1122

Speculation is increasing that the federal government will lend mining giant Adani half the $2.2 billion cost of a rail line to take coal from the proposed Carmichael coalmine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin to the Abbot Point coal terminal.

The money is likely to come from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility. The $5 billion infrastructure fund has granted preliminary approval for the subsidy.

The United Nations adopted a historic resolution on December 24 to launch negotiations this year on a treaty to render nuclear weapons illegal.

Australia opposed the resolution. The government said US nuclear weapons are essential for security and their use could be justified in certain circumstances. This position was opposed by Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and New Zealand which supported the resolution. The General Assembly vote was 113 nations in favour and 35 against, with 13 abstentions.

In a victory for the Native American-led resistance to the destructive Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), last month the Obama administration denied DAPL permission to drill underneath the Missouri River in the Standing Rock Indian Reservation.

Labor for Standing Rock, a group of trade unionists supporting the anti-DAPL campaign, released the statement below on January 4.

When Donald Trump is sworn in as president on January 20, he will take over the running of the US intelligence agencies — the CIA, FBI, NSA etc — that have brought charges to discredit the outcome of his election.

The Electoral College has rubberstamped Trump’s election and Congress has ratified it. The storm over allegations of Russian interference in last year’s elections will pass as The Leader takes charge and cleans house in these agencies.

But there are some things that should be noted about this brouhaha.

It would surprise the federal Coalition government — that assumes we dislike welfare recipients as much as it does — that one of its biggest problems at the start of the year is the Centrelink debt fiasco.

Over the past six months, 170,000 people received debt notices from Centrelink, with the number gradually rising to 20,000 a week.

By comparison, only 20,000 debt notices were issued for the whole of 2015.

The staff who have to adminster Centrelink’s “robo-debt” system are under huge pressure and are demanding an immediate halt to the punitive approach.

A Centrelink worker told Green Left Weekly that the system was implemented without staff being trained and that they were ill equipped to explain the debts.

On January 11 at 6.30am, tree loppers started felling some of the 500 trees slated for destruction at Sydney Park to make way for WestConnex’s St Peters interchange near the corner of Euston Road and Campbell Street.

Before that, Steffie Leedham had climbed up to a platform connected to three trees. She told Green Left Weekly from the platform that she would stay up there “for as long as it takes to stop WestConnex vandalising Sydney Park”.

Several others tried to stop the felling but were mostly pushed aside by police. At least two were arrested.

A rally for justice for David Dungay-Hill Jnr, a Dunghutti man from Kempsey, was held in Sydney on December 29.

Dungay-Hill was a 26-year-old Aboriginal man who was an inmate in Long Bay Prison. A sufferer of chronic diabetes, Dungay-Hill ate a biscuit in his cell to restore his blood sugar levels. For this “crime”, eight officers restrained him while another administered a sedative. Seconds later he cried “I can't breathe” and within a minute he was dead.

In a statement at the time, Corrective Services NSW said police were not treating the death as suspicious.

In the wake of another death on Manus Island, vigils are being held around the country and more than 200 refugees on Manus Island have signed a letter calling for a Royal Commission to fully investigate IHMS (the Manus detention medical provider contracted to the Australian government) and its political control by Australia’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

Aleppo and the humanitarian crises has dominated international media in the past weeks. News articles with exceedingly dire headlines have increasingly dominated and many heart wrenching images have emerged of Regime brutality. 

More than 500 people were arrested in West Papua on December 18 during self-determination protests that Free West Papua said were demanding the  United Liberation Movement for West Papua be granted full membership of the Melanesian Spearhead Group.

The Kurdish people are an oppressed nationality without a state, whose homeland is currently divided between five countries in the Middle East. Despite this, the left-wing Kurdish movement in Syria’s north is not fighting for a separate nation state. Rather, it is seeking to unite all ethnic groups and religions to fight for an autonomous, participatory democracy as part of a profound social movement that puts women’s liberation at its heart.

In a landmark decision on December 16, the Federal Court found the minister for immigration Peter Dutton unreasonably delayed making decisions on applications for citizenship by refugees.

The court also ruled that Dutton erred in rejecting the applications for citizenship of two Afghan refugees several weeks after they commenced legal proceedings. The pair had been permanent residents of Australia for more than four years.

On December 16, the Federal Court ruled that delays by the Department of Immigration and Border Security (DIBS) in making decisions on citizenship were “unreasonable”, prompting hope for people with refugee backgrounds in a similar plight. 

One litigant said: “This may set an important precedent for individuals in similar circumstances.”

Acting CEO of Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) Tim O’Connor said the decision was a “landmark ruling” which recognised the “injustice” citizenship delays had caused. 

The federal environment minister Josh Frydenberg has again approved the use of a marine supply base at Port Melville in the Tiwi Islands without an environmental impact assessment and with none of the environmental conditions that were previously imposed.

A spokesperson for Frydenberg said on December 15: “The department has decided the operation of a marine supply base at Port Melville is not likely to have a significant impact on the environment and can proceed without further assessment under national environment law.

The challenge to the Tasmanian government's anti-protest laws is set to be heard by the full bench of seven High Court judges early in 2017.

On January 25, Bob Brown and Jessica Hoyt were arrested in north-west Tasmania while peacefully protesting against logging when they walked into the Lapoinya Forest exclusion zone. They were the first protesters to be arrested under the controversial Workplaces (Protection from Protesters) Act 2014.

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