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Tasmanian logging giant Gunns Ltd announced suddenly on March 14 that it was withdrawing its proposal to build a $2 billion pulp mill at Bell Bay in northern Tasmania from the independent Resource Planning and Development Commission (RPDC) and called on Labor Premier Paul Lennon’s government to legislate to approve the project.
More than 30 workers at the Preston Motors plant in Campbellfield went on strike at 6am on March 13 over the company’s continued refusal to negotiate a meaningful wage increase. The National Union of Workers (NUW) members have been attempting to conclude a new union collective agreement with the company after the previous agreement expired in September 2006.
The Gippsland Trades and Labour Council (GTLC) has expressed outrage at the refusal of power companies and the Victorian government to discuss health and safety in the power industry following two workplace deaths and a serious injury in the La Trobe Valley late in 2006.
The Greens are calling for state-of-the-art mobile medical clinics as a means of extending city-based services to rural and remote areas of NSW. The call is part of the Greens’ NSW election policy for health, launched by MP Sylvia Hale on March 16.
On March 15, more than 1000 public sector workers and their supporters rallied in the city under the banner of “Job cuts = service cuts”. They were expressing opposition to the 20,000 “backroom” job cuts proposed by the NSW Liberals as part of its state election campaign. The election will be held on March 24.
As part of an international weekend of protest on the fourth anniversary of the US-British-Australian invasion of Iraq, 800 people participated in an anti-war rally and march on March 17 that began at Sydney Town Hall.
On March 15, the federal Coalition government announced that 82 of the 83 Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka intercepted by the HMAS Success on February 21 are to be deported to Nauru, where they will be indefinitely detained.
On March 15, the Canterbury/Bankstown branch of the NSW Teachers Federation (NSWTF) held a speak-out at Labor Premier Morris Iemma’s local electoral office in the seat of Lakemba. Iemma was invited to address the speak-out but did not respond.
The Pacific island-nation of Tuvalu is the first country to have evacuated some of its citizens because of the sea-level rise driven by global warming. The highest point on the eight coral atolls that make up Tuvalu’s 26 square kilometres of territory sits only five metres above sea level. Almost a quarter of the nation’s population have already been evacuated and the remaining 8000 Tuvaluans may also have to leave in future years.
Workers, students and families will take to the Yarra River on March 24-25 to raise funds for and create greater awareness about the situation faced by refugees and asylum seekers in Australia.

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