Rising Tide released the statement below on September 5. * * * Activists have closed down a coal haulage railway construction project in the NSW Hunter Valley, to protest the rapid expansion of the export coal industry and its impacts on public health and the environment. Activists arrived at the Hunter 8 Alliance construction compound at Rutherford before dawn this morning, erecting a wooden tripod to prevent access to the site. An activist is perched on the tripod, 10 metres over the gateway to the site, refusing to move.
About 1000 people marched in Melbourne in a September 1 “Slutwalk” rally to stop violence against women. Author and playwright Van Badham told the crowd: “This is a society that allows 1 in 3 women to be raped in their lifetime. We are human beings with rights.”
Young workers and activists staged pickets outside Hungry Jack's restuarants around Australia on August 31, in solidarity with workers in New Zealand facing a “vicious anti-union rampage”. Actions were held in Adelaide, Brisbane, Perth, Hobart, Melbourne and Sydney. Its counterpart Burger King in New Zealand pays staff the lowest wages of the big fast food companies and workers who join a union to push for better pay and conditions are emotionally and financially intimidated.
A group of activists protesting coalmining near Maules Creek in NSW, released the statement below on September 4. * * * An 84-year old birdwatcher, Russ Watts, has this morning chained himself to the gates of a coal mine in protest at the environmental damage that will be caused by a massive expansion of open-cut coalmining in Leard State Forest and surrounds, east of Narrabri.
A lack of communication regarding the fate of Sydney University’s Koori Centre has left students fearing a repeat of the dangerous rhetoric that made way for 340 proposed job cuts last semester. The “Wingara Mura — Bunga Barrabugu” strategy will scatter the Koori Centre’s functions and staff across campus in 16 faculties.
The remote Northern Territory Aboriginal community of Amoonguna said on August 23 that it wants its power back and refused to renew a five-year government lease, which expired on August 17. Amoonguna, 15 kilometres south of Alice Springs, has also started legal action to remove all government workers from its land.
Activists in Melbourne commemorated International Day of the Disappeared with an August 30 vigil that called on the Sri Lankan government to end to its practice of “disappearing” political dissidents. Long-term Sri Lankan human rights activist Lionel Bopage said: “From 1988 onwards, there was a marked increase in disappearances and killings. This has been part of repression of people critical of the regime.”
An in-confidence report to the department of immigration in January said detention camps on Nauru would need three to five months work before they could be functional. It also said the sites could house a maximum of 400 at the island's two previous detention sites, and any more would lead to crowding and “tension and behavioural issues” very quickly.
More than 80,000 NSW public sector workers will lose basic entitlements such as annual leave loading, penalty rates and remote living allowances under new plans from Barry O'Farrell's Coalition government. Some sick leave and parental leave also face the axe. The latest attack comes after 15,000 jobs were cut, public-sector pay rises were capped below the inflation rate, and workers' compensation rights for sick and injured workers were stripped.
About 2000 building workers rallied at Grocon's central Melbourne site again this morning to support the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union in its dispute with the company. Police used horses and capsicum spray to violently break up the picket on August 28 but pulled back when building workers from other city sites began to arrive.
About 400 people rallied in Port Kembla on August 26 to oppose the privatisation of the port. In late July, the NSW government signed off on a recommendation to lease the port for 99 years. The government says 20% of the expected $500 million to be made from the lease will be spent on infrastructure projects in the Illawarra. Unions and the community opponents say they fear a commercial operator will put profits before people and jobs at the port.
The Refugee Action Coalition released the statement below on August 30. *** The Refugee Action Coalition has renewed its call for a full independent inquiry into Australia’s response to safety-of-life-at-sea (SOLAS) situations involving asylum boats. The latest boat tragedy may have cost the lives of 140 or more people. This is the second time in three months in which the delayed responses of Australian authorities have cost lives. In June, 90 asylum seekers were drowned despite calls to Australian authorities over a period of 40 hours.
Up to 1000 students rallied on August 29 at the University of Queensland (UQ) to demand fair student elections at the university. Recently UQ has been the site of a scandal involving incumbent Liberal-aligned "Fresh" ticket, which has been accused of perverting electoral procedures and misusing union funds for their own election promotional material.
Thousands of building workers have left worksites across the Melbourne CBD to support a picket line at a Grocon site after police tried to violently break it up this morning. Police used capsicum spray and horses on the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union picket line. The picketers held their ground and the police retreated once more building workers started to arrive. Below is footage taken at the picket line, at the intersection of Lonsdale and Swanston Streets, by Geelong Trades Hall Council secretary Tim Gooden.
Civil rights lawyer Rob Stary has called for a Senate inquiry into Australia's role in the war in Sri Lanka. Stary defended three Australian Tamil men charged with terrorism offences in 2007. He said such an inquiry would look at the reasons for the decision to prosecute the three. Stary made the call when delivering the Eliezer Memorial Lecture at Monash University on August 26. The lecture is held annually in honour of Professor C J Eliezer, a leader of Australia's Tamil community who died in 2001.
A new group has formed in Adelaide to organise young people to fight against homophobia. The Rainbow Youth Collective was formed out of a discussion hosted by Resistance on the topic of homophobia and queer liberation, following the Adelaide equal marriage rally on August 11. Presentations by Resistance activists on the marriage campaign, the origins of homophobia and the next steps for the movement were followed by great discussion around issues facing young queer people today.
The Tasmanian Greens recently announced a new policy to privatise the retail arm of the state-owned energy company Aurora, saying “a bit of good competition will almost certainly mean lower prices”. Below, New Zealand activist and socialist Grant Brookes warns that a similar energy policy in New Zealand was a disaster. * * *
Port Augusta residents gave a resounding thumbs up for a solar powered future in a community vote in July. More than 4000 people voted for big solar plants to replace the city’s two aging coal-fired power stations, while just 43 people voted for gas power.
Despite Labor's defeat in the NT elections after governing there for 11 years, Labor Party supporters are taking heart at the modest improvement in the party’s standing in the latest Newspoll and Herald/Nielsen poll. The latest Newspoll survey, taken for the Australian over August 18-19, showed the ALP's primary vote at 35% up from its low of 28% in mid-July, while the Liberal-National Coalition stayed at 45%.
Another week, another round of killings in Afghanistan. Three Australian soldiers were killed on August 29 by an Afghan solider, just days after two US soldiers were also killed by a member of the Afghan army the occupiers are supposed to be helping. That takes the death toll from the so-called green-on-blue killings this year to 45.
The Australian subsidiaries of tobacco giants Philip Morris and British Tobacco lost their final court challenge on August 16 against the Australian government’s proposed legislation that mandates all tobacco products be packaged in plain packaging. The only distinguishing features on packs will be the brand names, which will be in a standard font and size.
Overnight on August 30, an Afghan army sergeant shot dead three Australian soldiers at an Afghan National Army patrol base in the Oruzgan province of Afghanistan. A helicopter crash that killed two more soldiers made the day the deadliest for Australia's forces since the Vietnam War. On four separate occasions, a total of seven Australian soldiers have been killed by “rogue” members of the NATO-trained Afghan army, supposedly tasked with taking over security when NATO forces withdraw in 2014.
As thousands of construction workers took over the streets of Melbourne for the fourth day in a row on August 31 they were confronted by at least 500 police. The workers were protesting for fundamental union rights outside the Grocon Myer Emporium site in Melbourne’s CBD. Three days earlier, Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union (CFMEU) shop stewards and organisers were violently confronted by police on horseback. The police tried to clear the way for the scabs to enter the site and used batons and capsicum spray against the unionists.
A peaceful community blockade set up to stop construction of two coal seam gas (CSG) pilot wells near Newcastle was broken up by riot police August 28. Dart Energy won approval by the state government to drill the wells in Fullerton Cove in June this year. Locals say a more rigorous environmental assessment of the project needs to be done.
Newly arrived asylum seekers are staging a desperate resistance to Australia's plans to ship them to remote Pacific island detention camps, as the government's efforts to begin the moves were slammed as “chaotic”. Children, women and men joined a hunger strike that began in Christmas Island detention on August 25 after they were told their asylum claim would not be processed in Australia. A small group of men continued for three days before beginning to eat again.
Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation (YAC) may soon have a win against the mining corporation they allege has used dirty tactics and manipulation to force them into a mining deal they don’t want. Fortescue Metals Group (FMG), owned by mining magnate Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest, said it had secured the permission of traditional owners to start production on its $5 billion Solomon Hub iron ore project on Aboriginal land near Roebourne, WA.
The article below first appeared on The Conversation on August 30. Angela Taft is an associate professor in public health at La Trobe University. She is the co-ordinator for Women's Health Special Interest Group at the Public Health Association of Australia, which has lobbied for the importation of RU486 for several years. ***
With the addition of Australian Marriage Equality’s Alex Greenwich to “Team Clover" — led by Mayor Clover Moore — for the City of Sydney council election, it seems that the pink dollar has finally found itself a political party. The political force of upwardly mobile, affluent lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people has only recently come into its own.
Rachel Corrie was born on April 10, 1979, and raised in Olympia, Washington, in the US. She was the youngest of the three children of Craig and Cindy Corrie. Rachel’s mother Cindy describes their family as “average Americans, politically liberal, economically conservative, middle class”.
Aboriginal voters in remote Northern Territory put themselves decisively onto the political agenda in the August 25 territory election. As other commentators have noted, it was probably the first time in Australia’s history when this otherwise marginalised section of the population decided an election. For only the second time in its short voting history, the NT changed its ruling party. After 11 years of Labor, voters in remote and rural areas opted for change, and voted for minor parties, independents and the Country Liberal Party (CLP) in very significant numbers.
Australia will join its carbon price scheme with Europe’s emissions trading scheme (ETS) by 2015. The decision means Australia’s future carbon price will be set by a European market notorious for fraud scandals, consumer rip-offs and a seven-year-long record of failure.
The Socialist Alliance NSW released the statement below on August 24. * * * “Constructing an eight-lane motorway extension beneath Parramatta Road will ultimately just lead to bigger traffic jams,” said Pip Hinman, Socialist Alliance candidate for WALI (north ward) in the September 8 Marrickville local government election.
‘If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would.’ — Alice in Wonderland And so the electricity debate unfolds in Tasmania — a world of its own, where everything is nonsense.
Press statement of Save Malaysia Stop Lynas September 6th, 2012 Save Malaysia Stop Lynas (SMSL) is outraged that despite two impending judicial reviews at the Kuantan high court and an appeal case for judicial review in Putrajaya, the Malaysian government proceeded to issue the Temporary Operating Licence (TOL) to Lynas yesterday. Mr Tan Bun Teet speaking on behalf of SMSL and angry local residents in Kuantan:
The sleepy central Malaysian town of Raub was the focus of a 15,000-strong Himpunan Hijau (Green Gathering) national convergence of environmental activists on September 2. The immediate focus of the convergence was to support local community opposition to the use of cyanide in gold mining operations near the town by the Raub Australian Gold Mine. But activists also came from another major environmental campaign, against a toxic rare earths refinery in that has been built by Lynas, an Australian corporation, near the city of Kuantan.
Almost a year since Tunisia's Constituent Assembly (CA) elections, Islamist party Ennahda, leader of the coalition government, continues to lose the confidence of those who rose up against dictator Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in late 2010. Anger was prompted by Constitutional Article 27, which was passed by the Committee on Rights and Freedoms on August 1, defining women's rights as "complementary" to those of men, placing women "at the heart of the family and as man's associate".
The decision by WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange to seek asylum in Ecuador’s London Embassy triggered an international media campaign that highlighted the “hypocrisy” of his decision to choose a country condemned for supposed attacks on press freedom. The campaign reached a fever pitch following Ecuador’s decision to grant the dissident journalist asylum on August 16. Commentators used the opportunity to stick the boot into both Ecuador and Assange. See also: Why journalists could use a Correa change
The Australian government has come under pressure over its role in funding Indonesian counter-terrorism unit Detachment 88, after ABC’s 7.30 highlighted the unit’s role in repressing independence activists in occupied West Papua. Detachment 88 has been implicated in several killings and the torture of Papuan activists. A prominent recent case was its alleged involvement in the assassination of West Papuan National Committee (KNPB) leader Mako Tabuni in June.
The Haifa District court ruled on August 28 that the Israeli military was not responsible for killing US activist Rachel Corrie, and that Corrie was responsible for her own death. Twenty-three-year-old American activist Rachel Corrie was crushed to death by an Israeli army bulldozer in March 2003. She was trying to prevent Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes in the Gaza border town of Rafah. “Even when she saw the mount of earth moving towards her, she did not move away,” said Israeli Judge Oded Gershon.
Although parliamentary elections are often billed as “historic”, and results hailed as “landslides” and “political earthquakes”, events usually turn out not to have been so dramatic once the dust settles. But the September 12 national election in the Netherlands really does seem to be living up to the rhetoric.
Thousands of yellow-shirted supporters of Malaysia's Bersih movement for free and fair elections defied a police ban to gather around the theme "Janji Demokrasi" (Promised Democracy) on the eve of the 55th anniversary of the country's independence from British colonial rule. Malaysian Socialist Party (PSM) activist Choo Chon Kai, who took these photos, told Green Left Weekly:
Mitt Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan as his vice-presidential running mate for the November presidential poll signaled the takeover of the Republicans by the Tea Party, at least through the election. Ryan’s record as a Congressperson puts the representative from Wisconsin squarely on the far right of capitalist politics. Ryan co-sponsored a bill with Republican representative from Missouri Todd Akin, who thinks that women cannot become pregnant from a “legitimate” rape. It sought to narrow the definition of rape to reduce the number of poor women who can get abortion through Medicaid.
Resident group activists in Malaysia who have been campaigning to stop an Australian corporation, Lynas, from building a highly toxic rare earth refinery near Kuantan, Pahang, celebrated a little victory after Justice Mariana Yahya of the Kuantan High Court agreed on August 28 to hear their application for two judicial reviews.
On December 9, 2011, in the military-occupied Jafna, in the north of Sri Lanka, left-wing activists Lalith Kumar and Kuhan Muruganandanin were “disappeared” in the area of Neerveli while the two were riding on a motor bike. Like many other activists and reporters who have “disappeared” in that country, witnesses say the two were abducted by an armed gang in a white van. However these witnesses were too terrified of retribution to make official statements.
Channel Nine's mini-series Howzat! Kerry Packer's War has shone the light once again on the creation of World Series Cricket and its enduring legacy for the sport. The build-up to the show was particularly intense during the Olympics, but there was an ominous feeling that it would just be a puff piece for Channel Nine's most prominent owner. In the end, the series mostly avoided puffery and was a success, dramatically entertaining an average of more than 2 million viewers for each episode.
Fearless September 13-22 Milk Crate Theatre production Carriageworks, Sydney $35/$25 www.carriageworks.com.au Fearless is the first Milk Crate Theatre production to be presented at Sydney's Carriageworks. For the production, Milk Crate Theatre works with an ensemble of performers who have experienced homelessness or social marginalisation. The production exposes audiences to a vastly different point-of-view. Milk Crate Theatre productions allow Sydneysiders to see the world through different eyes.
The seventh Sydney Latin American Film Festival opens on September 6 and runs over 10 days and across four Sydney venues in Circular Quay, Marrickville, Annandale and Bankstown. Launching the festival will be the internationally acclaimed Argentine film MIA, a deeply moving drama that follows the story of a transvestite living in a Buenos Aires slum and explores the issues of discrimination and the right to happiness.
Ecuador's granting of asylum to WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange has thrown a spotlight on the country's media policy. In 2008, Ecuadorians voted overwhelmingly for a new constitution. Among other things, it sought to democratise the media and ban bankers from having business interests in the media industry. See also: Ecuador: Correa pushes free speech, challenges ‘media dictatorship’
The compelling nature of the second series of SBS TV's Go Back Where You Came From highlights, by contrast, the atrocious nature of 99% of Australia's mainstream media. The myth-busting and heart-wrenching show, where six prominent Australians take a refugee's journey in reverse, reveals how media could challenge injustice — if it were not dedicated to a diet of celebrity, unreality TV, repeating falsehoods, and endless cooking shows. Go Back smashes anti-refugee lies that have been promoted by Liberal and Labor, and stoked by corporate media.
History Will Absolve Us Marcel Cartier and Agent Of Change Beat Knowledge Released August 20 "Misogyny is a huge problem in hip-hop," says radical rapper Marcel Cartier. "Even 'progressive' artists often fall victim to being perpetrators of sexist lyrics." The empathetic emcee hits chauvinists where it hurts on his new album, History Will Absolve Us. On the plaintive, piano-driven "Never The Answer" he raps: One in four women face domestic violence
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West Papua needs solidarity It was incredibly heart wrenching to watch 7.30’s report on August 27 and see the terribly oppressive situation the indigenous people are suffering in West Papua. I knew the plight of West Papuans was not good under Indonesian rule, but was shocked at the level of brutality.
The Adelaide protest, part of a nationwide action around Australia organised by socialist youth group Resistance. Hungry Jacks, called Burger King in New Zealand, has been on a vicious anti-union worker rampage in New Zealand, paying pathetic wages then threatening young workers who dare to join the Unite union and organise for better pay and conditions.