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About a thousand people took part in the 2014 International Women's Day march in Sydney on March 8. The rights of women workers, single parents, migrant and refugee women and threats to the right to abortion were among the issues highlighted. The organising committee raised as two central demands: "Stop Zoe's Law!" and "Equal pay now!" ""We are facing the biggest attack on our reproductive rights that this country has seen in recent history with the introduction of a foetal personhood law (titled "Zoe's Law") in NSW Parliament.
In late January, the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) decided not to assess a proposal for fracking in Western Australia’s Kimberley region. Buru Energy plans to conduct 34 fracks in the region starting this year. It intends to conduct most of these fracks at four existing wells: two at Yulleroo, 90 kilometres east of Broome, and two at Valhalla/Asgard, 320 kilometres east of Broome.
The federal Coalition government is set on a path of unprecedented cuts to public services; Medicare is under threat, as are workers' penalty rates. Added to this is the large-scale selling out of action on climate change along with important natural environments, such as forests and the Great Barrier Reef, to make way for destructive mining and logging industries.
Pro-choice activists are concerned that a bill that aims to give foetuses legal rights for the first time was not debated in the NSW Legislative Council on March 6. They wanted it to be tabled and voted on because they were confident it would be defeated. The bill known as Zoe’s Law was listed for debate but Liberal MP Marie Ficarra did not table it. Later, it was rumoured that the bill’s supporters could only count on 10 votes. Last November, the bill passed through the NSW Legislative Assembly, 63 to 26.
John Fenton is a farmer from Wyoming in the United States who has 24 gas wells on his property. He recently toured Australia to speak about the environmental and health impacts the gas industry has had on his land and community. He spoke at 11 meetings in gas hotspots throughout Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, organised by the Greens and Lock the Gate Alliance. These meetings were well attended. In Narrabri, in northern New South Wales, 600 people came to hear him speak.
The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) at a Perth university has been forced to the brink of industrial action. University of Western Australia (UWA) management has spent over a year dragging its feet in enterprise bargaining negotiations, but has refused to budge on key issues of pay, workload limits and parking fees.
The Socialist Alliance Victoria released this statement on March 2. *** The mine fire that has been burning since February 9 is an immediate and serious threat to the health of residents in Morwell and other towns near the Hazelwood mine. Immediate health threats include: elevated levels of carbon monoxide, a toxic gas; fine particulate pollution in the PM2.5 and PM10 size range; ash fallout over the area, potentially containing many toxic compounds; carcinogenic compounds in ash and particulates.
The EarthWorker Cooperative is off to a good start this year, as it begins to distribute its renewable energy products. The EarthWorker project has been the result of a 16-year development between trade unions and green movements across the country, also involving small-scale businesses that have been financially damaged by the neoliberal policies of the state and federal governments for the past two decades.
"Chavismo represents the entry of the ordinary people of Venezuela onto the political stage," former Caracas-based journalist Federico Fuentes told a forum in Sydney on March 4. The forum, “Venezuela: Revolution under attack: The people fight back”, was part of a month of activities to commemorate the death of former Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez on March 5 last year.
Several prominent forest advocacy groups, including the Huon Valley Environment Centre and Still Wild Still Threatened, released this joint statement on March 5. *** Australia’s forest advocacy groups have responded to Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s attack on forests and praise for the industry that destroys them. Many of Australia’s forest conservation groups have been working to have the remaining forests and the wildlife within them protected over the decades.
You can tell how good a newspaper is from the enemies it keeps. The Australian wrote a sneering dismissal of the new Saturday Paper, launched last weekend, and used its ultimate insult by comparing the new paper to Green Left Weekly, calling GLW “ignorant, moralistic and simplistic”.
One of the most important initiatives that can be taken to revitalise manufacturing in NSW is to implement policies that will encourage the rapid development of renewable energy products. The one thing we should not be doing is developing new coalmines.