I have thought for a long time that it is essential the Australian climate movement tune in more directly to the natural climate cycle, and thus popular consciousness of climate itself. We as a country have just experienced the traumas of floods, then the most intense cyclone in recorded history, and now devastating bushfires in Western Australia. Deadly bushfires swept the country a couple of summers before that, followed by another record heatwave in South Australia in 2010.
Ark Tribe walked out of Adelaide Magistrates Court a free man on November 24, after he was finally found “not guilty” of failing to attend an Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) interview in 2008. As Tribe, a rigger and Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union (CFMEU) member left the court house, he was greeted by cheers from more than 1000 workers and officials from different unions. The victory was celebrated as a win for all workers.
The South Australian Labor government’s public service cuts were passed through parliament on November 8, ignoring sharp criticism from the Public Service Association (PSA) and widespread protests. Australian Council of Trade Unions president Ged Kearney described the cuts as a form of “political terrorism”, in an address to the PSA that day. She said public funding issues would become increasingly frequent across Australia as governments continue to adopt “neoliberal, global agendas”.
Ark Tribe’s battle with the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) may end on November 24, at the Adelaide Magistrates Court when Tribe's verdict is scheduled to be announced. This would end the two-year ordeal for Tribe and his family. The 47-year-old rigger is facing six months’ jail for not attending an ABCC interrogation over an “unauthorised” safety meeting on a building site at Flinders University in August 2008.
Port Adelaide's Newport Quays luxury apartment development has run into difficulties. The release of an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report reconfirmed high levels of industrial air pollution in the port and LeFevre Peninsular areas. The report was presented to the Development Assessment Commission on July 15, but released only after a successful request by Greens parliamentary leader Mark Parnell. The Land Management Council has refused requests to release 27 of 28 further documents on pollution in the area.
Federal government plans to convert vacant army housing at Inverbrackie, near the Adelaide Hills town of Woodside, for 400 asylum seekers in family groups have divided the local community. On November 3, opposition leader Tony Abbott met with about 150 local residents, most of whom were opposed to the government plans. Abbott told those gathered that Woodside “is an open and welcoming community”.
Almost daily protests have been organised by unions and community groups since the ALP state government handed down its budget on September 16. It slashed community infrastructure, cut 3743 jobs from the public service and altered the Public Services Act to do away with workers' leave loading and long service leave entitlements. The largest protest was a 10,000-strong march organised by the Public Service Association (PSA) that marched along King William Street on its way to parliament.
Construction workers and trade unionists from across Australia will once again rally behind rigger Ark Tribe when his struggle against the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) continues on November 3 at the Adelaide Magistrates Court. Fundamental workers rights rest on the outcome of the case. The Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union (CFMEU) has led the call for the six-month jail sentence Ark Tribe faces to be thrown out, and for the ABCC, which continues to treat construction workers as second-class citizens, to be abolished.
In a first for the post-Howard industrial relations system, the Fair Work Ombudsman has granted the National Union of Workers (NUW) the right to enter and inspect time and wage records of all workers at Adelaide’s Lilydale chicken factory. The company was investigated by ABC’s Lateline on October 21. It showed the sacking of Sudanese migrant Anyoun Mabior and the terrible conditions at the factory. These conditions included underpayment, bullying, harassment, racism and breaches of health and safety laws.
The campaign against savage cuts to public services in the recent South Australian budget is gaining momentum. More than 10,000 unionists rallied in Victoria Square on October 26 and marched through lunchtime crowds to Parliament House. Nurses, prison officers and firefighters are among the many sectors angry at the cuts, which will cost up to 4000 jobs and affect vital services. The following day, hundreds protested at Parliament House against cuts of $850,000 to the health budget, which threaten the viability of country hospitals at Keith, Moonta and Ardrossan.