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.
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.
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.
Carol Hucker worked on Manus Island as a counsellor for International Health and Medical Services (IHMS) and as a case worker for the Salvation Army from June 2013 to July last year. She has allowed Green Left Weekly to publish her account so that people can become more aware of what is happening on Manus Island. She said: “It is my hope that through this brief account the men on Manus will not be forgotten.” This is the third part of a multi-part series and covers September and October 2013. * * *
Senate rejects bid to make unemployed wait for welfare An attack on young people has been defeated. A measure to force jobseekers under the age of 25 to wait an additional four weeks before accessing unemployment benefits has been defeated in the Senate, 30 votes to 35. Labor and the Greens opposed the bill, announced in the May federal budget, meaning six of the eight crossbenchers had to vote with the government for the bill to pass.
The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) has launched another round of industrial action, starting with half-day strikes in many Canberra-based public service agencies on September 15. This is an escalation of its long-running bargaining campaign against the Abbott government. Staff from the Canberra offices of Human Services, the Tax Office, Immigration and Border Protection and Employment will hold a lunch-time rally and half-day walk-outs.
The 11th Annual Edward Said Memorial Lecture, presented by the Australian Friends of Palestine Association, was held on September 5 at the University of Adelaide. Dr Salam Fayyad was the guest speaker. He was the inaugural President of the State of Palestine (2007-2013) and one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in 2010.
Unite, a group that seeks to organise casual workers in Victoria, has called on the federal government to give an amnesty to any past or present 7-Eleven workers who may have breached their international student visa conditions. After ABC’s 4 Corners revealed the 7-Eleven half-pay scam the company was forced to launch its own independent investigation of the claims of underpayment. The Fair Work Ombudsman is also investigating the widespread underpayment of wages at 7-Eleven stores.
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.