Australia

One thousand farmers from across Victoria descended on Melbourne on June 3 to protest the state government’s North South Pipeline plan, which will bring 75 billion litres of water each year from the Goulburn River across the Great Dividing Range to Sugarloaf Reservoir. The pipeline is due to be completed by 2010.

On June 5, I joined a suburban World Environment Day campaigning stall organised by Resistance, a socialist youth group in Australia.

On June 2, while announcing the withdrawal of 550 Australian combat troops from Iraq, PM Kevin Rudd told parliament that all the arguments justifying the troop deployment in the first place were lies. This vindicates the anti-war movement’s position since the 2003 invasion.

The June 5 South Australian Labor government budget has been praised as “outstanding” by business groups and the corporate media. The budget reduces business taxes and funds extensive infrastructure development.

One of the less noticed consequences of the ALP’s pre-election promise to take a “meat axe” to the federal public service has been the impact of the cuts being made to cultural institutions.

The Victorian state government’s TAFE “reform” blueprint Securing our Future Economic Prosperity: Discussion Paper on Skills Reform, released in April, pitches for higher course fees and a Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS)-style payment system spread over a few years. Currently, TAFE students pay their course fees up front.

On June 2, the West Australian reported that WA Premier Alan Carpenter had called for a nationwide suspension of approvals for foods containing genetically modified (GM) crops until more health research was carried out. Carpenter said the national food regulator, Food Standards Australia New Zealand should not approve any more food for human consumption until independent scientific trials were conducted to better determine the safety of GM foods.

NSW Treasurer Michael Costa’s third budget, on June 3, included massive handouts to big business and a nasty backhander to workers.

Organised racism scored a win on May 27, when Camden Council voted unanimously to reject a proposal to build the 1200 student Al Amanah Islamic College in the south-western Sydney suburb.

Melbourne is drowning in cars and choking on petrol fumes. At the same time, the privatised public transport system is in serious crisis.

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