Forty activists travelled more than 30 hours on the road from Perth and arrived at the gates of the Curtin detention centre on Saturday April 23. We were greeted with legalistic warnings and numerous lies from the Serco guards, who imposed a roadblock outside the centre. More significantly, we have heard from detainees inside the centre that Serco guards have lied to them as well. Detainees had been told that the convergence bus has turned around and that activists no longer planned to visit.
A new magazine focused on Aboriginal rights, Tracker, was launched in Sydney by the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) on April 4. The monthly publication was co-founded and launched by former National Indigenous Times editor Chris Graham. It will feature analysis and investigation of land rights, Aboriginal issues and expose the challenges of institutional racism and discrimination across Australian society.
Workers from the Australian Services Union (ASU) and the Australian Nurses Federation (ANF) stopped work for the second time in a week to protest outside Ballarat city hall. The second protest coincided with a visit from Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu on April 15. However, Baillieu did not turn up while the workers were protesting, delaying the scheduled event for 90 minutes. The ASU and the ANF have been locked in negotiations with the Ballarat City Council for more than 12 months for a new enterprise agreement and wage rises. Workers last received a pay rise in July 2009.
As the May federal budget approaches, Labor PM Julia Gillard and opposition leader Tony Abbott have gone on a welfare-recipient bashing spree. Exploiting the well-worn and reactionary “dole bludger” stereotype, they are softening us up for budget cuts to welfare and other social services. But this sadly predictable spectacle is not washing with most people, according to the findings of an April 11 Essential Report survey.
Australian refugee advocates have announced they will send a delegation to Dili in the second week of May to lobby against a proposal by Australian PM Julia Gillard to build a regional processing centre for refugees in East Timor. The announcement follows recent comments by East Timorese president Ramos Horta that such a centre “remains a possibility". The delegation was invited by the Timor Leste Forum of NGOs and the Student Front of Timor Leste and will meet with community groups, NGOs, unions and political parties to lobby against the Australian government's proposal.
Supporting Palestine is not anti-Semitic With the NSW elections, we saw the ALP and Coalition stooping to the lowest common denominator attacking the Greens for supporting the boycott divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign in Marrickville Council. The anti-Greens campaign was also supported by the far right Australian Protectionist Party There was a filthy smear campaign with anonymous signs and graffiti slandering the Greens as anti-Semitic and Greens billboards were spray-painted with swastikas.
Activists in Hobart have condemned the federal government’s plan to imprison 400 men in a new refugee detention centre in Pontville, Tasmania. Instead, the activists said, the government should use community-based processing and settlement alternatives that respect human rights. The activists said they were pleased to hear there are plans to house women and children in the community, but said the government should also treat the 400 men who will be imprisoned at Pontville in the same way.
Spokesperson for the Intervention Rollback Action Group in Alice Springs and resident of Mt Nancy Town camp, Barbara Shaw, has disputed claims by Bess Price on ABC Television's Q&A on April 10 about the “success” of the federal governments’ Northern Territory intervention. "It is outrageous that Bess Price can continue to go on national media and spread false information on the intervention while life in our town camps and communities gets harder and harder,” Shaw said on April 15.
In his April 13 speech on his country’s $14.3 trillion government deficit, US President Barack Obama called on the US Congress to change the US tax system “so that the amount of taxes you pay isn’t determined by what kind of accountant you can afford.” He said: “In the last decade, the average income of the bottom 90% of all working Americans actually declined. The top 1% saw their income rise by an average of more than a quarter of a million dollars each. And that’s who needs to pay less taxes?
Environmentalist Bob Irwin, father of the late “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin, said he will continue to protest against the coal seam gas (CSG) industry despite his arrest at a protest on April 12. Police detained Irwin along with Queensland Greens spokesperson Libby Connors and Queensland Party MP Aiden McLindon at a protest organised by Lock the Gate at Tara, 300 kilometres west of Brisbane. They were charged with disobeying a police direction. They will appear in court in May.