Residents in Gloucester, NSW, have set up a permanent camp to stop coal seam gas (CSG) company AGL from beginning exploration in the Gloucester Valley. Organisers of the camp said: “In August, the state government changed a state planning regulation to allow AGL to frack four existing coal seam gas wells without undertaking a full environmental impact statement. “AGL have not started fracking yet — they will give the government 28 days notice before beginning fracking, but we don’t want to let them get started at all.
A 24 year-old Iranian asylum seeker, Hamid Khazaei, who was flown from Manus Island to Brisbane in a medical emergency on August 27, was declared “brain dead” on September 1. His life support was switched off and he died on September 5. The Refugee Action Coalition in Sydney reported: “By the time Hamid was sent to Brisbane, he was suffering septicaemia from an infection spreading from a cut foot and went directly into intensive care in the Mater hospital. He had sought medical attention for days on Manus Island for the pain and the infection.
The largest coalmine ever built in Australia, and one of the biggest in the world, received final approval from the federal environment minister Greg Hunt on July 28. The Carmichael coalmine in central Queensland, owned by Indian company Adani, is forecast to produce 60 million tonnes of coal a year over the next 60 years. This dwarfs Australia’s current largest mine, which produces 20 million tonnes a year.
The Greens have faced criticism for their position on Israel’s war on Palestine. At a Palestine rally in Melbourne on July 26, Victorian Greens Senator Janet Rice was booed for calling for an arms embargo on both Israel and Palestine. At a Palestine rally in Brisbane on the same day, Greens candidate Jake Schoermer had a shoe thrown at him for condemning violence on both sides, New Matilda reported.
Australian man Jock Palfreeman was assaulted by a guard at Sofia’s Central Prison in Bulgaria on July 8. Palfreeman has been serving a 20-year in the prison since being found guilty of murder in 2007. Andrei Monov was killed during a street brawl in Sofia, Bulgaria’s capital. He was the only son of two well-connected people in the Sofia legal fraternity. Palfreeman says he went to the defence of a young Roma boy who was being attacked in the street by Monov and others. When Palfreeman intervened, he was also attacked and acted in self-defence.
A front page article in the Australian on July 11 reported claims that “asylum-seekers are coached and encouraged to attempt self-harm by refugee advocates who then use the incidents as political capital”. The allegations were made by former director of offshore processing Greg Lake, who said when he worked at what is now the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, “some refugee advocates were clearly urging asylum-seekers to self-harm as a form of protest so they could put out a press release about it”.
Welfare groups have expressed anger at changes to welfare for people with disabilities, which the federal government released in a draft report on June 29. The McClure report proposes far-reaching changes to the welfare system and cuts the number of welfare payments to just four; a working age payment, disability support, child support and the age pension. There are 830,000 recipients on the Disability Support Pension (DSP). Social services minister Kevin Andrews has suggested only people with a permanent disability would be eligible for the DSP.
Greens leader Christine Milne is challenging Prime Minister Tony Abbott to call a double dissolution election this year over the passage of a renewable energy bill. Milne said: “The Greens are ready for an election over the prime minister's global warming denial and his brutal budget.”
Tender Written & directed by Lynette Wallwarth A new documentary film, Tender, screened at the recent Sydney Film Festival, follows residents of the Wollongong suburb of Port Kembla who are working to start a not-for-profit funeral service in their local community. Recognising the local need for affordable and meaningful funeral services, the Port Kembla Community Centre decided to provide them. The film follows their journey as they gather community support and explore alternatives.
Repealing the carbon tax, abolishing the department of climate change, and getting rid of the Clean Energy Fund were the top three wishes in “75 radical ideas to transform Australia”, released by the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) in 2012. Number six was to repeal the Renewable Energy Target (RET). In the recent federal budget, the Coalition government is aiming to do all four.