1133

Peter Cundall turns 90

Peter Cundall’s 90th birthday on April 1 was celebrated in Hobart with “Pete’s Picnic”, a public picnic in the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens.

Born in Manchester to a poverty-stricken family in 1927, Cundall migrated to Tasmania in 1956.

He became a household name as the host of ABC TV’s Gardening Australia but his love of nature also led him to become an environmental activist.

He was involved with protests against the Franklin Dam in the 1970s and ’80s.

The Bolivarian government of Venezuela, together with its allies in Latin America, have repelled a serious attack on its sovereignty within the Organisation of American Unity (OAS). The attack was led by right-wing OAS secretary-general Luis Almagro, and backed to the hilt by the US government.

After a lengthy debate triggered by Almagro’s call to suspend Venezuela from the body, an extraordinary session of the OAS in Santo Domingo, in the Dominican Republic, ended on March 28 without a formal vote on the issue.

"The NSW land titles registry's $190 million-a-year revenue stream could soon start flowing towards the Cayman Islands," the Sydney Morning Herald reported on April 3.

A Fairfax Media investigation found that “behind the newly created companies that may house Land and Property Information are an array of foreign players, a mysterious trustee, and business links to tax havens such as Bermuda, the Cayman Islands and the Isle of Man.”

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro offered on April 1 to send rescuers and other disaster relief experts to Colombia to help victims of a mudslide that has killed at least 154 people.

The mudslide, which overtook the small city of Mocoa in southern Colombia, left about 400 people injured and 220 missing. Mocoa was left in almost total ruin, as buildings, trees and infrastructure were toppled by muddy water and debris.

“We’re brotherly people who are there to be together and show respect for one another in trying times,” Maduro said. 

A new Amnesty International report Treasure I$land: How companies are profiting from Australia’s abuse of refugees on Nauru, has warned companies considering taking over Australia’s offshore detention centres when Broadspectrum’s contract expires in October that they would be participating in a deliberately abusive regime and would be complicit in “torture”.

Foreign Correspondent disappointed with “Venezuela Undercover”, a good-looking but trivial piece of “investigative journalism”.

The 30-minute documentary by reporter Eric Campbell and producer Mike Davis was first screened on ABC on March 21.

It begins by asserting that Venezuela is, today, a “disaster”, though very little in the documentary is offered that might allow the viewer to understand why.

An analysis of the latest data published on the MySchool website for the Australian Education Union, shows that between 2009 and 2015, education spending by Commonwealth and state governments increased nearly three times as much to the independent sector and twice as much to Catholic schools as to public schools.

The analysis showed that between 2009 and 2015, combined state and federal funding rose by 38.7% for independent schools, 35.6% for Catholic schools and only 17.6% for public schools.

The US military’s top official for Latin America presented an ominous report to the US Senate on April 6 warning that Venezuela could be a “destabilising” factor in Latin America.

"As students, penalty rates can be your main sources of income,” Susie Elliott, a member of the Retail and Fast Food Workers Union (RAFFWU), told a "Save our penalty rates: Hands off our pay," rally in Pitt Street Mall on April 2.

“Often, you can't work during the week because of classes, and you'd rather be doing something else on a Sunday, but you need the money to buy food. That's why we need penalty rates. This system should be working for the people, not the big corporations."

Below is an open letter to ABC’s Foreign Correspondent by Eulalia Reyes, a Venezuelan activist and Brisbane co-coordinator of the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network. It was written in response to March 21 program titled “Venezuela Undercover”.

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As a Venezuelan that has once again had to endure being insulted by you presenting my country as on the brink of disaster and Venezuelans as bring incapable of liberating ourselves from this situation, I am writing to demand respect for my country and its people. 

Independent Member for Cairns Rob Pyne has called on the Queensland state government to establish a state-owned insurance office to ease the increasingly unaffordable home insurance premiums in Queensland.

President Ashraf Ghani’s first visit to Australia prompted a sizable protest on April 3 among the Australian Hazara community amid claims of institutional discrimination against Hazaras in Afghanistan.

Numbering thousands, peaceful protesters gathered from across the country and demanded from the Afghan President equality, fair distribution of resources, and an end to governmental discrimination.

The office of Queensland Deputy Premier Jackie Trad was occupied for 11 hours on April 4 by Galilee Blockade grandparent activists. As Infrastructure Minister, Trad has the power to veto the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility loan funding to Adani (or Aurizon) for the development of rail links, which are essential for the coalmine to go ahead. 

According to federal government ministers, Medicare is unsustainable. The aged pension is also unsustainable. The NDIS is unsustainable. Many other social services are unsustainable. However, billions of dollars of tax cuts to big Australian companies are perfectly sustainable.

In the short term, the government will be stealing $5.2 billion from the public purse and handing it over in the form of tax cuts to companies with an annual turnover of up to $50 million. In the medium term the cuts go further and will cost $24 billion.

The controversial Adani Carmichael coalmine was granted an unlimited 60-year water licence by the Queensland government on March 29. Environmentalists fear the mine will drain huge amounts of water from the Great Artesian Basin and say it is yet another example of governments giving the mine special treatment.

If we apply for a loan, we are subject to financial interrogation and if it looks like we will not be able to repay it the lender will not take the risk. It is reasonable to assume the same strict conditions apply when mining companies wish to buy or lease our land.

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