Australia

When I met Kathir (not his real name), in the maximum security stage of Villawood Detention Centre just before Christmas, he had been on hunger strike for five weeks. The Tamil refugee from Sri Lanka was protesting against ASIO’s negative security clearance assessment of his asylum claim. This assessment — made entirely in secret — allows him to be held indefinitely.
Socialist Party member Anthony Main on January 11 became the second socialist elected to the City of Yarra council. The Labor mayor for Yarra, Jane Garrett, resigned after she was elected to state parliament in November. This left a vacancy on the council, which Main has filled. He was elected after a count back of votes tallied at the last council election. Main told Green Left Weekly that of the nine councillors, three are Greens, two are Labor, two are right-wing independents and, now, two are socialists.
Ten-year-old Tamil refugee Brindha faces deportation to Sri Lanka after being rejected by the immigration department, the January 3 Australian said. In March 2010, she told Green Left Weekly the International Organisation for Migration was treating refugees “like animals”. At the time, she was onboard the Jaya Lestari, a boat packed with 254 Tamil asylum seekers who had tried to reach Australia for protection from persecution.
Resistance members joined a protest march through Sydney on January 15 in support of whistle-blowing website Wikileaks. Rally goers chanted "Down with hypocrisy, we want democracy" and "Wikileaks is here to stay, we'll defend it all the way" as they marched from Town Hall to Hyde Park. Resistance member and Socialist Alliance NSW Legislative Council candidate Patrick Harrison said: "Wikileaks must be defended, governments can't be allowed to get away with lies — the people of the world need the truth."
The governments of Australia and Afghanistan have struck a deal to send back rejected Afghan asylum seekers against their will. Australia promised $5.8 million to the Afghan government of Hamid Karzai to “improve the passport system” and fund resettlement, but has been condemned for neglecting the interests of refugees themselves. Immigration minister Chris Bowen signed the deal with a minister of the corrupt Karzai regime on January 17. Afghan Minister for Refugees and Repatriation Dr Jamaher Anwary was in Sydney to take part in talks on “people smuggling”.
People who grew up in Queensland can tell you about the afternoon storms that heralded the start of summer. Like clockwork, shortly after the kids finished school, the clouds would start to gather. And then that strange quiet, before a great gust of wind would send leaves swirling and branches swaying. And then the rain would come. Huge droplets of rain that would smash down for maybe an hour, maybe more — and then it was over. Sure enough the next day it would come again — the monsoonal downpours that would cool everything down after a sweltering summer’s day.
Hundreds of protesters rallied in support of the whistleblowing website Wikileaks and its editor in chief, Julian Assange, in Sydney on January 15. Other rallies also took place in major cities around the world. The rally, which began at Sydney’s Town Hall, was addressed by several key speakers. The protesters later took to the streets for a loud and lively march, which went past the US consulate and ended at Hyde Park.
Carrying signs such as "Coal seam gas stinks", "Gas mining under Sydney Park - no fracking way!", and "Gutless government giving in to gas", over 400 local residents and supporters rallied on December 19 at Sydney Park to protest the NSW government's secretive approval for exploratory drilling for coal seam gas (CSG) mining in the inner-western suburb of St Peters.
Socialist Alliance statement The horrific boatwreck and deaths of more than 30 asylum seekers on December 15 on the rocks of Christmas Island reveals the inhumanity of the Gillard Labor government’s asylum seeker policy. This tragedy should be the trigger for the complete junking of the government’s current racist refugee policy. "We need a refugee policy based on human solidarity not one that encourages racism and xenophobia", said Sue Bolton a refugee rights activist and a member of the Socialist Alliance national executive.
It’s that time of the year again. It’s the festival of festivals to boost the profits of giant retail stores. The “Spirit of Christmas” demands to be fed with your maxed out credit card. There’s a new desperation to this seasonal message this year. The shoppers are not splurging like they should. A recent Westpac survey found that consumers would spend 34% less in 2010 than in 2009.

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