Australia

Experts say a statewide ban on synthetic drugs could create a black market for the resale of the substances. New South Wales Fair Trading has failed to provide an industry buy-back scheme, or propose a means of safely and legally disposing of the products for the tobacconists, service stations and adult shops which stock the drugs. Last month the death of 17-year-old student Henry Kwan, who plunged from his parents' balcony in Kilarra in Sydney after taking a synthetic substitute for LSD which led him to believe he could fly, ignited fears over the safety of the substances.
The refugee “debate” in Australian media and politics is rarely concerned about facts or evidence. Tony Abbott can call refugees “illegal” and be quoted uncritically in the news. Bob Carr can name himself a “humanitarian” in national media and keep a straight face. Headlines like “Swamped by boatpeople” are so common that the public eye just glazes over and accepts it as the truth.
The Refugee Action Coalition released this statement on July 6. *** The pilot of an Etihad airliner at Sydney thwarted government attempts to deport an Egyptian asylum seeker on July 5, when the pilot asked for the protesting asylum seeker to be taken off the plane. Urgent attempts are now being made to get a stay on his removal because of the military coup in Egypt, and the changed political situation there.
“Australia is at a crossroads,” said Liam Flenady, Socialist Alliance candidate for Griffith on July 5. “One path leads to more austerity, more oppression of minorities, more environmental destruction; the other leads to a just, equal and sustainable society. There is no middle path. “We require a fundamental change to our economic and political system to build the future we need.” Flenady has pledged to put a different kind of politics on the agenda in Griffith in the upcoming federal election, one that puts the needs of the 99% in front of the greed of the wealthy 1%.
Former US marine and anti-war activist Vincent Emanuele is making his second speaking tour of Australia during June and July. A member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, Emanuele is speaking to audiences about the US military machine. At a meeting in Melbourne where Emanuele spoke on July 4, the film On the Bridge was also screened. The film is a series of interviews with Iraq war veterans opposed to the war, including Emanuele.
Reading the polls makes it clear that Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is a hit. Overnight, Rudd's return has turned the tables for Labor. From staring down electoral annihilation, Labor is now on par with Liberal leader Tony Abbott. The election is a contest once again. “Kevin07” was a popular campaign that gained mainstream traction among Australia’s youth in the 2007 federal elections. Even though “Kevin13” lacks the same ring, his return has marked clear moves by Rudd to regain his attraction to young voters.
Protestors called for more privacy protection at rallies held around Australia on July 6 in response to the revelations that US’s National Security Agency (NSA) has been spying on the communications of most internet users. Sydney rally organiser Matt Watt from the Support Assange and WikiLeaks Coalition said: “We demand freedom for Edward Snowden, a courageous whistleblower who revealed the wrongdoings by the NSA.
A social crisis is developing throughout suburban Australia. Asylum seekers on short-term bridging visas are being dumped in the community without the right to work, study or receive adequate welfare. Already traumatised by the situations they are fleeing, dangerous journeys and immigration detention, those on bridging visas face housing stress, food insecurity, alienation and boredom and a return to detention when their bridging visas expire. Processing of asylum claims is on hold and the threat of deportation is constant.
After fleeing and risking everything to seek asylum under Australia's laws, Iranian refugees now face being singled out and persecuted once again. This time, by the Australian Labor government. New Prime Minister Kevin Rudd labelled “a whole bunch of people” as “economic migrants” who “comport as refugees”. Foreign affairs minister Bob Carr said boat arrivals are “increasingly not people fleeing persecution” because they are from “majority religious and ethnic groups”.
Only a month after Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett announced the government would push for the acquisition of James Price Point for future gas and petroleum projects, Shell Petroleum defended their proposal to build a $12 billion floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant off the Kimberley coast. This follows Woodside Petroleum’s decision to abort plans to build a $40 billion onshore gas hub after concluding that it was not economically viable. Instead it will use Shell’s technology to develop its own offshore floating LNG plant.
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.