Australia

A protest planned for October 28 at the Commonwealth Heads of Government summit (CHOGM) received wide media attention on August 23. This came after The West Australian ran an article under the inflammatory headline “Protesters vow to break CHOGM security lines”. A second article was titled “Rally would be test of new powers”.
A group of protesters chanted "Refugees are welcome here, free the refugees" outside the Hotel Grand Chancellor on August 26 while Prime Minister Julia Gillard addressed the Institute of Public Administration conference inside. The Socialist Alliance’s Jenny Forward told the rally: “With Pontville Detention Centre about to open down here, we want to keep the pressure up on the government to come up with a much more humane approach to refugee processing and resettlement.
About 100 people gathered on the steps of the Sydney Opera House on August 21 to show their support for the student movement in Chile, which is campaigning for free education. As protests and strikes for free education rock the country, more than two dozen high school students have launched a hunger strike until the Chilean government agrees to make public education free. A solidarity protest also took place in Brisbane’s West End on August 20 in support of the hunger strikers.
During the historic High Court challenge to the federal government’s so-called Malaysia solution, barrister Debbie Mortimer, representing refugees that face expulsion from Australia, said “fundamental rights were at stake” in the case. “Liberty … freedom of movement and bodily integrity and the freedom from assault,” she said in court on August 22. “The proposed conduct of the Commonwealth interferes with all three of those rights.” See also
There’s been much hoo-haa about cannabis possession lately in Western Australia, because now, if you are found with 10 or more grams of it,  you’re a criminal. As of August 1, just 10 grams — rather than the 30-gram amount under the previous Labor government — can land you a maximum $2000 fine or two years’ jail. Heavy, right? And to top it off, those caught will receive a nice little criminal record to go with it. Get caught with less than 10 grams and you are in for a mandatory counselling session. The new penalties have sparked an outcry from responsible users across the state.
The issue of marriage equality is steadily gaining traction among the Australia population. Seventy-five percent of Australians expect same-sex marriage to be made legal a 2011 Galaxy Poll found. The same research said 62% of Australians support marriage equality; the number is as high as 80% among younger people. The poll also said 78% of Australians believe there should be a conscience vote in parliament on the issue.
“A White House investigation … uncovered a culture of complacency, cost-cutting and systemic failures and companies unprepared to deal with accidents and consequences.” That was how ABC News on January 18 summed up the findings of the US inquiry into last year’s disaster at BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico. The explosion caused 11 deaths, and unleashed the worst accidental marine oil spill in history. About 4.9 million barrels of oil escaped over nearly three months before the well was capped.
Former Guantanamo Bay concentration camp detainee David Hicks says if he wins the Queensland Premier's Literary Award he will donate the proceeds to torture victims. “If I win this award, every cent will go to victims of torture,” Hicks told Network Ten TV on August 24. “I have never been a supporter of terrorism,” Hicks said. “I had no choice but to sign a piece of paper to get out of Guantanamo Bay,” the August 25 Courier-Mail reported.
More than 100 people demonstrated in Sydney on August 26 to mark the 45th anniversary of the Wave Hill walk-off, when Gurindji workers walked off the Wave Hill cattle station and launched an eight-year protest for land rights that helped define the modern Aboriginal land rights movement. The protest, organised by the Stop The Intervention Collective Sydney, took place outside the electorate office of federal Minister for Social Inclusion Tanya Plibersek. The rally called for an end to the discriminatory Northern Territory intervention.
A convoy of 30 trucks and cars loaded with drilling equipment and workers from energy company Woodside set out from Broome in northern Western Australia at 2.30am on August 26. It was heading for James Price Point. Two protesters locked onto two vehicles when the convoy arrived and another two locked onto a strong point on the road, halting the convoy. The action was the latest drama in a vibrant local campaign against a planned gas hub at James Price Point. A community blockade at the site has been in place for the past three months. See also:

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