Australia

The following is abridged from a motion unanimously passed on May 22 by the general membership of the Climate Emergency Network, Victoria. For more information on CEN, visit the group's website. *** Over the past decade or so, a climate movement has developed in many countries, both developed and developing. There has been a tendency for the climate movement in North America, Europe, and Australia to focus on ecological modernisation as a climate change mitigation strategy.
Dozens of campaigners have hit Melbourne’s streets to campaign for the Hazelwood power station to be shut down. Climate action groups in the inner city are doorknocking thousands of homes every weekend to get the message across. Hazelwood is Australia’s most polluting power station. Climate campaigners have targeted it with protests since the state government extended its operating licence until 2030. It was originally meant to be closed down and replaced in 2005.
Ten activists from Thai Red Australia, plus Guatemalan and El Salvadoran activists from the Latin American Social Forum, were part of the 80-strong Socialist Alliance NSW state conference on May 22 in Sydney. The conference launched Socialist Alliance’s federal election campaign. In the opening session, Senate candidate Rachel Evans outlined a “people’s budget” that puts the environment and people’s wellbeing over militarism and profiteering.
“Facing the world economic crisis: From Greece to Australia” was the title of a public forum, sponsored by Socialist Alliance, Resistance and Green Left Weekly on May 25. Marxist academic Gary MacLennan and Socialist Alliance candidate for the federal seat of Brisbane Ewan Saunders spoke. MacLennan explained that the world economic crisis showed signs of deepening, not ending. He said right-wing explanations of the crisis blamed government mismanagement, rather than the capitalist system.
On May 24, foreign minister Stephen Smith announced that an unnamed Israeli diplomat was to be expelled from Australia. This was in response to revelations that Israel’s spy agency, Mossad, had stolen the identities of four Australia citizens to create cloned passports. The passports were used by Mossad agents involved in the January 20 murder of Hamas activist Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai.
The obscenely wealthy have been celebrated again with the release of Business Review Weekly’s annual Rich 200 list. Sitting in top spot is Westfield Group chairperson Frank Lowy, whose personal fortune is estimated to be $5.04 billion. That's about 17,000 times our 2010 fighting fund target here at Green Left Weekly.
On May 18, during proceedings in Fair Work Australia, negotiations ended between Ford and the Electrical Trades Union and Australian Metal Workers Metals Division over the “Ford Australia Enterprise Agreement 2009 (Skilled Trades)”. The content of the agreement has been the subject of a dispute that has involved two 24-hour strikes.
It took nearly six months to organise, but on May 21, representatives from seven anti-war groups finally met defence minister Senator John Faulkner to request he re-consider a Greens’ initiative to amend the Defence Act. The amendment would require that MPs vote on whether or not Australian troops are sent to war. While the lobby, spearheaded by Nick Deane from the Marrickville Peace Group, did not change the senator’s mind, Deane told Green Left Weekly that he felt the exercise was still worthwhile because Faulkner heard a range of views.

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