Australia

From June 30 to July 20, a group of Aboriginal rights and environment activists from New South Wales used a decommissioned red school bus to travel to Alice Springs. The purpose was to expose government and media silence over the appalling conditions and treatment of Aboriginal people living under the NT intervention. The passengers attended the Defending Indigenous Rights convergence in Alice Springs. They also visited town camps and remote communities to witness the effects of the intervention’s discriminatory measures such as income quarantining and compulsory land leases.
On July 15, 25 Justice Ride participants returned from their trip across Queensland to Alice Springs for the Defending Indigenous Rights convergence over July 6-9. The trip to Alice Springs took four days each way, so there was plenty of time for us to get to know each other, discuss local Aboriginal rights campaigns, such as those against black deaths in custody, and take in Australia’s beautiful and ancient landscape.
On July 17, the Adelaide-based Climate Emergency Action Network (CLEAN SA) hosted a forum in Port Augusta detailing the Zero Carbon Australia 2020 Stationary Energy Plan recently launched by Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE).
Chasing the Lollyman Presented by deBASE Productions State Library of Queensland, Brisbane “Move them along!”, referring to police strategies to deal with loitering Aboriginal people on Australia’s urban streets, was a phrase parodied to hilarity by Mark Sheppard during his acclaimed one-man show, Chasing the Lollyman, which ran at the State Library of Queensland during NAIDOC Week.
Victorian Electrical Trade Union (ETU) members have voted resoundingly to disaffiliate from the Australian Labor Party. In a ballot of ETU members on whether the union should remain affiliated to the ALP, 85% voted against affiliation. Nearly 44% of ETU members voted in the ballot conducted by the Australian Electoral Commission. This is the first time in many years a union has disaffiliated from the Labor Party, and possibly the first time a union has conducted a ballot of members on the issue.
Boomalli, one of Australia’s longest running Aboriginal artists’ co-operatives, is threatened with closure. Based in Sydney’s inner-city suburb of Leichhardt, Boomalli was set up in 1987 by Aboriginal artists to get their art recognised. Boomalli means “to strike, to make a mark, to fight back, to light up,” in the languages of the Kamilaroi, Wiradjuri and Bundjalung peoples of New South Wales.
PM Julia Gillard was supposed to launch Labor's new policy to tackle climate change on July 23. But in essence she merely restated the same old Labor climate policy: delay, delay and delay again. Gillard's speech was pages long, but her climate agenda can be summarised in just four words — more talk, less action. The core promise was that her government would create a "citizens assembly" to discuss options to deal with global warming. Perhaps the government will propose the ice caps and glaciers hold off from melting until Gillard's august assembly has concluded its deliberations.
Supporters of the Addison Road Centre in Marrickville met on July 15 to discuss a plan to sustainably deal with the centre’s waste and turn ARC into a leader in environmental sustainability. The centre was built in 1914 as an army barracks. The NSW Lands Department handed it over to the community in the late 1970s after a long struggle. For 30 years, ARC has provided a large community space in inner-western Sydney. A law preventing local councils from providing waste services to non-ratepayers has meant ARC faces a huge cost for waste removal.
Five hundred people rallied outside the Perth Supreme Court Gardens on July 11 to demand that the coronial investigation into Mr Ward's tragic death be reopened. Mr Ward, a respected Aboriginal elder, was literally cooked to death in the back of a prisoner van while being driven from Laverton to Kalgoorlie to face court for a traffic offence in January 2008. The coroner found that temperatures inside the van reached 47° Celsius and that metal surfaces in the van would have reached 56°C.
In her speech to the National Press Club on July 15, Prime Minister Julia Gillard threw down the gauntlet to the labour movement. In a speech outlining the plans for a second-term Labor government, Gillard promised to run a regime of “reforms” that would entrench greater competition and privatisation. There should remain little doubt about Gillard’s intentions. Her speech was aimed directly at the wallets of big business.

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