Australia

Farmers in Liverpool Plains, south of Tamworth, are taking on BHP Billiton’s drive for black gold.
A 150-strong community meeting on July 29 called on the NSW government to urgently re-open the region’s only maternity unit, at Blue Mountains Hospital in Katoomba.
Twenty people discussed the possibilities and challenges for Cuba, socialism and the environment following a screening of the documentary Power of Community — How Cuba Survived Peak Oil at Gecko House in Currumbin on July 27.
WOLLONGONG — More than 200 workers rallied on July 30 as part of actions across NSW in support of all public sector workers currently negotiating with the NSW government over pay and conditions.
NEWCASTLE — “The worst ALP government is as bad as the best Liberal government”, Kevin Maher, Newcastle and Central Coast secretary of the Australian Workers Union, told a public sector pay rally on July 30. About 60 AWU unionists, as well as members of services, teachers and public service unions, rallied outside the office of MP for the Hunter and NSW treasurer Michael Costa.
Remember the “wealth effect”? Rapidly rising housing and share prices made people feel wealthy and so they borrowed big-time and became big-time spenders, and this supposedly makes for an endless economic boom. Just about every capitalist economist was singing from that cheery song sheet — until recently.
SYDNEY — A speakout and concert is being organised for August 16 to unite campaigns for Aboriginal rights in Australia.
Refugee activists have welcomed the July 29 announcement by federal immigration minister Chris Evans to significantly dismantle Australia’s policy of mandatorily detaining refugees. They noted, however, that while the changes represent an important victory for the movement for refugee rights, the struggle is not yet over.
The Reverend Helen Elizabeth Cox died on July 15 after a short illness in hospital in Melbourne. A service was held on July 21 at Doncaster East Uniting Church, and was attended by her extended family, friends and the many people touched by her ministries.
Former PM John Howard’s blandly named Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) remains under PM Kevin Rudd. It is prosecuting Victorian vice-president of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), Noel Washington, who faces six months’ jail for not answering questions about a union meeting.
Howes doesn't speak for me I am an Australian Workers Union member and totally disagree with Howes' article "Give workers a voice in climate change solutions" in the July 24 Age, where he advocates free emissions trading permits for individual
Millions of Australian workers have faced the worst losses in their superannuation since 1992. Super funds have shown losses of on average 6.4% for the last financial year, with some showing losses as high as 15%, putting workers’ retirement funds in jeopardy.
The truck drivers’ national transport shutdown came to an end on July 30, with the Transport Workers Union (TWU) failing to endorse the action and calling on frustrated drivers to instead lobby the federal government.
The fight to keep NSW electricity in public hands must and can be won. If Premier Morris Iemma and treasurer Michael Costa get away with their plan to sell off the state’s electricity generation capacity and its retail arms, working people and the community will get a dearer, less reliable service, and the chances of the state moving to a sustainable energy policy will be reduced to zero.
At a “Rally for the River” on August 1, some 2000 people gathered on the steps of state parliament to voice concerns about the plight of the Murray River’s Lower Lakes and the lack of action by state and federal politicians to address the crisis.
The export of coal is an important issue for climate campaigners to consider. Australia exports more carbon dioxide in the form of coal than its entire domestic emissions of the gas.

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