Supporters of women's reproductive rights gathered outside NSW Parliament on November 13. The push to amend the NSW Crimes Act to grant a foetus personhood rights is likely to collapse after a controversial Private Member’s Bill failed to be debated in the Legislative Council. The bill, known as “Zoe’s law”, has one more chance to be debated or it will lapse permanently on November 20. Zoe’s law was first introduced in 2010. It was passed by the Legislative Assembly last year.
A small number of inner Sydney women's refuges flagged for closure received news on October 30 that their state government funding has been reinstated. However, other city and regional refuges continue to face closure or loss of specialist services for women, including Aboriginal women and young people, following their transfer into the hands of churches and charities.
Over the past week, residents in Ashfield, Leichhardt and Haberfield have sprung into action in attempts to stop geotechnical drilling by tenderers for the WestConnex tollway. About 200 drill sites have been identified along the proposed route of WestConnex, between Concord and Rockdale. Drilling for stages 1 and 2 of the project has been underway since mid-September, but residents have been kept in the dark about when and where drilling will happen.
In NSW, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) heard evidence from Operation Spicer of significant breaches of donations laws by Liberal candidates and private donors before the 2011 state election. The hearings have exposed 12 state and federal Liberal politicians, who have either resigned or stood aside, including former NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell. ICAC is due to release its full report next year and this will include recommendations on whether criminal charges should be laid.
The University of New South Wales acting vice chancellor Iain Martin cancelled a Town Hall meeting on September 3, organised to brief staff on the University’s response to proposed fee deregulation. UNSW students had planned to protest their exclusion from the meeting. In cancelling the meeting, Martin told staff: “We have been advised this morning by police and security that the meeting was being targeted by protest groups, which we understand were predominately external to UNSW. Our advice is that the intention was to disrupt the Town Hall.”
For the fifth time since their election in September last year, thousands of Australians will take to the streets in protest against Tony Abbott Coalition's government. These mobilisations have been critical to keep the pressure on the Labor Party, Greens and independents to stand firm in opposing the government's budget, which will bring austerity, cuts and privatisation. As a result of this opposition, Treasurer “Smokin' Joe” Hockey's budget has stalled.
Media reports about a deal being struck this week between the Australian government and Cambodia to resettle refugees from Nauru have been denied by Immigration and Border Protection Minister Scott Morrison. However the government has confirmed that negotiations towards a memorandum of understanding was continuing.
The gains of the first and second waves of the women’s liberation movement were groundbreaking. Yet in Australia today, 14% of women live below the poverty line. Why? The answer is that since the 1970s, and as part of the overall neoliberal offensive, Labor and Coalition governments have both presided over cuts to funding of women’s services, attacks on child care, education, health, and aged and disability care. New threats are also being posed to women’s reproductive rights.
It is now two and a half months since budget night. Remember Treasurer Joe Hockey and Mathias Corman smoking cigars, satisfied and smug after doing a job on Australian workers, pensioners and the poor? The government got a free pass when the Appropriation Bills were waved through by the ALP and the Greens, despite calls to block the budget from within the Greens and strong public sentiment expressed at the March in May rallies. Only independent MP Andrew Wilkie and Palmer United Party (PUP) MP Clive Palmer were prepared to vote against the bills.
The Australian government's efforts to pressure Cambodia to take refugees from Christmas Island is fraught with risks, experts told a forum organised by the Refugee Action Coalition (RAC) on July 14. Kyja Noack-Lundberg from RAC told the meeting that Cambodia could soon be signing a memorandum of understanding with the Australian government to resettle refugees from Nauru. The deal being negotiated between Australia and Cambodia appeared to be on track in May, however news of it has all but disappeared from the media since then.