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The National Union of Students called a national day of action to “celebrate” education minister Christopher Pyne’s 47th birthday on August 13. Students used the occasion to protest the federal government’s funding cuts to higher education, which will mean students will have to pay up to three times more for a university degree than they do now and will pay more interest on their HECS-HELP fee.

This year’s Australian Climate Action Summit will take place over September 19 to 21 in Brisbane. The Community Climate Network released this statement saying the timing of the summit is more urgent than ever. *** The Australian Climate Action Summit brings individuals from diverse backgrounds, businesses, educational institutions and industries together to discuss climate change and the implementation of methods that not only provide for a sustainable future but to also combat unstable climate change.
The Victorian Coalition government faces an uphill battle to win a second term in the November state elections. Its commitment to building the controversial East West Link toll road and the impact of the federal budget cuts has made the Coalition very unpopular. Socialist Alliance candidate for Pascoe Vale Sean Brocklehurst said the East West Link is “a huge handout to big corporations.
The federal government took the first steps towards privatising the Medicare payment system on August 8, asking businesses for expressions of interest in taking over the handling of claims and Medicare and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme payments. This $29 billion annual operation is currently carried out by the federal Department of Human Services (DHS), the government's largest department.
Victoria police are vetting registrants and scouting venues to try to provide security for the besieged World Congress of Families in Melbourne on August 30. The final venue for the event remains unclear as they try to avoid clashes with widespread community opposition. Activists are already causing chaos for conference organisers Babette Francis of the Endeavour Forum (formerly Women Who Want to be Women) and John Brennan of the conservative Catholic men’s group Knights of the Southern Cross.
The NSW Coalition government will face pressure at the state election in March next year. The resignations of sitting Liberal MPs Tim Owen and Andrew Cornwell, after being investigated for alleged corruption by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), will likely trigger a byelection that could hand the seats to Labor. After the corruption scandals under Labor rule, the Coalition were elected on the back of promises to “clean up” NSW politics. But the Coalition has now proved to be no better than the Labor Party.
NOWSA, or the Network of Women Students Australia, holds a conference every year dedicated to women’s activism. More than 160 students from across Australia gathered last month for its national conference in Perth, making it the biggest NOWSA conference in many years. The weeklong event from July 14 to 18 took place at Edith Cowan University. It featured a range of workshops and speakers, who focused on issues relating to racism, trans rights and sex worker rights.
Labour activist Wally Stubbings died on July 6, aged 101. The following is abridged from a tribute by Brisbane Labour History Association president Greg Mallory when Stubbings was awarded BLHA life membership. *** It is a great pleasure to nominate Wally Stubbings for life membership of the BLHA. Wally has been a BLHA member since 2000 and at 96 years of age he is one of the last remaining labour activists with links to the 1940s. Wally receives his life membership because of his lifelong involvement with the labour movement, both industrially and politically.
An open letter signed by 164 Australians of Jewish identity and background calls on Jewish Australians to break their silence on the onslaught on Gaza by Israel. Among the signatories are actress Miriam Margolyes, union leader Kim Sattler, and writers Sara Dowse, Antony Loewenstein and Susan Varga. Vivienne Porzsolt of Jews against the Occupation, which organised the open letter, said: “Silence is consent and as Jews, we must oppose atrocities taken in our name. Our public stand demonstrates that many Jews reject the brutal occupation of the Palestinians by Israel.
A few months ago, the Daily Telegraph ran a headline, “The Ferals are Revolting”. That headline is very revealing, not just about the nature of the media, but also about how young people and students are seen in society in general. We are seen these things that are just supposed to work terrible jobs for terrible pay, and whatever our opinions are, they don’t really mean anything and we are just supposed to put up with it.
A new report from Friends of the Earth suggests combined pressure from habitat loss, inbreeding and disease may pose significant threats to the survival of the koala in Victoria and South Australia. The group is calling for federal protection for key populations of the species.
The Kurdish people are facing an unprecedented challenge. Across a vast swathe of northern Syria and Iraq, the region’s Kurds are locked in a desperate and heroic struggle with the genocidal forces of the so-called Islamic State (IS). Fighting is raging across a huge front hundreds of kilometres wide, from Aleppo and Kobane in Syria to Mosul and Kirkuk in Iraq — and all points in between.