913

Writer and Occupy Melbourne activist Wil Wallace took part in a March 1 protest against the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, a new free trade agreement currently under negotiation between nine nations, including Australia and the United States. Wallace’s account of the protest is below. * * *
The South Australian government has produced an “anti-binge drinking” ad that targets young women. It features a young woman slumped in a dodgy club toilet while someone else points her finger accusingly. The tagline reads: “Drink too much, you’re asking for trouble.” Journalist Catherine Deveney described the ad on Twitter as amounting to government-funded “slut-shaming”.
Melbourne activists gathered at Federation Square in the city centre on February 28 to voice their support for the All India General Strike. As many as 100 million workers had walked off the job in India to protest against low wages and poor working conditions in what is most likely the largest ever strike in human history. As the crowd unfurled banners and flags, visiting US activist-musician George Mann and friends played unionist songs. The music got the protesters in the mood to hear addresses from members of the various labour organisations.

There is a growing disconnect between the official rosy picture of the Australian economy and mounting public anxiety about job insecurity. The latest official unemployment rate (January 2012) was steady at 5.2% and Treasury secretary Martin Parkinson insists there is no reason to worry. Australians, he said, should shake off their misplaced “boom with gloom” attitude.

The House of Representatives narrowly passed changes on February 16 to the undemocratic building industry laws that target building workers. The Building and Construction Industry Improvement Amendment (Transition to Fair Work) Bill, which will replace the Building Industry Improvement Act, was narrowly adopted by a margin of one vote. The bill is now before the Senate.
The Mark McGowan-led Western Australian ALP opposition has promised it will support the Colin Barnett government’s controversial anti-association laws. The laws were debated in parliament on February 28. Barnett has said the law will “crack down on outlaw bikie gangs”. However, the words “bikie”, “motorcycle” or “gang” do not appear once in the bill.
How would you feel if you woke up to the breakfast radio news announcing that Green Left Weekly had just published its last issue? The left in Spain had that experience on February 24, when we learned that this would be the last day the progressive daily Publico appeared on the country’s newsstands (the online version continues).
Dave Kerin

Dave Kerin from the new community group Enough has helped run a daily picket outside Telstra’s Collins St office in Melbourne for the past three weeks. The picket is a protest against Telstra’s decision to send hundreds of jobs offshore.

The NSW department of planning released a set of new guidelines for wind farm developments in December last year. The department is seeking submissions from the public commenting on the new guidelines until March 14. The new guidelines include the most stringent noise regulation in the world, with turbine noise not allowed to exceed 35 decibels. The limit is 50 decibels or more in much of Europe, and 40 decibels elsewhere in Australia.
Co-operative housing I agree with nearly everything written by Douglas Jordan in the article Public housing is an issue for the whole community. Housing needs to be affordable, secure and accessible. Public housing is good and should be extended. The part I do not entirely agree with is "in essence social housing is the privatisation of public housing". There are two types of social housing. One is as described by Douglas, the other is co-operatives.
With international condemnation of Australia’s approach to asylum seekers and the intervention in the Northern Territory, Prime Minister Julia Gillard may not be well known for her support for human rights. Still she agreed to the Greens’ request for recognition of Indigenous peoples in the Australian constitution.
Search For Your Rights logo.

The control measures in the anti-association legislation will limit our rights to freely associate with people by allowing the government to make a declaration on an organisation. This will allow the government to obtain “control orders” over individuals who are members, former members or people involved in the running of a declared organisation.