]”, said John August, Deputy President of Pirate Party Australia.

Nils Melzer, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Professor of International Law, University of Glasgow, speaks to the effect that Julian Assange’s situation has had on his mental health, with his comments that “in addition to physical ailments, Mr. Assange showed all symptoms typical for prolonged exposure to psychological torture, including extreme stress, chronic anxiety and intense psychological trauma.” He further comments that: “In the course of the past nine years, Mr. Assange has been exposed to persistent, progressively severe abuse ranging from systematic judicial persecution and arbitrary confinement in the Ecuadorian embassy, to his oppressive isolation, harassment and surveillance inside the embassy, and from deliberate collective ridicule, insults and humiliation, to open instigation of violence and even repeated calls for his assassination.” [2]

Along with two medical specialists, Professor Melzer visited Mr. Assange in Belmarsh high security prison in early May, concluding: “The evidence is overwhelming and clear. Mr. Assange has been deliberately exposed, for a period of several years, to progressively severe forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the cumulative effects of which can only be described as psychological torture.” Further, he comments: “I fear if that pressure is not alleviated soon it might escalate in terms of the psychological consequences – and I think that’s what we’re now seeing.” Commenting on Australian assistance for Assange, Mr. Melzer said: “Australia is a glaring absence in this case. They’re just not around, as if Assange was not an Australian citizen. That is not the correct way of dealing with that.” [4]

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Pirate Party Australia endorses 4WD Queensland’s push for harmonisation of motor vehicle modification throughout Australia.

The Pirate Party has long had the view that Government and its regulations should enable the community, rather than limit them. We are particularly concerned about the growth of needless and contradictory laws and regulations, something that grows all too readily as both political parties lazily ignore festering problems while aggressively pursuing issues on their respective ideological agendas.

We see the conflict over vehicle modification as a prime example, one which the 4WD Club of Queensland has drawn attention to, harnessing the support of motoring groups all over Australia.

Individuals who are enthusiastic about cars should have the freedom to modify their vehicles so long as they take personal responsibility and do not put others at risk. However, the inconsistent regulations between different states cannot be seen to manage this tension, rather just implement needless layers of contradiction. We therefore endorse the requests of 4WD Queensland:

  • Amend the federal Motor Vehicle Standards Act to allow “Mutual Recognition” of all individual state engineering, approved certifiers and certification schemes, to be recognised and accepted by all state registration authorities;
  • Establish a National Vehicle Modification and Certification Program for in-service registered passenger vehicles as recommended, to be implemented federally and in parallel with ADRs; and
  • Ensure industry and community engagement is a key basis for the Vehicle Modification Framework.

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Australians have witnessed a shocking erosion in their civil liberties over the last 17 years. The Labor and Liberal parties, working together, have imposed additional restrictions on civil liberties every year since 2001. These have included:

  • Internet censorship and web blocking, with the list of websites rapidly expanding.
  • Criminal penalties for investigative journalists who view documents which government agencies wish to conceal.
  • Laws forcing ISPs to collect metadata for warrantless access by authorities. After promising tight controls, the law has created an open slather, with Australians’ internet histories now being trawled more than 1,000 times a day by dozens of agencies not mentioned in the original law[1].
  • New powers to monitor private communications, retrospective warrants, higher penalties for whistleblowing, extra powers to cover up scandals such as the East Timor bugging, and many more besides.

One of the worst of these laws came along at the end of 2018, when the major parties colluded to rush through the new Assistance and Access Bill.

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Earlier this week, the Copyright Amendment Act 2018 passed both houses of Parliament with members from the Liberals, Nationals, Labor and Greens all speaking out in support. Despite attempts by lobby groups to push the bill through without consultation, a two week period was given for the public to offer submissions. Pirate Party Australia joined with Electronic Frontiers Australia, Australian Digital Alliance, Google, Internet Association of Australia, Digital Industry Group, Communications Alliance and Dr. Matthew Rimmer to criticise this bill. Together we represented a wide cross-section of tech sector and civil society bodies.

We raised multiple critical concerns with the bill, including an expansionary terminology and critical lack of judicial oversight, which will lead to insidious degrees of government-endorsed censorship in Australia by private corporations. Our previous press release covering this amendment can be found here[1] and the full text of our inquiry submission here[2].

We are particularly disappointed by the position taken by the Federal Greens who, while criticising the site blocking provisions, joined with elected members of the Australian Labor Party and Coalition to support passage of the bill. We have consistently endorsed the position of former Greens Senator Scott Ludlam with his support for fair use copyright reform and in opposing creeping surveillance. We hope his resignation does not represent a reversal of the Green’s pro-technology policies.

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In the four years since I began my transition, a year before being Trans was a big public issue, I have searched for a deeper understanding of why I felt like I was in the wrong body since childhood.
Yet to say that it is just a feeling underestimates the overwhelming and profound sadness having to go through puberty as a male and the power of what my body and mind were telling me, that this was all wrong.

But… you deal with it, you suppress your true self so that you don’t get embarrassed, harassed or even killed. That was the 80’s and 90’s for me.

Times have now changed and it seems that everyone has something to say about how Trans people should be treated in society. Much like the recent plebiscite on Marriage Equality.

Being Trans doesn’t make you special, it doesn’t make you rich and it certainly isn’t about drawing attention to yourself. It lowers your job prospects, makes you more susceptible to harassment and the side effects of Hormone Replacement Therapy can be quite profound. So it’s reasonable to expect a safe space to explore your gender if you are questioning it. For me there simply came a point where I couldn’t live a full life without being honest with myself and those around me.

When I came out I was met with love, kindness and compassion. I was also met with hate, bigotry, misconceptions, mental abuse and assault, all of the things I had feared for more than three decades. It felt like nothing much had changed.

What you would hope with being Trans, now with all the public attention around it, is that Trans people would have the freedom and right to explore who they are. However, it’s groups like Binary Australia (formerly the anti-marriage-equality lobby group Marriage Alliance and closely associated with the Australian Conservatives party), who are trying to make this impossible for those who don’t fit into a binary gendered world.

I recognise and understand what they are attempting to do, we’ve seen similar hate groups in our history before. It’s groups like these that use fear mongering and hate to further their agenda, which really has nothing to do with Trans people but serves as a platform to attain power for themselves while suckering susceptible voters into believing that they are standing for a legitimate cause.

Hatred of Trans and Intersex people will never be a legitimate cause. The Pirate Party and LGBTI allies will fight them at every turn.

The Pirate Party’s position statement on Transgender and Intersex issues can be read here: https://pirateparty.org.au/wiki/Position_Statements#Position_Statement_2016-01_.E2.80.93_Transgender_and_Intersex_issues

Sara Joyce
Senate Candidate (NSW)
Pirate Party Australia

 

Sara Joyce