Australia

On June 30, 31 mainly young activists set off from around NSW in an old converted school bus, for the “Indigenous Solidarity Rides” heading to an Aboriginal rights convergence in Alice Springs over July 6-11. At the same time, 25 activists from Brisbane headed to the convergence, also in a bus, as part of the “Justice Ride”.
Brisbane Murri activist and Socialist Alliance Senate candidate Sam Watson made the following comments on July 8 on the anti-refugee policies of the two major parties. * * * PM Julia Gillard and opposition leader Tony Abbott are involved in a headlong race to the bottom of the political pile with their policies on asylum seekers. There is no sign of humanity, no compassion, no generosity of spirit.
Socialist Alliance Senate candidate for the upcoming federal election, Sharon Firebrace, has dismissed Labor’s proposal, to send asylum seekers to an off-shore processing centre in Dili, as “another chapter in our country’s racist shame". Ms Firebrace, who founded the Aboriginal Genocide Centre, plans to make both Northern Territory Intervention measures and refugee rights a key part of her election platform.
Last updated July 7: What a difference a month and a change of leadership makes. In late May this year Julia Gillard said that Liberal-National opposition leader Tony Abbott's call for a return to the "Pacific solution" on refugees was just a "slogan not a solution" but now she's PM (with the blessing of mining giants BHP, Rio Tinto and Xstrata), it has once again become a "solution".
In 2006, the Victorian government committed to introducing a “landmark” Climate Change Bill. At this time, there was growing momentum around the world for legislation that would cut greenhouse gas emissions. This momentum was largely in response to the glacial pace of the international climate change negotiations.
In her opening remarks as Australia’s new prime minister, Julia Gillard said she believed climate change was real and was caused by human activity. What she left unsaid was that she doesn’t believe in doing much to stop it. Former PM Kevin Rudd’s rapid nosedive in the opinion polls coincided with Labor’s April decision to dump its proposed emissions trading scheme until 2013. The scheme itself was radically flawed, but many people still associated it with action on climate change. More than with any other issue, Labor was punished for its perceived backflip on climate.
From the standpoint of conventional political analysis, Julia Gillard has had a spectacular start to her reign as prime minister. She wrested the position from Kevin Rudd with minimal bloodshed, announced she was going to neutralise the mining tax controversy by negotiating with the mining billionaires and was rewarded with a dramatic turnaround in the opinion polls.
Thirty one Rohingya refugees in a detention centre in Darwin ended their 12-day hunger strike on June 25. They were protesting against the Australian government’s delay in processing their asylum claims, an average of nine months after their boats’ interception.
Leichhardt Friends of Hebron can be very proud of the Festival of Friendship for Hebron it held over June 25-26. The event raised more than $5000 for a kindergarten in the impoverished village of Um al Khair in the South Hebron hills. It also won a significant political victory over the ban the previous Leichhardt Council administration placed on a Palestinian photo exhibition two years earlier.
Deaths in Custody Watch Committee (Western AAustralia) spokesperson, Marc Newhouse today announced a series of protest actions to be held following the Director of Public Prosecutions’ decision not to lay criminal charges against any of the parties responsible for the death in custody of Mr Ward in 2008. Mr Ward, an Aboriginal elder, died while being transported hundreds of kilometres across the WA Goldfields in a privately-operated prison van with faulty air conditioning.

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