Canberra

We don’t need to pray for rain, as Prime Minister Scott Morrison has suggested, we need to take serious climate action now, was the blunt message farmers delivered to federal parliament on September 10. 

The farmers said the drought gripping NSW and Queensland had to be a wake-up call for politicians to take climate change seriously.

They also raised concerns that the Coalition government is attempting to stymie the development of wind power, which provides income for farmers and rural communities when agricultural income falls.

Members of the Whistleblowers, Activists and Citizens Alliance (WACA) blockaded the Home Affairs Department building and the Wilson Security Car Park in Canberra on March 28.

They were protesting the treatment of refugees held in indefinite detention and at risk of being deported to danger. The activists held banners that read “Border Force Tortures Refugees”, “Deportations = Death”, “#Justice4Refugees”, “#SackDutton” and “All Refugees in Detention are Political Prisoners”.

Seven protesters who superglued their hands to a balustrade in the public gallery of Parliament House were found not guilty on March 29 of intentionally damaging Commonwealth property.

The seven were part of a Whistleblowers, Activists and Citizens Alliance (WACA) campaign that on November 30, 2016, disrupted Question Time in protest at the government's treatment of refugees. The parliamentary session was halted as security officers removed the protesters one by one.

Stop Adani activists from around Australia gathered in Canberra on February 5, calling on Labor and Coalition MPs to prioritise cancelling the Adani mine project in this session of parliament.

About 100 protesters set up at the front and rear entrances of Parliament House from 7am to “welcome” politicians arriving for the first day of parliament.

The ACT government has declared a Reconciliation Day public holiday on the first Monday on or after the 1967 Referendum anniversary date of May 27, which marks the start of Reconciliation Week.

It is the first time in Australia an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-focused public holiday has been created.

Professor Tom Calma of Reconciliation Australia said he hoped it signalled a shift to celebrating multiculturalism, rather than the proclamation of Australia on January 26.

A rally in support of equal marriage has drawn the biggest LGBTI rights rally in Canberra's history and the biggest crowd Canberra has seen since the rally against the decision to send Australian troops to Iraq in 2003.

More than 3000 supporters of marriage equality filled Garema Place on September 2, before marching through Civic to demand immediate action on marriage equality.

The rally was organised by marriage equality group Equal Love, which organised the Melbourne protest on August 26 that saw more than 20,000 people demand equal marriage rights.

The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) has raised strong objections to moves by the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) to impose severe restrictions on public sector workers' personal use of social media. "It is completely unreasonable for a worker to face disciplinary action over a private email or something as benign as 'liking' a social media post," CPSU national secretary Nadine Flood said on August 7.

CSIRO staff voted by 58% to approve a new enterprise agreement, in a second round of voting after the 70% No vote last October.

The CSIRO Staff Association said the new agreement restored rights including a commitment to secure, ongoing employment, flexible working hours and on-site childcare, which were not in the October deal.

“While the new agreement represents a substantial improvement on the CSIRO’s first offer there is a long way to go to rebuild morale, trust and confidence among scientists, researchers and other staff,” the Staff Association’s Sam Popovski said.

Here’s my two cents worth on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s leaked impersonation of US President Donald Trump.

If you are prime minister and you are going to do a private impersonation of Trump you could pick a better occasion than the Parliamentary Mid-Winter Ball which is packed with drunken politicians, journos and political advisers. So it is a mighty stretch to call it a leak.

However, if you are a conservative, hollow-man prime minister, down in the polls, the “leak” of a recording of the said impersonation might be a welcome circuit breaker.

The Australian Refugee Action Network (ARAN) held its inaugural conference on May 20-21 at the Australian National University in Canberra. It brought together more than 150 activists and representatives of 48 refugee advocacy and activist groups from around the country. 

Participants included a large number of activists from Rural Australians for Refugees (RAR) groups. RAR held its own national meeting over the conference, and elected a new leadership. The proposal to form ARAN came out of discussion at last year’s RAR conference.

Student groups nation-wide registered their opposition to the government’s proposals to raise student fees and lower the HECS threshold at an action in Canberra on budget day on May 9.

The $2.8 billion in cuts would see fees increase by a maximum of $3600 for a four-year course with students paying for 46% of the cost of their degree on average — up from 42%. The cuts propose a lowering of the HECS threshold — down from $55,874 to $42,000.

Twenty-two Canberra school cleaners won a claim for underpayment in the Federal Court on April 21, in a case launched on their behalf by United Voice.

Nineteen of the workers are S’gaw Karen refugees from Myanmar, who spent two decades in refugee camps in Thailand before being resettled in Australia. 

The part-time school cleaners had been pressured into signing contracts they did not understand, paid by different business entities without explanation either to the workers or the ACT government and routinely exposed to unsafe working conditions.

President Ashraf Ghani’s first visit to Australia prompted a sizable protest on April 3 among the Australian Hazara community amid claims of institutional discrimination against Hazaras in Afghanistan.

Numbering thousands, peaceful protesters gathered from across the country and demanded from the Afghan President equality, fair distribution of resources, and an end to governmental discrimination.

The Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) was dealt another embarrassing blow on March 21.

The Federal Court dismissed all claims against the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union (CFMEU) after finding prosecutors had made a deal with a confessed blackmailer to give evidence for the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) in return for staying out of jail.

The CFMEU told a Senate inquiry building materials containing asbestos, formaldehyde and cheap glass that explodes are being imported and used in Australian building sites.

Assistant national secretary of the CFMEU Construction Division Brad Parker said the Australian Border Force was seriously under resourced to intercept the arrival of dangerous building products.

The Whistleblowers, Activists and Citizen’s Alliance and other refugee activists interrupted Question Time at 2pm on November 30 because there is no opposition to cruelty in our parliament.

We came to parliament because the Australian government has become a world leader in cruelty. 

Seven of us were superglued to the balustrade and 30 of us inside the chamber spoke in unison: “We are here today because you are all complicit in the murder, rape, torture and child abuse of refugees”. 

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