Australia

"CBA: We put profit ahead of people", was the headline emblazoned on the front page of the November 20 Sydney Morning Herald. The paper was reporting on the first day of the final round of hearings of the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry, in which the CEOs of the Big Four banks were being grilled about the banking scandals that have outraged the Australian community over the past year.

Another stolen generation looks certain to be created in New South Wales after the state Coalition government passed an adoption law that makes it easier for foster parents to adopt a child who they have had under care for less than two years.

The NSW Coalition government's privatisation of the Northern Beaches Hospital on the city's upper North Shore has created a crisis situation with the cancellation of elective surgery and doctors threatening to strike over staff shortages and lack of vital medical supplies.

The Northern Territory Labor government was swept into power in 2016 promising a moratorium on horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. However, with the lifting of the moratorium in April, the NT government is now moving to open up 51% of the Territory to the risky and highly controversial practice.

The Retail and Fast Food Workers Union (RAFFWU) was formed in late 2016 as a response to growing dissatisfaction among retail workers with the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA). The Labor right-controlled SDA is notorious for negotiating enterprise bargaining agreements (EBAs) that contain below award wages and eroding the rights and conditions of workers. 

Inaction on global warming is heating not only the planet, but also the mood of residents who visited Labor MPs offices in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

Hundreds of primary and secondary students went on strike and protested at Parliament House on November 28 calling for serious action on climate change. This was followed by thousands of students taking to the streets of about 30 cities and towns across Australia as part of the Student Strike 4 Climate Action on November 30.

Members of Sydney's Kurdish community marched through the city on November 18 to demand freedom for Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan, who has been held in solitary confinement in a Turkish prison since 1999.

Mary Merkenich together with colleagues from Highvale Secondary College at the Teachers for Refugees protest in Melbourne on November 20.

Teachers, education support staff and even some principals walked off government and private schools across Victoria and assembled at the State Library on November 20, in support of refugees currently being detained on Manus Island and Nauru. A similar protest was held in Brisbane that same day.

On November 9 1989, the Berlin Wall fell, marking what many hoped would be a new era of cooperation and openness across borders. Thirty years later, the opposite seems to have happened.

Edifices of fear, both real and imaginary, are being constructed everywhere fuelling a rise in xenophobia and creating a far more dangerous walled world for refugees fleeing for safety, writes European Alternatives.

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