A growing number of unions across Australia have backed the international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign targeting Israel. The campaign demands that Israel ends its apartheid-like policies towards Palestinians. The National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA) said in a July 20 statement that it would “continue to add its voice to the call for an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestine and condemning all acts of terrorism”.
More than 850 people packed into the Sydney Town Hall for a “Save Sydney from Over-development” public meeting organised by Friends of Barangaroo on August 3. The meetings was organised to in response to a proposed development of the harbour-side Barangaroo area. There are serious community concerns about the plan to hand over public space to private developer Lend Lease, which plans to build a large hotel on the land.
Some of the Illawarra’s foremost fighters for social justice have backed Socialist Alliance candidate Jess Moore in the seat of Cunningham on the New South Wales south coast. Highly regarded, veteran trade unionists Monica Chalmers, Neville Arrowsmith, Jim Keogh and Ken McBride, who have all spent decades in union and solidarity campaigns, have endorsed Moore and are helping her campaign. Moore is a well-known community activist who is national coordinator of the socialist youth organisation Resistance.
When police in Jamaica launched a bloody assault in May on poor neighbourhoods in the country’s capital city, news outlets in Canada responded with an ignorance and insensitivity that is all too common in their coverage of the Caribbean islands. As with Haiti, Jamaica is portrayed as incomprehensibly violent and not quite civilised.
Ker-ching! Its half-year profit time and those poor, tax-oppressed, big mining companies are announcing huge profit increases. Rio Tinto announced a half-year net profit of $6.39 billion, up 260% from the same period last year. And this huge profit came even after the company reduced its net debt by a whopping $27 billion to $12 billion.
National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) members at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) have vowed more industrial action to fight the ongoing refusal of vice-chancellor Fred Hilmer to negotiate on improvements to job security, pay and other conditions for UNSW staff. In particular, the union is concerned about the unregulated use of fixed-term contracts and casual employment at the university. An NTEU meeting on August 4 voted for partial work bans in preparation for and participation in UNSW promotional events from August 30 to September 4.
On August 4, California’s ban on same-sex marriages was ruled unconstitutional by federal judge Vaughn Walker. However, religious fundamentalist and anti-queer groups have indicated that they will appeal the ruling. On August 6, Walker granted a stay on the implementation of his ruling, meaning lesbian and gay couples are still unable to marry in California. Californian Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown have both argued against the stay and for the ruling to be implemented immediately.
Last month, I stood in the Guildhall Square in Derry and watched as the relatives of the 14 innocent victims of the British Parachute Regiment expressed their delight at the Saville report’s conclusion that the 14 were innocent victims. At the time of the killings the dead were labelled as terrorists by the British government. The British system and, to its shame, much of the British media, accused those who had been shot of being “gunmen” and “bombers”.
A landmark agreement has been signed in Western Australia between the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) and the Community and Public Sector Union/Civil Service Association of Western Australia (CPSU/CSA) over union representation in the state’s higher education sector. The following abridged statement was posted on NTEU.org.au by NTEU WA division secretary Lyn Bloom. * * * The CPSU/CSA in WA has announced that it is withdrawing from active involvement in the higher education sector.
The Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group (TGLRG) organised political candidates to publicly sign a pledge stating their party would not use election material that incited hatred or ridicule against people based on their sexuality or gender. The pledge signing took place at Salamanca markets in Hobart on July 31 and was signed by the Socialist Alliance, Greens, Democrats and Labor candidates and independent candidate Andrew Wilkie.
The Stop the War Coalition Sydney held a picket outside ALP MP Tanya Plibersek’s office on August 5 to call for an end to Australian support for the war in Afghanistan. The STWC has condemned the Australian government’s purchase of 18 unmanned spy drones and training packages worth $175 million. Spokesperson Marlene Obeid said: “The drones are part of an offensive weapons system that, almost certainly, will be linked to US systems in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In other words, Australia will be subsidising US assault operations, which will kill more Afghan women and children.”
“Always Was, Always Will Be, Aboriginal Land: The struggle for Aboriginal rights”, was the title of an August 3 forum in the Brisbane Activist Centre sponsored by Socialist Alliance and Resistance. Speakers were Murri activist and SA Queensland Senate candidate Sam Watson and Ewan Saunders, SA candidate for the seat of Brisbane who has recently returned from the Justice Bus Ride to the Northern Territory.
On August 14, rallies will take place in 13 different cities around Australia for the sixth annual national day of action for equal marriage rights. Last year’s national day of action drew more than 10,000 people, making it the biggest demonstration for queer rights in Australian history. The movement has claimed 2010 as its “national year of action”. Activists have taken some colourful initiatives to build this year’s rally. Sydney’s Community Action Against Homophobia threw eggs at cardboard cut-outs of Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard.
The Sandon Point Aboriginal Tent Embassy (SPATE) is set to appeal a July 26 Land and Environment Court dismissal challenging the proposed Stockland 181-lot residential super development at Sandon Point, in the Wollongong suburb of Bulli, New South Wales.
In Fremont, Nebraska in the US mid-west, some of the biggest names in indie rock played a sold-out pro-immigrant benefit gig on July 31 titled “Concert for Equality”. Omaha.com said on August 2: “The theme of the day — and the reason for the show — was to fight Fremont’s recently passed immigration ordinance, which would fine employers and landlords who hire or rent to illegal immigrants.” All proceeds from the gig were offered to the American Liberties Civil Union to assist its fight against the law, Pollstar.com said on August 4.
The Parramatta Climate Action Network (ParraCAN) staged a series of rolling protests outside New South Wales state government ministers offices calling for no new coal The NSW state government is planning to construct two new coal-fired power stations, which will increase the state’s greenhouse gas emissions by up to 15%. ParraCAN is circulating a petition calling for the prohibition of the construction of new coal-fired power stations; the development of a phase-out plan for coal; and that the state government support job creation in renewable industries.