1086

The Labor and Liberal National parties hope to slip in four-year fixed parliamentary terms in Queensland through a referendum being held at the same time as state-wide polls for local councils. A four-year term proposal was defeated in 1991.
Comedian and filmmaker Dan Ilic unveiled a portrait of environment minister Greg Hunt on February 29 outside Parliament House in Canberra. The portrait, entitled “Greg Hunt, best minister in the world for clearing trees” was in response to Hunt being named the “Best Minister in the World”. The irony of the award is that Hunt has overseen a huge rise in tree clearing and carbon emissions, while his government is spending billions from the Emissions Reduction Fund to keep trees in the ground and plant new trees.
The residents of the tiny Hunter Valley village of Bulga have applied to have the Planning Assessment Commission’s (PAC) approval of a Rio Tinto coalmine expansion declared invalid due to a legal error. The Environmental Defenders Office’s chief executive officer Sue Higginson, who is running the case, said: "This is an appeal not based on the merit of whether this mine should go ahead or not, but based on whether the PAC has applied the law as it applies to mining projects in high biodiversity areas."
On March 2, two Gamilaraay men, Paul Spearim and Allen Talbot, and a Githabul man, Laurence Miles, locked on to concrete barrels at the entrance to Whitehaven's controversial Maules Creek coalmine, stopping work. The action followed protests earlier in the week, with one man stopping coal trains near Willow Tree and three others locked to bulldozers.
Victoria's firefighters union has rejected a pay rise from the Country Fire Authority (CFA) because it says the offer compromises safety conditions. The CFA offered workers a 19% pay rise over six years, but the United Firefighters Union said 350 promised positions had been removed from the agreement. Union secretary Peter Marshall said: "These... new positions weren't arbitrary, they were … for locations that do not have enough firefighters.
Arnaldo Otegi on his release from jail on March 1. There were celebrations in the Basque Country and among solidarity activists around the world on March 1 as Basque political prisoner Arnaldo Otegi was released from a Spanish jail after more than six years. Otegi, a leader of the Basque struggle for self-determination, was jailed by the Spanish state for politically organising in support of Basque independence.
A new report has found huge tax evasion by foreign logging companies that are running rampant in Papua New Guinea. The Great Timber Heist was released by the Oakland Institute on February 16. The PNG rainforest is the third largest in the world. It covers about 80% of the country, 60% of which is untouched forest.
80,000 people marched in Dublin on February 20 to call for a "government of change" ahead of the February 26 elections. Photo via An Phoblacht. In a sign of popular anger, the combined vote of the two parties that have long dominated the southern Irish state — Fine Gael (FG) and Fianna Fail (FF) — has fallen below 50% for the first time in Irish electoral history.
Anti-coal seam gas (CSG) activists took direct action on March 2 to prevent Transpacific Waste Water from accepting waste water from AGL's coal seam gas operations in Camden. Members of the Knitting Nannas Against AGL, CSG Free Western Sydney, Stop CSG Sydney, Stop CSG Penrith, Stop CSG Camden, Stop CSG Blue Mountains and Stop CSG Hawkesbury showed their concern about Transpacific's handling of AGL’s waste water by blockading their trucks.
A new climate is emerging in Australia, according to maps released by the Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre (AEGIC). AEGIC analysed data from more than 8000 Bureau of Meteorology stations around the country and discovered that traditional rainfall zones have shifted 100–400km since 2000. The only expansion of the winter rainfall zone has occurred in southeast Tasmania where winter rainfall has become more reliable.

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