Australia

Paying rent sucks. That's nothing new. Its not really profound or controversial to say that — hardly a purely socialist slogan. All of us would like a bit more dosh, and to hand over hard earned cash just for a shitty flat isn’t something anyone enjoys. But these days it’s much more than that — paying rent is hard, and getting harder.
Paola Harvey, Socialist Alliance candidate for Keira, has called on the NSW government to reverse its January 14 approval for a second gas-fired power station at Tallawarra. She said the government should make plans to phase out coal and gas-fired power and invest in a large-scale size solar-thermal power station. Harvey said the decision to build the gas-fired station was “suicidal in the context of global warming”.
The article below is based on a speech by Socialist Alliance upper house candidate in the March NSW state elections Patrick Harrison. He spoke at the 'Carols at the Colliery', an action held on December 21 in Russell Vale (near Wollongong) to protest a proposed coalmine expansion. ***** The Socialist Alliance opposes all new coal development and infrastructure. It's what the science demands we do, and the alternatives to coal are ready to go. The expansion of the Gujarat NRE No.1 colliery is a threat to local residents' health and safety.
A six week-long battle at Swift Australia Meatworks in Brooklyn, Melbourne, has ended with 140 National Union of Workers (NUW) members keeping conditions that were lost by the plant’s 500 other employees two years ago. Swift Australia locked out the picketers in early December after they took protected industrial action in the course of their enterprise bargaining negotiations. The strikers are mostly of migrant backgrounds, from all corners of the globe. Some are recently arrived refugees.
Seventy asylum seekers held at the Darwin detention centre have donated the small amount of cash they had to the Queensland flood appeal, said SBS on January 14. Asylum seekers held at Sydney’s Villawood Immigration Detention Centre also showed their support for the victims of the Queensland floods in a symbolic action on January 17. The detainees in Villawood painted a large banner that read: “Dear Queenslanders: we asylum seekers are with you in this difficult times with flooding.”
Climate activists gathered outside the Melbourne head office of mining giant BHP on January 21 to show solidarity with victims of the recent floods in eastern Australia. Evidence has emerged linking severe flooding in Australia with human-induced climate change. Shaun Murray, an activist from the Switch off Hazelwood group, said: "The recent catastrophic floods are the result of human-induced climate change. “As coal is the biggest contributor worldwide to emissions, the coal industry should pay the cost of clean-up and reconstruction for these disasters.”
The flood disaster that struck three-quarters of Queensland over the past month and then spread to Victoria and Tasmania is the worst overall flood catastrophe in recorded Australian history. It has also inspired a massive outpouring of public sympathy and solidarity. The disaster has shown in practice the huge potential for ordinary people to mobilise in support of fellow human beings in need of help. Tens of thousands of Brisbane residents volunteered to help people whose homes had been flooded by the raging Brisbane River, especially over the weekend of January 15-16.
When I met Kathir (not his real name), in the maximum security stage of Villawood Detention Centre just before Christmas, he had been on hunger strike for five weeks. The Tamil refugee from Sri Lanka was protesting against ASIO’s negative security clearance assessment of his asylum claim. This assessment — made entirely in secret — allows him to be held indefinitely.
Ten-year-old Tamil refugee Brindha faces deportation to Sri Lanka after being rejected by the immigration department, the January 3 Australian said. In March 2010, she told Green Left Weekly the International Organisation for Migration was treating refugees “like animals”. At the time, she was onboard the Jaya Lestari, a boat packed with 254 Tamil asylum seekers who had tried to reach Australia for protection from persecution.
Marrickville Council has stayed firm in the face of criticism for its recent decision to join the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israeli apartheid in Palestine. The council passed a Greens-initiated motion to support the BDS campaign on December 14.

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