Australia

It was a good thing when 14 Labor members of the Western Australian parliament and the federal member for Fremantle, Melissa Parke, publicly voiced their disgust that unaccompanied children would be sent to Malaysia as part of the Labor federal government’s refugee swap. The claptrap used to sell this cruel and illogical farce is deservedly collapsing in on itself. Federal Labor’s contradictory flip-flopping on this issue has been excruciating to watch. It’s not guided by any rational policy making, but political imagery.
New and contradictory details of the Australia-Malaysia refugee exchange have been brought to light, as the federal Labor government grows closer to sealing the fate of up to 800 asylum seekers.
Since March 2009, it has been unclear whether promising footballer Rex Bellotti Junior will need to have his leg amputated after he was run over by a police four wheel drive in Albany, Western Australia. The Indigenous boy, then 15, was leaving a wake when the police vehicle, driving on the wrong side of the road, struck him with sufficient force to drag him under the van, breaking his right femur and inflicting lacerations to his legs.
Under the guidance of the NSW Coal and Coal Seam Gas Strategy, the CSG industry is set to grow. Economic growth and the move towards a low-carbon economy are suggested as a just cause for its expansion. In spite of this, a swell of media reports, documentaries and scientific studies have revealed that CSG’s growth will come with substantial socio-economic and environmental costs.
"Since May 15, tens of thousands of young Spaniards calling themselves los indignados (the indignant) have been camping out in at least 80 city centres and towns, and are protesting daily," Socialist Alliance activist Liam Flenady told a June 7 Green Left Weekly forum. “The movement goes under various names: ¡Democracia Real Ya! (Real Democracy Now!), 15-M and even The Spanish Revolution, and its initial call was: ‘Real democracy now. We are not merchandise in the hands of the politicians and bankers!’."
As part of a nationwide day of action, more than 1000 people marched on the Victorian parliament on June 8 to fight for state and federal governments to back their claim for increased wages. The Melbourne rally was one of 17 across the country, organised by the Australian Services Union (ASU), which advocates for workers in the female-dominated community services sector. The national day of action comes as a response to Fair Work Australia’s finding that the sector’s workers were not being payed enough, in part, because most of them are women.
Evidently we are making progress as a nation in addressing the Indigenous development problem. On February 9, the prime minister delivered the Closing the Gap Prime Minister’s Report 2011. Progress is apparently happening: not according to any statistics, but to the powerful government public relations machine. In fact, the prime minister could provide little evidence about gap closing, except to tell us that the statistics are not readily available despite a commitment of nearly $50 million to this task.
Melbourne's largest feminist conference in more than a decade, the Feminist Futures Conference, took place over May 28-29. The conference was organised by the newly-formed Melbourne Feminist Collective (MFC), a group of mainly young activists who were inspired by a similar conference they attended in Sydney last year. In the lead-up to the conference, a debate between the radical feminist supporters of Melbourne lecturer Sheila Jeffreys and the sex worker supporters of Elena Jeffreys broke out on the conference blogsite.
There are alternatives to the federal government’s NT intervention into Aboriginal communities, and some of the key ones have been brought together in a new statement that has won the support of Aboriginal community leaders and other groups and individuals. The statement, “Rebuilding from the Ground Up: An Alternative to the NT Intervention”, is available on the Jumbunna Aboriginal Education Centre website.
About 5000 people walked across Canberra’s Commonwealth Bridge and rallied in front of Parliament House on June 5, calling for real action on climate change now. Up to 45,000 people rallied nationwide. Speakers at the Canberra rally included former Liberals Leader John Hewson, Richard Denniss from the Australia Institute, 2010 Greens Senate candidate Lin Hatfield Dodds and Bishop Pat Power. Hewson said we needed to respond to climate change with a greater sense of urgency and in a way that recognised the magnitude of the problem.

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