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If the last federal election promised the beginnings of a break from the two-parties-for-capitalism electoral system that has plagued Australian politics for the past century, the March 29, 2011 NSW election seems to be a lurch in the other direction.

The Liberal-National Coalition won dominance of the Legislative Assembly and (with small right-wing parties) control of the Legislative Council because a large number of working class voters punished the Labor party with a -13.5% swing.

Twenty people attended a meeting in Melbourne on March 23 organised by the Indigenous Social Justice Association (ISJA) in support of the family of TJ Hickey, a young Aboriginal man who died in February 2004 in the Sydney suburb of Redfern. He was impaled on a fence after being chased through the streets by a police car while riding his bicycle.

Barrister Emrys Nekvapil told the meeting the case had been taken to the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) by TJ's mother Gail Hickey.

Australia is one step closer towards embracing disability as part of human diversity. On February 28 the Australian Government Productivity Commission released a draft report on Disability Care and Support.

If the general recommendations of the report were to be implemented, people with disability, their families and carers would achieve a much-needed improvement to their lives, albeit starting in 2014-15.

The report recommends a doubling of funding to the disability support system based on 2009-2010 spending, financed from general revenue.

United States President Barack Obama’s visit to El Salvador on March 22 became a focal point for protests.

Protests were organised that day by Central American social movement organisations and their North American allies outraged by US trade policy and military meddling in the region.

Local environmental and community organisations joined with allies such as US-El Salvador Sister Cities and Committees in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador to mobilise students and workers for rallies in the US and El Salvador on March 22.

Victorian police led government officials through a blockade set up by residents of the Lake Tyers Aboriginal Trust in eastern Victoria, the Age said on March 23.

Aboriginal women from the community set up the peaceful blockade on March 8 — International Women’s Day.

Organisers have vowed to keep the blockade until Victoria’s Indigenous affairs minister, Jeanette Powell, agrees to meet with the community.

At the start of the blockade, the women released a statement that explained their demands.

There has been intense activity in 2011 around the social and community services pay equity wage case pursued by the Australian Services Union (ASU) and four other unions.

The claim, which was lodged in March 2010, is rapidly approaching its conclusion.

Since late January 2011, there has been:

• A new round of site visits, during which members of the Fair Work Australia tribunal hearing the case visited public sector workplaces to see how the work compared to that in the non-government sector.

Migrant Trade Union (MTU) president Michel Catuira is facing visa cancellation and possible deportation from South Korea.

On February 10, the Korean Immigration Service issued a number of measures against Catuira. These included the cancellation of his visa and a departure order to leave the country by March 7. It also threatened him with forcible deportation to his home country of the Philippines.

Twenty people gathered on March 21 in Mitchell Park to commemorate the victims of the March 11 tsunami in Japan. The gathering made paper cranes and heard from Sachi Hirayama from Darwin Youth for the Japanese Disaster who promoted charity events for the cause.

Cat Beaton read a statement from Environment Centre Northern Territory saying that people’s thoughts were with those who lost loved ones as a result of the natural disaster but also with the workers struggling to rebuild after the devastation.

The public forum “Breaking Australia's silence: WikiLeaks and freedom” took place on March 16 at the Sydney Town Hall. More than 2000 people attended. The event was staged by the Sydney Peace Foundation, Amnesty, Stop the War Coalition, and supported by the City of Sydney.

It featured speeches by John Pilger, Andrew Wilkie MP (the only serving Western intelligence officer to expose the truth about the Iraq invasion) and human rights lawyer Julian Burnside QC.

Burnsides’s speech to the meeting appears below. The video recording of the event also appears below.

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Union supporters have taken their message of worker solidarity and resistance from Wisconsin, all the way to the White House.

Socialistworker.org said more than 1000 trade union activists and students gathered in Washington D.C. on March 23.

The protests targeted a Republican Party fundraising event organised by several of Wisconsin’s Republican lawmakers.

The fundraiser was held at the offices of major lobbying firm BGR Group.

Mississippi’s Republican governor Haley Barbour founded BGR Group, whose clients include energy, pharmaceutical and defence companies.

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