Sarah Ausburn

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s legal team have announced they will appeal after British magistrate Howard Riddle ruled on February 24 that Assange can be extradited to Sweden to face questioning on allegations of sexual assault. Assange denies the allegations. Assange’s British Attorney Mark Stephens told Democracy Now later that day that the defence team remains “very optimistic about our opportunities on appeal”.
Activists from the Refugee Action Coalition (RAC) confronted Immigration Minister Chris Bowen and opposition Immigration spokesperson Scott Morrison at a Harmony Day event in Sydney on February 17. "You've forgotten to tell us what you did this morning," RAC's Paul Benedek called out to Bowen after his speech. That morning, Bowen had overseen the forced return of 22 survivors of the Christmas Island tragedy (including Seena, a nine-year-old boy orphaned in the incident) back to detention on the island after a short stay in Sydney to bury their dead relatives.
Members of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) voted on January 13 to lift their ban on the transmission of student results. More than 40 staff members who took part in the lawful industrial action had been stood down without pay for nearly eight weeks. The decision to lift the ban followed concerns over attempts by university management to release unauthorised student results.
About 150 members of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) at the University of New South Wales and Macquarie University have been stood down after taking part in lawful and protected industrial action. The union put a ban on the transmission of student results after more than two years of negotiations failed to make progress on improving job security, pay and other conditions for staff. A key sticking point in the negotiations is management’s unregulated use of fixed-term contracts and casual employment.
The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) has voted for further industrial action, as vice-chancellor Fred Hilmer still refuses to negotiate in good faith on improvements to job security, pay and other conditions for staff. A November 10 NTEU meeting voted for an indefinite ban on processing student results at the end of the second semester. This is the second time staff have voted to carry out results bans this year. The dispute made headlines in July after management’s decision to stand down about 70 staff without pay.
Seventy people from across New South Wales took part in the Socialist Alliance state conference on October 7 to discuss politics and political campaigns in NSW and plan for the March 2011 state elections. The conference decided to run a “red-green” election campaign based on the slogan “NSW not for sale, community need not corporate greed!”
Touring Colombian unionist Parmenio Poveda Salazar, an official with the National Unitarian Federation of Agrarian Unions (Fensuagro), has called for increased international solidarity with unionists and human rights activists in Colombia. Parmenio said: "Many leaders of Colombian unions have been assassinated, and others have been forced into exile" by the policies of former president Alvaro Uribe. These same policies are continuing under new president Manuel Santos with at least 22 unionists and social justice activists being killed in the first 75 days of Santos’ presidency.
The Cyprus Club was packed out at a special “Viva Cuba” solidarity dinner on October 31. About 180 people welcomed the new Cuban ambassador to Australia Pedro Monzon Barata, the new Cuban consul general Reinaldo Garcia Perera and new Cuban consul Maribel Espinosa Begueri. Tim Anderson, senior lecturer in political economy at the University of Sydney, gave a sneak preview of his new documentary about Cuban medical and education projects in East Timor. Cuba is training more than 900 doctors as part of the programs.
Three hundred people gathered at Sydney Town Hall on October 29 to protest against physical and sexual violence against women, as part of global Reclaim the Night protests. Professor of Law and Indigenous Studies at the University of Technology Sydney, Larissa Behrendt, outlined the challenges Indigenous women face, not only from Indigenous men but also the white legal system when reporting incidents of physical and sexual assault. Charlotte Long from Burma Campaign Australia spoke about the systematic rape of ethnic minority women in Burma.
One hundred people rallied in Sydney on October 9 in solidarity with a young Cairns couple charged with abortion-related offences under Queensland’s 1899 criminal code. The court case begins on October 12, and the couple will be supported by a vigil outside. The rally was organised by the Women’s Abortion Action Campaign (WAAC) as part of a national day of action coordinated by ProChoice Action Collective Qld: WAAC NSW: and Radical Women Vic. It called for the repeal of all abortion laws from the criminal code and for free, safe and accessible abortion.

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