Therese Sands, Executive Director, Leadership Team, People with Disability Australia, writes: On two occasions, there has been a rumour posted on Crikey about a “disability sector split” and questions over the whereabouts of the “disability report”. There is a great deal of inaccuracy in these comments that I would like to clarify for readers.

Firstly, this “tip” from  from late last year. The process by which the shadow report was informed was contrary to UN guidelines, which call for direct participation by people living the experience of disability (hence the catchcry of the CRPD: ‘nothing about us without us’).

Instead, and to appease federal and state governments, the gaggle of experts opted for a process where they would rely on government-funded disability services to provide the evidence of adherence to, progress toward or breaches of the CRPD.

In effect, that obliges those disability services to critically evaluate their own practices and also, potentially, to brown off their primary, if not sole source of income.”

And then this “tip” from this year. Or is it that the long, shameful process by which the federal government orchestrated a timid shadow report process, is in fact so timid that the authors are afraid of releasing the report, lest it upset anyone? Notably thin on the ground, of course, from the shadow report, if ever it should be released, are first-hand experiences of actual people living the experience of disability. Contrary to the imperatives of the CRPD, the shadow report process was designed to delimit and filter consumer views. You know, they might have something controversially unpleasant to say.”

Secondly, the clarifications to these inaccurate statements:

  • Shadow Reports are produced by Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) to provide an alternative “picture” to an official Government report provided to the UN on the situation of human rights in Australia. The “disability report”, as it is referred to in the Crikey posts, is no different. That is, it is a process conducted and owned by NGOs, not the Government. The Government does not have any control or conditions that they can put on the NGO Project Group that is coordinating the Shadow Report on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The Government has not ‘orchestrated’ the process or the draft report, and the NGO Project Group would vehemently oppose any attempts to do so.
  • There is no requirement for the CRPD Shadow Report to be produced prior to the Government Report. In fact, it is advantageous for the NGO Project Group to know the contents of the Government Report so that we can respond to these issues as required. The Australian Government report was submitting to the UN on 3 December 2010.  The UN CRPD Committee is unlikely to review Australia before 2012, so the NGO Project Group has been able to take more time to prepare our report.
  • The NGO Project Group includes representatives from organisations representing people with disability, disability advocacy organisations, disability discrimination legal centres, community legal centres and human rights organisations. There are no disability service providers on the NGO Project Group.  The majority of representatives on the NGO Project Group have disability themselves.
  • Our process is not ‘contrary to UN guidelines’.  The NGO Project Group has conducted consultations with people with disability, their representative organisations, disability advocacy organisations, legal centres and human rights groups.  Where disability service providers have requested to attend a consultation, we have generally accepted such requests.  However, there have only been a handful of representatives from disability service providers participating in all the consultations we conducted in each capital city in Australia.  The NGO Project Group is very clear that the Shadow Report is not about ‘service issues and practices’ but about the lived experience of people with disability.
  • There is no ‘split’ or ‘internal dissent’ amongst the NGO Project Group on issues.  People with disability and their representative and advocacy organisations do disagree on how the CRPD should be applied in particular areas, and where this has occurred, this has been documented across all consultations.  There has not been a ‘Sydney’ or ‘Melbourne’ position on any issue.  We are keen to respect any differences and to ensure we actually reflect these differences in the final report.
  • The NGO Project Group is now working on the second draft of the Shadow Report, which will be finalised in May 2011.  We expect  to release the final report for NGO endorsement later this year before it is submitted to the UN CRPD Committee.  The attached Communique provides more detail about the process, including members of the NGO Project Group.  This information is also available on the website

Thanks for the opportunity to correct the record!


Chris Virtue writes: Re. “Mysterious anti-piracy report to be released ‘this week’” (yesterday, item 15). I am always intrigued whenever someone tries to put a dollar value on the cost of piracy. Could it be argued that people only acquire pirate copies of music, movies and software that they had no intention of ever buying in the first place? If that is the case, and I believe that it is, then surely the real cost to the entertainment industry is virtually nothing?

Like many people, I occasionally produce and distribute compilation CDs from CDs that I have purchased. Once a recipient accused me of “depriving the musicians of income”. I asked him if he would have bought any of the music on the CD. He said no — he had never heard of most of the performers. I then asked him how I was ripping them off. He was unable to answer. Perhaps I was making him aware of these musicians and might kindle an interest?

That last point reminds me of an interview I heard back in the 90s with someone from the Grateful Dead on internet freedom. He said that their first reaction to the distribution of their music on the internet was to try to stop it. They soon realised that a) they were unable to stop it and b) it was helping to maintain interest in the band.


Vincent Burke writes: Re. “Radiation fears drive journos out of Japan, others vow to stay” (yesterday, item 3). I have nothing but admiration for journalists like Channel Nine’s Karl Stefanovic who have their own young families and yet willingly face the dangers of going into earthquake-prone places like Christchurch and Sendai to present us with highly personalised reports of the human tragedies.

It’s easy to be cynical about the chase for ratings, but I know for sure that I would not put myself at risk in this way.


Michelle Smith writes: Re. “Like cooking pancakes, don’t judge 7.30 on the first one” (Monday, item 15). My son, who is almost exactly seven and a half said last night:

“I get it — Kevin Rudd prime minister, Kerry O’Brian host; similar looks, similar voice, slightly different hair. Julia Gillard prime minister, Leigh Sales host; similar looks, similar hair, slightly different sounding voice.”

Global warming:

Tamas Calderwood writes: Re. “Australian Academy of Science: climate change to continue well after 2100” (yesterday, item 13).Having read the report from the Australian Academy of Science, I remain unconvinced.

While the Academy points out “the global average surface temperature has increased over the past century” it fails to explain why this happened in two equal warming spurts from 1910-1940 and 1975-1998, despite CO2 concentrations being higher in the latter period.

It argues that while 1998 was “an extremely warm year”, the warming trend has continued since. Yet it omits that since 98’ the warming trend of just 0.06C per decade is between four and thirteen times lower than the rate needed to hit its doomsday prediction of 2C to 7C warming by 2100.

It also dared not explain why temperatures recorded by instruments do not agree with temperature measurements from tree-rings, which therefore prompted scientists to “hide the decline” of the tree-ring data.  Even worse, it references that very “hide the decline” data in its notes to support its case.

The Academy bases all of its doomsday predictions of radical warming on computer models, despite these models having no skill in predicting past climate fluctuations and temperatures having increased by just 0.7C since 1860.

Finally, the Academy states that “the record of the distant past tells us that we cannot take a stable climate for granted”, but then argues that we must radically cut emissions to maintain a stable climate as if all natural variability has ceased.

If this is the best the Australian Academy of Science can do with 17 senior scientists over six months, then I despair for the institution of science.

Gavin Greenoak writes: I would like to thank Crikey profoundly for leading the journalistic field once again in its scientific coverage of the climate debate.  Balanced, rational, and above all honest, a little patch of good faith restored in the public domain I am sure I am not alone in being hugely grateful for. And perhaps it will grow!

All we need now is for our leaders to lead with a wisdom and stature worthy of this cause, to reduce our carbon emissions.

Punishing people with a tax is only one way of possibly achieving this.

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