Alex Bainbridge

Socialist Alliance and Refugee Rights Action Network member Alex Bainbridge posted this report from Leonora in remote central Western Australia on January 28. Photos and video by Zebedee Parkes.

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Mark McGowan stepped into the leadership of the Western Australia Labor Party on January 23 promising to support uranium mining in WA and deregulation of shopping hours. Together, these decisions signal a significant shift to the right by WA Labor.

Previous leader Eric Ripper had promised that an incoming ALP government would close down any uranium mining in the state, even if the current Liberal government has granted full approvals.

That position was at odds with national Labor’s pro-uranium policy, but is popular in WA.

Between 80 and 100 people gathered for an open-air Occupy Perth general assembly in Perth on October 22. It began at 11am and finished around 5pm.

The main purpose of the assembly was to make plans for establishing a Perth occupation at the end of the Chogm Protest (taking next Friday, October 28) that would last at least throughout the CHOGM summit.

There was quite a constructive discussion and a lot of enthusiasm to begin an occupation next weekend. Eleven working groups were established.

For two weeks running, the Chogm Action Network (CAN) has had meetings of almost 50 people – double the regular attendance – as new activists have come into the movement inspired by the Wall Street Occupation.

Since March, CAN has been organising a protest for the October 28 opening of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).

Discussion at the two meetings has revealed that there is a lot of good will and common purpose among the activists now working together.

The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) will take place in Perth at the end of next month. It is a gathering of the government leaders of the 54 Commonwealth countries.

The Commonwealth today has direct links to the earlier structures of the British Empire in which colonialists of a previous era used to boast that the “sun never sets” on the places where they were killing and oppressing people.

A protest planned for October 28 at the Commonwealth Heads of Government summit (CHOGM) received wide media attention on August 23. This came after The West Australian ran an article under the inflammatory headline “Protesters vow to break CHOGM security lines”.

A second article was titled “Rally would be test of new powers”.

The fight to stop the James Price Point gas hub in the Kimberly in Western Australia's north reached a critical point on July 4 as police arrested dozens of people. The arrests were an attempt to break the spirit of the community protesters who have blockaded the site for a month.

Woodside Petroleum is the lead company in a consortium that is planning to build a $30 billion gas-processing hub that would destroy pristine environment and result in up to 39 million tonnes of greenhouse gas pollution a year.

Forty refugee rights activists travelled by bus from Perth to Curtin Detention Centre in the remote Kimberley region of WA over the Easter long weekend. Several others joined the convergence at nearby Derby.

This was the latest convergence on a refugee detention centre organised by the Refugee Rights Action Network (RRAN).

Most refugee detention centres are located in remote locations to create a physical divide between refugees and the broader population. The convergence aimed to bridge this divide.

Forty activists travelled more than 30 hours on the road from Perth and arrived at the gates of the Curtin detention centre on Saturday April 23.

We were greeted with legalistic warnings and numerous lies from the Serco guards, who imposed a roadblock outside the centre.

More significantly, we have heard from detainees inside the centre that Serco guards have lied to them as well. Detainees had been told that the convergence bus has turned around and that activists no longer planned to visit.

Twenty five people joined a demonstration organised by homeless people to protest plans by the Western Australian government to remove homeless people from the city during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in October.
on the street.”

A parliamentary debate on April 7 revealed that homeless people would be directed away from CHOGM security areas in the city.

Protesters were upset the government wanted to keep them out of sight during the CHOGM summit without doing anything to tackle homelessness.

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