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.
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.
A ferocious media campaign, led by the Murdoch press, has been unleashed against Sydney’s Marrickville Council over a motion it passed endorsing the global campaign of boycott, disinvestment and sanctions targetting Israel. The council debated the motion, which was originally supported by all Greens and Labor Party councillors, on April 19.
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.
The people of the Melbourne suburbs of Altona and Seaholme have begun a community revolt against train cuts to their area. The first public meeting on the issue attracted 250 people on March 3. A second meeting attracted 500 on March 29. The March 29 meeting set up the Altona Loop Action Group. The group held a protest outside the office of public transport minister Terry Mulder on April 12.
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.
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.
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.
A dozen protesters gathered outside the April 13 annual general meeting of Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) to call for the Ranger uranium mine to be closed because a dam containing radioactive mine tailings is close to overflowing. Protesters dressed as clowns and set up a wading pool full of “nuclear waste” to highlight the risks of radioactive contamination that the “clowns” at ERA are ignoring. They said it was apt that the meeting was held at Darwin’s Sky City Casino because ERA was gambling with nuclear safety.
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?
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.
Twenty five people joined a demonstration organised by homeless people to protest plans by the Western Australian government to remove homeless people from the city during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in October. on the street.” A parliamentary debate on April 7 revealed that homeless people would be directed away from CHOGM security areas in the city. Protesters were upset the government wanted to keep them out of sight during the CHOGM summit without doing anything to tackle homelessness.
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.