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December 14 marked the 100th day since the unfair dismissal of Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) construction division delegate Barry Hemsworth from his job at Botany Cranes. The managers used the federal government’s new anti-union laws to sack Hemsworth for the purported crime of “insubordination” — in fact because he was defending the occupational health and safety standards at the company.
George Browning, the Anglican Bishop of Canberra and Goulburn, said on January 11 that it would not be morally responsible to vote in the next federal election for any party that did not have a credible climate change policy. He was speaking at the “Australia as a Neighbour” conference in Melbourne, organised by Initiatives of Change, Australia, and attended by 300 people from 17 countries.
The Wilderness Society has called for more government funding and support for the Indigenous Protected Area program following the release on January 9 of an independent report that concludes that IPAs are one of the most effective initiatives in environment protection in Australia.
The decision this month by Bankstown City Council, in Sydney’s western suburbs, to cancel the venue for the January 27 Khilafah Conference “speaks volumes of the empty rhetoric surrounding the supposed noble epitomes of western liberal democracy”, said Wassim Doureihi, spokesperson for Hizb ut-Tahrir Australia, in a January 10 media statement.
Invasion Day — January 26
Pat Robinson of Oatley won the first prize — a spectacular $350 hamper — in Sydney’s 2006 Green Left Weekly end-of-year raffle. She told GLW that her win was a “total surprise” because she didn’t even know that she’d entered the raffle. The winning ticket was purchased as a gift by GLW subscriber and Socialist Alliance member Noel Hazard.
Last September, Queensland’s acting state coroner Christine Clements ruled that Senior Sergeant Christopher Hurley, a police officer working on the Palm Island Aboriginal community, had caused the death of Aboriginal man Mulrunji while in his custody
US President George Bush used a January 10 “address to the nation” to declare that 2007 will be another year of war. His decision to send 21,500 more troops to Iraq — despite opposition from the overwhelming majority of people in the US, including sections of the military — indicates his government’s arrogance, and its unwillingness to learn any lessons from history.
Pressure is mounting on the federal Coalition government to bring David Hicks home. On January 2, the Australian Defence Force director of military prosecutions, Brigadier Lyn McDade, described the treatment of Hicks as “abominable”. A week or so later, Attorney-General Philip Ruddock and PM John Howard said that they were concerned that Hicks had still not been tried, but that they were certain he would be charged in the next few weeks.
Several thousand people rallied at Sydney Town Hall before marching to the US Consulate on December 9 to call for the immediate return of Guantanamo Bay prisoner David Hicks. The action marked the fifth anniversary of Hicks’ capture by the US military. Speakers at the rally included NSW Greens Senator Kerry Nettle, former Guantanamo detainee Mamdouh Habib, CFMEU state secretary Andrew Ferguson, and Raul Bassi from Justice for Hicks and Habib and the Stop the War Coalition. Nettle said that the chances are good of getting Hicks home before the next federal election.

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