Northern Territory Chief Minister Terry Mills was replaced by Adam Giles in a sudden leadership coup on March 13, while Mills was in Japan on a trade mission. This shift has led to backdowns from the Country Liberal Party (CLP) on some regressive policies but could pave the way for more attacks in the future. Crikey’s Bob Gosford predicted the spill on March 5 and wrote a detailed account of it.
The Northern Territory government passed new mandatory sentencing laws on February 14 that will increase the minimum time offenders spend in prison and restrict judges’ right to suspend sentences for certain crimes. NT justice minister John Elferink told AAP on February 14: "These new mandatory minimum sentences correct the failed attempt by the former Labor government to be tough on crime."
Northern Territory Chief Minister Terry Mills announced a deal on February 8 to secure power for the Nhulunbuy bauxite mine and alumina refinery. The deal was hailed as saving the community through protecting the industry that provides it with half its jobs. But the decision has disastrous environmental impacts and shows the lack of choices available to remote communities under the logic of the mining market. To survive, communities are asked to provide public funds to private companies to perform environmentally damaging activity.
Allegations raised by former Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks that he was drugged as a form of torture by US staff have been substantiated by documents uncovered in recent legal action in the US. Detainees were allegedly drugged by US military personnel before interrogation sessions and before they had their charges read to them.
Pressure from trade unions and human rights groups has stopped plans by South African authorities to charge striking mine workers with the massacre of 34 of their own comrades. Those killed had been shot by police on August 16. The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) have been competing for members at the Lomin mining corporation's platinum mine at Marikana in South Africa.
The remote Northern Territory Aboriginal community of Amoonguna said on August 23 that it wants its power back and refused to renew a five-year government lease, which expired on August 17. Amoonguna, 15 kilometres south of Alice Springs, has also started legal action to remove all government workers from its land.
Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation (YAC) may soon have a win against the mining corporation they allege has used dirty tactics and manipulation to force them into a mining deal they don’t want. Fortescue Metals Group (FMG), owned by mining magnate Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest, said it had secured the permission of traditional owners to start production on its $5 billion Solomon Hub iron ore project on Aboriginal land near Roebourne, WA.
The August 25 Northern Territory elections have degenerated in to a “law and order” slugfest between the Labor Party and the Country Liberals, but there are still some progressive candidates running who may do well.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) could have been a flagship policy that restored dignity to people with disabilities. Instead, ALP timidity and Coalition intransigence have left Australia with a woefully inadequate policy.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange announced on July 25 that Spanish jurist Baltasar Garzon would represent his case to fight extradition to Sweden, from where he fears he will be extradited to the United States. Garzon is known as a campaigning magistrate who pursues social justice cases. In 1998, Garzon was the investigating magistrate in the case where Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet was arrested. Pinochet died in 2006 before being convicted.
One hundred people joined a Maritime Union of Australia (MUA)-initiated protest against the proposed Muckaty nuclear waste dump on July 12 at Stokes Hill Wharf. MUA NT branch manager Thomas Mayor said wharfies would stand in solidarity with traditional owners who opposed the dump. The protest was held at Stokes Hill Wharf because waste would likely be shipped through the port if the waste dump goes ahead. Mayor said that the waste presented an unacceptable risk.
Breaking news:: Tamil refugee deported, disappears Australia’s two main parties are committed to a single “solution” for asylum seekers that flee to Australia by boat — offshore processing. The policy is inhumane, unjust and flouts international law. It will also fail to reduce the people that seek asylum here.
A poll released in May by the Israel Democracy Index has revealed most Israeli's hold deeply racist attitudes. The findings come in the wake of race riots and a crackdown on the rights of Palestinians. The poll found 52% of respondents agreed with interior minister Eli Yishai that Africans were “a cancer on the body” of Israel, the June 7 Times of Israel said. Yishai was quoted in the June 3 Maariv as saying most “Muslims that arrive here do not even believe that this country belongs to us, to the white man”.
Since the deaths of asylum seekers when two boats headed to Australia capsized, parliament has been locked in a debate about how to “save lives”. But the “debate” is framed in such a way to ensure that more lives will be lost and more refugees victimised. ALP and Coalition MPs are pushing a policy of refugee “deterrence” designed to simply move refugees somewhere else. On June 22, a boat carrying about 200 refugees capsized on its way to Christmas Island. Another vessel capsized on June 28. So far, reports say at least 91 refugees have drowned and others are still missing.
Opposition leader Tony Abbott announced his vision for a “tougher” refugee policy on June 9. Among the plans are to refuse refugee status for those who have arrived in Australia by boat without documentation. He also said that an Abbott Coalition government would appeal immigration department decisions to grant refugee status to boat arrivals. Abbott said: “What is happening now is that 90% of people who arrive illegally via boat are given successful outcomes.”
“One spill could kill our country” Muckaty traditional owner Penny Phillips told 100 people at the Crowne Plaza Hotel on May 30. The meeting was organised by Anti-Nuclear NT to condemn legislation passed by the federal government on March 13 that names Muckaty station, 200km north of Tennant Creek as the site for a proposed nuclear waste dump. The meeting was opened by Larrakeyah woman Donna Jackson whose traditional lands cover the East Arm Wharf, which is one area the waste could be taken through to get to the Muckaty site.