Australia

The Department of Defence said on June 22 that more than 22,000 Australian and US troops would take part in the annual Talisman Sabre military exercises near Rockhampton, Queensland. In response, activists have called a Peace Convergence. The following call to action was released on June 22 by Peace Convergence convener and Peacebus.com activist Graeme Dunstan. * * * Every two years in July, US-Australia war games take place at Shoalwater Bay, near Rockhampton in Central Queensland.
Over three nights last week, hundreds of thousands of people watched something very rare: a Reality TV show that actually showed some reality. Australia’s public SBS television station showed a special three-episode program called Go Back To Where You Came From about the experience of six Australians (with widely varying views about refugees and asylum seekers) as they are sent on a 25-day trip to trace, in reverse, the routes that refugees have taken to reach Australia.
The Refugee Art Project’s Fear+Hope exhibition’s opened at Sydney’s Mori Gallery on June 20, during International Refugee Week. The exhibition showcased 20 refugee artists from Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Iraq, and Iran, the Kurdish regions of the Middle East, Pakistan, Nigeria and Indonesia. All of the artists produced their art locked up in Australia’s detention centres. Only three of the artists were released to be at their exhibition opening.
The lawyer who won access for refugees to Australia’s courts last year has gone to the High Court again to prevent a family being split up by the federal government’s “Malaysia swap”. David Manne from the Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre said he would represent a Kurdish woman and her four-year-old son, who fled war-torn Iraq and are now held in the Christmas Island detention centre. See also Letter from a refugee on hunger strike: 'This system broke my heart'
On June 22, the federal government announced a six-week consulting period before creating new laws to continue the Northern Territory intervention. Prime Minister Julia Gillard “left no doubt that abolishing the intervention was not on the agenda”, said the June 23 Australian. The statement below, titled Rebuilding From the Ground Up — an Alternative to the Northern Territory Intervention, was officially launched at the Prescribed Area People’s Alliance conference in Darwin on June 21. * * * The NT intervention has been a disaster for Aboriginal communities.
About 150 protesters rallied at a mining expo in Toowoomba on June 22 to protest the expansion of coal and coal seam gas mining in the Darling Downs region. They confronted state mining minister Stirling Hinchliffe to demand that other areas in Queensland should be exempted from coal seam gas mining — similar to the recent rejection of a mining permit in Toowoomba, the June 23 Brisbane Courier Mail said.
The June 10 Sydney Morning Herald said that a study released by the National Union of Students (NUS) that day indicated a “surprisingly high proportion of female university students have been sexually assaulted, stalked or sexually harassed”. The article mentioned an Australian Defence Force Academy student who, after being raped, had experienced attitudes of “just get over it” from fellow students — a culture of silence surrounds such attacks.
Community Voice, a united ticket of the left and progressive community in Wollongong, was formed on June 18 after a thorough discussion focussed on putting local council back in the hands of the community. More than 40 people attended including, Reverend Gordon Bradbery, who nearly won the seat of Wollongong in the recent NSW election; Dr Munir Hussain, chairperson of the Omar Mosque; leading members of progressive parties the Greens and the Socialist Alliance; independent and community activists; trade unionists and other activists.
The message below was sent on June 20 — World Refugee Day — from an asylum seeker named Jaffer. Jaffer is held in Curtin detention centre in Western Australia. See also Letter from a refugee on hunger strike: 'This system broke my heart' End the live export of asylum seekers Nauru detention plan extreme, dehumanising Malaysian MP slams refugee outsourcing deal
In the first week of June, the Baillieu state government introduced new laws that give Victorian police the power to issue on-the-spot fines of up to $240 for using offensive language. Victorian police already had the power to charge people with indecent language offences, but they had to do this through the court system. This meant that people had the opportunity to defend their behaviour through the judicial system and were more likely to get a fair hearing.

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