The NSW Fire Brigade Employees Union (FBEU) is campaigning to reverse cuts to the state fire services budget by the Liberal state government. Under the theme, "Stop Fire Station Cuts and Closures," the FBEU is circulating an open letter to NSW Liberal Premier Barry O'Farrell stating: "As NSW faces devastating bushfires — the worst since 1968 — your closures and cuts to fire stations puts lives at risk when we most need protection.
When Neville Cunningham died, the world lost a great fighter for peace, justice and equality. I first met Neville Cunningham through fellow communist, band mate and cellmate Harry Anderson in the 1960s.
The Defence Department has confirmed it was responsible for starting the ferocious State Mine fire in the Blue Mountains that burnt over 50,000 hectares of bushland in the past two weeks. An investigation found that a large amount of explosives — exceeding normal limits — were used during a training exercise at Marrangaroo. Unlike the young boys who were arrested for lighting fires this week, it is unlikely anyone from defence will be charged.
PM Tony Abbott has repeatedly said climate change has absolutely nothing to do with the recent record-breaking spring bushfires in NSW. Such ideas are “hogwash”, he told News Limited’s Andrew Bolt. The claims associate his government with the most extreme climate change denial and explode Abbott’s carefully fashioned pre-election image as someone who now accepts the science but merely opposes costly action.
National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) members at the University of Western Sydney, Parramatta South campus, staged a half-day strike and picket at the university on October 23. Staff picketed the main entrance to the campus and persuaded many vehicles trying to enter the university to turn away, despite harassment by security guards.
A leaked draft of the second Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, due to be released in March, gives a sobering picture of what lies ahead for Aboriginal communities in Australia as climate change intensifies. Last month, the IPCC said it was 95% certain that human activity was the main cause of climate change. The recent leaked report did not look at the science, but rather the impacts climate change will have, particularly in areas of vulnerability and adaptation.
About 500 people rallied in Perth on October 19 to protest against a new forest management plan approved by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) in July, which could destroy 2000 square kilometres of native forest over the next 10 years. The rally was organised by campaign group Forest Legacy, and indicates the re-emergence of the movement to protect forests in WA, important at a time of increased attacks from state and federal Liberal governments.
The bid by Republicans to defeat President Barack Obama’s health care program by shutting down the government and threatening to cause a default ended in failure. The result opened fissures within the Republican Party between its “moderate” right wing and the further right-wing Tea Party. The difference is not over “Obamacare”, which the whole Republican Party is against, but over the Tea Party’s tactics. The Tea Party drove the failed effort to force its way. So what does the Tea Party represent?
Women and men took to the street in Brunswick for Melbourne's Reclaim the Night rally and march on October 19, to demand an end to victim blaming and violence against women. Speakers included Yorta Yorta woman Monica Morgan, chairperson of Elizabeth Hoffman House, Poppy Jacob from Hollaback Melbourne, an organisation dedicated to ending the street harassment of women and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer individuals, Rose Ljubicic from the Council of Single Mothers and their Children, and Jane Green, a sex worker activist from the Vixen Collective.
“More than 100 survivors of a shipwreck in which hundreds of African immigrants died burst through the gates of a holding center on the Italian island of Lampedusa on Monday in a protest against the refusal of authorities to allow them to attend a funeral ceremony for the victims,” Reuters reported on October 21. At least 366 people, mainly Eritrean, died in the October 3 disaster. The survivors tried to catch a ferry to the Sicilian city of Agrigento, where an official ceremony was held.