More than 1000 people packed into Sydney Town Hall on August 12 for the Sydney launch of the Zero Carbon Australia (ZCA) Stationary Energy Plan. The plan outlines how Australia could meet all its energy needs from renewables within 10 years. The successful event followed the well-attended Melbourne launch, which attracted about 700 people in July. The plan is the product of a collaboration between the University of Melbourne Energy Research Institute and the non-profit climate advocacy group Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE).
More than 400 people marched on August 14 in protest against plans to demolish residences in the heritage-listed Pines Estate Heritage Conservation Area in the inner-west suburb of Newtown. RailCorp is considering a proposal to compulsorily takeover and demolish all the houses on Newtown’s Leamington Avenue, and others on Holdsworth and Pine Streets, to build a railway tunnel.
“In the end, capitalism is the only viable system we have for organising our economy”, said Lucy Turnbull, business person, former mayor of Sydney and partner of former Coalition leader Malcolm Turnbull at the iQ2 debate in Sydney on August 10 on the topic “Only capitalism can save the planet”. Turnbull was the only politician to make the Business Review Weekly's 2010 Rich 200 list this year. Well, she would think that, wouldn't she?
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”.
BRISBANE — Several hundred farmers from the Darling Downs and environmentalists rallied outside State Parliament on August 4 to protest the expansion of the coal and coal seam gas industries in rural Queensland. The rally was sponsored by Friends of the Earth, Save Our Darling Downs, Community Climate Network Queensland, Friends of Felton and the Queensland Conservation Council.
The article “Aboriginal embassy to appeal decision” (GLW #848) included the sentence: “The developer [Stockland] refused to consult the Aboriginal community about the development [at Sandon Point near Wollongong Illawarra], although it was a requirement in the preparation of the Sandon Point Environmental Assessment Report.”
Immigration officials accept about 99% of claims for refugee status by people who have arrived by boats in Australia. But this hasn’t stopped mainstream politicians from punishing those seeking asylum in this way. In April, the government announced it would temporarily freeze visa applications from newly arrived Sri Lankan and Afghan asylum seekers. In June, about 70% of Afghan (mostly Hazara) claims were rejected, according to the Refugee Action Coalition (RAC). Such rejection figures have never been seen before.
“Businesses like making profits”, said Labor leader Julia Gillard on ABC’s Q&A on August 9. She was explaining why Labor opposed the Coalition’s proposal to raise the company tax rate by 1.5%. “If they’ve got to pay more tax and that’s going to cut into their profits, then they’ll think of a way of adding a bit more profit. “What’s the best way of adding a bit more profit in? They put up prices. “It, you know, just stands to common sense reason, doesn’t it?” The Greens lead NSW senate candidate Lee Rhiannon agrees.
PERTH — ‘We are running because the Labor and Liberal parties do not represent the interests of ordinary people’, said Socialist Alliance candidate for Perth Alex Bainbridge at the launch of SA’s campaign. ‘We're struggling to build a movement that can more effectively represent the interests of ordinary people on some of the big issues that we face. These issues include climate change, workers’ rights, the shameful policies that governments are taking towards refugees and towards Aboriginal people.’
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.
Recent scenes of roadblocks, strikes and even the dynamiting of a vice-minister’s home in the Bolivian department (administrative district) of Potosi, reminiscent of the days of previous neoliberal governments, have left many asking themselves what is really going on in the “new” Bolivia of indigenous President Evo Morales. Since July 29, the city of Potosi, which has 160,000 inhabitants, has ground to a halt. Locals are up in arms over what they perceive to be a lack of support for regional development on the part of the national government.
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.
For many union leaders afraid of a Coalition victory on August 21, campaigning against Tony Abbott in the federal election simply means campaigning for Julia Gillard. With a conservative win on the cards, unions have escalated their pro-ALP campaigning. The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) — which has filled Labor’s coffers with more than $340,000 for the election campaign — has enlisted officials for ring-arounds in marginal seats.
Most Melbourne people wouldn’t know that there is a refugee detention centre, called the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation, in Broadmeadows. It is hidden away behind the Maygar army barracks on Camp Road with no sign to indicate it is there. The Socialist Alliance organised a protest outside the centre on August 11 to publicise its existence. When the local media was notified about the protest, none of the journalists approached had heard of it.
The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is the focal point of a political shift to the left that has affected most of the Latin American continent for just over a decade. For several years this has been met with denunciations of the nation and its president, Hugo Chavez, from TV personalities like Glenn Beck and Pat Robertson to establishment figures like George W. Bush and Barack Obama, all of whom liken the nation to a military dictatorship.
On August 12, members of the Unite trade union employed at six airports by the privatised British Airports Authority voted to strike by a margin of three to one, rejecting a one percent pay rise offered by BAA. The 6185 Unite members at the six affected airports — firefighters, security staff, engineers and support staff — accepted a pay freeze in 2009. BAA also withdrew a proposed £450 bonus for the airport workers and informed all staff that they would lose out on their annual airport incentive payment of £700 for 2010.