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In a referendum held on Sydney University on September 20-21, 90% of the 3000 participating students voted for the university to reduce its contribution to climate change by purchasing a minimum of 20% clean, renewable energy. Currently the university uses 52 million kWh of electricity each year, all of which is generated by coal-fired power stations.
On October 13, 50 people from the local Your Rights at Work campaign group protested outside a real estate agent’s office over his attempt to pressure Gail Austin, a long-term employee, to sign an Australian Workplace Agreement (individual contract) that “would have slashed [her] income by $30,000”, according to Workers Online. Austin said that she was told to sign the agreement or quit. Mark Ptolemy from the Your Rights at Work group said: “This company has done nothing illegal, but that doesn’t mean its actions are not highly immoral.”
Youth Rock the Block, held in Redfern on October 14, featured young community performers expressing their culture and raising money for a local women and children dance studio. The day included singing in the Indigenous Darug language, original dance pieces, renditions of well-known Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal pop songs and hip-hop.
Peter Bray from Rising Tide has questioned the independence and make-up of the “independent expert panel” set up to assess the proposed coal export terminal in Newcastle, branding it a “coal-dependent export panel” designed to ignore climate change.
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.
Why did PM John Howard pre-empt his own inquiry, and a universal Australian corporate view that it makes no economic sense, to declare himself “very strongly” in favour of nuclear power last week?
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.
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>.
Bernadette Peters is a part-time cleaner and a full-time activist. She is also the partner of Mal Peters, one of the “Leighton Kumagai 107", who were fined $22,000 by the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) for a strike in February in defence of a sacked health and safety delegate.
At a Just Peace meeting on October 20, it was proposed by Wade McDonald, a leader of the International Socialist Organisation, that all “paper selling” be banned outside an upcoming forum on Islamophobia co-hosted by Just Peace.
A workshop involving trade unionists from around Australia is being held in Geelong on October 28 from 1pm. Socialist Alliance initiated the workshop because union activists are telling us that there are many issues in the campaign against Work Choices that aren’t getting discussed.
Millions of people on low-lying islands and lands in the Asia-Pacific region will become refugees in the next 40 years due to rising sea levels induced by climate change, according to a CSIRO report issued on October 8. The report was written by scientists with CSIRO’s marine and atmospheric research division, and was commissioned by aid and conservation agencies forming the national Climate Change and Development Roundtable.
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.
No full-medal jacket “As the American-led Coalition of the Willing prepared to storm Baghdad 3½ years ago, some of our Army’s top brass were privately condemning Australia’s involvement as a contemptible waste of money and effort. Not because some were quietly warning, presciently as it transpired, that Australia would be committing to a war without apparent end… No. They were angry that Canberra was willing to commit so much military capital (more than $1.6bn so far) to a war for which the Australian Army would receive precious little recognition.” — September 27 Bulletin magazine.
Biofuels such as ethanol have been presented by alternative energy entrepreneurs and many environmentalists as a “clean, green” alternative to fossil fuels. But recently a growing chorus of scientists have warned of the dangers of biofuels.
“Liberal Senator Gary Humphries has attempted to reignite a 50-year-old political fear of reds under the bed”, reported the Canberra Times on Thursday October 12. The article was referring to an October 10 speech in the Australian Senate, during which Humphries launched an attack on socialist Cuba and Australian supporters of the Cuban Revolution.

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