After three weeks of action, warehouse workers at the Sigma pharmaceutical Melbourne plant returned to work on March 21. Workers fended off attempts by the company to abolish afternoon and night shift loadings. They also won a 4% pay rise. The workers, members of the National Union of Workers at the Rowville plant in Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs, had rarely been on strike.
On March 9, Gunns Ltd notified the Australian Stock Exchange that potential investor Richard Chandler Corporation pulled out of its bid to buy a 40% stake in the company. The Singapore-based investment firm of New Zealand millionaire Richard Chandler had planned to invest $150 million in the company. But it dropped the plan after consulting with stakeholders and communities. The news was welcomed by environmentalists as another big setback for Gunns’ plans to get its $2.3 billion Tamar Valley pulp mill started in northern Tasmania.
For many months now, major party politicians and the big business media have sung paeans to the Lucky Country’s luckiest mining bonanza yet, riding the coat-tails of the rapid industrialisation of China and India. Federal treasurer Wayne Swan told the National Press Club on March 5: “Asia’s enormous appetite for our mineral commodities drives an investment pipeline in the resources sector worth $456 billion.
For more than 100 days, Miranda Gibson kept a 24-hour vigil 60 metres up a gum tree. Dubbed the ObserverTree, it is in Tasmania's logging coupe TN044B, whose steeply forested slopes have been earmarked for cable logging. The tree is in an area that is being assessed for reserve status under the Tasmania forestry peace deal. From the platform, Gibson can see areas of clearfelled forest around her.
Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan said on March 20 that his government’s Minerals Resource Rent Tax (MRRT) was “central to the government’s plan to spread the benefits of the mining boom to more Australians for generations to come”. Lauding the tax, which had passed through parliament the day before, he said the MRRT was about “ensuring all Australians share in the benefits of the mining boom, not just a fortunate few”.
Aboriginal rights protesters gathered outside the Northern Territory tourism bureau in Sydney on March 21 to protest the death in custody of 28-year-old Aboriginal man Terrence Briscoe, and to condemn the “Stronger Futures” bill that will extend the NT intervention. Deaths in custody campaigner Ray Jackson told the rally: “When Terrence died in a police cell, the family were first told it was a heart attack. Then it was respiratory. Then it was asphyxiation. How do you asphyxiate? When police jump all over you, forcing your breath out.
The Tasmanian and federal governments signed an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) last August that promised immediate protection for 430,000 hectares of high conservation value forest. But it also agreed to continue supplying the industry hundreds of thousands of cubic metres of sawlogs and veneer peeler logs. The agreement included more than $250 million in finance to restructure the timber industry.
The Greens were dead against the former Rudd Labor government’s Carbon Pollution Trading Scheme (CPRS) in 2009 and voted it down in parliament. Today, the Greens are champions of the Gillard Labor government’s carbon price. A recent Greens brochure, “The Carbon Price Explained”, says it only “happened because of the Greens”. The strangest thing is that the two carbon price schemes — Rudd’s and Gillard’s — are mostly the same.
The Northern Territory’s peak doctors’ body says Darwin’s main hospital is struggling to cope with up to five refugees a day coming in for treatment for self-harm, mental illness and chronic anxiety.
Activists campaigning for stronger action to stop climate change often come up against pseudo-scientific arguments from climate change deniers. Arguments put forward by misusers and abusers of the science such as Ian Plimer or “Lord” Christopher Monckton have become mainstays of the deniers’ argument arsenal. Below are three of the most common violations of science that are touted as evidence disproving the “theory” of anthropogenic (human-caused) climate change, and response to these arguments.
A lively picket was held outside Arrow Energy’s main Brisbane office on Albert Street on March 23. Called by Socialist Alliance candidate for South Brisbane, Liam Flenady, the picket protested the recent revelations that BNG, a subsidiary of Arrow Energy, has a permit for coal seam gas (CSG) exploration in the western suburbs of Brisbane, including the suburbs Pullenvale, Karara Downs and Moggill.
The federal immigration department said on March 20 that it would bring all asylum seekers under a “new single protection visa process”. From March 24, refugees that arrive by boat would be able to put their cases for refugee status to the same body — the Refugee Review Tribunal — as those who arrived by plane. Since former Liberal prime minister John Howard excised large parts of Australia’s migration zone in 2001, asylum seekers that arrived by boat were taken to the Independent Merits Review (IMR) system.