British-based multinational corporation Serco Group is bidding for more contracts with Australian federal and state governments. Worth £4.3 billion ($6.6 billion), Serco markets itself as a “solution to government”, which takes over government services and runs them for profit. It has run Australia’s disastrous and increasingly unstable refugee detention centres since 2009, owns two Australian super-prisons and took over Western Australia’s court security and custodial services in June.
Australian Solicitor-General Stephen Gageler, who defended the government’s Malaysia solution in the High Court, confirmed the court’s decision “cast doubt” on all offshore processing, immigration minister Chris Bowen said on September 4. Bowen and Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s response has been to seek support for changing the Migration Act to circumvent the ruling. See also: Protests, suicide attempts shake Darwin detention centre
Chanting “shame Barry, shame”, 35,000 people from dozens of unions and their supporters rallied in Sydney’s Domain on September 8 to oppose savage cuts to public services and job conditions. Contingents of teachers, nurses, firefighters, police, rail and bus workers, and public sector workers swelled the ranks of the protest, the largest union rally in the state in 20 years. The rally, held just two days after the O’Farrell government handed down its budget, was almost double the size predicted by Unions NSW.
Australia’s media, already saturated with gas and mining company propaganda, are about to be bombarded with more “good news” about coal seam gas (CSG). A campaign called “We want CSG” was launched on September 4. It includes television, radio, newspaper and online advertisements. It is backed by some of Australia’s largest energy companies, including AGL, Santos, and Origin Energy, under the banner of the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA).
Last month the Remuneration Tribunal awarded massive pay rises to the heads of the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA), the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
When Liberal leader Tony Abbott promised in the last federal election campaign that the notorious anti-worker “Work Choices” laws of the former Howard Liberal-National government were “dead, buried and cremated” very few people believed him.
Will NSW’s Liberal-National state government follow its Victorian colleagues and block the development of wind energy in the state? Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu announced new planning laws on August 29 that ban wind farms from large areas of the state. The laws put so many hurdles in the way of new wind developments that most wind companies are now talking of abandoning further developments in the state.
Resistance is a co-sponsor of the Climate Change Social Change activist conference in Melbourne over September 30 to October 4. Green Left Weekly asked some Resistance members about their thoughts on this major event. * * * Hannah Reardon-Smith, Brisbane To me, events such as the Climate Change Social Change conference are essential for reigniting my enthusiasm and my energy for the good (but long) fight.
Nicole Watson, a research fellow at the University of Technology Sydney’s Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning, gave the address below at the Sydney launch of Walk With Us: Aboriginal Elders Call Out to Australian People to Walk with them in their Quest for Justice at Gleebooks, Sydney, on September 1. * * * At the outset I would like to pay my respects to the traditional owners of the land, the Gadigal people.
British-based economist, activist and writer Derek Wall is a member of the Green Party of England and Wales and is the author of several books on ecology and politics. Wall will speak via video link at the Climate Change Social Change activist conference in Melbourne over September 30 to October 3. He maintains the ecosocialist blog Another Green World.
One hundred and twenty people packed out Gleebooks in Sydney on September 1 for the launch of Walk with Us — the latest book from the Aboriginal solidarity group Concerned Australians. The book documents the detrimental impact of the Northern Territory intervention on Aboriginal people and features a call out from Aboriginal elders to Australians, asking them to walk with them in their quest for justice.
Rodney Augustine is from the Nyulnyu and Jabirrjabirr people. He is a spokesperson for the “Walmadan Country is Calling” group and is a member of the “Keep the Kimberley” group, both based in Melbourne. He will speak at the Climate Change Social Change activist conference in Melbourne, over September 30 to October 3.
About 300 activists protested in Melbourne on September 9 against chocolate company Max Brenner’s sponsorship of elite Israeli military units, as part of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign (BDS) against Israeli apartheid in Palestine. Indigenous rights activist Robbie Thorpe told the rally: “Every struggle we see is about human life, their struggle is the same as ours because this is illegally occupied land too.” Trade unionist Dave Kerin said: “The only right solution is democratic, equal representation of all inhabitants of Palestine.”
Sixty people rallied outside Western Australia’s Parliament House on September 8 in a protest organised by the homeless rights supporters. The rally called on the Barnett Liberal government to provide proper funding to the state’s homeless people and support and shelter all year round. The state government has set aside $112,500 for temporary accommodation and meals for homeless people during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in late October.
Fundamentalist Christian street preachers faced stiff opposition from activists who rallied against their public sermons in Adelaide’s Rundle Mall on September 2. Members of the right-wing religious group found themselves surrounded by a large crowd of activists who rallied for more than five hours. The rally’s theme was “love not hate”. The rally aimed to show solidarity for those who have received verbal abuse and suffered violence, particularly homosexual youths often targeted by the fringe Christians.
Community Action Against Homophobia released the statement below on September 9. * * * In August, Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young wrote an opinion piece in The Age arguing that “the fight for marriage equality should be above party politics, which is a vital reason to give members of parliament a conscience vote on the matter”.