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A meeting of the Cartagena Dialogue for Progressive Action took place in the Marshall Islands on April 1. The body is composed of 30 countries working towards a legally binding United Nations climate change convention before of an international summit next year. Delegates had a chance to witness first-hand the effects of climate change in the host country, a small atoll nation in the Pacific Ocean, where no land rises more than two metres above sea level.
“Nothing is free — someone always pays,” federal treasurer Joe Hockey said in his latest softening-up, pre-budget speech on April 24. Yeah, tell us about it.
Forty people travelled over 6000 kilometres as part of an anti-nuclear educational trip from Melbourne to Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory and back from April 12 to 27. The annual “Rad Tour" weaved its way through Victoria, South Australia and the Northern Territory to educate people about the dangers of the nuclear industry.
The election of the Tony Abbott government in September last year signalled an intensification of attacks on workers' rights, the public sector, jobs and what remains of the social wage. As the global economic situation deteriorates, the ruling class is intent on imposing widespread privatisation, outsourcing of public services, job cuts and wage cuts.
The Tony Abbott government, in line with its ruthless drive to privatise all remaining public sector assets, last month announced a plan to sell off Medibank Private during the 2014-15 financial year. Following the secret recommendations of the government's big-business-controlled Commission of Audit, the federal budget in May is likely to include further attacks on Medicare — undermining its character as a national, universal health-care system.
More than 1000 people gathered in Sunshine in Melbourne’s west on April 22, to pay their respects to Fiona Warzywoda, a mother of four who was murdered in public after she attended a court hearing in relation to family violence matters. Local resident Sophie Dutertre organised a silent candlelight vigil to show support. Dutertre did nott know the victim but wanted to take a public stand against yet another domestic violence-related murder and also demonstrate that Sunshine has a strong and caring community.
One of the greatest novelists and writers of the 20th century has died. Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez passed away on April 17 in Mexico at the age of 87. Commemorating the author, US-based progressive TV and radio show Democracy Now! said on April 18: “It has been reported that only the Bible has sold more copies in the Spanish language than the works of Garcia Marquez, who was affectionately known at 'Gabo' throughout Latin America.”
Since Australian women rallied for “free, safe, accessible abortion on demand” 40 years ago, much has been achieved. Legal reform of some kind has taken place in most states and territories. There is Medicare funding for pregnancy termination, mifepristone is available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and women no longer suffer the complications from illegal “backyard” operations. Yet there are still obstacles for women to access affordable pregnancy termination services in a timely manner.
The Refugee Action Coalition Sydney released this statement on April 16. *** An outbreak of dengue fever has hit Nauru, raising concerns for the short-term and long-term heath and welfare of asylum seekers being held on the island. At least three people (staff and detainees) have been confirmed suffering dengue fever. Another 12 cases are presently confirmed in the Nauruan population by a spokesperson for the Nauru general hospital.
The workers at a Super A-Mart warehousing and distribution centre in Somerton, Victoria, have scored a victory over company management nearly six weeks after they were locked out of their workplace. The workers have won a 10% wage rise over the next three years, improved redundancy conditions, permanency conversions after six months, an Occupational Health and Safety committee on site, as well as a $750 sign-on bonus. Their victory was in partly due to the overwhelming success of the “Low Wage Bus Tour”, which left Melbourne on April 9 with the slogan “Raise the Wage”.
When the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption first sat on April 9 it did little more than give general guidance about the direction of the inquiry. This was largely provided by counsel assisting, Jeremy Stoljar SC. The learned counsel was eager to ensure all concerned that there were no preconceptions with the inquiry. But he did make the helpful suggestion that the legal obligations of union officials should be “even more onerous” than those of company directors.
“I wish I could leave Greece. I can’t go on living here. I work very long hours and live more frugally than ever, but I still can’t pay the bills, the income tax or the other taxes like the property poll tax. “My tax debt keeps building up. I’ll end up losing my home. They are stealing our homes and they are not communists. And people are getting sadder and madder every day. I can’t go on like this.”
The Supreme Court of Victoria decided on March 31 to fine the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union (CFMEU) $1.25 million for its protest action on Grocon sites in Melbourne in August 2012. Grocon is now seeking costs due to the industrial action, which could amount to an extra $1.7 million. The CFMEU-led campaign against the construction giant began over the issues of safety and appointment of shop stewards as Occupational Health and Safety representatives on high risk construction sites, in opposition to the management-appointed “safety inspectors”.
Hard-line opposition protests continued over the Easter weekend in Venezuela. However, a recent poll found most Venezuelans support the peace talks occurring between the government and moderate opposition. Opposition student groups and several hard-line opposition leaders led a march on April 20 to the United Nations office in Caracas, where they demanded that the UN send a delegation to assess the situation in the country.
A powerful popular protest is sweeping through the Pakistani-occupied disputed territory of Gilgit Baltistan. Since April 15, an indefinite sit-in strike (dharna) has been waged, uniting for the first time groups from a range of political and religious backgrounds against the removal of a longstanding wheat subsidy. On April 22 protesters will converge in a "long march" on Gilgit, the territory’s capital to surround the offices of local puppet government authority.
Members of the Irish community and supporters of Irish freedom gathered at the Irish Martyr's memorial Waverley Cemetery in Sydney on April 20 to commemorate the 98th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising. Leaders of the rising proclaimed Irish independence from Britain. The rising was crushed, but it became a powerful symbol of Ireland's struggle for freedom.

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