A rally of 200 bicycle riders and their supporters was held in the early morning of February 18 in front of NSW State Parliament. The riders were opposing the introduction of mandatory photo identification for riders and a massive increase in fines. There has been no evidence produced by the Mike Baird government that these measures will lead to greater safety for riders and other road users. Riders argue the new rules will be a disincentive to riding, especially for children, as anyone over the age of 12 years is not allowed to ride on the footpath.
A disability working group said at least 45,000 people with disabilities will remain in unsatisfactory housing, including nursing homes, living with aging parents and homelessness under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). While the key aim of the NDIS is to provide participants with independent living, most of the people with disabilities will not receive housing support. Housing experts believe 110,000 people need appropriate accommodation, meaning about 40% will miss out on the help they need.
Proposals by the NSW Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) to raise public transport fares on the Opal Card system covering public buses, trains and ferries are facing strong opposition from pensioners, retirees and the general travelling public. The Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association said the government would face a major backlash if it decided to tighten the eligibility or raise the daily cap on the cost of travel for seniors.
Bolivian Vice-President Alvaro Garcia Linera and President Evo Morales. The “no” vote narrowly won with 51.3% of the vote in a February 21 referendum in Bolivia held to resolve whether left-wing President Evo Morales could run again in 2019. The vote, involving an unprecedented participation rate of 90% of registered voters, was over whether to change the constitution to allow a president and vice-president to stand for re-election twice.
Spain could go without a government for several more months after left-wing anti-austerity party Podemos cancelled talks with the main opposition party, the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE), TeleSUR English said on February 24. Podemos walked away from talks when the PSOE tried to make a deal with the right-wing Citizens party.
Students at Newtown High School of the Performing Arts in Sydney have won a battle to change their uniform policy and allow students to wear boys or girls uniforms regardless of their gender. Jo Dwyer, a year 11 student at the school said: "Our aim was to remove the un-inclusive gender labels from the school uniform, and make it so that anyone could wear any aspect of the uniform without having to go through a long and difficult process."
Two women peacefully occupied a fully-laden coal train in Werris Creek on February 21 and a man occupied the line on February 27 to call for a moratorium on coal and gas production in Australia. They said they wanted to send a message to coal companies and the government.
Punks For West Papua Directed by Anthony Brennan 46 minutes www.punks4westpapua.com A friend's request to film a punk rock concert and a rushed drive across Sydney to do a last-minute interview with West Papuan independence leader Benny Wenda — without even knowing who the twice Nobel Peace Prize-nominated activist was — was the catalyst for filmmaker Anthony “Ash” Brennan to make his award-winning film Punks For West Papua.
Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston, the Category 5 storm that slammed into Fiji on February 20, was the strongest storm ever to make landfall in the Southern Hemisphere and the second strongest ever in the world, with wind speeds approaching 300 kilometres an hour. At least 44 people were killed, and thousands left homeless, deprived of livelihood and at risk of water- and mosquito-borne diseases.
With scores of anti-fracking protesters outside, the Australian Labor Party Northern Territory conference voted on February 13 to approve a moratorium on any development of the fracking industry while critical scientific studies on its impacts are carried out.
Twenty graduating Qantas apprentices have become the first aircraft maintenance engineers in decades to complete their training without being offered secure positions by the airline. The Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union, the Australian Workers Union and the Electrical Trades Union intervened in the Fair Work Commission on February 7 to stop Qantas terminating their employment.
Profits have soared for the operator of Australia's detention camps for asylum seekers in Papua New Guinea on Manus Island and on Nauru. Broadspectrum, which used to be called Transfield Services, announced it had trebled its net profit for the first half of the year to $25.1 million. Broadspectrum has been awarded a 12-month extension on its contract providing operational, welfare and security services to asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus Island. It has told investors it is the "preferred tenderer" for a new five-year contract it hopes to sign this year.
Green Left Weekly hosted a forum on February 17: “After the Paris Climate Talks: Which way forward for the climate movement?”, with John Englart (citizen journalist, observer at Paris Talks); David Spratt (climate policy analyst, People's Climate March organiser) and me (Socialist Alliance and grassroots climate activist). Paris Agreement John Englart summarised the main parts of the Paris Agreement: • A warming target of well below 2°C, with efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C;
More than 1000 people rallied on the steps of Western Australia’s Parliament House on February 23 to protest against the Western Australian government’s anti-protest laws.
The University of Sydney Resistance club held a #LetThemStay action on campus on February 24 which was endorsed by the Sydney University Postgraduate Representative Association (SUPRA) and attended by Labor, Greens, socialists and LGBTIQ activists on campus.