Chanting “refugees — freedom now, don’t treat people worse than cows”, 50 refugee rights protesters confronted immigration minister Chris Bowen at a refugee conference on June 17. The protest, which was called by the Refugee Action Coalition, marched into the University of NSW lecture theatre in which Bowen was addressing the conference, before police and security ejected the activists. Many of those inside the conference, which was organised by the Centre for Refugee Research, supported the protest. About half the room turned their backs on Bowen.
At a public debate on June 16, Icelandic journalist and WikiLeaks spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson said WikiLeaks has strengthened democracy and revealed wrongdoings. Most of the 600-strong crowd said they agreed. At the end of this year’s second IQ² debate, 58.2% of the audience voted for the proposition: “WikiLeaks is a force for good”. Just 32.2% said they disagreed while 8.8% were undecided. The debate did sway some people, however. Polled before the debate, only 6.3% of attendees said they disagreed and 30.7% said they were undecided.
Ninety-one percent of Australians think the government should take more action to roll out renewable energy and create green jobs and 86% say the government should develop a plan to get to 100% renewables. These were some of the outcomes of one of Australia’s biggest ever polls on climate change and climate policy, which was released by the 100% Renewable Energy Campaign on June 14.
Australian Taxation Office management has announced it will put its draft enterprise agreement to a vote of all ATO staff during a seven-day period starting on June 24, after negotiations with the unions ended in disagreement. From June 15 to June 17 the Community and Public Sector Union held a ballot of its ATO members to decide the union's attitude to management's proposal.
About 3000 people rallied outside Tasmania’s parliament house on June 16 to protest a harsh budget handed down by the ALP-Greens coalition government. Up to 1700 public sector workers will lose their jobs and 20 schools will close under the government’s plans.
Gaddafi has record of slaughter Tony Iltis [GLW #882] perceptively takes apart the double-dealing of the major Western powers as they have responded to the Arab revolts. But he is on shakier ground when he argues in relation to Libya that “there is no evidence that the (NATO) intervention saved thousands of lives”. As reported by Reuters on March 17, Muammar Gaddafi in a radio broadcast threatened the people of the rebel city of Benghazi in these terms: “We will come … house by house, room by room … We will have no mercy and no pity.”
The president of the Pacific island nation of Nauru told Australian opposition leader Tony Abbott that it would move to sign the United Nations Convention on the Status of Refugees though it has not taken formal steps to do so. Abbott said on June 13 this meant Prime Minister Julia Gillard had “run out of excuses” not to reopen the centre and send refugees to the small, poor nation about 4000 kilometres from Australia.
Multinational gas company Dart Energy met with residents from St Peters on June 6 to discuss the company’s plans to carry out exploratory coal seam gas (CSG) drilling in Sydney’s inner-west before the end of the year. Dart have plans to drill at a now vacant industrial site in St Peters close to residential properties and Sydney Park. The exploration licence held by Dart covers not only St Peters but an area of 2392 square kilometeres, encompassing most of metropolitan and suburban Sydney.
Young Indonesians aged 15 and 16, alleged to be crewmembers on boats giving passage for refugees to Australia, are being held in Australian adult prisons. They are charged under harsh people smuggling laws that carry minimum mandatory sentences of five years. At least four young men under 18 are known to be held in maximum security prisons in Western Australia and Queensland. This was revealed after human rights lawyers told media of three young men kidnapped from their village on Roti Island to work for a “people smuggling” racket.
In the first week of June, the Baillieu state government introduced new laws that give Victorian police the power to issue on-the-spot fines of up to $240 for using offensive language. Victorian police already had the power to charge people with indecent language offences, but they had to do this through the court system. This meant that people had the opportunity to defend their behaviour through the judicial system and were more likely to get a fair hearing.