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Melbourne’s public transport system is in crisis — despite a huge increase in subsidies since privatisation. Delays, cancellations and standing room only — this is the reality for passengers across the system. And on top of the bad service, Melbourne has the most expensive fares of any Australian capital city.
On November 18-19, Melbourne will host some of the world’s most brutal warmongers and economic rationalists. They will be meeting under the auspices of the G20, with this year’s meeting chaired by Treasurer Peter Costello. A chief architect of the US war on Iraq, Paul Wolfowitz, will also be present, in his capacity as World Bank president.
At an October 6 public meeting in Boston, US dissident intellectual Noam Chomsky gave the following remarks on the threat posed to the radical governments of Venezuela and Bolivia by Washington in response to an audience member’s question.
On October 20, 65 people attended a public meeting to discuss the campaign to make the Newnes Plateau and other areas around the Gardens of Stone National Park, on the western edge of the Blue Mountains, a state conservation area. David Brazil from the Colong Foundation explained that the area has the highest density of rare plants in the Blue Mountains, contains important sites of Aboriginal heritage and provides a refuge for cool-climate species as global warming increases.
CBD office cleaners in cities across Australia and New Zealand staged protests on October 18 as part of the Clean Start: Fair Deal for All Cleaners campaign. About 70 cleaners and their supporters rallied outside the Tasmanian parliament marching to the Town Hall to present a letter to the city council.
On October 15, more than 1500 people, including survivors, attended a memorial event on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin to mark the tragic sinking of the SIEV-X on October 19, 2001, in waters between Indonesia and Australia. The event featured Arnhem logs decorated by more than 260 school, church and community groups from around Australia to signify and honour the 353 Iraqi and Afghan asylum seekers who drowned. Organisers had hoped to display the logs for three weeks as a step towards establishing a permanent memorial to the worst maritime disaster in the region since World War II. Despite negotiating with the National Capital Authority since 2003 to ensure the project went smoothly, however, the NCA refused permission less than two weeks before the event. To support the campaign for a permanent memorial, visit <http://www.sievxmemorial.com>.
In a further assault on the sovereignty of the Solomon Islands, its Australian-appointed police commissioner, Shane Castles, had Solomons immigration minister Peter Shanel arrested on October 17 over the alleged illegal entry of Fiji-born Australian lawyer Julian Moti.
The climate is changing. The time for squabbling and petty excuses is over. Now is the time for governments to take urgent and serious action to reduce greenhouse pollution and create a clean-energy future.
The United Nations Independent Special Commission of Inquiry released its report on October 17 into the violent conflict in April and May in East Timor. The 79-page report found that the “frailty of state institutions and the weakness of the rule of law” were to blame for the conflict that erupted following the sacking of almost 600 soldiers from the Timorese Defence Force.
Nearly 40 years after his death, John Coltrane remains one of the most important figures in jazz history.
Al Gore’s documentary An Inconvenient Truth has helped focus attention on the threat posed by fossil-fuel driven climate change. Gore’s film was met with a predictable barrage of criticism by right-wing pundits. For example Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt wrote in a September 13 article that the “former US vice-president’s ludicrous scaremongering contains exaggerations, half-truths and falsehoods”.
Union Solidarity-led community picketers halted the construction of the Otway gas plant for a day on October 20. The picketers came from Melbourne, Geelong, Warrnambool, Hamilton and Portland to support the workers at the site. For two years, construction at the site has proceeded without a single day of industrial action. In June, a site agreement was negotiated between unions and the construction company, Technip.