Australia

Two–and–a–half years after the suicide of Chinchilla farmer and Lock the Gate activist George Bender, who had led a decade long campaign against fracking, on May 11 Linc Energy was fined a record $4.5 million for causing serious environmental harm at its underground coal gasification plant on Queensland's western Darling Downs.

Labor Opposition leader Bill Shorten delivered his budget reply speech on May 10, promising to deliver a “bigger, better and fairer tax cut for 10 million working Australians”.

Protesters outside the NT Labor Party conference

Divisions in the Northern Territory Labor Party were on show on May 12 as the party’s annual conference voted to ban fracking across the territory, weeks after Chief Minister Michael Gunner lifted a moratorium on the practice. The vote was a vindication for the more than 200 protesters who gathered outside. 

The season of zonked flies
Trapped behind windowpanes
They fall into coffee cups
Loll in left over gravy on dinner plates
A last indulgence on dessert platters
Rolling over, legs up
Not dead yet but on the way
Gone brutally bonkers
No wriggling out of here

The recently re-published classic history of radical politics in Queensland, The Red North: The Popular Front in North Queensland, was launched at a series of forums in Melbourne, Brisbane and Cairns over the past month, Jim McIlroy reports.

Blackmail charges brought against Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMMEU) leaders John Setka and Shaun Reardon were dropped by Victorian prosecutors on May 16 in a major embarrassment for the federal government’s trade union royal commission, police and prosecutors.

Green Left Weekly asked unionists why they are in a union and what unions mean to them.

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The formation of Victorian Socialists is continuing to generate excitement among progressives in Victoria, with about 600 people attending the election campaign launch in Collingwood on May 12.

Organisers anticipated about 300 people would attend, but the venue was soon filled to capacity and about 200 people were relocated to the building’s basement. The three candidates and other speakers had to give their speeches twice!

Farmers, businessmen and Traditional Owners from north-west NSW travelled to Adelaide on May 3 to tell Santos and its shareholders at the company AGM it will face a rural uprising if it proceeds with the Narrabri coal seam gasfield.

They were joined by South Australian locals who oppose Santos’s plans to drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight, telling Santos it has “No Licence to Drill” because these projects do not have community support.

Staff and employers of the Murdoch University Student Guild have reached an in-principle agreement in the latest round of bargaining after four weeks of negotiations.

Despite the short time frame, the negotiation team for the workers, which constituted an NTEU Industrial Officer and two Murdoch Guild staff members, were able to keep members in the loop throughout the entire process.

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