Pip Hinman

“Gillard and Abbott fly in and out of Afghanistan under heavy protection from harm. Both curry political advantage from the khaki vote. The rest of us see young Ozzie lives ripped apart without any obvious gain to ordinary Afghans. Let the pollies go and fight their own useless war …” “Dan51” from Sydney, who made this comment under a November 22 Sydney Morning Herald article, is part of the majority (64% in the November 21 Essential Poll or 72% according to Roy Morgan), who want Australian soldiers out of Afghanistan.
On the eve of US President Barack Obama’s visit to mark 60 years of the ANZUS military alliance, PM Julia Gillard is not convincing people that Australia must “stay the course” in Afghanistan. A November 4 Roy Morgan poll, taken six days after an Afghan army trainee killed three Australian soldiers and wounded seven, said 72% of people want troops out, the biggest opposition since the war began 10 years ago. Supporters of the pro-war parties polled closely: 69% of ALP voters and 67% of Liberal-National Party voters want troops out. Among Greens supporters, the figure is 80%.
Sydney lord mayor Clover Moore made clear at a Sydney City Council meeting on November 6 that she supported the “principles” of the Occupy movement but did not support Occupy Sydney. Greens councillor Irene Doutney put a motion to investigate the dawn police raid on the group in Martin Place and help find Occupy a site for the protest. But Moore replied that she had to “balance the rights of residents, visitors, workers and others to have access to the public domain”.
Australian police in two cities now have decided to follow in the footsteps of their counterparts in the US and Europe and forcibly break up peaceful Occupy protests. But rather than deter this broad non-partisan movement of the 99%, it is helping it grow and re-occupy.
Pat Eatock laughs at the suggestion that her successful Federal Court action against Andrew Bolt and News Ltd has jeopardised free speech. Bolt is one of Australia’s most widely read columnists, boasting 3 million visits a month. On September 28, Justice Mordecai Bromberg ruled that the ultra-conservative columnist Bolt had breached the Racial Discrimination Act in two articles he wrote in 2009 in which he criticised “fair skinned Aborigines” for what, he argued, was a choice they had made to identify as Aboriginal.
Pat Eatock laughs at the suggestion that her successful Federal Court action against Andrew Bolt and News Ltd has jeopardised free speech. Bolt is one of Australia’s most widely read conservative columnists. His blog boasts 3 million web hits a month. On September 28, Justice Mordecai Bromberg ruled the ultra-conservative columnist Bolt had breached the Racial Discrimination Act in two articles he wrote in 2009 in which he criticised “fair skinned Aborigines” for what, he argued, was a choice they had made to identify as Aboriginal.
Israeli activist and author Miko Peled, currently touring Australia, is convinced that the Israel-Palestine conflict can be solved. But, he told public meetings in Sydney and Newcastle, he doesn't believe that it will happen while the government of Israel remains committed to Zionism (the maintenance of Israel as an exclusively "Jewish" state) and continues its ethnic cleansing operation by moving Palestinians off their land. “It is not some inexorable process of nature,” Peled said. “It is a conflict between people, and it is therefore something over which people can have control.”
Chanting “Coal seam gas, we will stop it; our community is not for profit”, 2000 locals marched on September 18 from Newtown’s Camperdown Park to Sydney Park in St Peters, just 200 metres from a proposed CSG mining site. The colourful march packed King Street, where most cafes and shops carried “No Gas” signs. Many pedestrians either cheered the rally or joined the march.
Dart Energy company executives, accompanied by their minders, were roasted at a 200-strong Town Hall community meeting on August 16 in the inner city suburb of St Peters. Dart is the coal seam gas company with a licence to explore for coal seam gas under the whole of the Sydney basin. Dart CEO Robbert de Weijer unsuccessfully tried to allay community fears about a number of issues. He argued it was “unlikely” drilling would even happen in St Peters and that the company doesn’t use the controversial fracking (hydraulic fracturing) process or BTEX chemicals (Benzine and similar toxins).
Dart Energy, the company that holds a licence to mine for coal seam gas in the Sydney basin, fronted a packed out meeting at Leichhardt Town Hall on August 1. But the CEO failed to convince the 250-strong crowd of the so-called green benefits of coal seam gas. The meeting, organised by the NSW Greens, also featured a health professional and community campaigners that said coal seam gas was bad for humans and the environment. They called for a moratorium on the industry — covering current and future mining — until more research had been done on the impacts of coal seam gas mining.

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