In the space of barely more than a weekend, the deal that was supposed contain the euro crisis has unravelled entirely. The call for a referendum on the so-called rescue package by Greek Prime Minister Georgios Papandreou, later retracted under huge pressure, merely capped its rapid unravelling. The prospect that the European Unions’ principal victims could be asked their opinion of the policies inflicted on them provoked near-hysteria in respectable quarters. EU leaders, Greek politicians, and the financial markets united to denounce the threat of an unseemly democratic intrusion.
Two grassroots lesbian, gay, bisexual, sex and/or gender diverse (LGBSGD) rights conferences will take place in Sydney in early December. The conferences will coincide with a national marriage rights rally on December 3, outside the ALP National Conference. Australia's first Sex and Gender Diversity (SGD) Human Rights and Dignity Conference, is planned for December 2 at the Redfern Community Centre.
The Northern Territory government’s latest proposed approach to teaching Aboriginal students, like its previous policy, places a primacy on reading and writing in English. It allows for students’ first language to be used to help teachers explain new concepts, but critics fear it falls short of valuing Aboriginal languages.
In the context of Australia’s struggling climate movement, the achievements of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC) have been significant. When the Murdoch press would rather report Lord Munckton’s denialist nonsense, a group that connects more than 70,000 young Australians to raise awareness and combat climate change is commendable. However, AYCC’s politics are not without problems.
The rapid growth of the coal seam gas (CSG) industry — despite broad public opposition and proven risks — is bringing the gap between policy and public will into stark relief. Research remains limited, but there is mounting evidence CSG mining poses serious risks. The industry puts huge demand on water supplies, particularly ground water, damages aquifers and produces large quantities of contaminated water that can pollute soil and water sources. It divides the landscape with roads, wells and pipelines, and can cause seismic activity and subsidence.
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce grounded all Qantas aircraft, locked out Qantas workers, and disrupted the travel plans of thousands of passengers, including visiting heads of state, on October 29. The lock-out sparked a successful application by workplace relations minister Chris Evans to Fair Work Australia to end the lockout and stop industrial action by Qantas unions. Fair Work Australia handed Joyce an effective weapon against the unions — the termination of legal, protected industrial action that members of the unions had voted for.
Thousands of New South Wales high school and primary school teachers stopped work for two hours on November 2. They voted overwhelmingly to reject the Coalition O’Farrell state government’s salary offer. Ninety-nine percent of teachers at the stopwork meetings also voted to hold a 24-hour stopwork action on November 29 if the government refused to make a reasonable salary offer. Teachers will consider further industrial action at the start of 2012 if a reasonable offer is not made by then.
Alan Kohler, the editor in chief of Business Spectator and the finance presenter on the ABC News, was blunt about who was to blame for the Europe debt crisis in his November 2 opinion piece on the ABC's The Drum. He said: “The debt crisis in Europe is the fault of bankers, yet the people are the ones who pay.
From November 9 to 15 Australian Taxation Office staff will vote on management's proposed enterprise agreement. This is the second time a staff ballot has been held. The first version of management’s proposal was rejected in June by a majority of 59% to 41%. The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) is recommending that staff vote “no”, because the pay offer of 9% over three years is less than the expected rate of inflation. A ballot of CPSU members endorsed this position following a recommendation by union’s Tax Section Council.
On November 4, Israeli warships stopped two Freedom Waves to Gaza boats in international waters that were attempting to deliver medical aid to Gaza, in defiance of the Israeli blockade. The following is abridged from a statement by Free Gaza Australia. * * * All communication was cut late last night to Freedom Waves boats Tahrir and Saoirse as they were sailing in international waters, approximately 50 nautical miles off the coast of Gaza.
If you speak out against the widening gap between wages and CEOs’ salaries, the corporate media will accuse you of stoking the “politics of envy”. Workers who dare take industrial action to get a few more crumbs from the bosses’ table are cast as class war dinosaurs. The Occupy protesters? We’re told they are naive rebels without a clue. But the Qantas lock-out proves otherwise.
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