Australia

Thirty people gathered on May 6 at a meeting organised by the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) and the New South Wales Teachers Federation (NSWTF). The theme of the meeting was “Trade Unions and Climate Change: Challenges, Opportunities and Alliance Building”. Jeremy Kerbel, climate justice campaigner with the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union, outlined some of the LHMU’s climate change initiatives, such as calling hundreds of delegates in the lead-up to the 2009 Walk Against Warming and sponsoring the event.
The conspicuous presence of barbed wire in Australian immigration detention centres, such as Rudd’s newly re-opened Curtin detention centre, is a reminder of the inhuman pedigree of these grim despair factories. It is no accident that barbed wire — or the “devil’s rope” as the First Nations people of North America called it — has accompanied and facilitated many of the worst crimes against humanity of the modern era.
The Socialist Alliance released the following statement in response to the developments in the anti-league tables campaign. *** The federal executive of the Australian Education Union (AEU) resolved on April 12 to impose a ban on implementing National Assessment Program — Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) tests, after damaging league tables were published in newspapers, based on 2009 NAPLAN data. Socialist Alliance supports the principled stand against league tables taken by teachers.
In late April, activists from the Intervention Rollback Action Group (IRAG) toured several communities affected by the NT intervention. In particular, they looked at how employment patterns had changed. The results were the same everywhere they went: This is as bad as it has ever been. It has been almost three years since the former federal Coalition government announced the intervention into remote Aboriginal communities (which has continued under Labor). It has been three years of broken promises and declining living conditions for those the intervention was supposed to help.
The tensions between staff and management in The Wilderness Society (TWS) have been building for years. Beginning as a small activist organisation that battled to save the Franklin Dam and won, it has evolved into a large, professional organisation with 45,000 financial members, campaign centres in most capital cities, and 150 paid staff.
Victoria’s “spending bonanza”, as the mainstream media called it, was announced on May 4. Being an election year, the state budget was heavy with promises of cash injections for health care, housing, education and public transport. However, much of the spending announced will be to fund a big increase in “cops on the beat”, a natural step given the recent strengthening of police stop-and-search powers and the accompanying corporate media fear campaign.
The number of cars using Brisbane’s first road tunnel, which opened on March 18, has remained far below the target projected by the Brisbane City Council. After an initial toll-free period, when 65,000 vehicles used the tunnel daily, the usage plunged to a daily average of only 21,178 vehicles after a discounted toll was introduced. The drop in patronage has forced the tunnel operators, River City Motorways, to extend the discounted toll period by another seven weeks in an attempt to boost vehicle numbers.
The Queensland Teachers Union (QTU) remains defiant about its ban on conducting the NAPLAN national schools test, despite the state Labor government forcing it to go before the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC), said the April 29 Courier-Mail. The QIRC hearing took place on April 30, after the QTU refused to abide by a direction from the commission, a week earlier, to lift its boycott of administering the tests.
As towns go, Orroroo in South Australia might seem small, but with 850 people it is one of the larger stops on the road between Broken Hill and Port Augusta. The countryside around it is marginal farmland. Only in the occasional year is there enough rain for a good crop of wheat, and in a process with well-researched links to global warming, the wet years have been getting fewer. It is ironic, therefore, that this district 250 kilometres north of Adelaide now seems destined to hurry climate change along.
Clients at the Fairfield Migrant Resource Centre heard on April 29 that people in disadvantaged areas, such as Fairfield, could have their welfare benefits "quarantined" as early as next year. The public meeting at the centre featured Peter Davidson from the Australian Council of Social Services and Richard Downs, spokesperson for the Alyawarr people’s walk-off in the Northern Territory. The walk-off began in July 2009, protesting against the effects of welfare quarantining, and other NT intervention measures, in the community of Ampilatwatja.

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