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.
Michael Coleman is keen to rejoin a Gaza Freedom Flotilla at any time (although his parents would say something different). The youth worker from Sydney has just returned from taking part of the international protest against Israel’s illegal siege on Gaza. Coleman narrowly avoided a jail term for trying to help a Canadian boat — the Tahrir — leave a port on the Greek island of Crete as part of the Freedom Flotilla 2. He is very proud to have been part of an international protest which has again put the spot light back on to Israel.
Two Australian Palestine solidarity activists, former NSW Greens MP Sylvia Hale and Jews Against the Occupation activist Vivienne Porzsolt, were released from immigration detention by an Israeli court on July 13. The court ordered they not be deported. The judge ruled that while they had not broken any rules, they had a limited time to apply to the Israeli Defence Force to visit Bethlehem and Ramallah in the West Bank. The pair had told immigration on entry to Israel that they wanted to visit Palestine.
Three Australian activists joining the Freedom Flotilla 2 were given a heartfelt sendoff by Green Left Weekly at the Resistance Centre on June 15. The three will soon join activists from 50 countries taking part in this latest international action to pressure Israel to lift the illegal blockade on Gaza. They have partnered with a Canadian organisation and their boat Tahrir (Liberation) will carry about 50 passengers and crew. See also:
Laura’s* mother was in Dara’a in southern Syria when the military attacked youths who had graffitied anti-government slogans in mid March. Only when she had arrived back in Sydney did she tell her family about what she’d seen of the attacks on unarmed protesters, which sparked the wave of anti-government protests across Syria.