The Victorian Auditor General released a report on August 19 that warned that well-recognised risks may make unconventional gas mining unsuitable for Victoria because of its dense population, scarce water resources and reliance on agriculture.
The Victorian government has fined three conservationists from the Goongerah Environment Centre who entered a logging coupe to document illegal rainforest logging. They were each fined $440 for entering a “timber harvesting safety zone”. In April the three entered an area being harvested by VicForests to investigate concerns that rules designed to protect vulnerable plant communities were being flouted by the government logging corporation.
Asylum seekers from Iran whose claims for refugee status have been rejected are being intimidated into “voluntary” repatriation. The Australian government does not have an agreement with the Iranian government which will not accept the forced return of those who have fled the country.
John Percy, well-known socialist and member of Socialist Alternative, died in Sydney on August 19. He was a life-long activist and his involvement in many campaigns spanned more than 50 years, from the protests against the Vietnam War in the 1960s.
On August 19, the refugee rights group People Just Like Us hosted another in its series of meetings in Parramatta Library. Speakers included Sayid Kasim, a Rohingya from Arkan and Salmore, a Rohingya from Myanmar who told their stories of fleeing for their lives. Rohingya are stateless people, victims of racism and genocide. Dhugel, from Bhutan, told of his escape via India to Nepal. Paul Power from the Refugee Council of Australia told the meeting that governments should listen to refugees when making policy. “They are not a threat to our values”, he said.
Universal Basic Income (UBI) is not a new idea. But it is an idea whose time has come. It is one of the simplest, most obvious pieces of social policy imaginable: every member of a society, with no exceptions, is entitled to enough money to live on. Eligibility is not conditional on age or employment status, or education or criminal record like the poorly-built social welfare programs of modern Australia that have deep, but invisible, cracks for the most vulnerable to fall into.
Fears are growing for the health of a 23-year-old Iranian asylum seeker on Nauru who has been flown to Australia for medical treatment. Nazinan was allegedly raped in May while on day release in the community from the detention centre. Her physical and mental health have deteriorated badly since the attack: her family says she has not been eating or drinking for the past few weeks and has attempted suicide.
The financial scandal in the Health Services Union (HSU) involving its national president Michael Williamson and former national secretary Craig Thompson ended in the courts when both of them were convicted for fraud and theft offences. It became the trigger for Prime Minister Tony Abbott to announce on February 10 last year that he was setting up a Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption headed by former High Court judge Dyson Heydon.
Why was John Dyson Heydon QC liberal prime minister Tony Abbott’s “captain's pick” to run the royal commission into the trade unions? It could be from the shared solidarity that you’d expect of Rhodes scholars. Or perhaps it was just innocent association from the time former Prime Minister John Howard appointed Dyson Heydon to the High Court in 2003, a position he retired from under the compulsory age rule of 70 in 2013.
After an eleven-year fight, the Australian government has recently come under intensified pressure to let LGBTI couples marry. The success of marriage equality in Ireland and then the United States has made Australia more isolated. It seems clear that the marriage equality campaign is going to win. Nevertheless, the government is still trying to stall marriage equality. Many blame the Liberal Party. It is true that Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s desperate measures to suppress the conscience vote show just how homophobic the party is. But the Labor Party should not be let off the hook.
Rallies calling for marriage equality were held in major cities across Australia over the past few weekends. The turnout was large, with numbers reaching the thousands. The overwhelming presence of youth was particularly noticeable. In many areas of the LGBTI struggle today, youth are helping lead the charge. Opinion polls conducted by Australian Marriage Equality found that 80% of those under 24 support equal marriage, the highest percentage for any demographic group.
Today, thanks to the power of social media, I have come across this despicable act. I am so angry about it that I feel compelled to write something in the 20 minutes I have remaining in my lunch break. The accompanying photo is of the so-called “Uluru bark petition”. It was presented to the federal government, much to the gleeful hand-rubbing of the Liberal Party and particularly anti-marriage equality campaigner Senator Eric Abetz.
The Friends of Palestine WA (FOPWA) led a 50-strong protest of students, activists and Palestinians to boycott the opening of the Israeli Film Festival in Perth on August 20.
Workers from DP World and Patricks are continuing to drop by the community assembly at Hutchisons Ports at Port Botany. Supporters are urged to come down and join them at the corner Sirius and Foreshore Roads, Port Botany — day or night. Meanwhile, talks are underway between the Maritime Union of Australia and Hutchisons’ senior management. Workers are quietly hopeful, but determined to stand united for a fair result.
Vendors salvage goods from ruins of their shops following Saudi airs strike. Civilians and hospitals are being targeted deliberately in Yemen by the Saudi-led Arab coalition airstrikes against the rebels in the country, officials from the Doctors Without Borders (MSF) medical charity said on July 30.