It’s 2019 and Western Australia is still locking up people for not paying fines. Of course this abhorrent policy barely affects the rich, or the well-employed, or those with financial security. It doesn’t affect those who have access to money, or for whom a $500 – $1000 slap on the wrist is just a matter of flashing the credit card or at worst, waiting until payday. No, it punishes people for being poor, for which $500+ becomes an unmanageable percentage of their income/benefit. And before long, that slap on the wrist becomes a prison sentence.
But in the meantime, Australians who are appalled at the gross injustice of jailing people who have committed no crimes are stepping up. While Attorney-General Quigley hides behind bureaucracy, Debbie Kilroy, Executive Director of Sisters Inside, an organization which advocates for the human rights of women in the criminal justice system, has started a GoFundMe fundraiser with the aim to free 100 single Aboriginal mothers from Western Australian prisons.
It has raised over $87,000 in just two days.
This money has already been used to save a single Noongar woman, a mother of three children, from being imprisoned. The accumulated debt of $3100 came from traffic infringements and having an unregistered dog.
Attorney-General Quigley can put a stop to this draconian policy. He can put forward legislation immediately to end the discriminatory practice of jailing people for being poor. He can cease this barbaric action against the most vulnerable in the community. And he must do it now, before another family is torn apart and separated, by imprisonment, or death.
“I want people to treat us fairly and they’re not. And it’s not — there’s no angles. There’s no angles. There’s nothing — you know, when a country sends us 200 soldiers to Iraq or sends us a hundred soldiers from a big country to Syria or to Afghanistan and then they tell me a hundred times, oh, we sent you soldiers, we sent you soldiers. And that’s 1/100th of the money they take advantage of, they’re just doing it to make me happy. I’ve heard past Presidents say they’ve involved in the Afghanistan war because they sent us a hundred soldiers. Yet it’s costing us billions of billions of dollars. I get along with India and the prime minister and he’s constantly telling me he built a library in Afghanistan. You know what that is? That’s like five hours of what we spend. And he tells it is and he’s very smart and we’re supposed to say oh, thank you for the library. I don’t know who’s using it in Afghanistan but one of those things.”
The Murray-Darling Basin Royal Commission’s final report will be provided to the South Australian Governor by 1 February 2019. That has the potential to embarrass both the NSW government and Barnaby Joyce right before elections.
February 1st is also the deadline for the banking Royal Commission to deliver its final report to the Governor-General. We have already heard enough to know that it will be damning which only underlines the government’s poor judgement in characterising it as a “political stunt” by Labor.
February is also the month when the Federal Court is due to hear the case regarding the media tip-off from Michaelia Cash’s office about the raids on AWU offices, providing she hasn’t succeeded in having the subpoenas set aside as she has said she would.
The case against Kathy Jackson, that ‘lion of the union movement’, may take a little longer. It is due for court mention in January but a tentative trial date of April 29 has been set because “she’s yet to secure funding for her legal representation.”
In the few sitting days available, the government will have to deal with a crossbench determined to facilitate medical evacuations from Manus and Nauru.
And there will still be the question about what to do with all those pesky gay teachers.
There is a groundswell in Warringah and – worryingly for Abbott – the disparate groups are coordinating
If the posters popping up around Manly and sales of anti–Tony Abbott T-shirts are any gauge, the member for Warringah has a fight on his hands.
“There’s a huge amount of grassroots activity. Organisations are popping out of the ground everywhere. And we are finding each other,” says Louise Hislop, the convenor of Voices of Warringah.
California could officially leave the union by 2019.