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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.

Attempts by Tahmoor mineworkers to negotiate with mining giant Xstrata have collapsed yet again after the company refused to budge during mediated talks in May. For 20 months, the Construction, Forestry, Mining, Energy Union (CFMEU), has been trying to negotiate an agreement.

“[We are] saddened by the mixture of politics and sports.”

So said a spokesperson for the Israeli Football Association in response to news on April 31 that the Turkish under-19 soccer team cancelled its match in Israel. Turkey's team made the move following the Israeli Navy's attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla that left at least nine dead and scores injured.

Then on June 1, the Swedish Football Association (SFA) announced that it would formally request European soccer's governing body to cancel Sweden's under-21 game in Israel on June 4.

The federal Labor government plans to extend welfare quarantining across the Northern Territory.

The law reforms are designed to circumvent the reinstatement of the Racial Discrimination Act, suspended in 2007 when quarantining was first imposed on Aboriginal people as part of the NT intervention. After 12 months, the policy may be rolled out across the country

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.

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