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.
The activists of the Still Fierce collective are angry, proud and determined to make change happen. The group is organising a protest outside the federal parliament in Canberra on May 11. It will be Australia’s first rally for the rights of intersex, sex and/or gender diverse (ISGD) people. On its website, Still Fierce says ISGD “includes people who may be intersex, transexed, transsexual, transgender, genderqueer, androgynous, without sex and/or gender identity, and people with sex and gender culturally specific differences”.
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.
Aboriginal rights and queer groups protested outside Glebe Coroner's Court in Sydney to demand an end to black deaths in custody and a new inquiry into the death of transgender Aboriginal woman Veronnica (Paris) Baxter on the 20th anniversary of the Royal Commission into Black Deaths in Custody, April 15. Indigenous Social Justice Association spokesperson Ray Jackson said: "There is one Aboriginal death in custody per month in Australia. The 339 recommendations of the Commission have not been properly implemented by the states — and so the deaths have not stopped."
Shortly after the end of World War I, Australian troops bloodily suppressed a popular independence revolution in Egypt. This overlooked episode in Australia’s military history has never prompted much national soul-searching — but it should. The war in which some 60,000 Australians died was supposedly fought for liberal democratic values and the right of peoples to pursue national “self-determination”. Episodes like the Egyptian revolt suggest that a squalid imperial reality underlay the noble rhetoric, which is why it has been relegated to obscurity.
“Of the 339 recommendations of the royal commission into black deaths in custody handed down in 1991, the first people to receive funding were the police and prisons,” Murri community leader Sam Watson told an April 15 rally to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the commission. “The big bucks went to the cops and the jails. Aboriginal legal services and other Indigenous organisations only got the crumbs. Instead of decreasing the rate of incarceration of Aboriginal people, that rate has increased over the past 20 years in Australia." The rally and march attracted about 100 protesters.
About 200 people protested outside Victorian government offices on April 11 against a proposed new gas-fired power station in Victoria. Five protesters locked themselves to a stepladder inside the building. The company HRL is planning to build its power station in Victoria, and the state and federal governments have committed $150 million towards it. The rally came at the end of the National Grassroots Climate Summit in Melbourne. The protest called for funding to be put toward renewable energy instead.
I know many Jews feel deeply threatened by the boycott, divestment sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. It feels like a threat to eliminate Israel. For so many Jews, Israel is a guarantee of survival, so BDS is a threat to Jewish survival and ipso facto anti-Semitic.
“Coal is really dirty. Gas is pretty dirty too. It's a bit cleaner than coal,” said City of Sydney CEO Monica Barone as she explained the plan to move to gas-powered energy production at a packed community meeting at St Peters Town Hall organised by Sydney Residents Against Coal Seam Gas (SRACGS) on April 13. Barone agreed that we need to move to a low carbon economy, but said moving to a zero carbon economy, such as the plan set out by Beyond Zero Emissions, would be “enormous”.
Sydney's Marrickville council is coming under increasing pressure to overturn a resolution it passed in December in support of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. NSW Liberal Premier Barry O’Farrell has threatened to use his powers under the Local Government Act to sack the council unless the resolution is overturned.
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.
In the past few weeks, Rupert Murdoch’s News Ltd media have attacked Jewish-Australian journalist and author Antony Loewenstein over a March 30 article he wrote for the independent online news service New Matilda. The story examined to what degree the NSW Greens’ stance on Israel cost them lower house seats in the recent state election.
About three hundred and forty climate activists, from more than 100 community climate action groups, attended Australia's Climate Action Summit in Melbourne from April 9-11. Some of the key topics discussed were: a carbon price; fossil fuels such as coal, gas and coal seam gas; working with unions; building a people's power movement; renewable energy campaigns and; bridging the gap between science and politics.
In December 2008, Israel launched an all-out military assault on the 1.4 million people in the Gaza Strip. Twenty-two days later, about 1400 Gazans were dead, including 300 children. In its 2009 report on the assault, titled Operation “Cast Lead”: 22 Days of Death and Destruction, Amnesty International said: “The scale and intensity of the attacks were unprecedented, even in the context of the increasingly lethal Israeli military campaigns in Gaza in previous years.
Global warming deniers are a dime a dozen in comments posted on the web. From the ignorant to the willfully misleading, these deniers rarely manage to dent the confidence of someone with a good grasp of how the greenhouse effect works. But then, climate activists and scientists aren't their target. Global warming deniers scream about the supposed lack of scientific facts and “proof”, but evidence continues to mount for global warming and its effects.