Australia

The Western Australia Liberal government recently said its lucrative prisoner transport contract with private security firm G4S would end in July. Another private company, the British-based conglomerate Serco, will take over. The move came after a long campaign against G4S and the WA department of corrective services over the death of Aboriginal man Mr Ward, who died of heat stroke in a G4S van during a 360 kilometre trip in January 2008. The state coroner said G4S was directly responsible for Mr Ward’s awful death.
For more than five long and horrendous years, David Hicks was locked up in the US prison camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba where he was subject to countless inhumane forms of torture. Hicks was captured by the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan in December 2001 and was transferred to Camp X Ray at Guantanamo Bay in January 2002. It was not until December 2003 that he saw a military lawyer. See also: Crowd gives Hicks ovation at Sydney Writers' Festival
Riz Wakil, an Afghan refugee, arrived on Ashmore Reef in 1999 and was held in Curtin detention centre for nine months. Now a permanent Australian resident, he runs a printery. In June 2010, GetUp! won a charity auction prize — a surfing lesson with opposition leader Tony Abbott — and donated it to Wakil. Abbott and Wakil finally met for the surf lesson on May 8. Green Left Weekly’s Rachel Evans spoke to Wakil about the encounter and Australia’s refugee system. What did Abbott say during the lesson?
Members of Defend WikiLeaks Perth organised a series of banner drops across the city on May 26 to call for the release from prison of US private Bradley Manning. The day marked one year since Manning was imprisoned in the US for allegedly leaking information to WikiLeaks. Film by Zeb Parkes.
From the very young age of seven or eight, Lyndall Barnett exhibited signs of concern about animals, the environment, social justice and women’s role in society. Lyndall also had a rebellious streak from an early age, the sort of rebellious streak that is needed to stand up against social injustice and help change the world. When Lyndall was a teenager, she took action on all these issues. This led Lyndall and a group of high school friends to join Resistance, the socialist youth organisation in the early 1990s, and then the Democratic Socialist Party.
Resistance held its 40th national conference on the weekend of May 6 -8. One-hundred-and-fifty people came over the three days and took part in diverse workshops and panel sessions. One major session featured Matthew Cassel, former assistant editor of Electronic Intifada and an independent journalist, gave an eyewitness account of the overthrow of Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak. He said: “Something common among dictatorships in the Arab world and so-called democracies in the West and elsewhere is the lack of accurate information available to most people through the mainstream media.
Sydney Stop the War coalition released the statement below on May 26. * * * The death of Sergeant Brett Wood in Afghanistan on May 24 should trigger a radical rethink of this failed war, said Stop the War Coalition today. Instead, PM Julia Gillard and opposition leader Tony Abbott continue to peddle the myth that the West's military intervention into Afghanistan still has merit.
As part of its attempts to turn back the clock in the Catholic Church, the Vatican drew 1.5 million of the devout to Rome on May 1 for the beatification ceremony of Karol Wojtyla, Pope John Paul II. He may become the fastest declared saint in history. The Vatican is also pushing the canonisation of Pius XII, who was pope during World War II. While attention has been drawn to John Paul II’s woeful record on the issue of sexual abuse within the church, little has been said about the reasons for the rush to beatification and sainthood.
The Australian media, collectively, does a dismal job of telling the story of our silent apartheid, the space between black and white Australians. The new assimilation, well underway in the Northern Territory, has the same intent as government policies of past eras, still aiming to change Aboriginal people, restrict the importance of their law, language and cultural practice, and move many from their ancestral lands into new housing estates that, we are promised, will materialise magically in great little Aussie growth towns.
The proposal for a carbon tax raises the issues of tax equity and political strategy. Yet despite their inter-relatedness, we need to disentangle these issues to focus on the original question. As a mean of addressing climate change, the carbon tax proposal comes in the context of difficult global negotiations, where almost any proposal has been seen as a breakthrough, and where (after the last financial derivatives bubble) there is justified suspicion of emissions trading schemes.

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