With Tony Abbott ruling the roost in Canberra, it is important for the climate movement in Australia to take stock and have a discussion about where to go next. It is easy to be discouraged by the election of Abbott. However, it should not be forgotten that the election was more than just a “referendum on the carbon tax”, it was also an electoral snapshot of a country that has been subjected to an exceptionally strong barrage of brainwashing for the past few years. The ideas spread through the media are powerful, but they are not invincible.
More than 100 people encircled by chalk rainbows greeted the weekly meeting of Newcastle city council on June 25. Chaired by Save Our Figs veteran Debbi Long, the rally heard from Greens councillors Michael Osborne and Therese Doyle; federal Labor candidate Sharon Claydon; Michelle Lancey from support service Parents, Friends and Family of Gays and Lesbians; and Miss La Bang, a flamboyantly dressed bridal drag queen representing the radical rainbow army.
The NSW Coalition government announced plans on December 13 last year to cut the Newcastle rail line at Wickham station. As part of the urban renewal strategy document, passengers would have to transfer to buses to complete the last two kilometres of their journey to Newcastle. A long-running community group, Save Our Rail, has twice stopped former Labor and Coalitions governments' attempts to cut the line. Here are ten reasons why the campaign needs to continue: There is no solution proposed for rail users affected by the cut
About 100 people gathered at the Jerrys Plains community hall on January 29 to outline concerns about the encroachment of the coal industry on their township and to begin a united fightback.
Anti-coal activist Jonathan Moylan hit the headlines after he distributed a fake media release in the name of ANZ bank on January 7. It claimed that the bank was withdrawing a $1.2 billion loan that would finance the proposed Maules Creek coalmine owned by Whitehaven Coal, due to its corporate responsibility policy. It read: “We want our customers to be assured that we will not be investing in coal projects that cause significant dislocation of farmers, unacceptable damage to the environment, or social conflict.”
If the official government line is to be believed, Australia is only a minor player when it comes to our greenhouse gas emissions. In this view, Australia is powerless to bring about international action to cut emissions. Indeed, any such efforts are only likely to amount to economic self-sabotage. From Laggard to Leader, the new report from research group Beyond Zero Emissions, demolishes these arguments. Far from being an inconsequential emitter, Australia’s carbon footprint is immense.
It was a week which started with federal treasurer Wayne Swan having a go at the mining billionaires for distorting our democracy, but which soon entered a new phase whereby the Labor party illustrated the rather narrow range within which our two party system has room to move.
Peruvian-born Harlem emcee Immortal Technique rocked a full house at the Metro in Sydney on January 19 as part of his debut tour of Australia and New Zealand. The Afro-Peruvian Technique grew up alongside other poor African Americans and Latinos in New York and steered clear of offers from record labels (“offered me a deal, and a blanket full of smallpox!”, he sings in “Industrial Revolution”). Instead, he built up a substantial following as an independent artist.
The Philippines, one of the poorest Asian nations with a huge foreign debt ― caused by successive corrupt governments ― remains a place of simmering class tension. In the past six weeks, there have been mobilisations around a range of issues. On October 11, there was a national day of action against rising energy costs. There were protests right across the archiapelago. Residents turned off their power for half-an-hour and created a “noise barrage” with whistles and horns.
Members of the Philippines Air Lines Employees Association (PALEA) have been engaged in three weeks of pickets at the Philippines Airlines (PAL) terminal at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila. About 2600 ground crew have fought against forced contractualisation — the replacement of permanent, secure jobs with contract labour. PALEA president Gerry Rivera told Green Left Weekly the dispute had its origins in 2009 when PAL management declared their intention to outsource the roles of the 2600 ground crew.
The NSW Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) is continuing to build the Bulahdelah bypass, north of Newcastle, despite a community campaign to halt the project. The bypass road was first proposed in 2000. Three main routes were canvassed: one to the west of the town, passing through several flat paddocks; another to the east, cutting through the foot of the Alum mountain; and an option that involved widening the existing road. The safer, more geologically stable and slightly western route was ditched in favour of the mountain route.
A report prepared for the Australian Coal Association titled Impact of Proposed Carbon Tax on Black Coal mining claims that the government’s proposed carbon tax is going to cause eight coal mines to close prematurely and will cost thousands of jobs between now and 2021. The report claimed 4700 jobs would be lost from existing coalmines due to the carbon price
The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) organised a “save solar” rally in Newcastle on June 6. The rally was at the office of Liberal MLA Tim Owen and was the latest in a string of protests calling for planned retrospective cuts to NSW’s solar bonus scheme to be abandoned. The rally attracted about 250 people and included many solar industry workers. SEIA representative Chanti Richardson chaired the rally and introduced Solar Newcastle (SN) director Adam Dalby.
A big ad campaign — “Australia says yes” — began this month to support the federal government’s proposed carbon tax. The campaign has been organised by a coalition of peak environment and social justice organisations including GetUp!, the Australian Conservation Foundation and the Australian Council of Trade Unions. One of the people featured in the advertisements is actor Cate Blanchett. Her presence attracted the ire of conservative politicians and commentators as soon as the commercials aired.
Members of climate action group NoPlanetB.org blocked the haulage of coal from Xstrata’s West Wallsend underground mine for several hours on May 30. A climber was suspended in a tunnel entrance on a haul road, used for transferring coal to the port of Newcastle. Others stood in front of trucks. The group sought to raise its concern about the demands from the coal industry, including Xstrata, that pollution from coalmines be exempt from the federal government’s proposed carbon tax.
A group of 30 people held up construction of a second loader arm at Newcastle's third coal loader site on Kooragang Island on May 10, stopping a crane crew for about 90 minutes. The protest coincided with what would have been Newcastle climate activist Pete Gray's 31st birthday. Gray sadly lost a two year long battle with cancer on April 30.