Australia

CAIRNS — State and federal ALP parliamentarians were sent to the rear of the Labour Day march and rally in Cairns, trailing behind about 1000 unionists and their supporters. The theme of the march was opposition to the Queensland government's privatisation plans. Far North Queensland region Electrical Trades Union organiser Stuart Traill called for the abolition of the Australian Building and Construction Commission, with its special interrogation powers, and other laws directed against workers in the construction industry.
MELBOURNE — At a mass meeting and protest rally outside Telstra’s main shop in Melbourne on May 5, Telstra workers voted unanimously to continue their campaign of strikes, bans and other disruptions, aimed at winning a new enterprise agreement and defeating Telstra’s attempts to discriminate against its unionised workers. Marching through the Melbourne CBD, the workers, who are members of the Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union (CEPU) communications division, demanded equal pay with the non-union workers in Telstra.
Thirty people gathered on May 6 at a meeting organised by the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) and the New South Wales Teachers Federation (NSWTF). The theme of the meeting was “Trade Unions and Climate Change: Challenges, Opportunities and Alliance Building”. Jeremy Kerbel, climate justice campaigner with the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union, outlined some of the LHMU’s climate change initiatives, such as calling hundreds of delegates in the lead-up to the 2009 Walk Against Warming and sponsoring the event.
The Socialist Alliance released the following statement in response to the developments in the anti-league tables campaign. *** The federal executive of the Australian Education Union (AEU) resolved on April 12 to impose a ban on implementing National Assessment Program — Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) tests, after damaging league tables were published in newspapers, based on 2009 NAPLAN data. Socialist Alliance supports the principled stand against league tables taken by teachers.
In late April, activists from the Intervention Rollback Action Group (IRAG) toured several communities affected by the NT intervention. In particular, they looked at how employment patterns had changed. The results were the same everywhere they went: This is as bad as it has ever been. It has been almost three years since the former federal Coalition government announced the intervention into remote Aboriginal communities (which has continued under Labor). It has been three years of broken promises and declining living conditions for those the intervention was supposed to help.
Clients at the Fairfield Migrant Resource Centre heard on April 29 that people in disadvantaged areas, such as Fairfield, could have their welfare benefits "quarantined" as early as next year. The public meeting at the centre featured Peter Davidson from the Australian Council of Social Services and Richard Downs, spokesperson for the Alyawarr people’s walk-off in the Northern Territory. The walk-off began in July 2009, protesting against the effects of welfare quarantining, and other NT intervention measures, in the community of Ampilatwatja.
The Queensland Teachers Union (QTU) remains defiant about its ban on conducting the NAPLAN national schools test, despite the state Labor government forcing it to go before the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC), said the April 29 Courier-Mail. The QIRC hearing took place on April 30, after the QTU refused to abide by a direction from the commission, a week earlier, to lift its boycott of administering the tests.
On April 20, 200 angry protesters shouted down state police minister Rob Johnson, as he tried to justify the anti-democratic “stop-and-search” laws. The proposed legislation allows police to conduct potentially intrusive body searches without suspicion of a crime. The laws would also allow the minister to make any space a “declared area”, which drastically increases police powers in that area. The crowd was also addressed by Greens MLC Giz Watson, Labor opposition police spokesperson Margaret Quirk and Dr David Indermaur from the Crime Research Centre.
As towns go, Orroroo in South Australia might seem small, but with 850 people it is one of the larger stops on the road between Broken Hill and Port Augusta. The countryside around it is marginal farmland. Only in the occasional year is there enough rain for a good crop of wheat, and in a process with well-researched links to global warming, the wet years have been getting fewer. It is ironic, therefore, that this district 250 kilometres north of Adelaide now seems destined to hurry climate change along.
Bolivia's World People's Summit on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth was radical, inspiring, uncompromising and exactly what was needed. Up to 30,000 people from six continents took part in the summit, which was held in the Bolivian city of Cochabamba from April 19 to 22. The huge oil spill from a BP rig in the Gulf of Mexico underscores the summit’s significance. About 800,000 litres of oil are spewing out a day. The company admits it may not be able to stop the leak for weeks — or even months.

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