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.
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.”
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.
If you are a cow destined for someone’s dinner plate, the federal Labor government won’t send you to Indonesia without a guarantee you will be treated humanely. But if you are an asylum seeker risking your life to reach Australia by boat in a desperate attempt to escape war, poverty and persecution, the government will send you to Malaysia with little regard for your welfare.
Sungai Siput, Malaysia - "It is definitely not on for Australia to outsource their refugee problem to Malaysia - and for Malaysia to agree to it", the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) member of parliament Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj told Green Left Weekly at the PSM's 13th Congress held in this town, which is the population centre of his electorate. "Australia is sending refugees to a country that hasn't ratified the refugee convention.