Photo: Alex Bainbridge A large gathering of people from the Vietnamese and Catholic communities - alongside supporters of refugee rights - gathered at the St Mary's Cathedral in Perth on November 8 to highlight the situation of Vietnamese refugees in the Yongah Hill Detention Centre. About 700 Vietnamese refugees have arrived in Australia in recent years complaining about religious persecution in Vietnam.
WA Greens Senator Scott Ludlam was officially re-elected on November 4 after an historic recount of WA Senate votes from the September federal election. He and the Sports Party’s Wayne Dropulich won over the ALP's Louise Pratt and Dio Wang from the Palmer United Party. Before the recount, a 14 vote difference between the Christian Democrats and the Shooters and Fishers Party led to a preference flow that supported Pratt. After the recount, a 12 vote margin favoured Ludlam.
Socialist Alliance WA co-convenor Sam Wainwright was re-elected to the Fremantle council on October 19. In the other wards, progressive councillors defeated conservative opponents, and Mayor Brad Pettitt was also returned. Wainwright won 58% of the vote in his ward compared to 33% at the 2009 poll. Wainwright's absolute vote also increased from 438 votes to 602 this year.
Socialist councillor Sam Wainwright is one of three Fremantle councillors facing a challenge in the local government elections that open on September 26. Mayor Brad Pettitt, a member of the Greens, also faces a challenge from defeated federal Liberal candidate Matthew Hanssen. The city of Fremantle has a relatively progressive council. All the challengers are more conservative than the incumbents.
The fight to defend public education is shaping up to be a key campaign against the cutback agenda of the Colin Barnett government in Western Australia. Thousands of teachers and education assistants rallied outside state parliament on September 3 in two separate mobilisations and further industrial action is planned. The government claimed it has not cut education funding. However, the central issue is not about overall funding but the cuts to staffing levels. In August, the government announced they were planning to cut 500 education assistants and other support workers.
Western Australian Liberal Premier Colin Barnett admitted on August 21 that his government faced a tough start to its second term. This followed fee rises and controversial attacks on the public sector in the August 8 state budget, which provoked a backlash including an August 30 decision by school teachers to plan an industrial campaign.
At every election since its founding in 2001, the Socialist Alliance has decided preferences on a principled basis, by giving preferences to other parties based on how closely their policies and actions align with its own. This federal election, the Socialist Alliance is running two candidates in the NSW Senate and six candidates in lower house seats around the country. In the NSW Senate, the Socialist Alliance has preferenced Ron Poulsen of the Communist League second, followed by candidates from the Greens and then the WikiLeaks Party and other small progressive parties.
Western Australia Premier Colin Barnett and Local Government Minister Tony Simpson unveiled the state's worst-kept secret on July 30, when they announced their plan to slash the number of councils in Perth from 30 to 14. Buoyed by the two-thirds parliamentary majority the conservative parties gained in the March 9 state election, they junked the explicit pre-election promise they made that there would be no forced council amalgamations. The move rescinds the provision that allows a council to refuse a merger if it has been rejected by a majority of residents in a referendum.
The Nyoongar Tent Embassy has rejected an updated offer by the state government to extinguish native title, reiterating that recognition of Aboriginal sovereignty is the goal of their campaign. The South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council (SWALSC) and the state government had negotiated a $1 billion package. Premier Colin Barnett upped the offer to a $1.3 billion package on July 5.
Hundreds of people turned out in Perth, Australia on June 23 to support the Brazilian protests.