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Victorian planning minister Matthew Guy has taken control of planning issues at Fitzroy and Richmond housing estates, enraging Yarra Council and tenants. In the July 26 Melbourne Times Weekly, Alana Schetzer: “The Department of Human Services last week informed the council of the decision, which took effect immediately. Mayor Alison Clarke said the council was shocked, adding the decision removed community consultation on future planning applications. The Federal government is due to fund a $113 million redevelopment of the estates.”
Around 200 people attended a "Unite Against Racism" rally in the King George Square on August 6. It was staged in opposition to a rally organised by the far-right Australian Defence League (ADL) attacking Islam and calling for a ban on the burqa. The tiny ADL rally was aimed at inciting hatred and violence toward Muslim people and refugees. After several speakers condemned attacks on Islam and refugees, the anti-racist rallygoers confronted a small group of around 20 racists as they tried to address passersby through a loudspeaker system.
Australian musician Olivia Newton-John released this open letter on July 31. * * * My fellow Australians: I love this country, its people, its rugged beauty, its rainforests, its vastness and unique wildlife. And, as a longtime advocate of the environment, I am greatly concerned for the continued health and wellness of Australia. My dream is that our children and grandchildren can enjoy the Australia that we all know and love. That is why I am horrified to learn of the extensive plans for coal seam gas and shale gas exploration in Australia.
More than 200 people rallied outside the State ALP conference at the Country Club Casino in Launceston on August 6. Health workers, teachers, child protection workers and police protested against public service budget cuts. TAP into a better Tasmania protested against the pulp mill while Code Green called for the protection of native forests. The premier and other Labor ministers came out to talk to the crowd but did not back away from their plan to make drastic cuts to essential services.
Special Treatment Starring Isabelle Huppert, Bouli Lanners, Richard Debuisne, Sabila Moussadek, Valerie Dreville Directed by Jeanne Labrune In cinemas now A comedy film about prostitutes and psychoanalysis? Surely only the French could do it, and so it is with this witty, not exactly hilarious, thought-provoking exploration of the overlap between the two professions.
Dart Energy, the company that holds a licence to mine for coal seam gas in the Sydney basin, fronted a packed out meeting at Leichhardt Town Hall on August 1. But the CEO failed to convince the 250-strong crowd of the so-called green benefits of coal seam gas. The meeting, organised by the NSW Greens, also featured a health professional and community campaigners that said coal seam gas was bad for humans and the environment. They called for a moratorium on the industry — covering current and future mining — until more research had been done on the impacts of coal seam gas mining.
Conservation groups have criticised a new deal on Tasmania’s forest industry, saying it will not end the logging of old growth forests, it will hand millions of dollars to the logging industry and will not stop Gunns Ltd’s proposed pulp mill in northern Tasmania going ahead in the face of community opposition.
Rising Tide Newcastle released the statement below on August 5. * * * This morning climate activists scaled a 15 metre high coal conveyor belt in Newcastle’s coal port and suspended a banner saying, “We’re sorry Somalia. Coal = climate change and starvation”. Their action comes as scientists this week have made the link between human-made climate change and the deadly drought affecting over ten million people across the Horn of Africa. Rising Tide spokesperson Naomi Hogan is at the scene.
The Darwin Asylum Seeker Support and Advocacy Network (DASSAN) released the statement below on August 3. * * * DASSAN today expressed concern about the increase of the number of children being detained in immigration detention centres in Darwin. As at August 3, figures provided by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship indicated that there are currently 180 children being detained in Darwin.
War criminal and former British PM Tony Blair had only just completed a lucrative commercial speaking tour of Australia when Australia’s federal Director of Public Prosecutions began court proceeding to prosecute former Guantanamo detainee David Hicks under “proceeds of crime” laws. Government prosecutors want to seize the profits from his book Guantanamo: My Journey, of which about 30,000 copies have been sold.
The Australian Forests and Climate Alliance (AFCA) released this statement on August 1. * * * Forest conservation and climate action groups across Australia, joined by prominent conservationist Peter Cundall, today warned the Julia Gillard and Lara Giddings governments that their Tasmanian forest deal is a sham that will waste $250 million dollars of taxpayers’ money. “This sham deal can not deliver ‘peace’ in the forests,” said AFCA spokespersons [representing] more than 30 groups around the country.
Conservation group South East Forest Rescue released the statement below on August 1 to coincide with its protest outside the headquarters of Forests NSW. * * *