949

The recent visit of the NSW planning minister Brad Hazzard and his departmental bureaucrats to Lismore was always going to be a fiery one. There’s an important context in Lismore. This city voted 87% against coal seam gas (CSG) mining in September 2012, and three days later the NSW government renewed expired licences and gave one of the first approvals for CSG production to gas company Metgasco, that operates exclusively in the Northern Rivers region.
Hundreds of Aboriginal West Australians who had their wages withheld from successive state governments could miss out on a reparations payment, after the Barnett Liberal government refused to extend the deadline. The Stolen Wages Reparations Scheme was announced earlier this year, offering a $2000 ex-gratia payment in exchange for the millions of dollars in Aboriginal wages and entitlements withheld within a system of trust accounts from 1905 to 1972. The withholding of wages and pensions compounded the disadvantage and poverty of Aboriginal people throughout Western Australia.
Environmental campaigners have won a reprieve from plans by the federal government to hand environmental protection powers to state governments and fast track applications for some developments. A discussion paper by the Business Council of Australia, prepared for the Commonwealth of Australian Government (COAG) meeting on December 7, made several proposals. These included:
Venezuela has abolished entrance visas for Palestinian visitors among a set of new agreements with the Middle Eastern country. Venezuela became the first country to abolish visas for Palestinians carrying civil or diplomatic passports as part of talks in early December in Caracas between representatives of the two countries. Venezuela also committed itself to build a new hospital in Palestinian territory and made new agreements in the areas of health, education and tourism.
Sydney's prestigious Hilton Hotel hosted the “PNG Chamber of Mines and Petroleum Investment Conference” over December 3-5. The event summed up the nature of the resource industry in PNG. PNG Mine Watch said on December 1: “The Papua New Guinea Mining and Petroleum Conference in Sydney will be a room full of white men dicing and slicing PNG’s assets with little or no participation or informed consent from the people of Papua New Guinea.
At a one-day assembly of more than 500 delegates on November 28, the militant socialist Party of the Labouring Masses (PLM) introduced its candidates for national elections scheduled for May 13 next year. The PLM, which now holds positions in several Barangay (neighbourhood) councils, is running 20 candidates for municipal councillor, vice-mayor, mayor and Congress. They include candidates in Negros and Iligan, in the Philippine archipelago’s south. Most candidates, however, are in Metro Manila or the semi-urban provinces surrounding the capital: Cavite, Rizal, Bulacan and Laguna.
In the week Lord Leveson published almost a million words about his inquiry into the “culture, practice and ethics” of Britain's corporate press, two illuminating books about media and freedom were also published. Their contrast with the Punch and Judy show staged by Leveson is striking. For 36 years, Project Censored, based in California, has documented critically important stories unreported or suppressed by the media most US people watch or read.
One year has passed since the community of Cajamarc, in Peru's northern highlands, rose up against the “Conga” copper and gold mine, a US$5 billion mega-project proposed by the World Bank-backed Newmont-Buenaventura consortium. The unified cry of the protesters is still: “Conga no way!” The region bordering the mine site is home to an agricultural population that relies on the natural highland water system. Destroying this precious and fragile asset would end the viability of their existence.
A call by 62 top football players, many from English Premier League and first division teams in Europe, condemned Israel’s recent attack on Gaza and the decision by UEFA, the European football federation, to hold its 2013 Under 21 tournament in Israel. The call has received wide and favourable coverage. This takes the Palestinian campaign for the boycott of Israel, especially the sporting boycott, to new levels of international mainstream prominence and legitimacy.
The Plurinational State of Bolivia released the statement below on December 5 about the United Nations climate talks in Doha, Qatar. It was translated by Richard Fidler. Below that is Bolivia's official statement to the Doha talks. Both are reprinted from Bolivia Rising. * * *
The People’s Coalition Against Regressive Taxation held a 4000-strong blockade of the upmarket Manila Shangri-La Hotel from December 5 to 6. The Bicameral Conference Committee, representing the upper and lower houses of the Philippines parliament, were inside debated the Sin Tax Bill, which will double the prices of cigarettes and alcohol. Workers and farmers were represented in the blockade, whose ranks were drawn predominantly from the urban poor.
Protesters have taken to Tunisia's streets to insist the transitional government of Hamad Jebali fulfill the demands of the January 14 revolution that overthrew dictator Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali. The regional city of Siliana, located 130 kilometres south-west of the capital Tunis, was rocked by days of protests over the lack of investment and jobs in the region.