Julian Assange cleared in UN ruling - and more 10am Zedlines

Julian Assange has been ruled to be arbitrarily detained in contravention of international agreements signed by the UK. Image Source: WikiCommons

One in six Brisbane offices empty

One in six Brisbane offices are sitting empty and a rate more than double that of Sydney, according to a new report from the Property Council of Australia for the six months to January showing vacancies at 14.9 percent.

The report shows a worsening of the 14.7 rate recorded in 2014 when Brisbane had the worst office vacancy rates since the 1990s recession.

The Property Council’s Queensland executive director Chris Mountford said he expects a further spike in 2016, with more new office buildings coming online, but a slow recovery was expected after that.

Protesters set to gather over high court decision to deport asylum seekers

Protesters will descend on the Department of Immigration offices in Brisbane today opposing the high court decision to deport 267 asylum seekers, including 72 children, to Nauru.

Anglican Dean of Brisbane Dr Peter Catt will address the protest, following his pledge to offer sanctuary to asylum seekers and stand between them and authorities.

The rally will commence at 12 midday and follows large protests last night in capital cities and regional centres around Australia.

Federal government set to use terrorism to justify crackdown on humanitarian migration

A leaked cabinet document shows the federal government will use terrorism to justify a further crackdown on Australia’s humanitarian migration program, in sweeping changes that will make it harder to gain permanent residency and increase monitoring of migrants.

The government will subject the 12,000 refugees accepted from Syria and Iraq to more stringent character, identity and security checks than European countries, and will determine the makeup of migrant intakes minimise the risk of “extremist infiltration”.

The proposals also include plans to extend tougher screening of Syrian migrant intakes to the entire migrant program.

Commander of Australian Border Force set to be questioned over people smuggling payments

The operational commander of Australian Border Force will face questions today in Senate regarding allegations the Australian Government paid Indonesian people smugglers to turn their boats around.

The six crew members aboard the Indonesian ship allege an Australian official paid them between $5000 and $6000 each in American dollars to turn their vessel back to Indonesia.

Professor of international law at the University of Sydney, Ben Saul, said Australia has no international legal right to unilaterally engage in people smuggling against other countries to prevent people smuggling in Australia.

Julian Assange cleared in UN ruling

A United Nations panel has found that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been arbitrarily detained in contravention of international agreements signed by the UK.

The UN working group which examines arbitrary detention will officially release its findings tonight however the decision would have no impact on UK law and won’t overrule the European arrest warrant compelling him to face justice in Sweden.

Assange has said he wants his Australian passport returned and his arrest warrant dropped if the UN body ruled in his favour.

Athens protests over pension reform broken up by police

Greek riot police have used tear gas on protesters at a mass rally in Athens against proposed pension reforms imposed by the country’s creditors.

About 50,000 Greeks marched on the parliament demanding that the reforms, which include an increase in the retirement age and the phasing out of a pension benefit by 2019, be scrapped.

The protest came amid a 24-hour strike against a package of bailout reform agreed-to by the SYRIZA government which was initially elected on an anti-austerity platform.