The article below first appeared on The Conversation on August 30. Angela Taft is an associate professor in public health at La Trobe University. She is the co-ordinator for Women's Health Special Interest Group at the Public Health Association of Australia, which has lobbied for the importation of RU486 for several years. ***
Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation (YAC) may soon have a win against the mining corporation they allege has used dirty tactics and manipulation to force them into a mining deal they don’t want. Fortescue Metals Group (FMG), owned by mining magnate Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest, said it had secured the permission of traditional owners to start production on its $5 billion Solomon Hub iron ore project on Aboriginal land near Roebourne, WA.
Newly arrived asylum seekers are staging a desperate resistance to Australia's plans to ship them to remote Pacific island detention camps, as the government's efforts to begin the moves were slammed as “chaotic”. Children, women and men joined a hunger strike that began in Christmas Island detention on August 25 after they were told their asylum claim would not be processed in Australia. A small group of men continued for three days before beginning to eat again.
An in-confidence report to the department of immigration in January said detention camps on Nauru would need three to five months work before they could be functional. It also said the sites could house a maximum of 400 at the island's two previous detention sites, and any more would lead to crowding and “tension and behavioural issues” very quickly.
Activists in Melbourne commemorated International Day of the Disappeared with an August 30 vigil that called on the Sri Lankan government to end to its practice of “disappearing” political dissidents. Long-term Sri Lankan human rights activist Lionel Bopage said: “From 1988 onwards, there was a marked increase in disappearances and killings. This has been part of repression of people critical of the regime.”
More than 80,000 NSW public sector workers will lose basic entitlements such as annual leave loading, penalty rates and remote living allowances under new plans from Barry O'Farrell's Coalition government. Some sick leave and parental leave also face the axe. The latest attack comes after 15,000 jobs were cut, public-sector pay rises were capped below the inflation rate, and workers' compensation rights for sick and injured workers were stripped.
Aboriginal voters in remote Northern Territory put themselves decisively onto the political agenda in the August 25 territory election. As other commentators have noted, it was probably the first time in Australia’s history when this otherwise marginalised section of the population decided an election. For only the second time in its short voting history, the NT changed its ruling party. After 11 years of Labor, voters in remote and rural areas opted for change, and voted for minor parties, independents and the Country Liberal Party (CLP) in very significant numbers.
The Refugee Action Coalition released the statement below on August 30. *** The Refugee Action Coalition has renewed its call for a full independent inquiry into Australia’s response to safety-of-life-at-sea (SOLAS) situations involving asylum boats. The latest boat tragedy may have cost the lives of 140 or more people. This is the second time in three months in which the delayed responses of Australian authorities have cost lives. In June, 90 asylum seekers were drowned despite calls to Australian authorities over a period of 40 hours.
Up to 1000 students rallied on August 29 at the University of Queensland (UQ) to demand fair student elections at the university. Recently UQ has been the site of a scandal involving incumbent Liberal-aligned "Fresh" ticket, which has been accused of perverting electoral procedures and misusing union funds for their own election promotional material.
History Will Absolve Us Marcel Cartier and Agent Of Change Beat Knowledge Released August 20 "Misogyny is a huge problem in hip-hop," says radical rapper Marcel Cartier. "Even 'progressive' artists often fall victim to being perpetrators of sexist lyrics." The empathetic emcee hits chauvinists where it hurts on his new album, History Will Absolve Us. On the plaintive, piano-driven "Never The Answer" he raps: One in four women face domestic violence
With the addition of Australian Marriage Equality’s Alex Greenwich to “Team Clover" — led by Mayor Clover Moore — for the City of Sydney council election, it seems that the pink dollar has finally found itself a political party. The political force of upwardly mobile, affluent lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people has only recently come into its own.
About 2000 building workers rallied at Grocon's central Melbourne site again this morning to support the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union in its dispute with the company. Police used horses and capsicum spray to violently break up the picket on August 28 but pulled back when building workers from other city sites began to arrive.
Rachel Corrie was born on April 10, 1979, and raised in Olympia, Washington, in the US. She was the youngest of the three children of Craig and Cindy Corrie. Rachel’s mother Cindy describes their family as “average Americans, politically liberal, economically conservative, middle class”.
About 400 people rallied in Port Kembla on August 26 to oppose the privatisation of the port. In late July, the NSW government signed off on a recommendation to lease the port for 99 years. The government says 20% of the expected $500 million to be made from the lease will be spent on infrastructure projects in the Illawarra. Unions and the community opponents say they fear a commercial operator will put profits before people and jobs at the port.
Australia will join its carbon price scheme with Europe’s emissions trading scheme (ETS) by 2015. The decision means Australia’s future carbon price will be set by a European market notorious for fraud scandals, consumer rip-offs and a seven-year-long record of failure.
Resident group activists in Malaysia who have been campaigning to stop an Australian corporation, Lynas, from building a highly toxic rare earth refinery near Kuantan, Pahang, celebrated a little victory after Justice Mariana Yahya of the Kuantan High Court agreed on August 28 to hear their application for two judicial reviews.