Australia

Greens councillor Linda Eisler moved a motion titled Support for Palestinian Territories at a Canterbury council meeting on February 26.
In the face of the Rudd government’s refusal to confirm whether federally-funded maternity leave will be included in the upcoming May budget, the Australian Council of Trade Unions has retreated from its previous stance calling for immediate implementation.
National accounts figures, released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on March 4, showed that the Australian economy contracted by 0.5% in the three months to December, despite the federal government’s $10.6 billion stimulus package, which was paid out to pensioners and families before Christmas.
When the federal industry minister Kim Carr announced the ALP government would give the car industry $6.2 billion in taxpayers’ money in November, he declared that it amounted to a “new beginning”.
On February 27, the federal government received a report on the review of the pensions system conducted by Jeff Harmer, the head of the families and community services department.
On February 18, 10 Australian economists criticised the Rudd government’s proposed carbon emissions trading scheme, and called for a science-based policy to achieve 25%-40% cuts in emissions by 2020. The statement is reprinted below.
On February 26, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd gave his first “report card” on the progress made on ending Aboriginal disadvantage, meeting a delayed election promise to do so every year at the opening of parliament. Rudd’s report, however, has been meet with criticism from Aboriginal activists and supporters.
Cairns Action for Sustainable Transport formed at the start of last year. CAST advocates a sustainable transport system — urban mass transit, regional rail and bus services and rail freight, all powered by renewable energy, and bikeway and pedestrian access networks. Green Left Weekly’s Jonathan Strauss spoke to CAST activists Renee Lees, Svargo Freitag and Stacey O’Brien about CAST’s aims.
“We have to cut down a lot of the clutter of anything, clutter of the work, focus product innovation, detail, all that is going on in the business but [we] just need to remove so much of the distraction to enable us to do that well”.
Two hundred workers and supporters protested outside the Pacific Brands factory in Wentworthville, Western Sydney on March 6 in response to the clothing company’s plans to slash 1850 jobs around the country.

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