Mel Barnes

A debate about sexism erupted when female prime minister Julia Gillard attacked the opposition leader in Australian parliament for his misogynist attitudes. It was a reminder that even after all the advances in the past 40 years, many women still face high rates of domestic violence and sexual assault, they shoulder the burden of child care and housework, in the workforce they make up most casual and underpaid jobs while earning 70% of what men earn, and battle daily with sexism in culture and relationships.
NSW Coalition Premier Barry O’Farrell has been accused of lying about his pre-election promise to protect farmland and drinking water catchments from the burgeoning coal seam gas (CSG) industry. The government finally released its Strategic Regional Land Use Policy on September 11. It outlines how the government will manage the CSG industry. After 18 months of promising to protect sensitive areas such as farms and bushland from the new industry, the policy revealed that no part of NSW has been ruled out for CSG mining and exploration.
A new report by Greenpeace says plans to double Australia’s coal exports will damage worldwide attempts to reduce carbon emissions and limit climate change. Released on September 18, Greenpeace’s report, Cooking the climate: Wrecking the reef, focused on the Galilee Basin, a coal-rich region in central Queensland. Several companies are seeking approval to build nine huge coalmines there, “five of which would be larger than any existing coal mine in Australia”.
In Port Augusta, two ageing coal-fired power stations are scheduled to retire. We have a choice: either replace them with gas-fired power stations or take the opportunity to switch to renewable energy. Research by Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) shows that six solar thermal power towers and 90 wind turbines could be built in Port Augusta to generate the same amount of electricity as the current coal stations. Here are five reasons why solar is better than the gas alternative. 1. Jobs
The Australian government has bowed to public pressure and banned the supertrawler from operating in Australian waters for two years. During this time more scientific research will be completed into the effects the supertrawler would have on local fish stocks. The supertrawler, known as the Margiris before changing its name to the Abel Tasman, is the world's second-largest trawler and would have been the largest ship ever to fish in Australian waters. The 142-metre-long ship had a quota of 18,000 tonnes, which it would have caught with its 300-metre-long net.
In a remote part of Western Australia, on the Burrup peninsula near Karratha, is one of the world’s oldest and most important cultural sites. It is the world’s largest collection of rock art, dotted over an area covering 42 adjacent islands, and it is under threat from unchecked industrial development.
A peaceful community blockade set up to stop construction of two coal seam gas (CSG) pilot wells near Newcastle was broken up by riot police August 28. Dart Energy won approval by the state government to drill the wells in Fullerton Cove in June this year. Locals say a more rigorous environmental assessment of the project needs to be done.
The Tasmanian Greens have proposed the “biggest reform in the Tasmanian electricity sector since the dams were built", in its response to an expert panel that reviewed the state’s electricity industry earlier this year. About 80% of the Tasmania’s electricity comes from hydro power, owned by Hydro Tasmania. This is sold to Aurora, the only retail company in the state. Another company, Transend, owns the distribution network. All three are government business enterprises.
Three open cut coalmines have been proposed over the Leard State Forest and adjoining farmland near Boggabri in NSW. Two mines currently operate in the forest, but their proposed expansion and a brand new mine would clear 50% of the forest. The National Parks Association of NSW says the forest is “home to 26 threatened plant and animal species” and is “the single biggest remnant of native vegetation left on the heavily cleared Liverpool Plains”.
Two new mines are being assessed within the Tarkine rainforest in north-west Tasmania. The Tarkine is well known for the public battles to save it from logging, and was given emergency National Heritage listing in 2009. But that status lapsed in December 2010, and with the global price of minerals rising, mining companies began to explore the area. Ten mines have been proposed for the area — nine of them open cut. The first two mines planned will produce tin and iron ore.

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