An important campaign is emerging against the proposal to establish a coalmine in the iconic tourist and wine-making region of Margaret River in south-west Western Australia. The campaign has attracted support in the local community, reflected in a pre-election Walk Against Warming rally attended by hundreds of people and several successful community organising meetings.
On September 6, 35 people attended a meeting held by the Perth Refugee Rights Action Network to hear a reportback from participants of the RRAN “Compassion Caravan”. The Compassion Caravan involved 25 people traveling to the Leonora detention centre, in remote Western Australia, where 200 men, women and children refugees are detained. The caravan delivered toys and welcome notes to the refugees, written by Perth primary school children.
Opposition has grown to the Western Australian state government’s compulsory seizure of James Price Point, 60km north of Broome, for a $30 billion gas processing project in the Browse Basin. The Kimberly Land Council (KLC), the Greens and the Wilderness Society have all spoken out against the move. Frank Parriman, the co-chair of the KLC Traditional Owners negotiating committee, accused Woodside, the company that plans to build the project, of orchestrating the takeover.
“This issue is deeper than sand-mining on Stradbroke Island”, Aboriginal community leader Dale Ruska told a group of protesters outside the Magistrates' Court on September 7. “It's also about justice for Aboriginal people. This mining company has stolen more than $80 million in illegal sand, and will probably be given a modest fine. “Meanwhile, Aboriginal people are being jailed for minor offences. We need justice for Indigenous people now.”
At a September 7 Green Left Weekly forum, Andrew Bartlett and Ewan Saunders spoke about the possibilities that have opened for the progressive movements since the election. Bartlett was Greens candidate for the seat of Brisbane in the recent federal elections. E Saunders contested the same seat for Socialist Alliance. Bartlett gained 21% of the primary vote, a swing of 10%. He gave an assessment of the voting results.
On September 8, race and discrimination commissioner Graeme Innes used a forum at the University of NSW Indigenous Law Centre on racism in sport to condemn the racist dog-whistling in the recent federal election. “You only have to look at the race to the bottom that you saw in the recent election on asylum seekers. Don't tell me there's not a racist part in that issue.
I am a committee member of the Human Rights Alliance and a trustee of the Deaths in Custody Watch Committee WA. Through my role in both during the past couple of years, I have been stunned by the fact that Australia has one of the world's worst deaths in custody records. There are more non-Aboriginal deaths in custody than Aboriginal deaths. But the rate of Aboriginal deaths in custody is higher than in South Africa during the peak of apartheid.
The following speech was delivered by Jeff McMullen to a September 8 meeting in Parramatta, organised by Reconciliation for Western Sydney. * * * If you are out under the stars tonight, look up. We live in a world of wonder and this is our shimmering moment in the greater scheme of things. The Aboriginal ancestors who walked this land before us developed in their sophisticated knowledge system the concept of custodianship to keep life in balance. It is one of the keys to the strength and resilience of the world’s oldest continuous cultures.
The Socialist Alliance national council meeting on September 5, involving 72 members from around the country, grappled with the new and intriguing political situation opened up by the August 21 federal election result. At the time, it was unknown who would form a minority government. But it was already clear that the result presented a challenge and opportunity for the progressive social movements to mobilise to demand a just, equitable and sustainable response to the big problems facing society.
A special film screening will take place in Petersham, Sydney on September 28 to celebrate the graduation of the first 18 East Timorese students through Cuba's medical training aid program, which began in East Timor in 2003. The event will be presented by Dr Tim Anderson of the University of Sydney, who has followed the journeys of these doctors from the start. He will present his films The Doctors of Tomorrow and The Pacific School of Medicine, as well as footage from the recent graduation ceremony.