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The Illawarra Knitting Nannas Against Gas (IKNAG) held a knit-in outside the office of the federal deputy leader of the ALP, Tanya Plibersek, in Sydney on May 16. IKNAG's Annie Malow contacted Plibersek with two questions asking for "yes" or "no" answers. The first was: Do you support a ban on CSG mining in drinking water catchment? The second was: Would you move legislation for such a ban? Plibersek was not in her office, but two of her staffers came out offering the Nannas several balls of wool — all the wrong colours.
Sydney University campus came alive with political discussion, talks and workshops for three days during the Socialism for the 21st Century Conference, held over May 13–15. The conference had more than 30 sessions and 50 speakers, including international special guests Marta Harnecker, Michael Lebowitz and Ian Angus. Local and international activists shared their experiences of struggle and discussed the necessity of building alternatives to capitalism today. Up to 400 conference-goers faced the task of choosing from a range of stimulating sessions on offer.
While everyone's eyes were focused on the federal budget, the NSW government released a very controversial piece of draft legislation that will remove restrictions on land clearance and, despite their claims, threaten biodiversity.
A multi-generational delegation from the Borroloola Aboriginal community in the Northern Territory's Gulf Country were front and centre at a protest outside global mining giant Glencore's Sydney headquarters on May 19. The protesters demanded that Glencore close its McArthur River mine and rehabilitate the site as well as the river and the surrounding land, on which they have traditionally relied for food.
The Australia First Party will not be able to use the Eureka flag as its logo on ballot papers in the federal election on July 2. Their application was ineligible because it had not been advertised for 30 days as required by law. However, the application will be considered again in 100 days' time, well after voters head to the ballot box.
About 3000 people, young and old, women, men and children, kayaked from Horseshoe Beach and blocked Newcastle Harbour to stop the coal ships on May 8. Organised by 350.org and other climate change campaigners, the Break Free event was a great success and also fun. There was a large contingent of First Nations people from all around Australia and internationally, from Samoa and other Pacific islands that could disappear due to rising sea levels.
Up to 500 people packed into the Balmain Town Hall on May 19 to protest the state government's $17 billion WestConnex tollway project, which will destroy a large swathe of the city's inner western suburbs, and spew massive traffic flows and pollution into suburban streets. The forum, sponsored by No WestConnex Annandale, heard from a panel of speakers, including Labor member for Grayndler Anthony Albanese and Greens candidate for the seat Jim Casey.
Sometimes there are things that appear in the media that just make you shake your head in disbelief. Take for example the tale of Duncan Storrar, the man on ABC's Q&A who dared to ask why the budget was looking after higher income earners while ignoring those on the lower end of the scale. For his trouble, Storrar was mercilessly attacked by sections of the media for everything from his tax record to his criminal history — all because he publicly dared to question the economic orthodoxy of the federal budget.
The Meddler Written and directed by Lorene Scafaria Starring Susan Sarandon, Rose Byrne, JK Simmons One place where the personal is very political is the sometimes fraught relationships between mothers and daughters. Some time ago Hollywood screenwriter Lorene Scafaria, while dealing with a major project, also had to grapple with difficulties with her mother. That became the raw material for her new film, The Meddler.
The Divest from Detention network disrupted the Australian Council of Super Investors (ACSI) annual conference in Melbourne on May 10. Activists gained access to the main stage where they played audio recordings of protesters on Nauru and held banners reading “Close the camps” and “Mandatory detention can't be risk managed”. Spokesperson for the network Liz Patterson said: “ACSI already recommends divestment from unethical businesses like tobacco. They must extend this to detention.
Heavily armed “anti-terrorist” police raided homes in Melbourne and arrested a teenager in Sydney on May 17. This foiled two unrelated terror plots, according to saturation media coverage based on information from police and security agencies that is too secret to be heard in court. In Sydney, 18-year-old Tamim Khaja was arrested in Parramatta and charged with planning a terrorist attack and preparing for “foreign incursions”.
The federal Coalition government is planning to hold a referendum in 2017 on Constitutional Recognition of Australia’s original inhabitants. So far the campaign consists of establishing the Recognise campaign, in a bid to educate Australians about the importance of the recognition referendum. The government has already funded the Recognise campaign to the tune of $15 million, and promised another $15 million in this year’s budget. At the same time, it has cut funding to Aboriginal medical centres, Aboriginal legal services and other Indigenous programs and services.