This April is the 10th anniversary of the mass sacking of hundreds of waterside workers around Australia by the giant Patrick Stevedores. The drama surrounding this event stirred fierce passions, generated mass protests and polarised society on a scale seldom witnessed.
On April 9, some 700 workers employed at the Port Melbourne-based Boeing subsidiary Hawker de Havilland went on strike. They were protesting against the companys April 7 sacking of an Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) member without going through the agreed dispute-settlement procedure. The HDH plant makes parts for Boeings new 787 airliner.
For most of us here in wealthy and relatively insulated Australia, the word crisis sounds like an exaggeration. We hear about the global warming crisis, the world financial crisis and now the food crisis but these seem like abstractions to most of us. Crisis, what crisis? is a familiar rejoinder.
On April 3 Fremantle wharfies stopped work for two hours to commemorate the 1998 Patricks dispute and thank all those who generously and courageously supported the Maritime Union of Australia. Nearly 1500 MUA members and other members of the community marched through the streets of Fremantle. In other ports the anniversary was marked with a one-minute stop work on April 7.
Ecuadors President Rafael Correa shook up the establishment in early April after forcing the resignation of defence minister Wellington Sandoval, the military Chiefs of Staff, and the countries police chief amid accusations that the military and intelligence organisations were infiltrated by, and under the control of, the CIA.
Australia’s military “would contain a careful mix of capabilities that could in extremis rip an arm off any major Asian power that sought to attack Australia”, said Professor Ross Babbage of the Kokoda Foundation in a private lecture to Australian Defence Force officials according to a March 25 AAP report.
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a technique to remove carbon dioxide from industrial pollution — and especially from power stations — and compress, transport and store it perpetually in secure underground structures such as expired gas and oil fields and other geological formations.
The government of Argentinean President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner had the first of a series of meetings on April 15 with the leaders of the agricultural sector.
A food crisis, caused largely by skyrocketing prices, has hit dozens of countries across the Third World, while an April 14 report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) argues that increasing production of agrofuels (the large-scale production of biofuels, using food crops to create fuels such as ethanol) further threatens the worlds poor with hunger.
On April 15, 200 people attended a public meeting entitled Putting the terror laws on trial at the Kaleide Theatre, RMIT. The meeting was jointly sponsored by the Civil Rights Defence campaign group and Amnesty International.
A snap protest was held outside the Sydney office of World Wide Fund for Nature on April 16 after WWF announced it was joining forces with the Climate Institute, the Australian Coal Association and the mining and energy division of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union to push the federal government to make “clean” coal the centrepiece of its climate change abatement plan.
NASAs chief climate scientist, Dr James Hansen, wrote an open letter to Kevin Rudd on March 27 urging him to halt the construction of new coal-fired power stations. He also demanded that Rudd implement the Garnaut reports recommendations.