Australia

MELBOURNE — Two hundred Tamils gathered outside Victoria’s parliament building on August 22 to highlight the plight of hundreds of thousands of Tamils displaced by fighting between the Sri Lankan army and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
PERTH — “The Cuban people work in the interests of humanity. They do not work only for themselves, but for the wellbeing of the people of the world”, Hilda Chacon, Asia-Pacific representative of the Cuban Federation of Workers, told an audience of around 30 at an Australia-Cuba Friendship Society function on August 18.
PERTH — With a state election set for September 6, the WA Labor government last week pledged a four-year extension of the current moratorium on GM (genetically modified) crops and a limit on GM canola trials to 10 hectares.
Around 150 women and men gathered on the lawns of the Mt Isa Civic Centre on August 19 to condemn Mayor John Moloney’s recent statement degrading women and to demand his resignation.
In a move eerily reminiscent of the lousy pay offers this year to NSW and Victorian public sector workers, the Queensland Labor government has offered staff at the Department of Main Roads a 3.25% per year increase for the three years of their current enterprise agreement. The offer is significantly below the official inflation rate in Brisbane of 5.1%, the highest of any capital city in Australia.
November 11 is Remembrance Day, marked each year to commemorate those who have died in war.
Low-income tenants in community housing will face greater hardship following a recent NSW government policy decision that means tenants will lose their rent assistance.
This month the federal Labor government announced a pilot seasonal worker scheme in the horticulture industry. Under the trial, up to 2500 visas will be available over three years for workers from Kiribati, Tonga, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea to work in Australia for up to seven out of any 12 months. Swan Hill in Victoria and Griffith in NSW, among other horticultural districts, are being considered for the pilot.
On July 28, the Sydney Morning Herald revealed internal state government documents stating that even if prices for petrol, parking and road tolls increased massively, Sydney’s car use would still climb beyond NSW government targets by 2016.
Two thousand striking Technical and Further Education (TAFE) teachers gathered at Melbourne’s Atheneum Theatre on August 20 to demand better pay and conditions. The last time Victorian TAFE teachers went on strike was under Jeff Kennett’s Coalition state government 13 years ago.

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