1151

In a move reminiscent of Australia’s infamous military ties to Indonesia’s murderous Suharto dictatorship, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop announced on September 1 that Australia would send special forces to the Philippines.

A few days after arriving in Venezuela, we drive past La Carlota military base in the east of Caracas, which was a regular site for the violent street protests commonly known here as guarimbas.

The highway we were travelling on was often blockaded by protesters — guarimberos — who made up the backbone of the self-dubbed “La Resistencia”. They received glowing praise in the international media during the wave of protests that rocked the country from April to July.

Australian surf life savers once used the beach in Gaza to put on an impressive display of their skills for soldiers serving in Palestine. Surviving British footage from about 75 years ago shows a pristine and spectacular setting which could be any beach, anywhere in the world.

But now Gaza, subjected to a near-total blockade by Israel since 2007, is best described as the world’s largest, open air prison.

The belated decision by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) to set up a public inquiry into the Commonwealth Bank (CBA) is aimed at heading off the growing calls for a royal commission into the entire scandal-ridden banking sector.

The August 27 announcement by APRA of an “independent” probe into the country's biggest bank followed a series of scandals that have rocked the financial world.

Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia (RDVSA) announced on August 30, it would withdraw as a service provider from the 1800RESPECT Trauma Counselling Service, the federal government-funded hotline.

The announcement punctuates a struggle waged by RDVSA workers to maintain the hotline as a non-profit specialist counselling service in the face of a push by the managing company Medibank Health Solutions (MHS) towards privatisation. After MHS’s subcontract with RDVSA expired in June, MHS put the contract out to tender with new contract provisions.

Flooding in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, which smashed into the Gulf Coast on August 25, had left at least 23 people dead by August 31, thousands in need of rescue on rooftops or in boats, hundreds of thousands more without power and tens of thousands in need of shelter.

Yet characterisations of the carnage by the National Weather Service as “historic”, “unprecedented” or “beyond anything experienced” should not be conflated with the spurious claim that the devastation wrought by Harvey was “unpreventable” or “unexpected”.

Community outrage over the NSW Coalition government's decision to shift the iconic Powerhouse Museum from its central city location in Ultimo to a flood-prone site on the Parramatta River is growing, fuelled by the excessive secrecy surrounding the cost of the move.

At a NSW Legislative Council inquiry into the plan, museum experts claimed the transfer could cost at least $1.5 billion, and risked destroying irreplaceable artefacts crucial to the collection.

Football players, past and present, have spoken out on the case of Santiago Maldonado, an indigenous rights activist who has not been seen since Border Force officers violently broke up a protest by a Mapuche community in Argentina’s Patagonia region on August 1.

Federal government departments have been ordered to keep their "average staffing levels" in line with those from 2006–07, the final year of the Howard government.

The Senate was told on August 28 that labour hire firms are reaping big profits from this by supplying temporary workers who cost the government more than if they were directly employed but who earn about 3% less money.

Community and Public Sector Union deputy secretary Melissa Donnelly said it was "an utterly ludicrous situation engineered entirely by the short-sighted policies of the Turnbull government”.

The August 14 publication of a NSW local court ruling earlier in the year has again shone light on the state’s anti-abortion laws.

A 30-year-old woman was found guilty of attempting abortion and sentenced to a 3-year good behaviour bond. The court record describes the circumstances, but leaves important questions unanswered.

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