Environmentalists are calling for the state government to cancel a mining lease on North Stradbroke Island, off the coast of Brisbane. Huge quantities of sand on the island has been illegally mined and sold to landscape and building industries. On July 3, the Queensland Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal by mining company Unimin against a Supreme Court ruling in December 2009 that it had carried out illegal mining and sale of the sand.
"The recent campaign by the big mining companies, which brought down PM Kevin Rudd, shows the enormous power of these giant monopolies in our capitalist society”, Socialist Alliance activist Marg Gleeson told a public forum, sponsored by the SA on July 6. "This two-month campaign of lies and distortions by the mining barons was victorious. It underlines exactly who holds the levers of power in our 'democratic' country."
Fifty people rallied outside the Department of Immigration and Citizenship on July 9 in response to the Gillard Labor government's proposed new "East Timor solution" for processing asylum seekers. The protest was organised by the Refugee Action Collective. Aboriginal rights leader and Socialist Alliance Senate candidate Sam Watson told the protest: “[Opposition leader Tony] Abbott and [PM Julia] Gillard are creating the atmosphere for another Tampa election, targeting the most vulnerable people.
Brisbane Murri activist and Socialist Alliance Senate candidate Sam Watson made the following comments on July 8 on the anti-refugee policies of the two major parties. * * * PM Julia Gillard and opposition leader Tony Abbott are involved in a headlong race to the bottom of the political pile with their policies on asylum seekers. There is no sign of humanity, no compassion, no generosity of spirit.
25 intrepid activists left on July 2 for Alice Springs as part of a Justice Ride to show solidarity with Aboriginal people fighting against the NT intervention. They will take part in the Defending Indigenous Rights: Land Law Culture convergence in Alice Springs from July 6 to 9.
BRISBANE — Former Gold Coast-based Dr Mohamed Haneef is suing former Howard government immigration minister Kevin Andrews for defamation, the July 2 Courier Mail said. Haneef is also making a separate claim against the federal government for unlawful arrest and misconduct in public office. Haneef was arrested in July 2007 after his mobile phone SIM card was linked to failed terror attacks in Britain. He was charged under anti-terror laws and arrested, but was released after 25 days after the case collapsed. Andrews then cancelled Haneef’s visa.
On June 22, Queensland unions won a court victory with the ruling that Queensland Rail had broken the law by not consulting workers over privatisation plans. “Queensland Rail has been slapped with a $600,000 fine after it failed to consult its workers over plans to privatise part of the company”, the June 23 Courier-Mail reported. “A Federal Court ruling earlier this month found QR breached 20 of its enterprise bargaining agreements by not consulting workers about the planned sell-off before it was announced.”
Sand mining on Stradbroke Island, offshore from Brisbane, will be phased out by 2027, under a new plan announced by the Queensland state government on June 20. Most of the island will become national park and development of ecotourism will be the main industry.
On June 16, the Queensland Nurses' Union (QNU) condemned the new computerised payroll system that has caused ongoing problems with wage and allowance payments to staff in the public health system. In a statement the QNU said: "This week will mark the seventh pay run under Queensland Health's new payroll system. It is a debacle of monumental proportions.”
BRISBANE — On June 4, a picket of Rio Tinto Coal offices highlighted opposition to the big mining companies' scare campaign about the federal government's proposed tax on mining "super-profits”. Socialist Alliance federal election candidates condemned corporate greed and said mining tax revenue should be used to fund renewable energy programs.
The Electrical Trades Union (ETU) has banned its members from working in uranium mines, nuclear power stations or any other part of the nuclear fuel cycle, AAP said on May 31. The union says uranium is the new asbestos in the workplace. The ban will apply to ETU members in Queensland and the Northern Territory and breaching it could lead to expulsion, said ETU Qld secretary Peter Simpson.
BRISBANE — "You know that we are rising, our day is surely coming”, were the words of a new song featured in Lebanese-Australian activist and musician Phil Monsour's benefit concert for Palestine on May 29. Monsour, who recently returned from a trip to Palestine and Lebanon, recounted his experiences with songs and video images taken during his participation in the Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA Middle East study tour in March.
“Facing the world economic crisis: From Greece to Australia” was the title of a public forum, sponsored by Socialist Alliance, Resistance and Green Left Weekly on May 25. Marxist academic Gary MacLennan and Socialist Alliance candidate for the federal seat of Brisbane Ewan Saunders spoke. MacLennan explained that the world economic crisis showed signs of deepening, not ending. He said right-wing explanations of the crisis blamed government mismanagement, rather than the capitalist system.
Sam Watson, Aboriginal community leader and Socialist Alliance senate candidate for Queensland, spoke at a May 19 rally outside state parliament. He called for the sacking of police commissioner Bob Atkinson; the charging and conviction of police who kill Indigenous prisoners; for investigation of police to be carried out by an independent, community panel; and for a new Royal Commission into Black deaths in custody.
“One of the great scandals of Australia's history: Aboriginal labour in the 20th century”, was a the title of a lecture by Dr Ros Kidd in the Queensland Trades and Labour building on May 20. The Alex Macdonald Memorial Lecture attracted about 80 people. It was organised by the Brisbane Labour History Association and sponsored by the Queensland Council of Unions (QCU). Kidd's latest book, Trustees on Trial, documents the abuse and misappropriation of Aboriginal wages during the last century. "The fight for justice is still going on”, Kidd said.
"An American-based company accused of bulldozing trees in koala habitats in Victoria has emerged as the buyer of Queensland's major forests in a $603 million deal with the State Government”, said the May 19 Courier-Mail. “The deal is the first major privatisation of state assets by the Bligh Government.” This is the first of several fire-sales of public assets, including forests, rail, ports and motorways, proposed by the state Labor government since last year. Unions and community groups have strongly opposed the privatisation plan.