Aboriginal activist Natasha Moore has responded to the release of the Western Australian Coroner’s report into Indigenous deaths in the Kimberley by arguing only self-determination can make a fundamental difference to people’s lives.
During a 10-day tour of NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia in early February, Terry Boehm, vice-president of Canada’s National Farmers Union, and Arnold Taylor, president of the Canadian Organic Growers association, warned Australian farmers against adopting genetically modified (GM) crops.
Less than 12 months after its re-election, the NSW Labor government is in a poll slump — Premier Morris Iemma has a public approval rating of just 34%, according to a Nielsen poll released on February 26 (the Coalition’s Barry O’Farrell managed just 27%). The government has been rocked by scandals involving dodgy deals with developers, new hospitals unfit for patients, and faulty equipment delaying the opening of new rail lines.
The Socialist Alliance held a Victorian state conference in Melbourne on February 3. Around 80 members and supporters discussed how to meet the challenge of global warming and continue the struggle to overturn all anti-union laws, including the much-hated Work Choices legislation, many aspects of which the new federal Labor government plans to retain.
In the article “Anti-pulp mill campaigner: ’We can’t afford to lose’” in GLW #741, a quote was wrongly attributed. The article quoted a press release saying that “peaceful community protest at the construction site is a last resort and we hope it will never be needed. However, we respect the growing feeling in the community that people wish to express their distress at the failure of successive government processes to properly and transparently consider a wide range of concerns about the mill by peacefully protesting”. This press release was issued by Vica Bailey from the Wilderness society, not Bob McMahon from Tasmanians Against the Pulp Mill.
On February 19, Australian Defence Force chief Angus Houston told a Senate committee hearing that planning was underway for a mid-year withdrawal of the ADF’s 550 soldiers based in Iraq’s southern Dhi Qar province, as well as 65 army trainers. However, their withdrawal will leave in place 60% of the ADF personnel assigned to the Iraq war.
Victoria’s Labor premier, John Brumby, and education minister Lyn Kosky have refused to meet with the Australian Education Union (AEU) to resolve a deadlock in negotiations over a new enterprise bargaining agreement for teachers.
International Women’s Day, observed on March 8, is a testimony to women struggling to better their lives.
On February 29, 40 people attended a protest organised by the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre over the continuation of laws related to the Northern Territory intervention. The demonstration was intended to send a message to federal Indigenous affairs minister Jenny Macklin, who was at Hobart’s Clarence TAFE campus. “End the intervention, human rights for all”, participants chanted.
Five days after the November 24 federal election, outgoing industrial relations minister Joe Hockey admitted, in a rare moment of political honesty, that Work Choices contributed to the Coalition government’s defeat. He declared that the new Labor government was given a mandate by the people to abolish the Work Choices legislation.
On February 28, thousands of members of State School Teachers Union of the Western Australia (SSTUWA) defied an order by the Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) to attend stop-work meetings. The meetings were part of the union’s campaign to win a new public schools enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA).
Following the announcement by Fidel Castro on February 19 that he would not stand in the election by Cuba’s National Assembly (AN) for the position of president, the Western media coverage has ranged from grudging acknowledgement of Cuba’s social gains in the face of 50 years of US aggression, to outrageous claims of “dictatorship” and US government plans for a “transition” in Cuba.
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