PM Julia Gillard was supposed to launch Labor's new policy to tackle climate change on July 23. But in essence she merely restated the same old Labor climate policy: delay, delay and delay again. Gillard's speech was pages long, but her climate agenda can be summarised in just four words — more talk, less action. The core promise was that her government would create a "citizens assembly" to discuss options to deal with global warming. Perhaps the government will propose the ice caps and glaciers hold off from melting until Gillard's august assembly has concluded its deliberations.
Five hundred people rallied outside the Perth Supreme Court Gardens on July 11 to demand that the coronial investigation into Mr Ward's tragic death be reopened. Mr Ward, a respected Aboriginal elder, was literally cooked to death in the back of a prisoner van while being driven from Laverton to Kalgoorlie to face court for a traffic offence in January 2008. The coroner found that temperatures inside the van reached 47° Celsius and that metal surfaces in the van would have reached 56°C.
Since the March 20 state elections and the installation of a power-sharing government between the Labor Party and the Greens, there have been quite a few notable developments in Tasmanian politics. Tasmania could be the first state to legalise voluntary euthanasia. The attorney-general and deputy premier Lara Giddings told states parliament on June 22 she would work with Greens leader Nick McKim to prepare a private members’ bill about voluntary euthanasia.
Wilder Marcano is a director of the network of communes in Caracas. The communes are part of the push, supported by President Hugo Chavez, to deepen popular power and create a new, revolutionary state. Venezuelanalysis.com said on February 8 there are 184 communes “in construction” across the country.
On July 17, unionists and residents from Forrest, a small town in the Victorian Otways region, converged on the shire office at Colac to protest against an Optus communications tower being placed in the middle of their town. The community picket line was established on the site for the new tower two weeks earlier. The community sought support from the construction unions, which it has received from the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union and the Electrical Trade Union.
Defence minister Senator John Faulkner has joined the list of cabinet members who, since Julia Gillard became prime minister, have said they will resign from the front bench after the upcoming elections. He dismissed suggestions that this was because he had doubts about the unpopular war in Afghanistan, which he has the task of promoting.
Citizens rallied in two Afghan cities on July 10 and 11, chanting slogans against the occupying powers and the unpopular regime of President Hamid Karzai for failing to protect civilians. On July 10, hundreds took to the streets of Mazar-i-Sharif to demand that all occupation forces leave. The protest was organised after an artillery barrage from occupying NATO forces killed six civilians in Paktia province on July 8 and US troops killed two civilians in a pre-dawn raid in the city on July 7. Protesters chanted slogans against occupation forces and Karzai.
Anti-war activists took to the streets on July 15 outside Labor MP Tanya Plibersek's office to collect support for a giant “troops out” petition that will be presented to the new pro-war PM Julia Gillard. With a federal election looming, and at least 61% of Australians opposed to Australia having troops in Afghanistan, Stop the War Coalition is organising to increase the pressure for a withdrawal.
On July 6, while 32-year-old Mustansar Rindhawa was listening to a worker who had not been paid his wages by a textile boss, an unknown person with a Kalashnikov entered the front room and fired. Mustansar tried to save his life by running to the next room, but 10 people were determined to finish him off. I met Mustansar briefly on June 19 in Faisalabad, less than a month before his murder. He was one of 30 participants in a trade union training course at the Labour Qaumi Movement (LQM) offices.
SYDNEY — Dr Adam Lucas, the Sydney coordinator of the climate research and advocacy group Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE), told a July 14 meeting that BZE's stationary energy plan showed it was possible for Australian to move to 100% renewable energy in a decade. Lucas gave an outline of the report, which will be launched publicly in Sydney in August.
The TV anchorwoman was conducting a split screen interview with a journalist who had volunteered to be a witness at the execution of a man on death row in Utah for 25 years. “He had a choice”, said the journalist, “lethal injection or firing squad”. “Wow!” said the anchorwoman. Cue a blizzard of commercials for fast food, teeth whitener, stomach stapling, the new Cadillac. This was followed by the war in Afghanistan, presented by a correspondent sweating in a flak jacket.
Work at all P&O Automotive and General Stevedoring (POAGS) wharves shut down nationwide in all 15 ports for 24 hours at midday on July 14 after the death of another waterside worker. It was the third this year, the second at POAGS operations and the third fatality at Appleton Dock in seven years. A 41-year-old Melbourne waterside worker, Stephen Piper, was crushed to death that morning at Appleton Dock.
On July 12, state environment minister Donna Faragher approved an additional three coal-fired power stations in Western Australia. These power stations will contribute to a 75% increase in the state’s greenhouse emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Authority. Of the three power stations, one is a brand new private sector development. The other two are older power stations that were built in the 1960s and have not been in use for some time, which will be expanded and refurbished. This will more than double the number of coal-fired power stations in Collie.
A jury voted on July 8 to convict a transit police officer who killed an unarmed 22-year-old African American man, Oscar Grant III, on an Oakland station platform 18 months ago. But the officer was convicted of the least serious possible manslaughter charge. The verdict left Grant’s family and their supporters — and the community that Grant called home — bitter and angry.
Hundreds of angry Queensland nurses rallied outside Queensland parliament on July 14 to protest against the ongoing pay debacle caused by problems with the new computerised payroll system. Queensland Health introduced the system four months ago. Problems have included health workers being underpaid or not being paid at all, ABC Online reported on July 15. The rallying nurses chanted "No pay, no work!", and many threatened to quit if the errors were not fixed soon.
Staff at the University of New South Wales are in a protracted dispute with a notoriously right-wing and anti-union administration, which is refusing to negotiate a new and fair collective agreement. Read more on the dispute here. To send message of support, or to donate to hardship fund to assist the more than 80 UNSW staff who have been stood down without pay by the administration in retaliation for taking legal industrial action, visit the National Tertiary Education Union UNSW webpage.