Labor and the Coalition will vote for new laws this week that will strip dual nationals of their citizenship at the discretion of the immigration minister. Both major parties agree that the laws should also apply retrospectively to those sentenced to at least ten years’ jail. A bipartisan committee released a report on the proposed laws on September 4 and recommended that some of its measures be watered down.
The federal government relisted the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) as a terrorist organisation on August 11. This means it is illegal for Australian citizens to belong to it, actively support it or raise funds for it. The PKK was first placed on Australia’s list of terrorist groups in December 2005 by John Howard’s government after Turkey’s then Prime Minister — now president — Recip Tayyip Erdogan visited Australia. It was relisted by Howard in 2007, by Labor under Kevin Rudd in 2009 and by Julia Gillard in 2012.
Students of the Australian National University have launched a campaign to raise awareness about the current situation in Rojava, in northern Syria. The campaign, “Stand With Kobane” aims to raise money to help rebuild the Kurdish city of Kobane. Kobane made headlines this year when it was the first Kurdish city to successfully break Islamic State's siege. A successful counter-attack resulted in the expulsion of all the IS fighters from the Kobane canton.
Newcastle is a major centre for coal exports. When Newcastle City Council flirts with any hint of fossil fuel divestment, expect controversy. On August 25, the council approved a policy giving preference to “environmentally and socially responsible investments”. This was supported by Labor and Greens councillors, and opposed by Liberal and independent councillors.
As part of The Festival of Dangerous Ideas, journalist Helen Joyce presented a talk titled, “The Right to Die”. Joyce is the international editor of The Economist, which, despite sounding like something millionaire bankers read on the way to work, has a long history of campaigning on issues. It has fought for equal marriage and the decriminalisation of prostitution and drugs — and now it is throwing its considerable weight behind the issue of assisted suicide.
If it wasn't painfully obvious before it should now be crystal clear now that there is no such thing as company loyalty. Loyalty from companies that is. ABC’s 4 Corners revealed last week that convenience store chain 7-Eleven was engaged in a wide-scale rip off of its workers by paying them below award wages, and in some cases below the minimum wage. It seems employees are fair game for the rapacious nature of capitalism.
The announcement on September 9 that Australia will accept only 12,000 refugees from Syria and that the government will seek to discriminate on the basis of ethnicity and religion is further proof that the government is lying about leading the world in welcoming refugees.
Community groups from across Sydney have condemned the NSW government's announcement that the community consultation period for the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the M4 East section of the huge WestConnex tollway will be limited to 45 days. NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes released the Environmental Impact Statement on September 9. NSW Greens spokesperson for WestConnex and MP for Newtown Jenny Leong said: “This is the largest, most complex road building project in Australia’s history.
The cycle path known as the Iron Curtain Trail follows the boundary that separated east from west during the cold war period from 1947 to 1989. The 7650 kilometre route that stretches from north of Turkey to the Barents Sea, 400 kilometres inside the Arctic Circle, is not for the faint-hearted. But such is the desperation of Syrian refugees that up to 20 people a month are using the route to get to the safety of the Norwegian town of Kirkenes on the Russian-Norwegian border. Here they make a formal request for asylum and are then flown to the capital Oslo for further processing.
More than 100 asylum seekers in detention on Manus Island have signed an appeal to Europeans for help. They say that just like the asylum seekers in Europe, they have fled war and persecution and like them they need safety and resettlement. They request European countries “to urge the Australia government to cease the illegal detention of us…” Almost 1000 refugees and asylum seekers are indefinitely detained on Manus Island and a similar number, including families with children, are on Nauru.