On July 12, state environment minister Donna Faragher approved an additional three coal-fired power stations in Western Australia. These power stations will contribute to a 75% increase in the state’s greenhouse emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Authority. Of the three power stations, one is a brand new private sector development. The other two are older power stations that were built in the 1960s and have not been in use for some time, which will be expanded and refurbished. This will more than double the number of coal-fired power stations in Collie.
From the standpoint of conventional political analysis, Julia Gillard has had a spectacular start to her reign as prime minister. She wrested the position from Kevin Rudd with minimal bloodshed, announced she was going to neutralise the mining tax controversy by negotiating with the mining billionaires and was rewarded with a dramatic turnaround in the opinion polls.
Writing in the May 27 West Australian, Paul Murray said WA Labor senators facing election will have to “explain to voters why they intend to support a tax that is so palpably against WA’s best interests”. For Murray, who was referring to the Rudd government's proposed Resource Super Profits Tax (RSPT), it is simply a given that the interests of the people of Western Australia coincide with the interests of the big mining companies that operate in the state.
Friends of Palestine WA staged Perth’s premiere production of Caryl Churchill’s play Seven Jewish Children on May 15. The play attracted a full house of 200 people. Many more were turned away on the night. The play attracted controversy after the Jewish Community Council’s attempt to prevent its performance in WA. Two previous proposed performances at multicultural arts venue Kulcha and at the Hale School were cancelled due to a lobbying campaign by the JCC.
Socialist Alliance is planning an ambitious socialist ideas conference in Perth for the last weekend in June. Featured guest speakers include Socialist Party of Malaysia member of parliament Jeyakumar Devaraj. He will speak about the role of socialists in parliament and the link between parliamentary work and community organising.
Forty refugee rights supporters protested outside Labor foreign minister Stephen Smith's office on April 23, demanding an end to the government's "freeze" on asylum-seeker applications from Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. Speakers included Refugee Rights Action Network members Phil Chilton and Victoria Martin-Iverson, Socialist Alliance candidate for Perth Alex Bainbridge and Greens Senator Scott Ludlam. The next action planned by the Refugee Rights Action Network is an overnight vigil outside the Perth Immigration Detention Centre on May 7.
Just in case anybody thought the episode involving mild criticism from Labor parliamentary leaders over Israeli involvement in forging Australian passports was going to lead to a change in Australia's craven support for Israeli apartheid, foreign minister Stephen Smith has put the record straight.
Campaigners against the Barnett state government's proposed “stop and search” laws have welcomed the three month delay before the laws go to parliament. A parliamentary committee that was due to have made recommendations on March 25 has announced that its report won’t be released until June.
Western Australian attorney-general Christian Porter said on March 17 an interim payment of $200,000 to the family of Aboriginal elder Mr Ward should be “finalised’’ by the end of the month (leaving unclear whether this meant “paid” or “approved”).
One feature of the otherwise successful Perth rally against internet censorship on March 6 was an attempt by a far-right political group to hijack the event. About 300 people participated in the rally and march. Speakers included internet studies lecturer Mike Kent, Greens Senator Scott Ludlam and an Iranian refugee, who talked about the draconian nature of Iran's internet censorship. Other speakers included Socialist Alliance Senate candidate Ben Peterson and Mike Walmsley from the Liberal Democratic Party.