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Australia became one of the first countries in the world to introduce a single mothers’ benefit in 1973. This was extended to single fathers in 1977.

The single mothers’ benefit was an important reform, helping many women escape from difficult or violent relationships and reducing poverty among children.

At a meeting on December 19, Liverpool City Council resolved to oppose the proposed Stage 3 Northern Expansion of the Camden Gas Project (CGP). The council also resolved to make a submission to the NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure (DP&I) outlining its reasons for opposing the project.

The proposed Stage 3 expansion of the of the CGP consists of the development of 11 more drill sites, each with up to six well heads, in an area running from Blairmont in the south to Denham Court in the north, in south west Sydney.

While Australia and Sri Lanka battled it out at the Sydney Cricket Ground early this month, a Sri Lankan Tamil asylum seeker on a bridging visa living in Hamilton Hill, a victim of torture, died in Fremantle Hospital after attempting suicide last Thursday.

The tragic event played out as momentum grows for a boycott of Sri Lankan cricket, lead by former cricket writer for The Age Trevor Grant.

Hashim bin Rashid, 25, the general secretary of the Lahore branch of the Awami Workers Party — recently formed out of the merger of three left parties in Pakistan — will be the international guest speaker at the Socialist Alliance ninth national conference to be held in Geelong Trades Hall, over January 18-20.

He replaces Alia Amirali who was not given a visa by Australian authorities in time to travel to the conference.

Protesters targeted the offices of federal minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs Jenny Macklin on January 11. They were angry about federal Labor’s cut to sole-parent incomes and refusal to raise the Newstart Allowance.

Sole parent Rose Ljubicic initiated the protest. She organised another protest on December 24 last year, sparked by receiving a government letter telling sole parents to cut up their pension cards on December 31.

Macklin told journalists on January 1 that she could live on the Newstart Allowance.

Photos taken by refugees of their living conditions in the Australian detention camp on Manus Island have led to a new round of “systematic assault on asylum seekers’ basic rights”, according to Refugee Action Coalition spokesperson Nick Riemer.

Left-wing singer-songwriter Rory McLeod is on a tour of Australia. As usual, the veteran English-born folk singer’s performances are not to be missed.

His six-week tour began at the Woodford Folk Festival, which he described as more diverse than other folk festivals he's been to. “You can be crossing 50 or 60 borders in a day [at Woodford]”, he told Green Left Weekly, referring to the wide variety of music styles presented.

From there, he will pass through all states and many towns — large and small.

Sydney-based Kinetic Energy Theatre Company's team of six actors performed their show about the Australian 1965 “freedom ride” at Sydney University on December 14. The performance was part of a conference organised by the Aboriginal Studies Association and attended by teachers and Aboriginal counsellors from all over NSW.

Tens of thousands of supporters gathered in Caracas today for a huge rally in support of Venezuela's ill President Hugo Chavez. The gathering was in response to the controversy surrounding his absence on January 10, the date set for his inauguration day after he was re-elected for a new six-year term in October.

As this century progresses, the record high temperatures experienced across Australia in the past few months will no longer be dangerous departures from the norm, but a regular feature of Australian summers. This is one of the conclusions reached in a draft of the fifth assessment report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which was leaked and published online last month.

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