In a massive win for people power, the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) disapproved a project for 16 coal seam gas (CSG) wells in the Illawarra in and around drinking water catchments for greater Sydney. Stop CSG Illawarra spokesperson Jess Moore said: “This is huge win for the campaign to stop CSG and protect our water. "It is the result of the extraordinary and tireless efforts of so many in the Illawarra community. It is the result of a powerful community campaign that has brought people together to stand up for what's right.”
All this outcry over Queensland Premier Campbell Newman's plan to award state politicians a 42% pay rise is a bit rough. The rises would result in MPs getting an extra $57,000 a year, ministers an extra $90,000, and Newman's pay would rise by $117,000 to $398,000 a year.
The United States Supreme Court ruled on June 13 that human genes cannot be patented. This surprise decision is a victory for women who need genetic testing to detect whether they carry a genetic mutation that increases the risk of developing breast and ovarian cancers. But the ruling has much broader implications. It puts in jeopardy thousands of patents already granted on human genes over the past 30 years.
Vincent Emanuele, 29, fought in the Iraq war, was forced to kill people and suffers post-traumatic stress. Yet he remains a leading activist with the US Iraq Veterans Against the War. On tour through the eastern states of Australia, Emanuele told a Sydney public meeting jointly hosted by Stop the War Coalition, Marrickville Peace Group and StandFast, that the anti-war movement urgently needs to build resistance to the “insane system that leads to wars and drives ecological destruction”.
The Victorian government's Fire Services Levy was introduced on July 1. It replaces the original levy, which was deducted from insurance premiums, and now collects funds from all property holders along with council rates. The original levy was introduced in 2009 to pay for implementing the recommendations of the 2009 Bushfires Royal Commission.
“I have never believed in class warfare,’’ declared Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in his speech to the National Press Club in Canberra on July 11. Has St Kevin found the solution to the class divisions that have plagued human society for thousands of years? I say “St Kevin” because he appears to have produced a more spectacular miracle than any performed by Pope John Paul II, who the Vatican is about to make a saint.
— About 2600 young people were forced onto income management from July 1. — 50% of their payment is withheld and credited to a BasicsCard that can be used only at specific stores. — Income management affects people living in the NT, Bankstown in New South Wales; Logan and Rockhampton in Queensland; Playford in South Australia; and Shepparton in Victoria. *** Young people are being targeted under the federal government’s income management scheme.  
Thirty people attended a public meeting on July 3 to discuss the issue of temporary migration. Organised by Australia Asia Worker Links (AAWL), the meeting was called in response to the debate around 457 visas, which allow employers to bring overseas workers to Australia on a temporary basis.
Experts say a statewide ban on synthetic drugs could create a black market for the resale of the substances. New South Wales Fair Trading has failed to provide an industry buy-back scheme, or propose a means of safely and legally disposing of the products for the tobacconists, service stations and adult shops which stock the drugs. Last month the death of 17-year-old student Henry Kwan, who plunged from his parents' balcony in Kilarra in Sydney after taking a synthetic substitute for LSD which led him to believe he could fly, ignited fears over the safety of the substances.
The Refugee Action Coalition released this statement on July 9 in response to immigration minister Tony Burke's announcement that he would delay processing of asylum seekers who don't have their “documents”. *** Refugee groups have accused the Immigration Minister, Tony Burke, of playing politics with asylum seeker policy. Ian Rintoul, from the Refugee Action Coalition said: “Tony Burke is singing the same misleading song as the Liberals. He needs to drop the ‘me too’ rhetoric if he wants to be taken seriously.
The refugee “debate” in Australian media and politics is rarely concerned about facts or evidence. Tony Abbott can call refugees “illegal” and be quoted uncritically in the news. Bob Carr can name himself a “humanitarian” in national media and keep a straight face. Headlines like “Swamped by boatpeople” are so common that the public eye just glazes over and accepts it as the truth.
Yet again, there are floods devastating the Himalayan region; yet again the same criminal negligence and apathy of the administrative machinery exacerbating the tragedy. The lack of proper disaster management infrastructure in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, the delayed warnings, and the government’s refusal to act on the warnings from the Meteorological department in Delhi ― unfortunately, all of this is painfully familiar.
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