Kerry Smith

Mining company Rio Tinto has been fined only $50,000 over the collapse of a dam wall at its Mount Thorley Warkworth mine last year.

It is estimated that up to 4 megalitres of sediment-laden rainwater flowed into the Wallaby Scrub Road reserve from the dam. The company blamed the collapse on several days of continuous rain, which softened the dam’s earth wall. However the court found the event was not a major storm but "merely what is regarded as a one-in-two-year rain event". 

The federal government’s war on militant unions has escalated with the introduction of a bill that would give it the power to deregister unions, disqualify officials and block unions from merging.

The bill, which was introduced on August 16, goes further than the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption. It could scuttle mergers that have been approved by an overwhelming majority of union members, based on opposition from business.

Townsville pizza delivery driver Casey Salt and the Retail and Fast Food Workers Union (RAFFWU) are taking Domino's to the Fair Work Commission (FWC) in the latest challenge to unfair agreements struck between big retail and fast food employers and the conservative Shop, Distributive & Allied Employees Association (SDA).

Salt will ask the FWC to terminate an exploitative agreement her employer made with the SDA that has left workers underpaid tens of millions of dollars

Multinational giant Unilever, which owns Streets ice cream, has applied to the Fair Work Commission to terminate an enterprise agreement at its Minto plant in western Sydney. If the workers are forced back on to the award, they would suffer a significant loss in pay and conditions. 

The Minto workers, members of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU), rejected a proposed agreement that would have seen new employees paid less and with worse conditions compared to existing workers.

The City of Port Adelaide Enfield, in Adelaide's northern suburbs, made history on August 8 when it became the first local government in Australia to publicly advocate for the Newstart Allowance to be raised.

The motion, calling on Port Adelaide Enfield Council to lobby the federal government to raise Newstart, as well as produce a report into how council can assist local unemployed residents who are struggling, was sponsored by Councillor Michelle Hogan, and seconded by Councillor Peter Jamieson. It was passed by 11 votes to 2.

About 190 Oaky North miners were locked out of their workplace in the Bowen Basin west of Rockhampton on August 4 for a third consecutive eight-day period. It was the fourth time the workers had been locked out since June by Anglo-Swiss mining giant Glencore, which the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union (CFMEU) suspects of trying to replace the permanent workforce with contractors.

Activists have called for an independent inquiry into the Maules Creek coalmine in north-west NSW and its impact on the surrounding farming community after documents obtained by Environmental Justice Australia (EJA) revealed a litany of environmental licence breaches over the past six years.

EJA applied to access documents known as annual returns, which detail breaches or "non-compliance with [environmental] licence", through the Government Information (Public Access) Act. But Whitehaven Coal, which owns the Maules Creek mine, fought them all the way.

ABC’s Four Corners recent report “Trashed: The dirty truth about your rubbish” highlighted a crisis in Australia’s recycling and waste disposal. The report implicated local councils, the Environmental Protection Agency and state and federal governments in the dodgy but highly profitable illegal dumping industry.

Companies built around the core business of illegal dumping are making millions of dollars in profits while local councils are losing thousands of dollars in waste levies.

After more than six months camped outside the Reserve Bank building in Martin Place, and following months of negotiations between the state government and the City of Sydney Council, the homeless occupants of Sydney’s tent city began packing up their belongings on August 11.

The man often called the “Mayor of Martin Place”, Lanz Priestley, said some camp dwellers were moving to “friend’s places” or “friend’s backyards”, but some “don’t have anywhere to go”.

Locals took to the streets of Penrith on August 5 to rally against a controversial plan by Dial A Dump and its director Ian Malouf to build a waste-to-energy incinerator at Eastern Creek, in Sydney’s west.

The rally marched to the electorate office of Minister for Western Sydney Stuart Ayres. It was timed to coincide with an Upper House inquiry into energy-from-waste technology due to begin on August 7. 

Pages

Subscribe to Kerry Smith