Five anti-nuclear activists travelled from Australia to attend the Global Conference for a Nuclear Power Free World held in the Japanese port city of Yokohama, over January 14–15. The conference was attended by 11,500 people over the two days including 100 international participants from 30 countries.
February 1 was the day of the most vibrant climate rally seen in Melbourne for some time, with nearly 500 protesters overflowing from the steps of the state parliament house to call on the federal and state governments to revoke their funding of HRL, Victoria’s proposed new coal-fired power plant. The rally, called by grassroots climate collective Quit Coal, was held principally to influence the federal government, which is currently reviewing HRL’s Howard-era $100 million grant.
The trees are coming down. Against a backdrop of grey skies and at times torrential rain, to a soundtrack of chainsaw, wood chipper and howls of protest and grief from anguished residents and exhausted protesters, the magnificent, healthy, 80-year-old iconic cathedral arch of the Laman Street Fig Trees in Cooks Hills, Newcastle, is being reduced to wood chip as this goes to press. Sixty riot police guard the area, which is bordered by a double ring of tall temporary perimeter fencing. Onlookers shrieked in outrage and amazement as a large bird’s nest was fed into the mulcher.
The mainstream media’s “impartial and balanced” fig leaves began to slip on January 31, revealing their corporate genitalia for all to see. Australia’s richest person, billionaire mining magnate Gina Rinehart, had begun buying more shares in Fairfax Media, increasing her stake towards 15% and raising questions about media impartiality. Fairfax journalists scrambled to report the news, tying themselves in knots over how much to admit about the corporate nature of their media outlets and whether Rinehart could have any influence on editorial input.
Friends of the Earth Australia released the statement below on February 3. *** Friends of the Earth have refuted claims made today by the National Irrigators Council (NIC) that environment groups want government to deliberately flood people’s homes during the current NSW flooding. “This absurd statement has no factual basis and reveals a callous desire to exploit fear for political gain,” said Murray-Darling Friends of the Earth Campaigner Jonathan La Nauze. “We extend our hearts to those people battling floodwaters in NSW and wish them every assistance.
The statement below was posted on the Observer Tree blog on February 3. * * * Today Miranda Gibson has broken the Tasmanian record for the longest time spent at the top of a tree. Miranda has been on a platform 60 meters from the ground for 52 days, and will remain there to highlight the ongoing destruction of Tasmania’s forests.
About 200 unionists gathered at King George Square on February 2 for a meeting to commemorate the centenary of the 1912 Brisbane General Strike, one of the first of its kind in the world. The Rail Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) and the Queensland Council of Unions (QCU) jointly sponsored the meeting. Speakers, including RTBU state officials Owen Doogan and David Matters, ALP Senator Claire Moore, and QCU assistant secretary John Battams outlined the history of the 1912 strike and its significance for today. Murri elder Bobby Anderson gave a welcome to country.
A new government report has found that just 174 of the 700 workers laid off by BlueScope Steel late last year have found new jobs. The federal Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education compiled the report.
Stop CSG Illawarra released the statement below on February 2. * * * Stop CSG Illawarra members have decided to organise a community blockade if any work starts on the local coal seam gas (CSG) project. A meeting of local residents voted unanimously to take this course of action if needed. Spokesperson Jess Moore said: “If the government won’t protect this community, we’ll have to do it for ourselves.

Pat Eatock, a veteran of the 1972 Aboriginal Tent Embassy, was recently splashed all over the news holding the Prime Minister's shoe. The shoe was lost when Julia Gillard was clumsily evacuated with opposition leader Tony Abbott by her panicked security detail from a function just 100 metres from the 40th anniversary gathering at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy. The gathering took place next to the Old Parliament House in Canberra on January 26.

Political establishment and mass media ill will towards the Aboriginal Tent Embassy should not confuse us. The real and valid question is still the past, present and future of Aboriginal Australians.
Arabunna man Peter Watts is the co-chair of ANFA, the Australian Nuclear Free Alliance. Formed in 1997, ANFA (formerly the Alliance Against Uranium) brings together Aboriginal people and relevant NGOs concerned about existing or proposed nuclear developments in Australia, particularly on Aboriginal homelands. This year, Watts represented ANFA at the Global Conference for a Nuclear Power Free World, held in Yokohama, Japan, in the wake of the Fukushima disasters.
Moments before Julia Gillard was whisked away from the angry crowd, losing her shoe in the process, she began an awards ceremony speech with these words: “Can I start by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on which we meet and in the spirit of reconciliation pay my respects to elders past and present.” It was an expression she had used many times before, like an eastern mantra. A brief check of her press website shows she had said these exact words on 19 and 20 January 2012, 18 November 2011, 21 and 4 October 2011, and 1 Jan 2011.
Bob Briton, the Communist Party of Australia (CPA) by-election candidate for the seat of Port Adelaide, launched his campaign at a function on January 21. Below is his speech at the election launch. * * * Thank you friends and comrades for turning out in such good numbers at a difficult time of the year given holidays and family commitments. We’ve been encouraged that there appears to be momentum from the campaign we conducted for Lee in 2010.


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