Australia

Shock facts on Aboriginal people and Australian prisons: * The proportion of Indigenous prisoners has almost doubled in the 20 years since the Royal Commission. * In 2011, Aboriginal people made up 2.5% of the Australian population. They accounted for 46.2% of all youth in juvenile custody and 26.1% of total adult prison population. * In the NT, Aboriginal people made up 30.3% of the total population, 96.9% of the juvenile detention population and 82.3 % of the adult prison population.
About 90 people gathered in the Coburg library on June 6 to oppose the Moreland Council’s plans for a mini-CBD in the central Coburg shopping centre. The meeting was organised by the Save Coburg Residents Network which formed in January to oppose the council’s C123 planning amendment. Most residents only discovered the plans a couple of weeks before the deadline for public submissions. The plan includes a row of 10-storey buildings along both sides of Bell St on the western entrance to the shopping centre and 10-storey buildings along one side of Sydney Road to the north.
The eight-storey Rana Plaza collapsed in Dhaka, Bangladesh, during working hours on April 24. The official death toll stands at 1129. However, workers’ rights groups believe the number could be higher. Another 2000 workers were injured in the collapse, many losing limbs.
Australia's four biggest banks — the Commonwealth Bank, ANZ, NAB and Westpac — dubbed the "banksters", were condemned for crimes against people and the environment during a protest in Melbourne on June 29. Protesters marched to each bank, cordoned of the entrance to create a symbolic crime scene and read out a charge sheet. The action was called by the Socialist Alliance. Margarita Windisch, the Socialist Alliance candidate for the seat of Wills, argued the big banks, mines and energy companies should be nationalised and put under community control.
As the global financial crisis unfolded in October 2008, part of the Australian government’s response was to provide unlimited guarantees of bank deposits and wholesale funding. One result was that the big four banks got bigger while little was said of the $13.8 trillion in off-balance-sheet derivatives to which they were exposed. Derivatives operate in a global over-the-counter (OTC) market that is almost totally unregulated.
More than 100 people encircled by chalk rainbows greeted the weekly meeting of Newcastle city council on June 25. Chaired by Save Our Figs veteran Debbi Long, the rally heard from Greens councillors Michael Osborne and Therese Doyle; federal Labor candidate Sharon Claydon; Michelle Lancey from support service Parents, Friends and Family of Gays and Lesbians; and Miss La Bang, a flamboyantly dressed bridal drag queen representing the radical rainbow army.
Whatever their views on the relative merits (if any) of Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd, there were many people inside and outside the Labor party who breathed a sigh of relief when Rudd replaced Gillard as Labor leader and prime minister. The reason was simple. It offered the hope that Tony Abbott and his Liberal National Coalition would not have the landslide victory in the next election predicted by all opinion polls for many months. It offered the hope that even if Abbott won, perhaps he would not capture both houses of parliament.
About 100 people attended a public meeting jointly organised by Socialist Alliance and Socialist Alternative in Sydney on June 25. The meeting discussed how a united left would be in a stronger position to campaign against a conservative Coalition government. Speakers from both organisations, Pip Hinman and Diane Fields, raised ideas about how a possible united socialist party could organise.
About 100 people attended a public meeting jointly organised by Socialist Alliance and Socialist Alternative in Sydney on June 25. The meeting discussed how a united left would be in a stronger position to campaign against a conservative Coalition government. Speakers from both organisations, Pip Hinman and Dianne Fields, raised ideas about how a possible united socialist party could organise.
Stop Income Management in Playford released this open letter on June 17. *** We the undersigned call for the suspension of the federal government’s compulsory income management, expanded to Playford and four other sites as part of programs that began in July last year. We believe compulsory income management is humiliating, unfair, and unlikely to improve quality of life for recipients or their children. We note the lack of solid evidence that this policy achieves its goals, and fear this approach will be counterproductive.
The Refugee Action Coalition released this statement on June 21. *** Asylum seekers are angry and upset at the death of an Afghan asylum seeker in the Villawood detention centre on June 20. According to witnesses inside the detention centre, Serco guards left the man, named Ali, on the ground for almost an hour before calling an ambulance. He was taken from the centre around 7.30pm and died later that night.
Prominent human rights advocate, Julian Burnside, QC, was scathing in his assessment of both the major parties and mainstream media’s approach to asylum seekers in a public address at the invitation of the Townsville branch of Amnesty International on Jun 14. Burnside told the audience that “both parties are trading in human misery in order to win or retain power” and mainstream media have to stop spreading the message that asylum seekers are illegal.