Twenty-six children in Gaza were shot by Israeli troops near the border during 2010, a Save the Children report found. AlJazeera.net reported on January 18 that the report found: “Children in Gaza are coming under regular gunfire from Israeli soldiers while scavenging in the ruins of buildings bombed during the Israeli invasion of Gaza in 2009 ...”
Socialist Party member Anthony Main on January 11 became the second socialist elected to the City of Yarra council. The Labor mayor for Yarra, Jane Garrett, resigned after she was elected to state parliament in November. This left a vacancy on the council, which Main has filled. He was elected after a count back of votes tallied at the last council election. Main told Green Left Weekly that of the nine councillors, three are Greens, two are Labor, two are right-wing independents and, now, two are socialists.
Paying rent sucks. That's nothing new. Its not really profound or controversial to say that — hardly a purely socialist slogan. All of us would like a bit more dosh, and to hand over hard earned cash just for a shitty flat isn’t something anyone enjoys. But these days it’s much more than that — paying rent is hard, and getting harder.
Hundreds of Aborigines and supporters are preparing to defend the kutalayna Aboriginal site in Tasmania’s lower Jordan Valley, in a protest that some say has the potential to be as big as the huge Save Franklin River protests of the 1980s. In dispute is the route of the Brighton bypass highway, north of Hobart. The Tasmanian government is pushing ahead with a bridge that will damage the historic site. Aboriginal activists and their supporters want the bridge to be moved at least 300 metres away. Already the campaign has drawn support from high-profile figures.
Three years after Aboriginal elder Mr Ward was cooked to death in the back of a prison van travelling from Laverton to Kalgoorlie, charges have been laid against the four parties found responsible by coroner Alistair Hope. The parties prosecuted are the Western Australian Department of Corrective Services, the private prison van contractor G4S (formerly GSL) and the two drivers of the prison van. State government workplace safety agency WorkSafe laid the charges under the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
Resistance members joined a protest march through Sydney on January 15 in support of whistle-blowing website Wikileaks. Rally goers chanted "Down with hypocrisy, we want democracy" and "Wikileaks is here to stay, we'll defend it all the way" as they marched from Town Hall to Hyde Park. Resistance member and Socialist Alliance NSW Legislative Council candidate Patrick Harrison said: "Wikileaks must be defended, governments can't be allowed to get away with lies — the people of the world need the truth."
A six week-long battle at Swift Australia Meatworks in Brooklyn, Melbourne, has ended with 140 National Union of Workers (NUW) members keeping conditions that were lost by the plant’s 500 other employees two years ago. Swift Australia locked out the picketers in early December after they took protected industrial action in the course of their enterprise bargaining negotiations. The strikers are mostly of migrant backgrounds, from all corners of the globe. Some are recently arrived refugees.
The flood disaster that struck three-quarters of Queensland over the past month and then spread to Victoria and Tasmania is the worst overall flood catastrophe in recorded Australian history. It has also inspired a massive outpouring of public sympathy and solidarity. The disaster has shown in practice the huge potential for ordinary people to mobilise in support of fellow human beings in need of help. Tens of thousands of Brisbane residents volunteered to help people whose homes had been flooded by the raging Brisbane River, especially over the weekend of January 15-16.
The Socialist Alliance (SA) has criticised recent state government changes to the Liquor Control Act as an infringement of civil liberties. Under the changes, police have the power to issue “barring orders”, which ban an individual from licensed premises without incurring a criminal conviction. “Giving police the power to issue barring orders to patrons of licensed premises is tantamount to dishing out punishment before a person has been found guilty,” said SA spokesperson Alex Bainbridge.
A fresh federal government inquiry was announced on January 14 into the alleged torture of former Guantanamo Bay detainee Mamdouh Habib. This follows the release of independent evidence supporting Habib’s claims and the recent undisclosed compensation settlement the Australian government made with him in December. Prime Minister Julia Gillard had asked the inspector-general of intelligence and security Vivienne Thom to conduct the inquiry after new evidence was presented supporting Habib’s allegations that Australian officials were involved in his torture in Egypt in 2001.