Susan Austin

A large a protest called for freedom for Afghanistan, women’s rights, refugee rights and much more support the Afghani community.  Susan Austin reports.

Frack Free Tasmania held a public meeting on February 18 at Sustainable Living Tasmania to warn about possible exploration for shale oil and gas in the island state. The current moratorium on fracking in Tasmania is due to end on March 31. The government put out an issues paper which received 157 submissions, 90% of which were opposed to fracking being allowed in the state. The government responded to the review on February 26 by extending the moratorium until 2020.
Public sector unions in Tasmania held a two-hour strike across the state on November 27 to protest against the job cuts planned by the state Liberal government. About 10,000 workers from 11 unions attended stop-work rallies at 18 sites. This included about 5000 people who rallied at Parliament House in Hobart and 2000 who gathered at the Inveresk Tramsheds in Launceston. The rally in Burnie had to move out of the Arts and Function Centre to accommodate all the striking workers.
Susan Austin gave this speech at the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) in Hobart on September 21 as part of a global day of action on climate change. She is a member of Climate Action Hobart. *** UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon called a special Climate Summit at United Nations Headquarters in New York City on September 23. Shamefully, Tony Abbott will not be there, even though he will be in New York the next day for a security meeting. The security of our future is at stake due to climate change but he, and many of our other political and business leaders, is ignoring that.
The Tasmanian Liberal government released its first budget on August 28. About 1500 people protested outside Parliament House on the same day to voice their opposition to the government’s plans. The budget will cut 700 full-time jobs from the public sector and freeze public sector wages for at least one year. School attendant and United Voice member Ken Martindale addressed the rally about the impact the pay freeze will have on low-income families in Tasmania, saying that bills will go up each year even if pay does not.
About 5000 people protested outside Parliament House in Hobart on June 14 to call for the protection of Tasmania’s World Heritage forests. The World Heritage Committee unanimously approved the extension of 120,000 hectares of new reserves to the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage property at a meeting in June last year. The forests were judged to have met all four natural heritage criteria.
About 5000 people protested outside Parliament House in Hobart on June 14 to call for the protection of Tasmania’s World Heritage forests. The World Heritage Committee unanimously approved the extension of 120,000 hectares of new reserves to the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage property at a meeting in June last year. The forests were judged to have met all four natural heritage criteria.
A public meeting held in the Tasmanian town of Oatlands on August 2 discussed the application by PetroGas, an offshoot of Petratherm, to explore for shale gas and oil in more than 3000 square kilometres of southern Tasmania. About 80 residents attended the meeting. Tim Kirkwood, general manager of Southern Midlands council, said it was the best-attended public meeting ever held in Oatlands. The process of “fracking” for gas requires millions of litres of water and a major concern for many of the farmers present was the question of where the water would come from.
US activist Ben Silverman recently wrote a short essay titled
Mary Meets Mohammad Directed by Heather Kirkpatrick www.marymeetsmohammad.com If you thought that knitting and controversial current affairs don’t mix, then think again. Mary Meets Mohammad is a fantastic first feature length documentary by Tasmanian film maker Heather Kirkpatrick. It has received rave reviews by cinema-goers in Tasmania and will soon be screened in cinemas across the country.
Members of Amnesty International Australia’s Tasmania City Group dressed as bananas and collected signatures on a global petition to help launch Amnesty’s Arms Trade Treaty campaign on June 16 at the Salamanca markets in Hobart. There is no international standard to regulate the global trade and transfers of conventional arms. Amnesty Tasmania City Group’s Yabbo Thompson said: “There are complicated rules on the international trade of many products, such as bananas, but no global treaty controlling weapons or bullets.
Tasmania is facing a series of big, interlinked problems. These include: • a health system in crisis, • job losses in other public services causing big service inadequacies and unacceptable workloads and stress on frontline staff, • bleeding of skilled professionals and new graduates to other states, • the highest unemployment rate in the nation, • an economic recession, and • a rising cost of living.
Green Left Weekly's Susan Austin spoke to forest activist Miranda Gibson, who has lived for more than 100 days on a platform 60 metres up a Tasmanian old-growth tree. The “” has brought international attention to the campaign to protect Tasmania's forests. Gibson has vowed to continue her tree-sit until the campaign wins. * * * What prompted you to climb the tree and take this courageous action? What do you hope to achieve?
In response to timber industry lobbying, independent MP Rob Oakeshott moved a motion in federal parliament to allow foresters to claim Renewable Energy Certificates for burning native forests for power. The vote was lost on March 19 on a casting vote from the Speaker of the House Peter Slipper. The Labor Party, Greens, and independent MPs Andrew Wilkie and Tony Windsor voted against the motion. The Coalition voted for it.
On March 9, Gunns Ltd notified the Australian Stock Exchange that potential investor Richard Chandler Corporation pulled out of its bid to buy a 40% stake in the company. The Singapore-based investment firm of New Zealand millionaire Richard Chandler had planned to invest $150 million in the company. But it dropped the plan after consulting with stakeholders and communities. The news was welcomed by environmentalists as another big setback for Gunns’ plans to get its $2.3 billion Tamar Valley pulp mill started in northern Tasmania.
For more than 100 days, . Dubbed the ObserverTree, it is in Tasmania's logging coupe TN044B, whose steeply forested slopes have been earmarked for cable logging. The tree is in an area that is being assessed for reserve status under the Tasmania forestry peace deal. From the platform, Gibson can see areas of clearfelled forest around her.

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