It took nearly six months to organise, but on May 21, representatives from seven anti-war groups finally met defence minister Senator John Faulkner to request he re-consider a Greens’ initiative to amend the Defence Act. The amendment would require that MPs vote on whether or not Australian troops are sent to war. While the lobby, spearheaded by Nick Deane from the Marrickville Peace Group, did not change the senator’s mind, Deane told Green Left Weekly that he felt the exercise was still worthwhile because Faulkner heard a range of views.
On May 18, the Queensland Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC) announced it would take over primary responsibility for investigating all deaths in police custody in the state. This followed the recommendation made by deputy chief magistrate Brian Hine when he delivered his findings on May 14 to the third coronial inquest into the 2004 death of Aboriginal man Mulrunji Doomadgee in the Palm Island watch house. On November 19, 2004, Mulrunji was walking home when sergeant Chris Hurley, driving by in his police vehicle, arrested him on a drunk and disorderly charge.
In the seemingly endless wave of disgusting prejudice that flows out of the sewer pipe that is the mainstream media, sometimes it can be pleasantly surprising how things turn out. On May 20, Australian Football League (AFL) star Jason Akermanis said in a Herald Sun column that the football world was not ready for openly gay players, and that those thinking about outing themselves should stay in the closet. On the same day, David Campbell resigned as NSW minister for transport after being outed by Channel 7 News, who filmed him exiting an all-male sex club.
MELBOURNE — On May 25, about 50 people attended a forum on Burma's election, which is due to occur this year. The forum was addressed by Debbie Stothard, coordinator of Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma, who noted the many undemocratic structures set up by the military junta. She said: “The 2008 constitution will guarantee military control over the election and resulting parliament. Election commissioners are handpicked by the regime, political parties must exclude ‘convicted persons’ such as Aung San Suu Kyi and there is severe censorship and restrictions on campaigning.
SYDNEY— One hundred and fifty people took part in a pro-choice rally on May 29. The rally called for the repeal of anti-abortion laws and for charges against the Cairns couple facing prosecution for having used RU486 to be dropped. Labor MLC Penny Sharpe and Greens MLC Lee Rhiannon echoed the views of pro-choice activists in saying the laws were draconian and needed to be repealed. The protest, called by Women's Action Abortion Campaign, was timed to coincide with a Right to Life conference, which ended up not going ahead.
At the G20 Economic Forum in Pittsburgh in September, President Barack Obama said his administration would combat climate change by phasing out the US government’s grandiose subsidies to the fossil fuel industry. But a report released on April 13 by Synapse Energy Economics (SEE) said Obama hadn’t followed through on his promise to cut dirty energy handouts.
On May 24, foreign minister Stephen Smith announced that an unnamed Israeli diplomat was to be expelled from Australia. This was in response to revelations that Israel’s spy agency, Mossad, had stolen the identities of four Australia citizens to create cloned passports. The passports were used by Mossad agents involved in the January 20 murder of Hamas activist Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai.
The melting of the Arctic ice cap is one of the most foreboding signs of dangerous climate change. If too much ice melts, it will set off natural feedback loops that warm the planet even faster and disrupt weather patterns. A month ago, satellite data from the US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) suggested the Arctic sea ice was growing back. In early April, the ice cover was close to the 30-year average. But in recent weeks, the NSIDC has recorded a rapid drop in ice cover. By late May, the ice cover had dropped below what it was in May 2007 — the lowest year on record.
PERTH — On May 25, a rally was held to support a woman's right to choose abortion. The rally was attended by members of Resistance, Socialist Alliance, Socialist Alternative, the Cross Campus Queer Network, the ROAR Feminist Collective and other activists. The action was called in response to an anti-choice protest organised by Church associated groups and led by Archbishop Barry Hickey. The anti-choice action was to mark the 12th anniversary of, and protest against, the decriminalisation of abortion in Western Australia.
The obscenely wealthy have been celebrated again with the release of Business Review Weekly’s annual Rich 200 list. Sitting in top spot is Westfield Group chairperson Frank Lowy, whose personal fortune is estimated to be $5.04 billion. That's about 17,000 times our 2010 fighting fund target here at Green Left Weekly.