In opposition to the Baillieu government’s proposed fine for “offensive language or behaviour”, about 1000 people marched on June 25 at the aptly named “Fuckwalk”. The rally was the second event held in response to new powers that allow police to issue $240 on-the-spot fines for using language they deem “offensive”. Initiated through Facebook, organisers said they were surprised at the big turnout.
The Greek parliament defied huge popular opposition, including a 48-hour general strike, to pass the latest set of extreme austerity measures demanded by the “troika” (the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund) in return for fresh loans. However, many commentators have pointed out it is one thing to vote up the measures and another to force them on an increasingly discontented populace.
The statement below was released by a coalition of groups that held a protest on July 5, disabling a coal seam gas rig in Pilliga State Forest in NSW. * * * Yesterday, in a first for NSW, a coal seam gas rig was the target of a peaceful protest, with a protester scaling 25m into the air and hanging suspended from the rig for almost 16 hours. The rig was working in the Pilliga Forest, near Narrabri in north-west NSW. The protester, Warrick Jordan was arrested late on Tuesday afternoon, and spent close to five hours being processed by police at the Narrabri police station.
Workers in the Australian Taxation Office have rejected management's proposed enterprise agreement by 59% to 41% in an all-staff vote. Workers in the Department of Defence voted against their management's proposal by 72.5% to 27.5%. This follows similar votes by employees at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and the immigration department.
Palestine solidarity campaigners in the Sydney suburb of Leichhardt are celebrating raising more than $5000 for kindergartens in the South Hebron Hills at their annual Refugee Week Festival of Friendship on June 18. Leichhardt Friends of Hebron’s festival attracted several hundred visitors to a photographic exhibition, indoor market, musical performances, a screening of the film Return to Gaza and a panel debate on boycotts, divestment and sanctions against the state of Israel.
Thirty activists from the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) have been charged and kept in jail over planned pro-democracy protests in Malaysia on July 9. Altogether, the TheStar.com.my said on June 30 police arrested 101 people nation-wide in a preemptive move against the July 9 "Bersig 2.0" demonstrations, which have been declared illegal. The article said 45 were still detained.
The United States government has stepped up its intimidation of whistleblowing media organisation WikiLeaks by forcing several of its supporters to appear before secret grand jury hearings in Alexandria, Virginia. Those subpoenaed have been targeted for their connections to Bradley Manning, the US army private suspected of leaking thousands of secret documents which were later published by WikiLeaks. Manning, who is yet to face trial, has been in jailed for more than a year.
The Sydney Film Festival, held over June 8-13, featured 161 films from 42 countries. Every one of the eight films I was able to see was packed out, even the beautiful State Theatre which holds more than 2000 people. Four films I saw are a must-see if they ever get a general release in suburban cinemas. The first was Sing Your Song, a biography of African-American singer and actor Harry Belafonte.
I was 12 years old when for the first time in my life I became a citizen of a country — Australia. Before that, I was a stateless Palestinian refugee. There were two laments my parents always repeated whenever they spoke of their place of origin Palestine: if only we could have stayed and if only we could return. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in 2009 there were more than 10 million refugees around the world in need of assistance.