Australia

Some unionists are angry that despite all the warnings about the climate emergency and Australia’s high per capita greenhouse gas emissions, the Victorian ALP government has given the go-ahead to a $750 million 400 megawatt brown coal power station in the Latrobe Valley.
Postal workers protested outside Australia Post HQ on June 25 to voice their opposition to AP’s policy of hiring new employees on lower pay rates and the splitting up their jobs.
Each year, National Aboriginal and Islander Day of Observance Committee (NAIDOC) week, July 6-13, celebrates Indigenous history and culture, with events taking place in regional and urban places. Organisers say a record number of people took place this year.
Right at the beginning of his draft report on climate change, Professor Ross Garnaut points out that global warming can’t be beaten unless an international “prisoner’s dilemma” gets resolved.
According to the 2006 census, the most commonly spoken language in Sydney households, after English, is Arabic. In Australia as a whole, Arabic is the fifth most commonly spoken language.
Activists have asked the Federal Court to rule that the recently gazetted NSW regulation declaring that people can be fined $5500 for “annoying” behaviour during July, but especially during the pope’s World Youth Day (WYD) visit, be declared invalid. The case was heard on July 11.
Pope Benedict XVI is coming to town. Sydney is once again to be subject to a special police regime as this saintly, celibate white man bravely preaches the joys of sexual abstinence in the very Circus Maximus of Sin City (Randwick race course).
One thousand Tamils gathered in Federation Square on July 5 for Pongu Thamil (Tamil upsurge). The event included traditional Tamil dancing, music and speeches on the Tamil people’s struggle for self-determination in Sri Lanka.
On July 8, the Australian Fair Pay Commission (AFPC) granted a pay rise of $21.66 per week to around 1.3 million workers earning the standard federal minimum wage. This 4.15% rise translates into an hourly increase of 57 cents. Last July, the minimum wage was increased by only $10.26.
The following letter was sent last week to the secretaries of Unions NSW and unions covering the NSW power industry.
What’s the difference between a liberation movement and a terrorist organisation?
On July 8, 600 NSW teachers and principals gathered outside the Department of Education to protest against the state ALP government’s attacks on teacher transfer rights.
On May 5, Victorian Premier John Brumby announced that a deal had been struck with the Australian Education Union that would end the union’s 16-month-long industrial campaign. Victorian state school teachers had campaigned to secure better working conditions and pay rises and to reduce contract teaching.
The campaign to stop the damming of the Franklin River in Tasmania’s south-west wilderness resulted in a historic victory for the environment movement in 1983. More than 1000 people came together on July 1 to mark the 25th anniversary of this victory in a night of celebration at the Grand Chancellor’s Federation Ballroom.
The Rudd government has asked the Productivity Commission to examine the economic, productive and social benefits of introducing a national paid maternity leave scheme. The Commission has heard submissions from a range of unions, business and community groups, and is due to release its report in February, 2009.
Australia is a leading exporter of coal, shipping millions of tonnes every year around the globe. It was appropriate, therefore, that the annual environmental conference, Students of Sustainability (SoS), was this year held in the world’s coal export capital: Newcastle.

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