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“Poker machine playing is a repetitive and insidious form of gambling which has many undesirable features. It requires no thought, no skill or social contact. The odds are never about winning … the machines … are addictive to many people. Historically poker machines have been banned … in the public interest, they should stay banned.” This quote is not from independent MP Andrew Wilkie, or “No Pokies” Nick Xenophon. It is from the 1974 Royal Commission into Gambling, Western Australia.
In Hobart’s Pontville detention centre, 35 Afghan refugees had been on hunger strike for a week, putting three of them in hospital, when they were joined by more than 100 others. It meant almost half the centre’s detainees were refusing food by January 24. The actions were in protest against the government’s failure to deliver its promise to release more refugees from detention to live in the community on bridging visas while their claims are assessed.
The small town of Kerry, located on the Scenic Rim in Queensland's Beaudesert, is a prime food-producing area one hour from Brisbane. The land is now the site of a coal seam gas (CSG) exploration well. The community hasn't let this happen quietly. The property on which the drilling occurred has also been the site of a significant protest. A community blockade against foreign-owned CSG company Arrow Energy stopped work on the site for almost 10 days, until the company's trucks broke through by driving over dozens of hats laid down in protest on January 21.
Lisette Talate died the other day. I remember a wiry, fiercely intelligent woman who masked her grief with a determination that was a presence. She was the embodiment of people’s resistance to the war on democracy. I first glimpsed her in a 1950s Colonial Office film about the Chagos Islanders, a tiny creole nation living midway between Africa and Asia in the Indian Ocean. The camera panned across thriving villages, a church, a school, a hospital, set in a phenomenon of natural beauty and peace. Lisette remembers the producer saying to her and her teenage friends: “Keep smiling girls.”
Cathy has been a shopping centre cleaner in a busy Westfield in South Australia for more than 10 years. She takes great pride in her job, and she loves interacting with tenants and helping customers. To her, a clean shopping centre with happy customers is indicative of a good day’s work. But Cathy only makes $16.57 an hour. In fact, her hourly wage has only gone up by $3 an hour in the 10 years she's been working. Cathy’s husband is disabled and can’t work. So, for less than $600 a week, Cathy and her husband try to survive.
Wind farms might appear controversial in the media, but they enjoy an overwhelming 83% support in affected communities, say several recent reports. The only noise worth worrying about is that from the small minority who vocally oppose them. Unfortunately, that noise is drowning out other voices in the public arena.
Thousands of children starting preschool in NSW this week will be charged fees of up to $40 a day for the first time at government-run preschools.   Last year, Premier Barry O’Farrell’s government introduced fees without consultation for the 100 preschools run by the Department of Education and Community Services (DEC). Most are attached to public schools.   Many parents had already accepted a preschool place for 2012, or even enrolled their child, before learning that the previously free classes would attract daily fees.  
Following Queensland Labor Premier Anna Bligh’s announcement that a state election would take place on March 24, the two Socialist Alliance candidates issued a joint statement. Mike Crook, who will contest the seat of Sandgate, and Liam Flenady, who will stand in South Brisbane said on January 27: “The major parties in the upcoming Queensland election stand for the neoliberal status quo. What the people really need is a radical transformation of the system.”
Video by Takvera/youtube Long-time Aboriginal activist Robbie Thorpe addressed about 100 people at a memorial held in Melbourne on January 20 for two Aboriginal freedom fighters executes in 1842. Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner were among five Tasmanian Aborigines who conducted a campaign of resistance against European settlement in 1841 around Western Port and South Gippsland near Melbourne.
About 200 people rallied and marched to mark Invasion Day on January 26. Several speakers noted that sovereignty had never been ceded by the Aboriginal people to the British colonisers, nor to the Australian government. They stressed the need to continue to support Aboriginal rights, to campaign against Black deaths in custody, to oppose the Northern Territory Intervention and to pay back Stolen Wages. Speakers also emphasised the mobilisation in Canberra to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy occurring that day.
The Darwin Asylum Seeker Support and Advocacy Network released the statement below on January 27. * * * Four genuine refugees, one Rohingyan and three Tamils, are currently left rotting in the Northern Immigration Detention Centre as a result of negative security assessments from the Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation (ASIO). The men cannot be deported to their home country and are unlikely to find a third country in which they can reside.
After unilaterally locking out the Qantas workforce in October, grounding the fleet and leaving workers and travellers stranded, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has been handed a positive outcome by the federal government’s Fair Work Australia (FWA). Joyce’s lockout resulted on October 30 in FWA terminating the legal, protected industrial action that Qantas unions had voted for, rewarding Joyce’s industrial sabotage.
redSTACHE, January 26 -- In Canberra, in front of Old Parliament House (also known as the Museum of Democracy) is the First Nations' Tent Embassy, established in 1972 by four Aboriginal activists who wanted to draw attention to the plight and inequality of Indigenous Australians. 2012 is the 40th anniversary of the Embassy, so a large gathering was organised for this Australia/Invasion day.
The real story of the powerful march celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy was ignored by the mainstream media, which instead focused on misleading accounts of protesters confrontation of Australia's racist opposition leader Tony Abbott and PM Julia Gillard later in the day.
Friends of the Tamar Valley released the statement below on January 25. * * * Between 40 to 50 people gathered outside the Launceston branch of ANZ on January 25 as part of a coordinated series of rallies urging the bank to provide no further financial support for Tasmanian logging company Gunns Ltd’s controversial Tamar Valley pulp mill.

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