Australian Politics 2017-11-30 15:55:00


Strange justice: Mother who admitted killing her own baby walks free

When a father kills a child he usually and rightly receives about twenty years in prison. Whether he has depression of not is irrelevant. But the maximum to which a woman can be sentenced for infanticide in Victoria is 5 years in prison. And she seldom receives that.

She might receive a year or two but more often walks free from court with an order to have counselling or to do some community work such as a few hours a week in a local op-shop. This week – along with white ribbon day – we had yet another woman walk free from court after deliberately killing her child.

There are plenty such cases of infants being killed – drowned, suffocated, stabbed with scissors, brains dashed out on door frame...  by their mothers and she not serving prison time or perhaps just a little.

Having one law for men and a lenient law for women is not equality. It is an example of feminists desire for rights without accountability

A MOTHER who admitted suffocating her 15-month-old daughter before throwing her body into a suburban Melbourne creek will be released from custody.

Sofina Nikat, 24, was on Thursday sentenced to a 12-month community correction order after earlier pleading guilty to infanticide over the April 2016 death of her daughter Sanaya Sahib.

“In the unusual circumstances you have already served 529 days of pre-sentence custody,” Victorian Supreme Court Justice Lex Lasry said.

Nikat served 529 days of pre-sentence detention after being charged over Sanaya’s death, before she was released on bail in September.

The maximum prison sentence for infanticide in Victoria is five years. Prosecutors had pushed for a jail term, but her lawyers said a non-custodial community corrections order was appropriate given Nikat’s mental state.

Victorian Supreme Court Justice Lex Lasry said he accepted evidence from a psychiatrist that Nikat was depressed when she suffocated Sanaya and threw her body into Darebin Creek. “Since I accept the (psychiatric) conclusions, I will sentence you on that basis,” he said.

Nikat was originally charged with murder but this was downgraded because of her depressive disorder.

On April 9, 2016 she told police a barefoot man of African appearance who smelled of alcohol had snatched Sanaya from her pram while they were at a Heidelberg West park.

The Fijian-born woman later admitted she took the infant to the park and played with her before suffocating Sanaya until she stopped moving. A family who joined the public search found Sanaya’s body in Darebin Creek, and Nikat admitted what she did three days after the killing.

“It is a tragedy for you and everyone connected with your family,” Justice Lasry said. “I accept that the way you acted after you had killed Sanaya was consistent with your irrational mental state.”

Outside court, Sanaya’s paternal family said the sentence was unfair. “Our justice system has really failed us today. We have not had justice for her death,” Zahraa Sahib told reporters.
“We were expecting something, and I don’t think it’s fair that we’ve lost a little girl.”


University dropout rate is telling us something

The disappointing news from the Federal Government on university completion rates and employment outcomes should inspire reflection. Is university a wrong path for many?  Youth career coach Steve Shepherd comments:

“These figures clearly highlight a systemic problem with the way we educate young people on their career path. We’ve created a herd mentality, where high schools, parents and peer pressure are pushing young people towards university, saying it’s the only way to get a good career, earn good money and get ahead.”

“As such, is it the University’s fault that so many young people end up dropping out? Are we encouraging too many young people to go to university, when it doesn’t really suit their strengths? Is this creating a problem where young people pick any degree to say they’ve been to university, without thinking about the impact it will have on their careers?”

According to research from TwoPointZero, nearly a quarter (24%) of young people are unsure of which career direction to take, with over half (55%) coming to regret their electives.

Should we be blaming universities?
“In my mind, the problem starts before university. Applications for university are higher than ever but you can’t tell me everyone wants to go to university or is suited to it? In reality, that’s not really the way it should work.”

“Many of the most in demand jobs at the moment, don’t require a degree. So why all the pressure to go to university? There needs to be a better balance and we need to start educating young people on their career paths much earlier. This would help prevent people from taking a degree for the sake of it and better align their education with their chosen career path, making it more relevant to the employment market.”

“And, if they still want to go to university, we need to have safety nets in place to intervene if they are likely to drop out. In our experience, one small tweak to the subjects they take or changing course can prevent them from dropping out and see them succeed.”

Performance funding a distraction from the real issue
“Performance funding is not the answer. It doesn’t actually address the issue, just distracts from it and could lead to higher education being out of reach for many young people today.”

“We need to better fund career education in schools, as most schools currently spend less than a cup of coffee per student per year on careers advice. We need to provide more guidance to parents to help them understand the employment market isn’t the same as when they left school. And, we need to stop thinking going to university is the be all and end all.”

“Everyone is different. Everyone likes different things. Everyone has different strengths. It is time we accept that and better align our educational institutions to encourage diversity and create better career paths for our young people.”

“Otherwise, we’ll continue to see the youth unemployment rate rise. Continue to see an increase in drop-outs and more young people in debt. And, will end up creating a huge problem for the Australian economy, as we will not have a strong workforce to support our country moving forwards.”

Via email

Victoria has become the first Australian state to allow euthanasia

THE Victorian State Parliament passed the government’s “voluntary assisted dying” laws on Wednesday morning, meaning the state will become the first in Australia to allow euthanasia.

After more than 100 hours of tense debate, the bill passed through the lower house just before midday.

Once it receives Royal Assent —considered a procedural formality — it will become law. The laws will come into force in 2019.

A second attempt to curb Victoria’s controversial Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill earlier failed. The attempt was brought on by opponent and lower house Liberal MP Robert Clark. It lost 46-37 votes just before question time on Wednesday.

But when the matter resumed late on Tuesday afternoon for what was expected to be a purely administrative exercise, Mr Clark issued an amendment for debate to “be deferred indefinitely”.

It was the second unsuccessful attempt to do so, after the first was proposed by deputy premier and euthanasia opponent James Merlino when the matter was previously in the lower house.


Want a nuclear reactor in your backyard? Step this way

Volunteer communities are being sought for Australia’s first small nuclear reactors, which developers hope could be in operation by 2030.

SMR Nuclear Technology has set a timeline for the development of Australia’s nuclear power ­industry, which would require a site to be identified within three years. Building nuclear power stations in Australia would require changes to state and federal laws and overcoming deep community objections. SMR director Robert Pritchard said the company had adopted an aggressive approach to nuclear development in ­Australia based on small reactors.

“We now realise that politicians will follow the community view,” Mr Pritchard said. “We have to get out and spend a year getting the community on side.” He said interest had been widespread.

In a submission to the Energy Security Board, Sydney-based SMR said small modular reactors had become a game-changer. “It would be imprudent not to factor SMR nuclear generation into Australia’s energy security plan at this time,” SMR said.

The company claims nuclear offers the prospect of safe, affordable energy free of greenhouse gas emissions. “Nuclear may be the only reliable, low-emissions source of electricity generation technology that is suitable for you, unless your area has an unlimited supply of water for hydro electric,” the SMR pitch says.

“The construction of any ­nuclear power plant is currently prohibited by Australian law but there is a growing realisation that maintaining the reliability and ­affordability of our electricity ­supply whilst lowering emissions will require all low-emissions technologies to be considered.”

SMR said small modular reactors were compatible with renewables, factory built and affordable.

It said despite the billions of dollars spent on renewables, Australia had not yet been successful in significantly reducing emissions from electricity generation.

The company said the most ­recent cost analysis by the UK ­Energy Options Network showed the levelled cost of electricity for nuclear was an average of $US60/MWh and as low as $US36/MWh. It said at the lowest level, new nuclear plants could be the lowest-cost generation available.

The construction and operation of a nuclear power plant in Australia is prohibited by two commonwealth acts: similar prohibitions exist in state law. SMR said these prohibitions were put in place at a time when there was no real appreciation of the contribution that modern, safe nuclear power plants could make to ­energy security, affordability and emissions reduction.


Gillard mocked by Yiannopoulos

Right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos has branded former prime minister Julia Gillard "a prick" as he prepares to embark on his speaking tour of Australia.

The self-described "one man wrecking crew" and "internet supervillian" hurled the insult - along with plenty of others towards feminists and those on the left-wing of politics - during his first news conference on Australian shores on Wednesday.

After attacking several Australian journalists for cancelling interviews with him, he admitted he was a fan of former Liberal prime minister Tony Abbott but not of Australia's first female prime minister.

"I liked that guy Tony Abbott, I thought he was cool because he was ballsy ... he was up against Julia Gillard who seemed like a complete prick," Yiannopoulos told reporters.

Yiannopoulos added that his experience of Australia was more cultural than political, saying he was a fan of the satirical TV comedy Kath and Kim and "what's his name who does Dame Edna....Barry Humphries".

But he still weighed into plenty of political issues, calling on federal politicians debating same-sex marriage laws not to let them pass because there is no constitutional protection for freedom of religious expression and conscience like in the US.

"And I say that as a married gay person," he said.

He also praised Australia's immigration system, described section 18 of the Racial Discrimination Act as "the worst law", and urged conservative politicians to realise they "have the high moral ground" and should use it to highlight free speech.

Yiannopoulos has sold 10,000 tickets for his speaking tour of Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, the Gold Coast and Adelaide.

The venues are being kept secret until 24 hours before he appears for the two-hour shows, with Yiannopoulos claiming if he reveals the locations journalists will "invent" stories about protests.

One Sydney venue has already been switched, with organisers claiming it was because of security and access issues.

The Greens have urged the Senate president to stop Yiannopoulos addressing politicians at parliament house in Canberra next week given his controversial views on women, transgender people and Muslims, as well as his links to neo-Nazis.

Yiannopoulos said he was "flattered" by the attempt to have him banned from parliament, but accused the Greens of "casting out the right of free speech".

"I just try to describe the world as I see it...wrapped up in good jokes," he said.

His speeches on university campuses in the US have sparked violent protests, and he was banned from Twitter last year amid a barrage of racist abuse directed at Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones.

The British-born, US-based commentator also lost a book deal after a video emerged in February in which he appeared to suggest it was ok for older men to sleep with young teenage boys.

Yiannopoulos branded Twitter's decision cowardly, and initially said his comments about same-sex relationships between men and boys were taken out of context before eventually issuing an apology.


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