849

SYDNEY — In the final weeks before the federal election, federal transport minister Anthony Albanese has announced the proposed extension of the M5 roadway is to be scrapped.

The proposed road was to be a 50-foot-high motorway, cutting through soccer fields and regenerated bushland in Tempe. It would have passed through Sydenham, and ended at St Peters — a short distance from the already congested south King St in Newtown.

New Zealand’s National Party-led government announced on July 18 a law that would allow bosses to fire new workers at will, restrict access to unions, cut workers’ entitlements to sick leave and holidays, and remove the right to appeal against unfair sackings. On August 21, unions will respond with rallies across the country.

The two most significant aspects of the government’s plans are the extension of 90-day “trial period” and a requirement for union organisers to gain permission from employers before visiting union members or potential recruits on the job.

PERTH — Members of the Perth Burmese community held a commemoration on August 8 for the democratic uprising that took place in Burma exactly 22 years before.

Speakers at the commemoration called for a restoration of democracy in Burma, including freedom for pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and for stronger action in support of democracy from the Australian government. A solidarity dinner for the Burmese struggle was also held on August 7.

This open letter to Elton John was released on July 30 by Alexander Billet. It is reprinted from Sociarts.com. Billet’s blog on popular music can be read at Rebelfrequencies.blogspot.com.

* * *

Dear Elton,

First of all, I hope you don’t mind that I refuse to call you “Sir”. Knights swing swords and ride horses. You play a piano.

After a successful strike and picket line on August 8, Victoria University’s (VU) vice chancellor, Liz Harman, agreed to negotiate on pay and conditions.

Until then, senior management had demanded that promised pay rises this year be in return for abandoning regulation of workloads in the current enterprise bargaining round. The National Tertiary Education Union Branch (NTEU) has now suspended its bans on releasing results. Stood down union members have been reinstated.

BRISBANE — A meeting of about 150 members of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) at the University of Queensland on August 5 passed a motion of no-confidence in UQ vice-chancellor Paul Greenfield.

The meeting voted to start rolling stop-works within two weeks if they do not receive an improved pay offer from university management.

UQ staff are due to receive only a 3.1% pay increase for 2010. An NTEU leaflet said that, by comparison, the vice-chancellor’s salary rose by $110,000 in 2009 to $989,999, an increase of 12.5%.

BRISBANE — Quien Dijo Miedo (“We are not afraid”), an film about the popular resistance to the military coup that took place in June last year in the Central American country of Honduras, was shown at the Queensland Council of Unions building on August 6.

The screening was sponsored by organisations including the Communist Party of Australia, the Revolutionary Socialist Party, the Socialist Alliance, Guatemalan group URNG-MAIZ Australia, the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network, and the El Salvadoran FMLN.

BRISBANE — The annual Hiroshima Day rally and march took place on August 7, commemorating 65 years since the US dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city, killing about 100,000 people. The event was organised by the Rally for Peace and Nuclear Disarmament with the theme: “Join us on the road to nuclear disarmament”.

The Greens could have more power in the Australian parliament than ever before, after the federal election on August 21. Achieving the balance of power in the Senate is within reach for the Greens, meaning that the government would have to negotiate an agreement with either the opposition party or the Greens to pass legislation.

The Greens currently share balance of power with Family First Senator Steve Fielding and independent Nick Xenophon.

“We have shown a responsibility that the Coalition has shunned”, said Bob Brown, leader of the Australian Greens.

Tony Blair must be prosecuted, not indulged like his mentor Peter Mandelson. Both have produced self-serving memoirs for which they have been paid fortunes. Blair’s will appear next month and earn him £4.6 million.

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