Paul Benedek

Farmers, environmentalists, irrigators, winemakers, horse breeders, the NSW opposition, and coal seam gas (CSG) campaigners have all been angered by the NSW Coalition government's new land use plans, which give the go-ahead to CSG and coalmining across the state. Despite Premier Barry O’Farrell’s pre-election promise that key agricultural land would be protected from mining and CSG activity, the government's draft Aquifer Interference Policy and draft Strategic Regional Land Use Plans "have left the gate open", said the NSW Farmers Association.
Despite the NSW government's promise to rule out sensitive areas to coal seam gas (CSG) activity, the long-awaited Strategic Regional Land Use Plan and Aquifer Interference Policy means “every part of NSW is still up for grabs”, Jess Moore from Stop CSG Illawarra said on March 6. Liberal premier Barry O’Farrell’s government policy is “a disaster and a broken election promise”. Moore said “no areas are off limits to CSG”.
The advertising industry is insidious. A massive US$464 billion was estimated to have been spent globally on commercial advertising in 2011. Next year it is tipped to grow by another US$22 billion despite the ongoing economic crisis in Europe and the US.
In the biggest staff and student rally at the University of Sydney for years, 700 students and staff packed the university’s Main Quad on March 7 to protest management plans to axe 340 staff. One hundred staff have already received redundancy notices unless they can “show cause” they should keep their jobs. A further 64 staff have been told they must ditch research projects and take up teaching-intensive roles or also face losing their jobs. Despite the university having 1000 more students than last year, management also plans to cut 190 general staff positions.
Chanting “no cuts, no way, this is what the staff say”, 200 staff and student supporters defied rain to march through the University of Sydney on February 29 to protest against the university management’s move to axe 340 university staff. The rally, organised by the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU), took place on the first student orientation day.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard said marriage equality was "inevitable" when she met with three same-sex couples on February 21 during a dinner organised by GetUp! The admission came despite her own opposition to equal marriage.
After recent threats to thousands of jobs in the aluminium, car and banking industries, Green Left Weekly spoke to Geelong Trades Hall secretary Tim Gooden about strategies to fight the job cuts. “Alcoa says 600 jobs are in danger, but there are 3500 more hanging off that,” Gooden told GLW. “If they close Point Henry [aluminium] smelter, it will hit the rolled products, and then the companies that use the rolled products.
She’s proposed nuclear explosions for open-cut mining, funded tours by climate deniers and called for bringing in cheap migrant labour to work her mines. Now Australia’s richest person, Gina Rinehart, has bought the largest individual stake in Fairfax Media, which runs the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and the Australian Financial Review, plus various radio stations and regional papers.
“We can’t eat money, we need to save our future food,” seventh generation farmer Tim Duddy told a packed forum on February 6. Organised by the Sydney Food Fairness Alliance, the forum examined the impacts of coal and coal seam gas (CSG) activity on farming regions that make up Australia’s food bowl.
US gangster Al Capone once said: “Capitalism is the legitimate racket of the ruling class.” 19th century US president Thomas Jefferson said: “Banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies.” These quotes capture the bastard nature of the dangerous racket that is the Australian banking cartel. See also: Socialist candidate says fight private bank ripoffs
“Poker machine playing is a repetitive and insidious form of gambling which has many undesirable features. It requires no thought, no skill or social contact. The odds are never about winning … the machines … are addictive to many people. Historically poker machines have been banned … in the public interest, they should stay banned.” This quote is not from independent MP Andrew Wilkie, or “No Pokies” Nick Xenophon. It is from the 1974 Royal Commission into Gambling, Western Australia.
After unilaterally locking out the Qantas workforce in October, grounding the fleet and leaving workers and travellers stranded, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has been handed a positive outcome by the federal government’s Fair Work Australia (FWA). Joyce’s lockout resulted on October 30 in FWA terminating the legal, protected industrial action that Qantas unions had voted for, rewarding Joyce’s industrial sabotage.
The global economic meltdown is yet to hit Australia hard, but 2011 was still a busy year of struggle in this relatively sheltered, wealthy country. The year began with an Australian citizen on the global centre stage. WikiLeaks cables embarrassed governments worldwide, revealing war crimes and treachery, and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested without charge. He was detained for all of last year. His supporters fear he will be extradited to the US, where conservatives have openly called for his assassination.
Refugee rights activists representing groups and individuals from Darwin, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Canberra, Wollongong, Sydney, and the Blue Mountains met on December 3 to plan campaign activities for this year. It was the first national gathering of refugee rights campaigners since federal Labor's 2007 election, and fittingly occurred on the same weekend as the ALP's national conference. Labor further entrenched its anti-refugee policies, in particular offshore processing.
Chanting “shame Barry, shame”, 35,000 people from dozens of unions and their supporters rallied in Sydney’s Domain on September 8 to oppose savage cuts to public services and job conditions. Contingents of teachers, nurses, firefighters, police, rail and bus workers, and public sector workers swelled the ranks of the protest, the largest union rally in the state in 20 years. The rally, held just two days after the O’Farrell government handed down its budget, was almost double the size predicted by Unions NSW.
Chanting “refugees — freedom now, don’t treat people worse than cows”, 50 refugee rights protesters confronted immigration minister Chris Bowen at a refugee conference on June 17. The protest, which was called by the Refugee Action Coalition, marched into the University of NSW lecture theatre in which Bowen was addressing the conference, before police and security ejected the activists. Many of those inside the conference, which was organised by the Centre for Refugee Research, supported the protest. About half the room turned their backs on Bowen.

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