Australia

The Western Community Action Network (WeCAN) held its first public forum at the Footscray Town Hall on March 19.
The reintroduction of a rail-based public transport system for Cairns and promotion of rail freight in far-north Queensland were the key themes of a 100-strong public meeting on March 18.
Christine, a stalwart of the anti-war movement in Australia, shakes her head at the gross double standards of the mainstream media in Australia when it reports the casualties in the war on Afghanistan. She shakes her fists in anger and then gets on with organising the next anti-war protest.
Last week one big economic news story and two small stories exposed the mad squalor of the profit system under which we live.
A protracted industrial dispute between construction giant John Holland and 39 sacked workers at the West Gate Bridge reconstruction project in Melbourne continued on March 27, with a vibrant demonstration by union members and their supporters at the bridge. The workers temporarily called off their three-week community protest at the John Holland worksite after the company finally agreed to enter into negotiations early last week. The workers, however, pledged to continue their demonstrations every morning at the bridge until a satisfactory settlement is reached with the company.
The ingredients of big-business operations in NSW were all there: a multinational tourism operator; environmental groups with varying interests; a donation to the NSW Labor Party; the apparent channelling of another donation; a local council decision overturned by the Land and Environment Court; and development approved by the then-Labor Party planning minister, Frank Sartor.
In the late evening of March 15, the NSW correctional services department used management personnel to transfer 107 prisoners from the Cessnock jail in preparation for its privatisation.
Australian agriculture both contributes to climate change and is adversely affected by it. Any campaign in to force urgent government action on climate change has to include a demand for the radical transformation of rural land use and farming systems to be ecologically sustainable.
Climate activists have been campaigning against the government’s so-called Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) long before the exposure legislation was tabled in parliament on March 10.
The federal ALP government’s Fair Work Bill passed through the Senate on March 20 after intense wheeling and dealing with Family First Senator Steve Fielding and independent Senator Nick Xenophon.

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