Breaking story (last updated June 25): Socialists and progressive trade union and social movement activists have reacted sceptically to the leadership change in the Australian Labor Party (ALP) federal government of Australia. Julia Gillard displaced Kevin Rudd as PM on June 24 after a surprise leadership challenge that came into the open the night before. She became the country's first woman PM. Wayne Swan replaced Gillard as deputy PM.
Labour history was made when New Zealand had its first shopping mall workers strike on May 25. Workers in JB Hi-Fi in Albany, organised by the militant Unite union, went on strike for better pay and against a culture of bullying and intimidation against union members. Workers at JB Hi-Fi haven't had a pay rise in 3 years, and now earn only 75c more than the new minimum wage. JB Hi-Fi is making record profits - up 29% this year to an estimated NZ$140 million.
A press conference was held on June 23 behind NSW Parliament House calling for an inquiry into 34-year-old Veronica Baxter’s death in custody. Activists presented 500 signatures to NSW Greens MP Sylvia Hale who undertook to present them to the New South Wales Parliament. On March 10, 2009, three days after Mardi Gras,Veronica Baxter was arrested by Redfern police and held on remand at the all-male NSW Silverwater Metropolitan Reception and Remand Centre. Six days later, after a 14-hour break between checking her cell, she was found dead, hanging in her single cell.
On June 15, around a 1500 people, representing nearly every union, gathered outside Adelaide Magistrate's court for the first day of a week of rallies supporting construction worker, Ark Tribe, in his battle to defend himself against the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC).
Stop wasting lives - get our troops out now! Socialist Alliance statement June 22, 2010 The Socialist Alliance today renewed its call on the Rudd government to withdraw all Australian troops from Afghanistan in wake of more Australian troop casualties and a poll showing that a majority of Australians support such a withdrawal.
A wave of rallies and marches commemorating World Refugee Week has begun to sweep across Australia. On Sunday June 20, people came from all over Melbourne as well as Ballarat, Geelong and other regional areas for the rally, indicating that refugee rights networks are being re-established. Given the rain, organisers were happy with the size of the rally, between 1000-2000. This has been the biggest protest in support of refugees for several years. Rallies also took place in Canberra, Perth (200) and Brisbane (300) over the weekend.
The National Rugby League (NRL) establishment is in damage control once again after one of the game's stars took a courageous stand against racism in the sport. Star centre Timana Tahu quit the New South Wales State of Origin team on June 11 in protest against racism directed towards an opponent. NSW assistant coach Andrew Johns described Queensland centre Greg Inglis, an Aboriginal man, as a “black cunt” in his training instructions to the team, and has been accused of making racist remarks about other Queensland players.
Late last year Western Australian artist Nathalie Haymann exhibited thirty-six artworks based on the book "A Certain Maritime Incident — the Sinking of the SIEVX" in Fremantle. The showing commemorated the 2001 sinking of a refugee boat off the coast of Australia — a crime against humanity about which many controversial questions still swirl. The entire exhibition is now available for viewing at www.sinkingofsievxpaintings.com.
The Venezuelan National Assembly (NA) is considering a bill to decriminalise abortion, but only in restricted cases, the June 10 Ultimas Noticias reported. It was one of the proposals of the committee for the rights of women in the NA. It is part of a raft of proposals to be considered in changes to a new penal code, to eliminate gender bias.
A recent survey, the results of which are published in Speaking Out: Stopping homophobic and transphobic abuse in Queensland, was yet another reminder that that Australia's lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex (LGBTI) community continue to suffer abuse and victimisation in silence. Dr Alan Berman of Griffith University and Dr Shirleene Robinson of Bond University collected almost 1100 survey responses from the LGBTI community and focus groups throughout Queensland. Their findings exposed a shocking frequency of verbal and physical abuse suffered by queers.