The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has delayed its decision on the controversial new coalmine proposed for Margaret River in Western Australia. The EPA decision was expected early January. Yet it has chosen to give the mining company LD Operations more time to provide more information. The EPA chairperson is now expected to make a decision at the end of February.
The Queensland flood crisis is a national emergency that requires urgent action. Socialist Alliance Queensland co-convener Ewan Saunders told Green Left Weekly that the "Gillard government should call Australia’s soldiers back from the war in Afghanistan to help with tackling the flood crisis and its aftermath". Saunders said the billions in taxpayer dollars wasted on the Afghanistan war should instead be spent on flood recovery work.
The governments of Australia and Afghanistan have struck a deal to send back rejected Afghan asylum seekers against their will. Australia promised $5.8 million to the Afghan government of Hamid Karzai to “improve the passport system” and fund resettlement, but has been condemned for neglecting the interests of refugees themselves. Immigration minister Chris Bowen signed the deal with a minister of the corrupt Karzai regime on January 17. Afghan Minister for Refugees and Repatriation Dr Jamaher Anwary was in Sydney to take part in talks on “people smuggling”.
The popular revolution that has overthrown US- and French-backed Tunisian dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali (in power since 1987) continues to shake the country despite repression. It has sent shockwaves through the regime, raising prospects of inspiring the democracy movements in other Arab nations. Jordan has been hit by protests against price rises.