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The Labor Party announced a series of “savings” measures on June 10, including $1 billion worth of Abbott/Turnbull cuts that had previously been blocked in the Senate. It has tried to make the attacks appear palatable by claiming they are directed at higher income families. However the truth is they reaffirm that a future Labor government's direction will be more about cutting government spending than raising revenue from the big end of town. Further, they will have bigger impacts on ordinary workers than appears evident at first glance.
AMWU members at Bitzer have gone back to work in triumph after a nine-week strike at the refrigeration firm ended with them winning a vastly improved deal while killing off harsh company demands. The 54 workers won a deal that extends the 36-hour working week to everyone, provides for two RDOs every month, gives pay rises of 10% over three years, guarantees permanency for casuals after six months service and control over the hours they work.
LGBTI communities everywhere are reeling from the loss of the 49 people gunned down in the Orlando nightclub Pulse. In addition, 53 were injured. Some of them no doubt are deeply missed by their families. Even worse, as is true in many LGBTI communities, some of them would have lost their family ties years ago. The other patrons at the Pulse nightclub may have been the only family they had.
A vigil was held for the victims of the massacre in Orlando, US, at the St Therese Catholic Church in Wollongong on June 14. In an emotional ceremony, about 200 people joined together on a cold night to pay their respects to the victims and to lend support to the LGBTI community, who have been left reeling after the atrocity in Florida. The event was organised by Unity Wollongong, a local non profit organisation that provides support to the LGBTI community and their families.
Where were you in May when the New South Wales state government announced it will scrap the free rides the Opal card currently gives you after having paid for eight trips in one week? I was not gazing out the window of a train daydreaming that I was on a catbus — the magical type of public transport in Hayao Miyazaki's 1988 anime classic, My Neighbour Totoro.
Kumaravadivel Guruparan, a law lecturer at Jaffna University, told a meeting in Melbourne on June 12 that the pervasive oppression of Tamils in Sri Lanka is leading to the "normalisation of abnormalcy". Guruparan was delivering the annual Eliezer memorial lecture, in honour of Professor C J Eliezer, a noted mathematical physicist and campaigner for Tamil rights.
It took more than 100 years of struggle to ensure the poorest workers in Australia received reasonable wages and conditions. But today inequality and poverty are growing rapidly. The living standards of the majority continue to drop, while at the same time there is a huge expansion of the wealth of a tiny minority.
The Western Downs Alliance has started legal proceedings to challenge federal environment minister Greg Hunt's approval of 6100 coal seam gas wells in Queensland. The Santos GLNG Gas Field Development Expansion covers almost 1 million hectares of land, from Roma east to Taroom and Wandoan, and north towards Rolleston.
When I heard that Omid Masoumali had set fire to himself on Nauru on April 27, had to wait 26 hours to be airlifted out, during which time he had no pain relief, and then died in Brisbane, it was too much. Suddenly the activism we were engaging in seemed very inadequate.
The latest in a series of legal challenges to the opening of the Galilee Basin to new coal mines began in the Queensland Court of Appeal on June 7. In a one-day session, Queensland's highest court heard arguments on behalf of local environment group Coast and Country Association of Queensland against GVK Hancock's proposed Alpha coalmine in the Galilee Basin.
About 50 people attended an action in solidarity with students in Papua New Guinea outside the PNG Consulate on June 10. On June 8, PNG police shot at protesting students at the University of Port Moresby. Sydney-based Papua New Guineans were joined by students, academics, unionists and NGOs to call for an immediate stop to the repression and for the students' demands to be met.
Protesters gathered outside the Four Seasons Hotel on June 15 to oppose the controversial WestConnex private tollway, which is being forced through by the Coalition state government at a massive cost to New South Wales taxpayers. The hotel was the site of an Infrastructure Conference, addressed by Premier Mike Baird, federal Labor opposition infrastructure spokesperson Anthony Albanese and other political and urban development leaders.