Deaths in Custody Watch Committee (Western AAustralia) spokesperson, Marc Newhouse today announced a series of protest actions to be held following the Director of Public Prosecutions’ decision not to lay criminal charges against any of the parties responsible for the death in custody of Mr Ward in 2008. Mr Ward, an Aboriginal elder, died while being transported hundreds of kilometres across the WA Goldfields in a privately-operated prison van with faulty air conditioning.
Location: 'I have a dream' mural, King Street, Newtown When: Friday July 2, 4.30-6pm Representatives of local community organisations and political parties will take part in a community speak-out against racism on Friday July 2 in Newtown. They will assemble under the “I have a dream” mural – featuring the legendary anti-racist Black American campaigner Martin Luther King. Speakers participating include:
A national gathering of Aboriginal community leaders will expose what they describe as the “treachery inherent in government policies targeting the civil and political rights” of their communities. The New Way Aboriginal Summit, being held in Melbourne from July 1 – 4 to coincide with NAIDOC Week, will host a press conference at 12.40 pm this Friday 2nd July at Trades Hall Council, the main summit venue.
Australia’s leading conservation groups said in a joint statement on June 21 that concern about lack of action to provide safeguards against large-scale oil spills in Australia will be a high-profile issue in the next federal election. Thirty-two environment groups — including the Australian Conservation Foundation, WWF Australia and Pew Environment Group — have called on all political parties to commit to a network of large marine sanctuaries this coming election to provide safeguards for Australia’s unique marine life.
A wave of rallies and marches commemorating World Refugee Week swept across the country in the past week. On June 20, people rallied in Melbourne, coming from across the city and regional areas. Given the rain, organisers were happy with the turnout of 2000 people. It was the biggest protest in support of refugees for several years. Tamil refugee Arun Mylvaganam described his experiences escaping Sri Lanka and traveling to Australia, where he spent three months in detention. He was only 13 at the time and had no family members with him.
Women, the unemployed, the ill and frail will be the biggest losers from the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government’s slash-and-burn budget — and there will be no economic recovery. That was the dire warning on June 23 from Canadians who have bitter experience of an identical right-wing assault on the public sector. In the weeks leading up to the June 22 budget, the Con-Dem coalition sought advice from Canada’s former finance minister Paul Martin, who wielded the axe on his country’s public spending in the 1990s.
It is with great sadness that Green Left Weekly reports the death of human rights activist Rosemarie Waratah Gillespie, 69, who unexpectedly died in Melbourne on June 21 from a stroke. An activist for more than 40 years, she was a human rights lawyer, activist, author, filmmaker, anti-capitalist, Indigenous activist and mother. Waratah lived in Port Kembla and frequently travelled to Sydney to attend meetings at Humanist House, where she was vice president of the Humanist Society. The society was just one of her many passions.
More than a year after its victory over the pro-independence Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the Sri Lankan Army (SLA) continues to hold large areas of land in the predominantly Tamil north and east of Sri Lanka as “high security zones” (HSZ). Many of the Tamil inhabitants who were evicted from these areas to create the HSZs during the decades-long war are still unable to return to their homes.
Indonesian military forces have stepped up their campaign of repression in West Papua in recent months. But leaders of the Free Papua Movement (OPM) continue to defy Indonesian demands to surrender. The campaign for West Papuan independence has been amplified by the continuing repression and lack of improvement of living standards under the current “special autonomy” system. An eyewitness report from West Papua Media Announcements (WPMA) posted on Pacific.scoop.co.nz on June 16 described a large military mobilisation in the mountainous Puncak Jaya region in central West Papua.
A hastily convened caucus of Australian Labor Party federal MPs replaced former prime minister Kevin Rudd with his deputy, Julia Gillard, on June 24. This made her Australia's first woman PM. Treasurer Wayne Swan replaced Gillard as deputy PM. The dramatic takeover unfolded publicly the previous night when the chiefs of Labor's right-wing factions withdrew their support for Rudd.
Labour history was made as New Zealand had its first mall workers strike on May 25. Workers in JB Hi-Fi in Albany, organised with the Unite union, went on strike for better pay and against a culture of bullying and intimidation against union members. Unite had already organised the first strike at a JB Hi Fi store on April 16. Unite member Jack Lucas said: “Our manager told me that I would never get a pay rise if I stayed with the collective. There was a lot of pressure put on me to resign.
News from Thailand is alarming: hundreds of people detained for violations of the emergency decree, including children, injured people chained to their hospital beds and several assassinations of local leaders of the pro-democracy Red Shirt movement. The country is moving deeper into an authoritarian and military regime. The elite are even considering postponing elections for six years, thus giving Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva the possibility of leading the country for ten years against the will of most Thai citizens.
Following the New Way Summit on Aboriginal rights in Canberra in January, a second summit will be held in Melbourne over July 1-4. Convenor of the Victorian New Way Aboriginal Summit, Socialist Alliance member Sharon Firebrace, told Green Left Weekly: “We expect a lot of people will attend to learn that the New Way grassroots movement is a true opposition to what the federal government is dishing up to us in their shameful charade of establishing the First Nation Congress of Australia.”
June 21 marked the third anniversary of the Howard government’s “national emergency” intervention in 73 prescribed Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory, the so-called Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER). In the name of protecting children, the basic liberties of Aboriginal people were suspended and a draconian and paternalistic state project of improvement was launched to “stabilise, normalise and then exit” these communities. Stabilisation was to take one year and normalisation four.
On June 5, New South Wales Teachers Federation state council voted to initiate a “Stop the Privatisation” forum to organise against the state government’s privatisation plans for the public sector. The forum will invite participation from the Public Sector Association (PSA), Fire Brigade Employees Union (FBEU) and other public sector unions. After the forum, the federation will initiate a public sector delegates meeting to discuss and organise a public sector-wide response to the privatisation agenda.
The federal Labor government passed the Social Security and Other Legislation Amendment (Welfare Reform and Reinstatement of the Racial Discrimination Act) bill on June 21 — exactly three years after the Northern Territory intervention was launched by the Howard-Coalition government. Welfare quarantining: • Will be extended to include about 20,000 people in the NT, starting from July 1; • Can be applied to young people on Centrelink payments, people who have been on unemployment or parenting benefits for more than a year, or people referred by family services;