Liverpool Plains' farmers are celebrating the New South Wales state government's decision, on August 11, to buy back BHP Billiton's Caroona coalmine licence for $220 million. This comes after a struggle that began in 2008, when farmer Tim Duddy and the local community began a blockade that put a spanner in BHP Billiton's efforts to start drilling operations on his family's Rossmar Park property.
A new climate report released on August 3 by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) confirms the world is hot and getting hotter. The State of the Climate report said that last year was the second consecutive hottest year on record, surpassing 2014 as the previous warmest year.
As AGL announced a $400 million loss on August 10, anti-gas protesters assembled outside its headquarters to demand it close its Camden coal seam gas (CSG) project in south-west Sydney. AGL, which largely invests in coal, has been producing gas in the Macarthur region since 2009, taking over from Sydney Gas Limited, which started in Camden in 2001 and expanded south east in 2004.
To the surprise of many, former Greens leader Bob Brown used the ABC's 7.30 on July 29 to launch a blistering attack on recently re-elected NSW Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon. Brown told the ABC that Rhiannon had given “great service” but that “the old guard that runs the office in New South Wales” needs changing.
Human rights lawyers are opposed to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's plan to introduce laws that would allow people who have been convicted on terrorism charges to be held in prison indefinitely.
The Chilcot Inquiry into Britain's role in the Iraq War has prompted calls for a similar inquiry into the Coalition government, then led by John Howard, taking Australia into war in 2003. Andrew Wilkie, the only intelligence official from the US, Britain or Australia to dispute the official explanation for the Iraq War, said on July 7 there should be an investigation into the Howard government's decision to go to war.
Anger with the two major parties was the clear winner this federal election as a quarter of the electorate gave their first preference to independents, Greens or minor parties. The Socialist Alliance (SA) ran in the Senate in three states, and in four lower house seats. Despite its blanket exclusion from the corporate media, its reliance on small donations and its radical message, its votes increased in two lower house seats, dipped in two others and increased our Senate vote in NSW and WA compared to the previous election.
There's a “huge appetite” for abortion law reform, Greens MLC Dr Mehreen Faruqi told a 150-strong meeting at the Glebe Town Hall on June 6. “We've waited far too long already,” she said. The meeting was organised to launch Faruqi's decriminalisation of abortion bill, which is in its draft stage. The panelists included health professionals Philippa Ramsay and Juliet Richters, health laywer Julie Hamblin and Bethany Sheehan, a founder of My Body My Right, a group campaigning for a safe space outside abortion clinics.
Disengagement from mainstream politics is so widespread that when the marginalised and poor start getting engaged the establishment, and its media, hits back. This explains the corporate media's sexist-tinged blitzkrieg against Sue Bolton and Roz Ward, both Melbourne-based activists. Both women have come to prominence recently for their determination to stand up for the most marginalised and dispossessed sectors of society and involve others in the process.
A rally on Saturday May 28 in Moreland in the inner north of Melbourne has been attracting support from organisations keen to show their opposition to racism. About 55 groups, including unions, community and faith-based groups, community radio and political parties have signed on to the rally initiated by Socialist Alliance Councillor in Moreland Sue Bolton. The rally's focus is around four key points: Stop the forced closure of Aboriginal communities; Treaty now; Let the refugees in — Close Manus and Nauru; and No to Islamophobia.
The Illawarra Knitting Nannas Against Gas (IKNAG) held a knit-in outside the office of the federal deputy leader of the ALP, Tanya Plibersek, in Sydney on May 16. IKNAG's Annie Malow contacted Plibersek with two questions asking for "yes" or "no" answers. The first was: Do you support a ban on CSG mining in drinking water catchment? The second was: Would you move legislation for such a ban? Plibersek was not in her office, but two of her staffers came out offering the Nannas several balls of wool — all the wrong colours.
With polls showing growing support for the Greens and independents, the powers-that-be and their media hacks are becoming increasingly hysterical. For the 1% and their supporters, the prospect of the July 2 double dissolution election delivering a hung parliament is the worst of all possible worlds. Uncertainty threatens their profit margins and means political and economic chaos — a nightmare for the ruling class that has had it so good for so long.
Senator Glenn Lazarus’s 117-page interim Senate report on unconventional gas mining in Australia was released on May 4. It makes a case for much tighter federal control of the industry and the public resources it has access to, but does not recommend its closure. If anything the report underscores the need for a royal commission into the toxic industry that relies on commercial in confidence provisions to get away with poisoning people and the environment.
In many ways, environment minister Greg Hunt's attendance at the New York signing of the Paris Agreement on April 21 underscored the Coalition government's resistance to in taking real action to curb toxic carbon dioxide emissions.
Mainstream media chatter about recent polls showing the Coalition's honeymoon has dramatically ended has ignored another revealing statistic: there is a growing slice of the population that rejects the politics-as-usual model. They are the people the surveys lump into the category of “don't know”. These are the people who do not engage with the pollsters' questions. They have a variety of reasons, but disengagement from the whole political process as they see it on TV and hear it on the radio is one of them.
The Mike Baird government's push for local government to roll over to its forced amalgamation push is looking decidedly shambolic. The NSW government wants to reduce 43 Sydney councils to 25 and 109 regional councils to 87. It has argued that efficiencies and savings will be made by doing so. But it is facing stiff opposition from progressive and conservative councils alike. Even federal Liberal and National MPs, worried about their seats, have urged Baird to back off.