About 200 residents blockaded Somerville Road during morning rush hour in the inner-west Melbourne suburb of Kingsville on November 12 to protest against the number of container trucks using the street. Somerville Road is a two-lane residential road that carries 3000 trucks a day. There are three primary schools and a kindergarten nearby with 1500 children enrolled. The protest was organised by Maribyrnong Truck Action Group (MTAG) and heard from Maribyrnong Mayor Grant Miles, MTAG president Samantha McArthur, and Merryn Redenbach from Doctors for the Environment.
Debate on a dangerous bill that seeks to redefine when life begins was again suspended in the New South Wales Parliament on November 14. The Crimes Amendment (Zoe's law) (No 2) bill, introduced in August, will be debated again in the legislative assembly on November 21. Doubts remain as to whether it will be voted on then, or deferred to next year.
The Tasmanian Aboriginal community and its supporters were outraged over the Aboriginal Heritage Protection Bill that was rushed through the lower house on November 13. Brian Wightman, minister for environment, parks and heritage, tabled the bill, which will now proceed to the upper house. This bill is intended to replace the outdated and racist Aboriginal Relics Act.
At long last the reality of the human rights crisis in Sri Lanka is appearing in the Australian media. Not just the fact that more than 40,000 Tamil civilians were killed by the Sri Lankan army in a month in 2009, but that Sri Lankans of all ethnic backgrounds continue to be subject to torture, rape, arbitrary detention, disappearance and death. The Commonwealth Heads Of Government Meeting (CHOGM), which opened in Sri Lanka on November 15, has meant special attention is being paid to these human rights abuses.
World War II was fought to resist fascist aggression; the Vietnam War was an imperial war of aggression fought chiefly by France and the US, alongside allies that included Australia. The wars have been well documented, but rarely will you find an account of how they were instrumental in rejuvenating and then expanding the heroin trade.
The corridors of the Australian parliament are so white you squint. The sound is hushed; the smell is floor polish. The wooden floors shine so virtuously they reflect the cartoon portraits of prime ministers and rows of Aboriginal paintings, suspended on white walls, their blood and tears invisible. The parliament stands in Barton, a suburb of Canberra named after the first prime minister of Australia, Edmund Barton, who drew up the White Australia Policy in 1901. "The doctrine of the equality of man," said Barton, "was never intended to apply" to those not British and white-skinned.
It is not news to progressive people in Australia that this country is profoundly racist. Extensive anti-asylum seeker policies and racial vilification as government policy, the extension of the Northern Territory intervention and continued discrimination in the workplace and the wider community all means people of colour face significant challenges in modern Australia.
WikiLeaks published a leaked draft chapter of the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement on November 13. The leaded chapter of the propsed “free trade” deal concerned intellectual property rights — and confirms fears its provisions favour big corporations and restrict the ability of governments to regulate corporate activity.
The newly formed Illawarra Aboriginal Solidarity Group will hold a launch on November 21 with the screening of two films at Wollongong TAFE. The Illawarra region has a strong history of activism around the injustices that Indigenous people face, including past campaign work by the South Coast Aboriginal Advancement League and the Illawarra Aboriginal Rights Group. Lyle Davis, a Brierley/Piety/Dharawal man, emphasises that while this is the launch of a new group it is continuing on with work that has taken place for many years.