Plans to give refugees deported from Australia a “special barcode” when they arrive in Malaysia were revealed by the June 29 Daily Telegraph. A final refugee swap deal between Australia and Malaysia is likely to be announced this month. More than 340 refugees have arrived since Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced the plan on May 7 to “swap” 800 asylum seekers in Australia for 4000 “processed refugees” in Malaysia. The refugees affected by the deal are being held in various stages of isolation on Christmas Island.
The fight to stop the James Price Point gas hub in the Kimberly in Western Australia's north reached a critical point on July 4 as police arrested dozens of people. The arrests were an attempt to break the spirit of the community protesters who have blockaded the site for a month. Woodside Petroleum is the lead company in a consortium that is planning to build a $30 billion gas-processing hub that would destroy pristine environment and result in up to 39 million tonnes of greenhouse gas pollution a year.
Joint international solidarity statement On June 19, a campaign titled Bersih 2.0 was called by the Malaysian people for free and fair elections as the 13th General Election is around the corner. Bersih 2.0 also called for a gathering on July 9. On June 24, the Parti Sosialis Malaysia (Socialist Party of Malaysia) launched a Udahlah BN, Bersaralah (Enough BN, Retire Now) campaign. The Socialist Party of Malaysia campaign aimed to expose the corruption of the Barisan Nasional (BN) government and also to drum up support for the Bersih 2.0 rally.
If you are reading this column, then Green Left Weekly has successfully completed its move to its new home in Sydney. In the process, we have missed only a week of publication thanks to the volunteers who joined the ant army that carried all we needed down those flights of stairs in our old home, loaded the hire truck and emptied it into the new office — over and over again. Our sparkling new premises is wheelchair friendly and accessible through a lift. So moving in was a lot easier than moving out — and the latter is far from over.
No sooner had information come out that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was undergoing surgery in Cuba than the international media was full of speculation and rumours regarding his imminent demise. Projecting their hopes that an illness could succeed in removing Chavez where military coups and assassination attempts had failed, the right-wing Venezuelan opposition went into overdrive. They demanded the president step down and hand over power to the vice president.
Vivienne Porzsolt, a member of Jews Against the Occupation and the Socialist Alliance, is one of four Australians on the Canadian boat Tahrir, part of the Freedom Flotilla attempting to break Israel's starvation siege on Gaza. She reports on what happened when Greek authorities acted to stop the boats from sailing on July 4. A protest was held outside the Greek consulate in Sydney on July 7. * * *

More than 500 Malaysians and their supporters gathered in Melbourne's Federation Square on July 9 to call for free and fair elections in Malaysia. They were decked out in yellow shirts and held banners and placards. The rally, called in solidarity with the Bersih 2.0 democracy movement in Malaysia, chanted slogans in Malay and English, ranging from "Bersih bersih" (Clean, clean) to "change is possible".

It’s been a fascinating few weeks in Tasmanian politics. On June 16, the Labor-Greens government handed down a shocking budget that cut funding to public health, education, police and other services. Thousands of public service workers gathered on parliament lawns that day to condemn the plan, saying that services were already struggling to meet demand. The education cuts included a plan to close 20 schools. Education minister and Greens leader Nick McKim started a process of “consultation” with affected school communities around the state.
In June, four Australian set sail as part of the second Freedom Flotilla to Gaza with the aim of highlighting the suffering of its people at the hands of Israel’s illegal blockade. The flotilla, involving a dozen boats with hundreds of activists from more than 50 countries, aims to deliver humanitarian aid to the besieged Palestinian territory. The convoy coincides with the deep process of revolt occurring across the Arab world — against regimes that often collaborate with Israel.
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 campaign of repression, slander and sabotage against the Freedom Flotilla II in its efforts to break the blockade of Gaza shows how desperately Israel and its supporters wish to keep the conditions in the besieged Palestinian enclave out of the world's view. The illegal Israeli blockade, in place since 2007, has crippled the Gazan economy and brought widespread misery to Gaza's 1.5 million people. A secret US diplomatic cable from October 2008, released by WikiLeaks in January, revealed the situation was intentionally created by Israel. See also:
Sixty people, representing a broad cross section of the activist left and progressive movement, met on July 5 to discuss the implications of the vicious police assault demonstrators protesting outside Israeli-owned chocolate company Max Brenner on July 1. The key issue debated was whether to set up a broader civil liberties campaign or whether to keep the focus on the 19 people who had been arrested at an action as part of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.
A small but spirited group of protesters braved driving wind and rain outside Fremantle’s Notre Dame University on the evening of June 30 to express their opposition to the university playing host to British climate change denier Christopher Monckton. Earlier that day, Perth's daily newspaper The West Australian had obligingly provided free publicity for Monckton’s impending speech in an article occupying most of its front page.
The NSW Nature Conservation Council released the statement below on July 5. * * * In a first for NSW, peaceful protesters have this morning stopped a coal seam gas exploration rig in the Pilliga Forest, south of Narrabri. One protester in climbing gear is suspended high above the ground at the top of a 25 metre rig at an Eastern Star Gas operation, with another group of protesters on site.
Feminism is experiencing a revival in Adelaide with the formation of a new activist group, the South Australian Feminist Collective. The group emerged from a feminist forum jointly hosted by Socialist Alliance and Femment, which followed the recent Adelaide “SlutWalk” march against sexual assault and victim-blaming. The forum explored the politics of this event and the relevance of feminism today. About 30 people attended the collective’s first meeting on June 25. The meeting began discussion about how the group would be run, its aims and values.
The 12,000 who rallied outside parliament house against NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell’s “worse than WorkChoices” laws on June 15 showed how much anger there is about his attack on public sector workers. A continued campaign of protests and industrial action can make it impossible for him to use these laws. It's not good enough to simply focus on the hope of voting out O'Farrell at the next election — which is four years away.


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