Australia

The National Rugby League (NRL) establishment is in damage control once again after one of the game's stars took a courageous stand against racism in the sport. Star centre Timana Tahu quit the New South Wales State of Origin team on June 11 in protest against racism directed towards an opponent. NSW assistant coach Andrew Johns described Queensland centre Greg Inglis, an Aboriginal man, as a “black cunt” in his training instructions to the team, and has been accused of making racist remarks about other Queensland players.
Andrew John Brent is an activist with Community Action Against Homophobia (CAAH). He recently visited Villawood dentention centre to speak with Leela, a queer Tamil refugee from Sri Lanka. This is his story. More information on the campaign to free queer refugees can be found at the CAAH website. ***
Attempts by Tahmoor mineworkers to negotiate with mining giant Xstrata have collapsed yet again after the company refused to budge during mediated talks in May. For 20 months, the Construction, Forestry, Mining, Energy Union (CFMEU), has been trying to negotiate an agreement.
Large mining companies enjoyed a huge profit margin of 46.1% in 2008/9, according to figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) on May 28. The mining sector as a whole has a profit margin of 37.1%, making it the most profitable sector in the economy, with professional and scientific services second (24.6%) and private health care third (21.5%).
Kiama Municipal Council will sign an open letter to the NSW government calling for no new coal-fired power stations. Greenpeace, who initiated the letter campaign, says the NSW government plans to approve two new coal power stations in Lithgow and the Hunter Valley. If built, they would spew over 20 million tonnes of greenhouse pollution into the atmosphere each year. Kiama Deputy Mayor, and Greens candidate for Gilmore, Ben van der Wijngaart moved the resolution, which was carried only after Mayor Sandra McCarthy, an independent, used her casting vote in favour.
Late last year Western Australian artist Nathalie Haymann exhibited thirty-six artworks based on the book "A Certain Maritime Incident — the Sinking of the SIEVX" in Fremantle. The showing commemorated the 2001 sinking of a refugee boat off the coast of Australia — a crime against humanity about which many controversial questions still swirl. The entire exhibition is now available for viewing at www.sinkingofsievxpaintings.com.

An internationally renowned academic in the field of Islamic and Gender Studies, Dr Samar Habib (pictured), says pressure from management at the University of Western Sydney caused her to resign from her staff teaching position. Habib said she felt under intense pressure from the university while setting the course material for her compulsory first-year subject, Texts and Traditions. “There were constraints placed on me in terms of what texts I was able to include and who to teach with, and it became very difficult to exercise academic or creative control over my unit”, she said.

Brisbane, June 18, 2010 - “The only way to find out the truth about the behavior of the Queensland police hierarchy in the cover-ups that followed the November 2004 killing of Mulrunji on Palm Island is to institute an independent commission of inquiry run by a respected interstate figure,” Sam Watson, well-known Murri rights activist and Socialist Alliance lead Senate candidate for Queensland said today. “In the meantime the Queensland Police Service (QPS) hierarchy, beginning with commissioner Robert Atkinson, must be sacked.”
Thousands of people are expected to join the World Refugee Day rallies around Australia between June 19 and June 26. In Melbourne, the rally - to be held on Sunday June 20 - has the theme “Not another Tampa election”. Patrick McGorry, Australian of the Year will speak at the Museum Square to refugees, asylum seekers, human rights agency staff and volunteers, refugee advocates and activists before the marchers move off to the EMERGE FESTIVAL at Fitzroy Town Hall.
June 15, 2010 - Thousands rallied and marched around Australia in support of Ark Tribe, a construction worker possibly facing jail for simply failing to attend an interrogation by the construction industry police “Star Chamber” - the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC). Workers held an overnight vigil outside the ABCC offices in Melbourne, 500 rallied and marched in Sydney and up to 1,500 rallied outside the Adelaide Magistrate's court. Trade unionists from other parts of the country have gone to Adelaide to show their solidarity.

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