1069

The tasteless joking between immigration minister Peter Dutton and Prime Minister Tony Abbott about the threat of rising sea levels to Pacific Islands — caught on a microphone after the Pacific Island Forum (PIF) meeting — sums up the Australian government's attitude to the victims of its climate inaction. The 46th PIF leaders' meeting in Port Moresby ended without reaching agreement on a united position to take to the Paris climate summit later this year. Pacific Island leaders could not convince Australia and New Zealand to agree on more ambitious targets.
Matildas players earn only $21,000 a year — below the minimum wage. The simmering industrial dispute between the nation's football (soccer) players and the Football Federation Australia (FFA) over pay and the right to collectively bargain has now boiled over with the national women's team, the Matildas, pulling out of a planned tour of the US.
The focus of discussion about women in sport — specifically the discrimination they face, the lack of support and promotion, the disinterest from the media and the huge pay differences between female and male athletes — has overwhelmingly been on the elite or national level.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced on September 9 a novel approach to stemming the flow of refugees from Syria: bombing the country. He also announced plans to accept a further 12,000 Syrian refugees on top of his government's miserly quota, but was quick to dispel any hopes that Australia might be abandoning its status as the Western world's leading abuser of refugees. Abbott told ABC Radio National on September 10 that Syrian refugees being held in the Australian-run concentration camps in Nauru and Manus Island would not be released.
Taxi drivers and operators stopped work in major cities across Australia on September 10 in protest against Uber, which taxi drivers say is running an illegal, unregulated service. In Sydney, hundreds of taxi drivers protested against Uber outside NSW Parliament. NSW Taxi Operators and Drivers Association president Anne Turner told Green Left Weekly: "We are here today to save our livelihoods." In Melbourne, more than 1000 people rallied outside Parliament House, then marched on the Victorian Taxi Services Commission.
A community assembly is holding firm outside the Hutchison terminal at Port Botany, with 24-hour attendance and regular gatherings of maritime workers from Hutchison and the other operators, Patricks and DP World. There is a similar assembly at the Port of Brisbane. The assemblies were established after the provocative sacking of 97 waterfront workers at the two ports at midnight on August 6 and have been maintained as "solidarity camps" ever since. The sackings, imposed via text and email messages, shocked workers in the maritime industry and throughout the whole union movement.
More than 200 people rallied to support of maintaining penalty rates at Capalaba Sports Club on September 5. The protest was called by United Voice to protest against the club’s decision to scrap penalty rates for workers and sack those who would not sign an agreement to trade away penalty rates, which would mean a wage cut of up to $300 a week.
The Labor-dominated Newcastle council has defied pressure from unions and senior ALP figures to rescind moves to investigate moving a $270 million investment portfolio away from banks that fund ‘‘socially and environmentally’’ harmful projects and industry. Labor’s Cr Declan Clausen, who moved the original motion, said it was not against the coal industry or coal jobs, but a symbolic move in support of ‘‘different jobs for the future’’ and a shift to renewables and a clean energy industry.
The Freedom Movement, which was born at the Freedom Summit at the Old Telegraph outside of Mparntwe (Alice Springs) last November, will gather once more from September 11 to 13. Members of tribal nations, including Arrente leader Rosalie Kunoth-Monks, will be present. Narungga Elder Tauto Sansbury said: “We need to show a united front on this important issue of sovereignty in our country, which has been railroaded by the Recognition campaign, a diversion from the real issues, and will not deliver for all traditional owners.”
About 100 people rallied outside Australia Post in the CBD on September 9 to protest against job cuts at Australia Post. Australia Post CEO Ahmed Fahour’s plans to “halve the service and double the price for letters” is before the parliament now. This could see the price of stamps increased to $1. Fahour announced that he had put aside $190 million for redundancies — an indication of how many jobs will go. Australia Post’s revenue has increased by more than $1.5 billion since 2010.

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