Reports that the WA state government is planning to give police "stop and search" powers during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) later this year should concern all Western Australians. Even more worrying — albeit unsurprising — is that the ALP has dropped its lukewarm opposition to the laws, at least for the duration of CHOGM. Stop and search laws were rejected by the state upper house November and the CHOGM summit is no excuse to bring them in by the back door.
Three years after Aboriginal elder Mr Ward was cooked to death in the back of a prison van travelling from Laverton to Kalgoorlie, charges have been laid against the four parties found responsible by coroner Alistair Hope. The parties prosecuted are the Western Australian Department of Corrective Services, the private prison van contractor G4S (formerly GSL) and the two drivers of the prison van. State government workplace safety agency WorkSafe laid the charges under the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
Woodside and the Western Australian government’s push to build a massive gas-processing plant at James Price Point will be a key battle in a broader campaign to protect the cultural and environmental heritage of the Kimberley region in WA. This battle is significant for several reasons. First, the government is trying to compulsorily acquire Aboriginal land. Traditional owners, some of who had previously been prepared to support the project, are now united in opposition. Many unions, including the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, are supporting them.
There are renewable energy options for WA. This was the clear message of a forum hosted by Safe Climate Perth on November 13 as part of its campaign calling on the state government to cancel approval for five new or refurbished coal-fired power stations. Tim Barling from Sustainable Energy Now spoke about the range of options that are available and agricultural scientist Chris Johanson presented the Beyond Zero Emissions plan for 100% renewable stationary energy by 2020.
Over 100 people, including Taser victim Kevin Spratt, attended a rally on November 13, which focused on the excessive use of Tasers by police. Most speakers, including Deaths in Custody chairperson Marianne Mackay, called for a complete end to the use of Tasers by police. However shadow attorney general John Quigley merely called on the government to release video footage of a second Taser attack on Spratt that it has kept secret.
If you relied on only mainstream media reports of the November 4 town hall meeting in Northam, you would conclude the Avon Valley town, one hour from Perth, is a seething hotbed of racism of the most vicious kind. The meeting was called to discuss the federal government’s plan to use the Northam army barracks as a detention centre for 1500 refugees seeking asylum. The reports showed women wearing shirts with the slogans “bomb their boats” and “sink their boats”.
Having lived on the farm right next to the Northam army barracks since 1934, Eric Fox has seen a lot of people use the camp (and his farm) over the years. “The army used the farm extensively [in the early years of World War Two] as an extension of their training ground”, Fox told Green Left Weekly. “Later in the war, when the Italian prisoners of war were there, they weren’t very solidly interned — they walked over the farm as well. That didn’t worry us. They didn’t bother us.
See a photo slilde show of the rally here. Hundreds of people took to the streets of Perth for the fourth time this year to protest against the federal government’s same-sex marriage ban. The November 6 rally heard from speakers including Kitty Hawkins representing GALE (Gay and Lesbian Equality), Rebecca Leighton from the Greens and a representative from the State School Teachers' Union.
Campaign group Safe Climate Perth reached the milestone of 2000 signatures on its no new coal petition on October 30. The petition calls for WA's parliament to stop to expansion of coal-fired power stations, mines and related infrastructure, and to fund a roll-out of renewable energy with priority access to the new jobs, with equivalent conditions, given to coal communities. The petition was launched on October 10, and Safe Climate Perth has embarked on an energetic effort to reach 10,000 signatures by Human Rights Day.
PERTH — Jewish American author Anna Baltzer spoke to a packed audience of more than 100 people at a forum hosted by Friends of Palestine WA on October 21. She began by explaining that there were differences between the words "Jewish" (relating to faith or kinship), "Israeli" (relating to citizenship in the state of Israel) and "Zionist" (a political ideology). Most of her presentation documented the illegal occupation of Palestinian land sponsored by the state of Israel and the effects of that occupation.
About 40 people attended the launch of a No New Coal campaign by Safe Climate Perth on October 10. The launch took place as part of the 350.org “global work party” — an international day of action involving more than 7000 events around the world. As part of the campaign, activists aim to get 10,000 signatures in 10 weeks on a petition opposing new coal developments in Western Australian.
Local climate action group Safe Climate has planned a campaign calling on the Western Australian government to reverse approval for five new and refurbished coal-fired power stations. The campaign will include: an ambitious goal to get 10,000 signatures on a petition opposing the new coal developments before the end of the year; a poster design campaign; and a rally in December. Safe Climate is also discussing possible civil disobedience actions. The campaign will be launched at an October 10 action, as part of the 350.org 10/10/10 Global Work Party day of action.
An important campaign is emerging against the proposal to establish a coalmine in the iconic tourist and wine-making region of Margaret River in south-west Western Australia. The campaign has attracted support in the local community, reflected in a pre-election Walk Against Warming rally attended by hundreds of people and several successful community organising meetings.
Undoubtedly the best thing about the election result was that people — everywhere — were talking about politics. Some of the discussion was about the hung parliament where neither major party won majority support. Because the result wasn’t clear, it gave everybody an opening to form and express an opinion about what should happen next. Other parts of the discussion surrounded the sudden emergence of political issues that had been completely ignored in the “boring” election campaign. The war in Afghanistan is the best example.
Safe Climate Perth has called a strategy meeting to plan a grassroots campaign against the new coal-fired power stations approved by the state Liberal government. The campaign will also take up other proposed developments such as a suggested new coal mine at Margaret River, which has already sparked a dynamic community campaign. Safe Climate campaigner Kamala Emanuel told Green Left Weekly: “We are planning a campaign that can win. “The first step to getting to a safe climate future is to stop the increase in emissions of greenhouse pollution from new coal power stations.
PERTH — Members of the Perth Burmese community held a commemoration on August 8 for the democratic uprising that took place in Burma exactly 22 years before. Speakers at the commemoration called for a restoration of democracy in Burma, including freedom for pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and for stronger action in support of democracy from the Australian government. A solidarity dinner for the Burmese struggle was also held on August 7.