Issue 916

Australia

LIVE BLOG Sunday March 25
Green Left Weekly is reporting live from the Coal Seam Gas Community Conference at Wollongong Town Hall on March 25.

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3.30pm After a conference lunch break, four workshops were held concurrently. The most popular...

On March 9, Gunns Ltd notified the Australian Stock Exchange that potential investor Richard Chandler Corporation pulled out of its bid to buy a 40% stake in the company.

The Singapore-based investment firm of New Zealand millionaire Richard Chandler had planned to invest $150 million in...

The planned expansion of coalmining in Victoria has led the member for Bass, Liberal MP Ken Smith, to oppose his own party on the issue.

Bass Coast Shire Council said it “is totally opposed to new mining of coal, and to gas extraction associated with coal (unconventional gas), within the...

For more than 100 days, Miranda Gibson kept a 24-hour vigil 60 metres up a gum tree. Dubbed the ObserverTree, it is in Tasmania's logging coupe TN044B, whose steeply forested slopes have been earmarked for cable logging.

The tree is in an area that is being assessed for reserve status...

Mental health workers voted to escalate industrial action in two weeks unless Ted Baillieu's Coalition government begins to seriously negotiate with their union.

The Health and Community Services Union (HACSU) covers psychiatric nurses, social workers, occupational therapists,...

Healesville-based group, MyEnvironment, has lost a court case it mounted against government body VicForests over the logging of Victoria’s central highlands areas that include habitat for the endangered Leadbeater’s Possum.

Justice Robert Osborn handed down his decision in the Supreme...

Aboriginal rights protesters gathered outside the Northern Territory tourism bureau in Sydney on March 21 to protest the death in custody of 28-year-old Aboriginal man Terrence Briscoe, and to condemn the “Stronger Futures” bill that will extend the NT intervention.

Deaths in custody...

The Northern Territory’s peak doctors’ body says Darwin’s main hospital is struggling to cope with up to five refugees a day coming in for treatment for self-harm, mental illness and chronic anxiety.

See also: The Northern Territory: Australia's refugee detention capital

The...

A lively picket was held outside Arrow Energy’s main Brisbane office on Albert Street on March 23.

Called by Socialist Alliance candidate for South Brisbane, Liam Flenady, the picket protested the recent revelations that BNG, a subsidiary of Arrow Energy, has a permit for coal seam gas (...

After three weeks of action, warehouse workers at the Sigma pharmaceutical Melbourne plant returned to work on March 21. Workers fended off attempts by the company to abolish afternoon and night shift loadings. They also won a 4% pay rise.

The workers, members of the National Union of...

In response to timber industry lobbying, independent MP Rob Oakeshott moved a motion in federal parliament to allow foresters to claim Renewable Energy Certificates for burning native forests for power.

The vote was lost on March 19 on a casting vote from the Speaker of the House Peter...

Members of Occupy Melbourne took Melbourne Council to court on March 20 over its attacks on the movement last year.

Occupy Melbourne said: “Hearings commence today at the Federal Court as part of the legal challenge against the City of Melbourne’s response to the peaceful Occupy...


Photos by Ali Bakhtiavandi

Members of Melbourne’s Greek community and some trade unions rallied in support of the Greek people on March 23. The rally condemned the austerity measures that are being inflicted on the poor, the elderly and most vulnerable in Greece.


This is what the Nyoongar Tent Embassy looked like before the police invaded. This photo was taken on Thursday March 22 - about one hour before the police arrived. These Embassy representatives were waving at traffic on the Causeway and getting a lot of positive responses from passers by...

Liam Flenady, the Socialist Alliance candidate for the seat of South Brisbane, released the statement below on March 21.

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The Socialist Alliance declares its full support for the Sovereign Embassy Brisbane, established by the Murri community in Musgrave Park, South Brisbane...

The Darwin Asylum Seeker Support and Advocacy Network (DASSAN) released the statement below on March 20.

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The Darwin Asylum Seeker Support and Advocacy Network (DASSAN) has been informed that an Iranian man in Darwin’s Northern Immigration Detention Centre (NIDC) swallowed...

More than 100 activists and refugee campaigners gathered on March 17 for the first protest held at the Brisbane Immigration Transit Accommodation (BITA) detention centre in Pinkenba. The protest was organised by the Refugee Action Collective (Queensland).

Originally intended as a centre...

World

A video put together by Paul Benedek, seeking to expose the dangerous myths behind Invisible Children's viral film "Kony 2012". Is the focus on Kony justified? Should we support the Ugandan army? Will US intevention help? "Kony 2012": viral activism or viral imperialism?

On March 17, New York police attacked Occupy Wall Street protesters seeking to re-occupy Liberty Park in Manhattan, leading to 73 arrests. The park was occupied from last September until a violent police raid cleared it in November. In response, OWS protesters occupied Union Square, a public...

On March 18, Sudan's National Intelligence and Security Services confiscated the entire print run of Al Midan, the Sudanese Communist Party's newspaper. This was the third consecutive issue to be censored by the NISS.

The March 18 Sudan Tribune said: "Sudanese...

The United Nations Human Rights Council had passed a resolution calling for the Sri Lankan government to carry out the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission.

The LLRC was appointed by the Sri Lankan government to appease international concern over atrocities...

Thousands of people gathered in Union Square in New York City on March 21 for a "Million Hoodie March" to demand justice for Trayvon Martin, as outrage at his racist murder continues to spread across the country and the world.

Martin was gunned down in the central Florida town of Sanford...

The massacre of 16 people in the Panjwai District of Kandahar province in Afghanistan on March 11 re-ignited widespread calls, inside and outside Afghanistan, for Western forces to leave.

US army spin has not quelled anger or questions over how the massacre took place, who was involved...

Preliminary court-martial proceedings against United States soldier Bradley Manning have shown the US government's strong desire to make an example of him.

Manning is the military analyst accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of secret US diplomatic cables and US military reports from...

Malalai Joya, a former MP and one of Afghanistan’s best-known democratic leaders, recently survived the sixth attempt on her life. Taliban gunmen attacked her office at 3 am on March 10, wounding two of her guards. In an exclusive interview, she told Green Left Weekly’s...

Hana Shalabi, a 30-year-old Palestinian woman, was close to death after being on hunger strike since February 16, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel and Palestinian prisoner rights group Adameer said in a March 20 statement.

Shalabi has been on hunger strike since she was detained by...

Last week I had a dream that my house in the western part of Tokyo was shaking violently around me. Then I woke up and discovered it wasn’t a dream at all. It was a 5.3 magnitude earthquake with its epicentre in nearby Saitama.

It was the second earthquake I had felt in less than a week...

At last, the bill has been passed to enable Britain's health service, the envy of the world, to become more like the United States system, universally derided as a chaotic disaster. Now they can introduce bills to make our ferry service more like the one in Italy, and our record on child abuse...

Tens of thousands of students and their supporters marched in big Quebec cities on March 18 to oppose the Quebec Premier Jean Charest’s government’s promise to impose a 75% rise in post-secondary education fees over the next five years.

In Montreal, about 30,000 “former, present and...

Six Zimbabwean socialist activists were convicted on March 19 for “conspiracy to commit public violence”. Their “crime” was to watch a video in February last year about the anti-dictatorship uprising in Egypt.

But the activists won a partial victory two days later when they were given...

A number of high-profile industrial struggles are unfolding in New Zealand.

About 1500 aged care workers, members of the Service and Food Workers Union, are taking part in rolling strikes against a 1% pay rise offer. About 750 meat workers have been locked out by their employer AFFCO and...

Analysis

Beyond Zero Emissions released the statement below on March 28.

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A new WorleyParsons report states that gas plants can have higher emissions than even the worst coal plants, but underestimates the problem by relying on misleading assumptions.

Understating the true...

The United Nations Committee Against Torture said in 2007 that “TASER electronic
stun guns are a form of torture that can kill”.

These deadly “forms of torture”, which are now part of policing in every Australian state, killed again on March 18.

Twenty-one year old...

The New South Wales Liberal government said on March 11 that it planned to force schools to bear the responsibility for its latest funding cuts.

The government did not consult the NSW Teachers Federation (NSWTF) before releasing the “Local Schools, Local Decisions” and “Empowering Local...

Of all the people infuriated by billionaire mining magnate Clive Palmer’s March 20 claim that the Greens are funded by the CIA, it is not hard to imagine the angriest were heads of the Murdoch media.

Having declared in an Australian editorial in 2010 its intention to “destroy...

Activists campaigning for stronger action to stop climate change often come up against pseudo-scientific arguments from climate change deniers.

Arguments put forward by misusers and abusers of the science such as Ian Plimer or “Lord” Christopher Monckton have become mainstays of the...

The Tasmanian and federal governments signed an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) last August that promised immediate protection for 430,000 hectares of high conservation value forest.

But it also agreed to continue supplying the industry hundreds of thousands of cubic metres of sawlogs...

For many months now, major party politicians and the big business media have sung paeans to the Lucky Country’s luckiest mining bonanza yet, riding the coat-tails of the rapid industrialisation of China and India.

Federal treasurer Wayne Swan told the National Press Club on March 5: “...

"This is a bittersweet victory for nurses and midwives after an unprecedented industrial marathon with the Baillieu Government to protect patient care and secure a fair pay rise.” — Lisa Fitzpatrick, State Secretary, Australian Nursing Federation (Victoria).

The Australian...

Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan said on March 20 that his government’s Minerals Resource Rent Tax (MRRT) was “central to the government’s plan to spread the benefits of the mining boom to more Australians for generations to come”.

Lauding the tax, which had passed through parliament the...

The Greens were dead against the former Rudd Labor government’s Carbon Pollution Trading Scheme (CPRS) in 2009 and voted it down in parliament. Today, the Greens are champions of the Gillard Labor government’s carbon price.

A recent Greens brochure, “The Carbon Price Explained”, says it...

The federal immigration department said on March 20 that it would bring all asylum seekers under a “new single protection visa process”. From March 24, refugees that arrive by boat would be able to put their cases for refugee status to the same body — the Refugee Review Tribunal — as those who...

About 120 unionists and supporters rallied outside the New Zealand Consulate in Sydney on March 19 in solidarity with 292 Auckland wharfies who were sacked for being members of the Maritime Union of New Zealand.

The rally was organised by the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA). It called...

One of my first jobs as a junior reporter was to meet flights bringing famous people to Australia.

Growing up in a country far from everywhere (except, as my father would say, "where you come from"), I was led to believe that Australia's honour was at risk unless a well-known person from...

The Queensland Floods Commission of Inquiry presented its final report on March 16 into the January 2011 flood that submerged parts of suburban Brisbane. There have been very few more expensive exercises in irrelevance than this 658-page report.

With this whitewash, the Labor state...

Culture

Protest singers aren't always producing angry slogans to give their audience a sense of solidarity: there are some who can make you consider an issue in a new light by using well-constructed lyrics, a tuneful melody, humour, and a gently persuasive voice.

Such a catalyst is Jez Lowe, a...

A Rose Loupt Oot
Edited by David Betteridge
Smokestack Books 2011
£8.95, 64 pages
www.smokestack-books.co.uk

Last year marked the 40th anniversary of the work-in Upper Clyde Shipbuilders (UCS) in 1971, a campaign by Scottish workers that...

Living Black
Sundays, 4.30pm on SBS One
from March 18

“I had a terrible time at school,” Living Black presenter Karla Grant tells Green Left Weekly.

The veteran journalist, who is about to host a new series of the flagship Aboriginal...