Australia

Qantas chief executive officer Geoff Dixon announced on July 18 that the company will sack 1500 workers by December and that its plan to hire 1200 more people has been cancelled. The sackings include 99 workers in Qantas call centres in London and Tucson, Arizona, when those centres are shut down.

Labor won the November, 2007 federal election on the promise to “tear-up” Work Choices, abolish the hated Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs — individual contracts) and overhaul the entire industrial relations system. Of course, all of this was promised to contain ample consultation and be in the spirit of balance.

On July 23, Australian Workers Union national secretary Paul Howes teamed up with a select group of CEOs of some of the richest companies and major employers of AWU members in a roundtable discussion on climate change.

I was a participant in the NoToPope protest in Sydney on July 19, and was part of the broad coalition that organised the protest. One of the issues the NoToPope coalition raised as part of the World Youth Day protests was the gap between what the Vatican preaches, (no to condoms and abstinence in sex education) and the reality of sexually transmitted diseases around the world today.

Socialist Alliance and Democratic Socialist Perspective (DSP) member Colin Campbell died suddenly in the early hours on July 17.

When federal environment minister Peter Garrett paid a visit to a Sydney public primary school last term he discovered that the school had installed enough solar panels to supply three-quarters of its electricity needs.

Despite the heavy rain, more than 100 people participated in a rally through Sydney’s CBD on July 25, protesting the ongoing discrimination, abuse and killing of Tamil civilians by the Sri Lankan state.

Socialist Alliance candidates in the upcoming local government elections are calling for a state-wide referendum on power privatisation to be conducted alongside council elections.

Arctic sea ice reached a record minimum in the Northern summer of 2007, prompting the revision of scientists’ predictions of how quickly it will melt away altogether in response to global warming — perhaps as early as 2010-13, rather than the hundred years later estimated in the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports.

Some unionists are angry that despite all the warnings about the climate emergency and Australia’s high per capita greenhouse gas emissions, the Victorian ALP government has given the go-ahead to a $750 million 400 megawatt brown coal power station in the Latrobe Valley.

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