Australia

Margaret River, a town on the southwest coast of Australia, is an important agricultural area, supporting olive farms, dairies and livestock. It attracts tourists from all over the country eager to check out its famous beaches, forests, artists and wineries. But residents were shocked when news surfaced in July that a proposed coalmine will be built just 15 kilometres from the town centre.
In a move that took most people by surprise, Tasmanian Labor Premier David Bartlett resigned on January 23. Deputy premier Lara Giddings was sworn in the next day as the first female premier of the state. Giddings will also keep her position as Treasurer. Bartlett announced his decision with a message on his Facebook page that said: “To all my Facebook friends and contributors. I have decided to step down as premier and leader of the Labor Party.” He said his reason was that he wanted more time to be a better father to his children.
Climate change was a big factor in the devastating floods that swept through Queensland and other states in January. For decades, scientists have warned that carbon pollution will lead to more frequent weather disasters. The floods are yet more evidence that we must quickly phase out fossil fuels and embrace 100% renewable energy. As the flood crisis began to emerge, University of Melbourne climate scientist David Karoly told ABC News on December 31 that the extreme weather was not so unexpected.
In 2005, the people of Bolivia, the poorest country in Latin America, elected the poor nation’s first Indigenous president: Evo Morales from the Movement for Socialism (MAS). Since then, the people’s struggles to end multinational corporations’ plunder of Bolivia’s natural resources, and for forms of development and democracy that meet the needs of the majority, have captured the attention of oppressed people around the world.
Forest campaigners have engaged in a series of actions on the New South Wales south coast, protesting against alleged illegal logging of old-growth forests in the area. Lisa Stone, spokesperson for South East Forest Rescue, told AAP on January 21: "Recent audits have exposed illegal logging of rainforest, land registered on the National Estate, endangered ecological communities, a gazetted Aboriginal Place and rocky outcrops. We have proven systemic re-occurring breaches on the south coast that show a pattern of non-compliance to the law."
Resistance is proud to announce that its 2011 national conference will be held over May 6 to 8 at Redfern Community Centre, Sydney. All socialists and left activists are welcome to attend. The initial conference agenda will soon be posted at Resistance.org.au. It will include panel presentations and workshop discussions on a wide range of the urgent issues confronting humanity today, including: - Ecosocialism and the climate emergency; - Justice for Indigenous people; - Refugees and racism; - The Latin American revolutions and socialism of the 21st century;
The recent Queensland and Victorian floods make it clear — Australia needs a comprehensive, national, public insurance scheme, to cover floods, bushfires and other major natural disasters. The federal and state governments should combine to establish a national insurance scheme to protect the interests of working people and small businesses. The January 21 Sydney Morning Herald reported on the abject failure of most private insurance companies to provide proper coverage to ordinary, working householders.
Up to 300 asylum seekers held in Western Australia’s remote Curtin detention centre ended a four-day hunger strike on January 21. The protesting asylum seekers demanded the immigration department end the long delays in the processing of asylum claims. They agreed to end the hunger strike after the department agreed to speed up the claims process. Many of the hunger strikers had fled from Afghanistan and fear they will be sent back to danger.
Clients at the Casuarina Centrelink in Darwin were treated to a singing protest on January 27 against the Basics Card. As part of the federal government’s Northern Territory intervention, Indigenous people in the NT have half of their welfare payments restricted to a card that can be used to buy only food, clothing and medical supplies at specified stores. Rob “Kris Pistofferson” Inder-Smith sang and played guitar, protesting against his payments recently being put on the Basics Card without an adequate explanation. The words are published below. * * *
The national secretary of the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Union (SDA), Joe De Bruyn, recently recommitted the SDA to a homophobic policy of opposition to equal marriage rights. A member of the ALP national executive, De Bruyn said in November that were he in Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s position he would have “killed the issue off once and for all”, ABC online said. In our society, the heterosexual nuclear family is portrayed as the only legitimate model for relationships.

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