About 7000 people rallied in Melbourne for World Refugee Day on June 22. The rally called for detention centres on Manus Island and Nauru to be closed; for fair processing of asylum seekers; and for justice for Reza Berati, who was murdered in detention on Manus Island. The rally included contingents from regional areas such as Geelong and Ballarat. Reverend Alistair McRae from the Uniting Church said: "Policies of deprivation and punishment have taken the place of our legal and moral obligations of care. It's not OK. Shame on the government and the previous government."
At its national conference over June 7-9, the Socialist Alliance adopted an amendment to its Charter of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Rights, which stated that it does not support Constitutional recognition in the current form put forward by the government and the Reconciliation Australia initiative Recognise. The policy now states that Constitutional recognition must be accompanied by sovereignty, land rights and a treaty.
Is it just me, or are the government going out of their way to be such extreme bastards on such a wide array of issues, that it seems a plot to just wear us all out? Because once you've screamed “AAAAAAAAARRGGHH” for the 17th time in the first half hour after waking up, you've got no voice left with which to register a protest about the 18th insane injustice — inevitably some proposal to force disabled pensioners to sell at least two still-functioning organs or face being put to work as indentured servants for Gina Rinehart.
Labor stood by its "longstanding principles" along with the Greens and refused to block the first of the supply bills in both the House of Representatives and the Senate last week. Only Andrew Wilkie and Clive Palmer voted against these bills in the House of Representatives. There were no votes against the bills in the Senate.
A 13-year-old boy from Brazil’s Guarani tribe makes a political stand in front of 70,000 football fans and what he thinks is an international audience. A movement led by indigenous women in the United States beats a billion-dollar brand of the big, bad NFL. These two stories share more than the fact that they took place during the same week. They share the ways that people in power have sought to combat their courage by trying to render them invisible.
The statement below was released by the Independent and Peaceful Australia Network (IPAN), supported the Sydney Stop the War Coalition, on June 26. *** Anti-war and peace groups from across the nation are uniting to urge the Australian government not to involve itself in any further military action in Iraq. The groups insist that Australia should resist any pressure it might be under to follow the US’s lead – in the way that it did in 2003.
The government is ducking and weaving in the face of combined resistance to its cruel budget. Employment Minister Eric Abetz admitted to a Senate Estimates hearing on June 26 that the Productivity Commission's review of the Fair Work Act will now be delayed until the second half of this year. The media say this is to allow the government to devote its energies into getting its budget measures through, and to avoid an all-out campaign by unions to "revive the spectre of Work Choices".
In the first two weeks of hearings at the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption, further claims were made against Labor leader and former national secretary of the Australian Workers Union (AWU) Bill Shorten. Former Health Services Union (HSU) official Marco Belano told the commission that Shorten donated $5000 to his 2009 union election campaign when Shorten was parliamentary secretary for disabilities in the Labor government.
The Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance released this statement on June 23. *** The Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA), the union and professional association for Australia’s journalists, condemns the verdict of the Cairo court in the case involving journalists from Al Jazeera English and calls on Egyptian authorities to urgently intervene to free the three journalists who have been detained for simply doing their jobs.
A glaring omission from the strategy debate over how to fight the budget has been any solid discussion from most union leaders about how and when to deploy industrial action. At the packed out mass delegates' meeting in Sydney on June 12, National Tertiary Education Union activist Susan Price moved two amendments to the official motion that, judging from the room, had they been put would have committed Unions NSW to do just that.
Dozens of Palestinians held without charge or trial by Israel ended their 63-day hunger strike protest on June 25. It was the longest hunger strike in the history of the Palestinian prisoners movement. Palestinian and Israeli human rights groups said on June 26 that about 80 of the hunger strikers were still hospitalised and shackled to their beds. Meanwhile, the Israeli government is set to push through laws to permit the force-feeding of hunger strikers. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu weilded this threat in a bid to break the two-month strike.
An Egyptian court sentenced three Al Jazeera journalists to seven years in prison on terrorism-related charges on June 23. Baher Mohammed, the team’s producer, received an extra three years for possession of ammunition, a charge concerning a souvenir spent shell found in his possession, Morning Star said that day. The verdicts against Australian Peter Greste, Canadian-Egyptian Mohammed Fahmy and Egyptian Baher Mohammed came after a five-month trial that Amnesty International described as a “sham”, calling the rulings “a dark day for media freedom in Egypt”.