Australia

The Socialist Alliance released the statement below on August 23. * * * BlueScope Steel Ltd. announced on August 22 that it would shut two production facilities and shed 1000 jobs as part of a restructure aimed at turning around a $1.05 billion annual loss. This will mean the shutdown of a blast furnace at Port Kembla in the Illawarra region of New South Wales and closure of its Western Port hot strip mill in Victoria. The Port Kembla closure will result in 800 job losses, while at least 200 jobs will be cut at Western Port.
The Refugee Action Collective Sydney released the statement below on August 24. * * * “A disgraceful incident at Broome hospital today has highlighted the contemptuous attitude of Serco staff to the welfare of asylum seekers they have a duty to care for,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition. Serco officers cancelled medical appointments at Broome hospital for three Afghan asylum seekers for talking to a refugee advocate in the hospital waiting room.
We are a group of Tamil Refugees awaiting for our status and security to be confirmed in Villawood Detention Centre. Although we happen to be Tamil, we wish our comments to encompass all the differing ethnic groups that languish in Villawood. The object of this letter is to thank the growing number of Australians in the community for offering continued support, advice and hope, in our endeavour to make Australia home. Although held in a prison like environment, we are not criminals. We all have families that we love and miss very much.
About 100 supporters rallied in persistent rain at Sylvia Creek, in the Toolangi State Forest north-east of Melbourne, to protest logging operations by Vic Forests. The supporters joined locals and forest campaigners who have been blockading the 19-hectare “Gunbarrel” coupe for five weeks.
You’ll never guess which political party sat and watched while the Aboriginal incarceration rate sky-rocketed. We heard it on the radio. And we saw it on the television. Report after report, and promises delivered by talking politicians. But while this was occurring, Aboriginal people wallowed inside this nation’s jails and detention centres, their futures cast by a system that jails them at staggeringly disproportionate rates. It’s a problem that cripples our families, and our communities, and is as complex as it is troubling.
Most of us protesters were across the road from the Sofitel Wentworth luxury hotel in the heart of Sydney’s business district where the $900-a-head NSW Mineral Exploration and Investment Conference was underway on August 18. But a handful got into the conference hall and were able to hold up signs protesting coal seam gas mining. Two protesters also abseiled down the front of the hotel and, to a roaring cheer from the demonstrators, unfurled a giant banner that read: “Enough is enough/stop coal & gas expansion”.
After a screening of Gasland on August 10 attracted 60 people to Armidale’s Progressive Cinema, more than 30 people stayed after the film to discuss what to do locally. Carmel Flint, from the Northern Inland Council for the Environment, alerted those present to plans for coal seam gas mining in the Pilliga forest south of Narrabri and new coalmines endangering native forests. The meeting decided to form a local action group to stop coal and coal seam gas mining on agricultural land, as well as in native forests.
Close to 1000 people turned out on August 14 for a rally to “Save the Kimberley”. Musicians entertained the crowd in between speakers from environment groups and Indigenous communities. The protest was called by local group Country Calling in support of the campaign to prevent a natural gas processing facility being built at James Price Point, called Walmadan by the Indigenous people of the area. The point is on the Dampier Peninsula near Broome, Western Australia, in the famous Kimberley wilderness region.
Quarantine staff at Australia's international airports walked off the job for four hours on August 19. The action was part of a campaign by Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) members working in the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) to win a better enterprise agreement. The strike caused some delays at the airports, and affected cargo inspections, the release of imported goods and the x-ray screening of international mail.
Angeline Loh, who works with the Malaysian human rights groups ALIRAN, will join close to a dozen international guest speakers at the World at a Crossroads, Climate Change Social Change Conference, which will be held at the University of Melbourne over September 30 to October 3.

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