The prosecution of two activists dubbed the “Christmas Carol Criminals” collapsed when a Perth magistrate dismissed all charges on June 29. Alex Bainbridge and Miranda Wood from the group Friends of Palestine WA (FOPWA) had been charged with trespassing during a December protest outside Israeli cosmetics company Seacret. Seacret benefits from the illegal occupation of Palestine by stealing minerals and resources from the Dead Sea to use in its products.
Not long after Melbourne’s recent earthquake a few wags leapt on Twitter to blame Australia’s carbon price for causing it. Greens Senator Richard Di Natale made the same joke in parliament a few days later.
Australia’s parliament voted to set up the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) on June 26. The law was backed by Labor and Greens MPs. Mainstream environment groups have welcomed the initiative, saying the CEFC will make $10 billion available to fund clean energy. With the dire warnings from climate scientists about the need to cut carbon emissions quickly, such a big investment in clean energy sounds like a good thing. But there is a catch: most of the money won’t be spent on clean energy at all.
Many have taken mining boss Gina Rinehart's bid to take up a seat on Fairfax's board of directors by buying up almost 20% of the media company's shares as a threat to its “independence” and “quality journalism”. But many opponents of Rinehart's bid are glossing over Fairfax's ugly record. A Rinehart-controlled media would do much damage to the possibility of informed public discussions in Australia.
“Whether I look at manufacturing, or I look at the climate emergency, it’s our generations, the ones alive now, that have a responsibility," said Dave Kerin, a founder of the Earthworker Cooperative, explaining the driving force behind the group’s key project. Kerin spoke in a new video about an upcoming tour of workplaces to promote Earthworker’s plan to set up Eureka’s Future workers cooperatives.
The problem of homelessness, high rentals and unlicensed boarding houses in Sydney’s inner west — often though of as one of the wealthier areas of Sydney — is growing, said Paul Adabie, acting director of the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre (NNC). Adabie told Green Left Weekly these acute housing problems faced by the most disadvantaged and vulnerable.
Having taken her share in Fairfax Media to nearly 20%, Gina Rinehart has demanded a greater say in the workings of Fairfax, including editorial matters at its major papers The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax’s board has so far rejected Rinehart’s manoeuvres, saying she must first commit to signing the “Fairfax Media Charter of Editorial Independence”, which is based on the “fundamental and longstanding principle of editorial independence”.
The newly opened Yongah Hill detention centre in remote Western Australia is “probably one of the most secure facilities in the entire network,” immigration media manager Sandi Logan said on June 25. The new detention centre is about 90 kilometres north-east of Perth, about five kilometres outside the rural town of Northam. The $125 million centre was a disused army barracks and will house up to 600 male asylum seekers. It is now fitted with electric fences, “scale-proof” walls, cameras and bars on most windows, said an AAP reporter who visited the site.
The Transform Drug Policy Foundation recently informed me of Count the Costs: 50 years of the war on drugs, a new online research tool developed to educate people on the need for drug law reform.
July 1 is the new financial year and the start of many new government policies. This year, the carbon and mining taxes, and expansion of income management, or welfare quarantining, to five new locations. People receiving Centrelink payments and living in Playford in South Australia, Logan and Rockhampton in Queensland, Greater Shepparton in Victoria, and Bankstown in NSW may be subject to the new system. The carbon and mining taxes have generated hysterical debate, but the extension of income management has been noticeably underreported.
A June 27 speakout in the Bourke Street Mall called for the freeing of political prisoners in Pakistan and condemned the Pakistani state’s use of the Western-sponsored “war on terror” as a pretext for cracking down on community activists and trade unionists. The speakout was use to collect signatures names on an international open letter.
About 200 people met on June 28 on the steps of Parliament House in Victoria to oppose new coal projects in the state. Speakers spoke out against expanding the brown coal export industry, which would triple Victoria's contribution to greenhouse gas pollution. The star of the event was “billionaire” Twiggy Palmcock, representing “the forgotten voices of mining magnates”. He said all coal is good coal, and offered to dig coal mines in a bowl shape for the “Greenie farmers from Bacchus Marsh”.
The Steve Irwin Reserve on far north Queensland’s rugged Cape York faces the threat of mining, under new moves to water down the previous Bligh Labor government’s Wild Rivers law. Liberal National Party state environment minister Andrew Powell released a paper on June 27 for a new management plan, which is expected to replace Wild Rivers laws on at least four far-north wilderness rivers.
The Sydney Socialist Alliance released the statement below on June 29. * * * A team of three experienced Socialist Alliance activists will stand in Marrickville Council’s north ward at the upcoming elections. Socialist Alliance, which is contesting the elections on a platform of Power to the People, is a social justice and ecological party. “Councils should be extensions of the community”, said lead candidate Pip Hinman.
Public housing campaign group Hands Off Glebe released the statement below on June 29. * * * “New planning laws proposed by NSW Planning Minister Brad Hazzard mean more public tenants will be socially cleansed toSydney’s outskirts and developers will have a free go at turning our city into concrete canyons,” Denis Doherty said.
Billionaire mine-owner Clive Palmer has applied for one of his Queensland companies, the Yabulu nickel refinery, to be allowed to dump millions of litres of toxic water into the Great Barrier Reef.