Starting with Melbourne University and spreading around the country like a fire in a library, universities have announced major cuts in arts and humanities departments.
Rachel Evans, a well-known campaigner for refugee, workers and queer rights, was preselected as the Socialist Alliance candidate for the federal seat of Parramatta at a meeting of the Sydney West branch on August 7.
On August 17, activists organising the September 5 national student walkout against US President George Bushs visit to Sydney launched a Stop Bush Bag containing items to help publicise the student strike.
Venezuelan charge daffaires Nelson Davila was the feature speaker at a seminar and film showing co-sponsored by the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network and the Australia Cuba Friendship Society on August 11. More than 60 people attended the event, which discussed the gains of the Venezuelan revolution and its impact on the struggle for social justice throughout Latin America.
“Australia has failed to implement the human right to adequate housing”, concluded a report to the United Nations Human Rights Council addressing adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living.
A court challenge brought by the Wilderness Society (TWS) against the federal government was rejected on all counts on August 9. TWS alleged that environment minister Malcolm Turnbull had not properly assessed the environmental implications of the proposed Gunns pulp mill development in the Tamar Valley.
The August 8 announcement of the Reserve Bank board’s decision to raise official interest rates by a further 0.25% focused renewed media attention on the non-affordability of housing. The interest rate rise — the fifth since the 2004 election and the ninth since 2002 — increased mortgage repayments for home owners with average mortgages by $50 a week, placing extra pressure on already stretched budgets.
On August 15, 25 of the 43 West Papuan refugees who sought asylum in Australia in 2006 joined a protest outside federal parliament to mark the 40th anniversary of the 1962 New York Agreement the US-brokered agreement to transfer West Papua from Dutch to Indonesian control that included the guarantee of an act of free choice for West Papuans to decide whether to be incorporated into the Republic of Indonesia. However, instead of a genuine act of self-determination being held, a group of hand-picked West Papuan representatives were coerced into voting for Indonesian rule.
According to a survey conducted by the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) 15 months ago, eight Australians are killed every week on the job and a further 44 die due to work related illnesses and diseases. This is one-third higher than the number of people who die on the nations roads. More than 15 serious injuries occur on the job every hour.
More than 200 people gathered at the Arena on August 11 for the Justice for the Innocent benefit gig for the Doomadgee family of Palm Island. The gig raised funds for the civil case against the Queensland police and Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley, who admitted that his actions caused the death of Mulrunji Doomadgee in the Palm Island watchhouse in 2004.
“The British have basically been defeated in the south [of Iraq]”, the August 8 Washington Post reported being told by a US intelligence official in Baghdad. In the first six months of this year, 37 British troops were killed in Iraq, the highest number for any six-month period of the war and 14 more than died in the whole of 2006.
For socialists, this August marks a significant anniversary. One hundred years ago, a congress of the Second or Socialist International took a bold stand in the struggle against capitalist war. The congress pointed the way toward the Russian Revolution of 1917 and provided an enduring guide for socialists anti-war activity.
On August 2, the High Court of Australia upheld the constitutional validity of a control order on Jack Thomas.
On August 12, postal workers from the Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union (CEPU) communications division and their supporters protested against the closure of the Fitzroy mail centre.
Liliany Obando, an international representative and organiser of the Agricultural Workers Union Federation of Colombia (FENSUAGRO), will be among more than 35 international guests at the Latin American and Asia Pacific International Solidarity Forum to be held in Melbourne on October 11-14.
Amid an unprecedented security hype in the lead-up to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, organisers of the Stop Bush/Make Howard History protest on September 8 are expecting thousands of anti-war, environment and workers rights activists to take to Sydneys streets to give US President George Bush the kind of welcome he deserves. Green Left Weeklys Pip Hinman spoke to Stop Bush Coalition spokesperson and Stop the War Coalition activist Alex Bainbridge.