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On April 13, ABC Radio reported that the ALP state and territory governments would be lobbying the federal government to agree to a goal of a 60% reduction in Australian greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. They suggested that if the Howard government maintained its opposition, the state and territory governments would attempt to reach these goals without them. While opposed to the premiers’ proposal, even PM John Howard has recently acknowledged that there is a threat from climate change caused by human activity, leaving the “greenhouse sceptic” argument to the conservative fringe.
A dispute at Preston Motors has been resolved after an almost five-week-long campaign by workers, the National Union of Workers (NUW), Union Solidarity and other community groups. The company’s initial offer of a mere $4 a week pay rise left the workers with little choice but to fight for their rights. A community picket line was established and held tight while the dispute was underway, and the company finally agreed to negotiate with the workers’ union, the NUW.
While NSW police minister David Campbell has inspected the new APEC command in Sydney — in which the state government is wasting millions of dollars — anti-war, environmental and workers’ rights activists are preparing to send their message to US President George Bush, PM John Howard and other APEC leaders in Sydney in early September.
Citing low pay, management intimidation and poor safety, metal construction workers at the Coles Myer distribution centre in Somerton resigned their casual employment with labour hire contractor Busicom Solutions on April 11 and set up a 24-hour protest outside the centre.
The streets of downtown Los Angeles became a sea of red shirts stretching for many city blocks on April 7 when at least 20,000 people turned out for one of the largest immigrant rights demonstrations since the big marches last year.
Indonesian police have named two new suspects in the murder of human rights activist Munir, who died of arsenic poisoning on a Garuda flight from Jakarta to Amsterdam on September 7, 2004.
A coalition of community groups including Friends of the Earth, the National Union of Students, the Stop the War Coalition, the Australian Student Environment Network, and the Australian Youth Climate Change Coalition have initiated a public lobby outside the ALP national conference beginning on April 27 to support delegates who are standing up to the proposed changes to the ALP’s long-standing policy on uranium mining.
In the lead-up to Labor’s national conference, beginning in Sydney on April 27, WA-based advocacy group Project SafeCom has urged supporters of refugees’ rights to pressure the ALP leadership to ensure that a government led by Kevin Rudd won’t commit the same human rights abuses witnessed during PM John Howard’s reign (some of which, such as the Tampa affair, were carried out with ALP complicity).
On April 2 the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation and Oxfam Australia published Close the Gap, a report highlighting the shameful state of Indigenous health in Australia. The report ranked Australia as the worst at improving the health of indigenous people compared with other wealthy nations.
Following the trial of Tasers among Queensland’s Special Emergency Response Team, they are now being introduced to all duty police officers in the Brisbane and south-east police regions, according to a joint statement issued by Queensland police minister Judy Spence and Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson.
On April 13, the Refugee Action Coalition (RAC) reported that Yuan Hui Min had been taken from Villawood detention centre to hospital. She is one of ten detainees on hunger strike in protest at the “unjust situation of detention”. The hunger strikers are calling for an end to forcible deportations, a maximum detention period of six months and for the immediate release of two detainees being held incommunicado.
MELBOURNE — Chanting ‘No nukes! No war! This is what we’re fighting for!’, more than 3000 people, including representatives of 80 different organisations, took part in the Palm Sunday peace parade on April 1. Dubbed Nuclear Fools Day, it was a protest against the expansion of uranium mining and proposals for nuclear energy. It also sent a strong message to the ALP, which looks set to scrap its ‘no new mines’ policy at its national conference later this month. Speakers included Cam Walker from Friends of the Earth, Bill Williams from the Medical Association for the Prevention of War, Dave Sweeney from the Australian Conservation Foundation, Democrat Senator Lyn Allison and Greens Senator Bob Brown.
More than 300 people attended the launch of UNITE’s Boost Our Pay campaign on March 30 on Swanston Street outside the main strip of fast food restaurants. UNITE is campaigning for an end to youth wages, a $16 minimum wage, no individual contracts (AWAs), and for secure work hours.
On April 12, Jorge Navas, secretary of the South Australian branch of the Health Services Union, spoke to a meeting at Unions Tas about human rights in Colombia and campaigns to protect union leaders.
An action outside Kirribilli House on April 8, organised by the Refugee Action Collective, was addressed by RAC’s Ian Rintoul and Greens Senator Kerry Nettle, along with representatives from Falun Gong. Some 50 people gathered at Bradfield Park and marched through the streets to the gates of Kirribilli House, demanding an end to mandatory detention and temporary protection visas, the closure of the camps in remote areas, and the granting of asylum to Falun Gong detainees.
An April 12 community organising meeting called by the Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine decided to hold a range of events, including film nights and a public meeting leading up to a June 9 rally as part of the international campaign “The world says no to Israeli occupation”. The CJPP is inviting anyone interested in building this campaign to come to a meeting on April 26 at St Joseph’s Church, Bedford St, Newtown. For more information, email <cjpp@coalitionforpalestine.org>

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