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Climate research group Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) has released a briefing paper for the NSW elections. It outlines the proposals for NSW in the Zero Carbon Australia 2020 Stationary Energy Plan (ZCA2020) — a plan to transition Australia to 100% renewable energy within 10 years, using commercially available technologies.   ZCA2020 was launched last year around Australia, gaining widespread attention.   It showed that the transition to renewables is technologically possible. Further, it put a price of about 3% of GDP on the transition to 100% renewables in 10 years.  
The statement below was released by the Socialist Alliance on March 6. * * * The carbon price framework recently agreed to by the ALP and the Greens is a step in the wrong direction. This is not because, as the Coalition says, the economy — read the profits of big business — cannot afford to cut emissions. It’s because the framework will be counterproductive to real action on climate change. The highest prices now being discussed will simply stimulate a mass rollout of gas, extending Australia's commitment to fossil fuels at the expense of renewable energy.
The casual observer might easily conclude that there are just two clear sides in the parliamentary debate over the Labor/Greens carbon price deal. But there is a lot more to the debate than this. Clearly the Greens are in favour, and appear to have won over PM Julia Gillard’s government to an interim carbon tax. On the other hand, opposition leader Tony Abbott has promised a Tea Party-style uprising against it. Abbott will push to rouse a fascistic “people’s” movement to try to bury the deal.
The secretaries of eight NSW unions have signed a letter to the NSW Greens urging them to “commit to an upper house preference swap with Labor” at the upcoming NSW state election. The unions represented include the Communications Electrical Plumbing (Telecommunications and Services Branch), the Construction Forestry Mining Energy union (Energy and Construction divisions), the Maritime Union of Australia national office, the Fire Brigade Employees Union, the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, the Australian Services Union and the Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers’ Union.
More than 80 people attended an at-times heated meeting on March 3 organised by Illawarra Residents for Responsible Mining (IRRM) in Russellvale, north of Wollongong. The meeting was held across the road from the entrance of Gujarat NRE’s number 1 colliery. This meeting doubled as a meet-the-candidates event for the NSW state elections and a question and answer session about Gujarat NRE’s plans to expand coal production. Representatives of the mine attended the meeting.
Rupert Murdoch’s global media empire just got bigger after the British government approved his takeover of the British satellite pay TV group BSkyB on March 4. Not even evidence raised in the British parliament of his minions from the notorious rag News of the World hacking into the phones of politicians and other prominent figures (including members of the British royal family) slowed down this latest takeover.
On February 26, more than 100 WikiLeaks supporters rallied in Murray Street Mall, in Perth’s CBD. After hearing from speakers, the rally marched to join another protest in solidarity with the people's uprising in Libya.
Insurance companies are collecting about $300,000 in interest every day they hold off paying the victims of Queensland’s flood disaster, said the February 28 Courier Mail. The floods swept through the state in January. Six weeks later, just 10% of claims had been paid. The insurance industry has raked in big profits in the past few years. The Courier Mail said “net profit for general insurers soared from $2.8 billion to $4.44 billion. Total assets jumped from $65 billion to $98 billion.”
The conflict in Western Sahara, little known in Australia, is at last starting to get some prominence. Unionists held a protest outside the Moroccan embassy in Canberra on February 9. This coincided with a visit to the Western Saharan capital, El Aaiun, by eight European trade unions to investigate the attack on striking phosphate workers by Moroccan police in August 2010. A former Spanish colony, Western Sahara has been illegally occupied by Morocco since 1975, in defiance of international law and UN resolutions calling for a referendum on self-determination.
Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu announced on March 1 that the government would push ahead with the unpopular plan to build Australia’s largest desalination plant in Wonthaggi. This is despite pre-election promises that he would re-examine the contract with Aquasure, the private consortium commissioned to build and operate the plant, which was approved under Labor premier John Brumby in 2007. According to the Age on March 1, the eventual price tag is "$24 billion that is expected to double household water bills over the next five years".
A meeting of more than 40 activists on March 3 agreed to form the "CHOGM Action Network''. The meeting was called to plan protest actions during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), which will take place in Perth in October. Meeting participants decided to begin organising a peaceful mass rally on October 28. The protest will coincide with the opening day of the summit. The WA state government has declared the day a public holiday.
About 100 maritime workers and community members rallied at Fremantle's Victoria Quay on March 4 to demand the federal and state government act in support of the human rights of the crew of the Bader III, a live sheep carrier. The workers on the Bader III and its sister ship, the Maysora, are owed about $400,000 in back pay. Their employer said it will only pay them out when they complete their contracts, which are typically nine to 12 months long.
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