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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.

Campaigners won a stunning victory on March 21 when the WA Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) announced that there is “adequate information to demonstrate that Vasse Coal Management’s coalmining proposal is environmentally unacceptable”.

EPA Chairperson Paul Vogel said: “In effect, this is an EPA ‘no’ to the proposal.”

The proposed Vasse coalmine was to have been 15 kilometres from the popular tourist destination, Margaret River.

Internationally renowned as a wine-growing region, Margaret River is in the south-west of Western Australia.

The science that informs us about climate change is becoming more and more alarming.

The National Snow and Ice Date Center said on March 23: “On March 7, 2011, Arctic sea ice likely reached its maximum extent for the year, at 14.64 million square kilometers (5.65 million square miles).

“The maximum extent was 1.2 million square kilometers (463,000 square miles) below the 1979 to 2000 average of 15.86 million square kilometers (6.12 million square miles), and equal (within 0.1%) to 2006 for the lowest maximum extent in the satellite record.”

On March 20, 1500 people marched in Tokyo opposing nuclear power in the aftermath of the nuclear power plant disaster in Fukushima that followed the devastating March 9 earthquake.

Protesters also opposed the imposition of fiscal austerity by the government in the face of the earthquake disaster.

Activists have also staged speak-outs at the offices of Tokyo Electric, which runs the Fukushima plants, and government offices.

A crowd of 200 people marched on the US consulate in the Perth CBD on March 22 to protest the invasion of Bahrain by Saudi Arabian and United Arab Emirates (UAE) soldiers to suppress the democracy movement in the country.

Bahrain’s popular uprising threatens to follow the examples of Tunisia and Egypt, and topple its Western-backed authoritarian regime.

Chanting outside the US consulate, the protesters — many from the local Bahraini community — made clear the hypocrisy of the US.

The courageous participants in the June 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla turned the world's attention to the plight of the Palestinian people. Yet Israel continues to defy international law, and thus the campaign to end the blockade of Gaza continues.

Responding to widespread international outrage at the attack on the freedom Flotilla, Israel announced an easing of its illegal blockade, intending to deflect criticism from its inhumane and illegal policies.

On March 25, much of the community in Maharlika Village in Manila turned out after Friday prayers to protest against the Western powers’ military attacks against Libya.

Maharlika Village is a predominantly Moro community in Taguig City, in the south-east of Metro Manila. The protest was organised by the local council, community leaders, religious leaders from the community’s 16 mosques, the Bangsamoro Solidarity Movement and the Anak Mindanao Party (Amin).

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.

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