Australia

Three members of the Sydney-based refugee solidarity group the Cross Borders Collective occupied the rooftop of immigration minister Chris Bowen’s electoral office in Fairfield on April 29. Their protest was a stand of support for the refugees who have been protesting inside immigration detention centres across Australia, including the week-long rooftop protest by three detainees in Sydney’s Villawood detention centre. Police arrested the activists within a few hours and removed them from the roof.
Who were the actual criminals that sparked the refugees’ revolt in Villawood detention centre in late April? There is no crime in climbing on top of a building and holding a banner saying “We need help”, nor asking for a meeting with immigration officials after 15 months in detention, as two Kurdish Iranian refugees did on April 20, sparking protests that lasted for more than a week. It’s not a crime to resist injustice — the refugees who have taken it on themselves to revolt inside Australia’s mandatory detention system must be defended and supported for their stand.
I began writing this as a reply to a worker infected by the ideological disease that could be called today’s version of “the socialism of fools”. That was the name given by German socialists at the end of the 19th century to the irrational, bigoted and eventually genocidal idea that Jews were to blame for the plight of oppressed and exploited workers. Today’s “fools” in Australia blame asylum-seekers and refugees, especially those of Muslim faith or who come from the Middle East.
As part of a National Day of Action for refugee rights, about 250 protesters turned out to Melbourne’s Maribyrnong Detention centre on April 25 to show solidarity with refugees in detention and to oppose the mandatory detention of asylum seekers. The human rights activists gathered at the detention centre entrance. They were addressed by speakers from the Greens, Students for Palestine and two former detainees including Ali Bakhtiavandi from the Socialist Alliance, who had been held in Maribyrnong for 16 months in 2001 and 2002.
For many people, gambling merely fulfils a short-term desire to be entertained. Yet for an estimated 2.3% of Australian adults, it has become a compulsion; an uncontrollable addiction which largely affects their personal, social and financial life. Over the past decade, the gambling industry in Australia has expanded significantly. Currently, every state and territory within Australia has at least one casino operating within its jurisdiction, offering various gambling options, including poker and gaming machines, to anyone over the legal age of 18.
"Another Australia is Possible" was the main theme of the Socialist Alliance Queensland State Conference, held on Saturday April 16 in the Brisbane Activist Centre. A feature panel, “Fighting for Another Australia”, included presentations from Murri community leader Sam Watson, Sri Lankan human rights activist Dr Brian Senewiratne, socialist educationalist and writer Gary MacLennan, and Socialist Alliance national executive member Lisa Macdonald.
The ALP took government on the back of the “Your Rights At Work” campaign. But Labor has failed to “rip up” the Howard government’s Work Choices laws. Australian Industry Group boss Heather Ridout told the 2011 HR Nichols Society conference: “There were many positive elements of the previous [Coalition] government’s workplace relations laws that have been retained by the Labor government.”
The chief operating officer for Apex Energy NL, Chris Rogers, contacted Stop CSG Illawarra on April 5. He accused the group, which is campaigning against coal seam gas (CSG) projects in the region, of publishing two inaccuracies on its website: that drilling had already commenced and that CSG’s contribution to global warming is equally as bad, if not worse, than coal.
Long-time Perth activist, Communist Party of Australia leader, World War II veteran and retired waterside worker Vic Williams died on April 19, aged 96. Born on June 28, 1914, Vic joined the Communist Party of Australia (CPA) in 1939 and was one of its leading members in Western Australia until it split over the Soviet intervention in Czechoslovakia in 1968.
The Greens Mayor of Marrickville Council Fiona Byrne gave the speech below at the Unions NSW May Day toast at the Cypress Community Club in Stanmore on April 28. * * * I acknowledge we meet tonight on the traditional land of the Gadigal people of the Eora nation and pay my respects to elders both past and present. Those who don’t read the Oz or Tele, or don’t listen to shock jock radio, I’m the controversial Greens Mayor of Marrickville.

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