Perth man Brendan O’Connell was sentenced to three years jail under WA’s racial vilification laws on January 31. He was found guilty of six counts of vilification relating to anti-Semitic comments he posted on a YouTube video in 2009. His jailing, and the length of the sentence, has opened up a certain controversy. Conservative columnist Paul Murray pointed out in the February 2 West Australian that a person convicted of glassing someone in a pub could expect to receive an 18-month sentence, whereas O’Connell received three years for an “essentially political [speech]”.
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 the summit. Stop and search laws were rejected by the state upper house in November and the CHOGM summit is no excuse to bring them in by the back door.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.