Australia

Under the guise of “law and order” — to protect the community from “criminal bikie gangs” and “pedophiles” — Queensland Premier Campbell Newman has rushed through several new laws. These are the Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment Act, Tattoo Parlours Act, Criminal Law Amendment Act and Dangerous Sex Offenders Act. Together with laws relating to the G20, and, amendments to industrial legislation, these laws have implications for the civil rights of the wider community.
Ninety two percent of Indigenous languages are fading or extinct. Australia has suffered the largest and most rapid known loss of languages and past government policies have been largely to blame. This is clearly outlined in the Our Land: Our Languages report which was released by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs late last year.
Not just the hall but the verandah of the Serbian Centre was packed when more than 300 people came to the first public meeting of Aquis Aware, a group formed in response to the proposed Aquis casino in one of the city’s beachside suburbs, Yorkeys Knob. The mega-resort would have nine hotels and big entertainment and sports venues. An environmental impact statement for the project has not been tabled, so details of the Aquis proposal are murky. But speakers were able to address many of the concerns of those present, most of who were opposed to or questioned the proposed development.
About 2000 people, including at least 1000 motorcyclists, attended a “ride and rally” in Brisbane on December 1. This was part of a series of rallies across the country held to protest against Queensland's anti-democratic laws that target bikers. Bikers from around Brisbane and nearby regional centres converged on state parliament where they were welcomed by supporters. The rally called for the new laws to be scrapped. Many recreational riders say they have been unfairly targeted and harassed by police since the laws were introduced.
This statement was released by the Queensland Civil Liberties Network on November 30. *** A packed meeting of more than 70 concerned citizens and representatives from community organisations founded a new campaigning organisation at Brisbane's Electrical Trades Union hall on November 27, responding to what organisers called "an unprecedented crackdown on civil liberties in Queensland".

As a mother and her baby fight to avoid the “rat-infested” Nauru refugee camp, a Fairfax-Nielsen poll showed half of Australian voters disapprove of the Coalition government's refugee policy. The poll also showed Prime Minister Tony Abbott has come to the end of what has been described as the shortest “honeymoon period” of a PM in history. Abbott's popularity took an unprecedented dive — with a personal approval rating of 1%, believed to be fuelled by his attitude to the “diplomatic stand-off” with Indonesia over substantial spying allegations.

Finally, Aussie pride is back after a dominant display in a crucial international contest. Sure, our side came in for criticism for aggressive bullying and disrespectful behaviour towards the opposition, but you can't argue with results. True, this was nothing so crucial to the fate of humanity as an Ashes Test. It was merely the United Nations Warsaw climate talks that ended on November 23 with no agreement for rich nations to severely cut the greenhouse emissions fuelling climate change or offer compensation to poor nations bearing the brunt of its increasingly devastating effects.
Peter Boyle interviewed Florencia Melgar, a former SBS journalist about her research into Australia's involvement in the 1973 military coup against the progressive government of Salvador Allende in Chile. Watch the full interview here. ***
National Union of Workers (NUW) members went on strike at the Sheridan sheet warehouse in Port Adelaide on November 25. The NUW have been bargaining with the company as part of a new enterprise agreement. Workers at the Adelaide warehouse are upset they receive $160 a week less than workers in the Victorian sites doing the same job. Workers also want more control over rosters so they can plan to spend time with their families.
Members of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) at Murdoch University have voted to call off industrial action and support a new enterprise agreement with the university. The agreement was offered as union members were preparing to go on strike on November 20. Initially, the university had refused a pay rise of more than 4% over the next two years. This would have been well below inflation and effectively a pay cut.
The formation of the Labor Party — created as part of a global movement to form mass workers’ parties in the 1890’s — differed markedly from the formation of social democratic parties in mainland Europe. The tendency in these countries was for the formation of workers’ political parties to precede the formation of a mass union movement which the parties then encouraged.
Australian environmentalists welcomed the October announcement that mining giant BHP was abandoning its plans for a coal export rail and port development at Abbot Point in Queensland. However, the company is simultaneously involved in a giant new coal export development on Kalimantan in Indonesia.