Australia

The Northern Territory women’s policy minister, Alison Anderson, told a gathering at the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne that “domestic violence has reached a crisis point”, the ABC reported on April 4.
The ongoing strike at Sydney University attracted national media attention on March 26 when strike-supporting students were dragged from a lecture theatre by riot police. The students were engaged in a “roaming picket” that was disrupting one of the few remaining classes held that day when police intervened. This sparked debate as to whether student supporters used appropriate tactics to make their presence heard.
Photos by Ali Bakhtiarvandi.
A capacity crowd of about 350 people filled the room for the opening night of the Marxism 2013 conference in Melbourne on March 28. The forum, called "Uniting the left to resist austerity, war and crisis", heard from six speakers, including Australian unionist Bob Carnegie, striking airline union PALEA president Gerry Rivera, US teacher and socialist Brian Jones, Socialist Alliance co-convener Peter Boyle, Socialist Alternative national executive member Vashti Kenway, and the Revolutionary Socialist Party's (RSP) Kim Bullimore.
A protest was held outside the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Sydney on March 19, to oppose the controversial state visit by the Myanmar president Thein Sein. Prime Minister Julia Gillard met with Thein and announced a $20 million two-year aid program, as well as the posting of a resident military attache and a trade commissioner in Yangon. Protesters representing the Rohingya, Karen and Kachin communities demanded the Australian government address the gross human rights abuses before business and military deals are made. Photos by Peter Boyle.
The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) at the University of Sydney is involved in an industrial battle with the administration over pay, conditions and casualisation. As part of this campaign, the union held a 24-hour strike on March 6. Staff and students held pickets outside all campus entrances, and the university was largely shut down for the day. The multiple picket lines converged on the main entrance to the university for a midday rally, which attracted hundreds of staff and supporters. There were many speakers including unionists, student representatives and the Greens.
When coal seam gas company Metgasco announced on March 13 it had suspended its operations in northern NSW after a long community campaign against it, it was just the latest in a series of setbacks for the CSG industry. It followed the suspension of an AGL project in Campbelltown in western Sydney after community protests. Another company, Arrow Energy, has withdrawn from NSW and wants to transfer its licence to Dart Energy so it can focus on expanding in central Queensland.
There are at least two truisms in Aboriginal affairs. The first is that the more things change, the more they stay the same. I’ll come back to that one. The second is that the road through Aboriginal affairs, while often paved with good intentions, is sometimes paved with bad ones. I’m going to assume that when Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin held a gun to the head of Alice Springs town campers and told them that unless they signed over their land for 40 years it would be compulsorily acquired, that her intentions were good.
This letter was read out to 300 people who rallied in Campbelltown, NSW on March 17 to protest against coal seam gas (CSG) expansion in the area. *** Good afternoon all. My name is Debbi Orr and I live in the Tara Estates — a gas field in Queensland. Since CSG invaded our area, all of my six children have become sick. Headaches, nosebleeds, burning itchy eyes are a regular — sometimes daily — occurrence in our house.
A landmark ruling in Sydney on February 15 gave the biotechnology industry an unprecedented right to make huge profits from genetic testing. The case involved the breast cancer genes BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 and the right of US biotechnology company Myriad Genetics to have exclusive licence to a patent over their use in research. Federal Court Justice John Nicholas had ruled that a private company can continue to hold a patent over an isolated gene, in this case, the BRCA gene. The BRCA gene is responsible for repairing or removing defective DNA cells.
The abortive leadership spill in the Labor party on March 22 was yet another demonstration of its total political bankruptcy. Kevin Rudd's leadership ambitions may now be in the dustbin of history but Prime Minister Julia Gillard has won a pyrrhic victory. The public watched this gross display of principle-free power play in disgust. It seemed to make a government led by Liberal leader Tony Abbott a virtual certainty.
Having tried absolutely everything they could think of to win the support of voters besides push good polices in favour of working people, there was really nothing for Labor's parliamentary caucus to do except launch yet another leadership spill on March 21. It might have been a farce that will help worsen Labor's defeat in September, but it did reveal one startling fact: Simon Crean is still in parliament. I know, right?