Socialist Alliance Senate candidate for the upcoming federal election, Sharon Firebrace, has dismissed Labor’s proposal, to send asylum seekers to an off-shore processing centre in Dili, as “another chapter in our country’s racist shame". Ms Firebrace, who founded the Aboriginal Genocide Centre, plans to make both Northern Territory Intervention measures and refugee rights a key part of her election platform.
The New Way Summit, held in Melbourne over July 1-4, brought together around 100 Indigenous and non-Indigenous people from about Australia to discuss the issues confronting the struggle for Indigenous rights. A big focus of the summit was on the issues of genocide, sovereignty and treaty. This was the third in a series of New Way Summits. The first one took place in Canberra in January. The summit was successful in bringing together indigenous activists from Darwin, New South Wales, Queensland, regional Victoria and Melbourne, as well as non-Indigenous supporters.
US-Palestinian professor Saree Makdisi and Canadian-Palestinian lawyer Diana Buttu spoke on June 30 as part of a national tour to promote the international campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. At the public meeting, Makdisi compared laws in apartheid South Africa with those in Israel and said “There are exact equivalent laws in Israel of all the African apartheid laws.” He said the discrimination “begins with kids entering day care and continues for the rest of their lives”.
Workers from Kennon Auto in Melbourne have not received a pay rise for the past three years. They stopped work on July 1 because their boss is refusing to negotiate a collective agreement. The workers make parts for Toyota. They are ex-Nylex workers who had to fight to keep entitlements after Nylex went into receivership. Some of Nylex’s product lines were sold to Kennon Auto.
A national gathering of Aboriginal community leaders will expose what they describe as the “treachery inherent in government policies targeting the civil and political rights” of their communities. The New Way Aboriginal Summit, being held in Melbourne from July 1 – 4 to coincide with NAIDOC Week, will host a press conference at 12.40 pm this Friday 2nd July at Trades Hall Council, the main summit venue.
Following the New Way Summit on Aboriginal rights in Canberra in January, a second summit will be held in Melbourne over July 1-4. Convenor of the Victorian New Way Aboriginal Summit, Socialist Alliance member Sharon Firebrace, told Green Left Weekly: “We expect a lot of people will attend to learn that the New Way grassroots movement is a true opposition to what the federal government is dishing up to us in their shameful charade of establishing the First Nation Congress of Australia.”
On June 25, federal trade minister Simon Crean signed a deal to export up to 20 million tonnes of dried brown coal to Vietnam. The deal was signed with ironically-named Victorian company Environmental Clean Technologies (ECT). Fifty people protested outside the venue in Southbank where the deal was signed, despite the rain and only a few hours notice of the event.
Despite a promise before the last election, the Brumby state Labor government has introduced legislation to extend the urban growth boundary for Melbourne. Planning Amendment VC 67 expands Melbourne’s Urban Growth Boundary to accommodate the 284,000 houses the government expects will be needed if Melbourne’s population reaches 5 million before 2030. About 70 people from the Green Wedge Coalition, Protectors of Public Lands and Planning Backlash protested against these plans on June 22.
100 people picketed the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs on June 18 to protest the third anniversary of the Northern Territory intervention. Kevin Bracken from the Maritime Union of Austrlalia said “The intervention has turned the clock back 50 years to when people were working for rations.” The rally also heard from Alistair Nicholson, former Chief Justice of the Family Court, the Greens, the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union and local indigenous activists Richard Kennedy, Sharon Firebrace and Robbie Thorpe.
55 people attended a June 11 forum with Peter Inverway, a Gurindji worker from Kalkaringi, who said Gurindji people are being forced to work up to 30 hours a week for Centrelink entitlements. Inverway said: "I was working on [a] construction site. Working hard for up to 30 hours per week and maybe just getting $4 an hour on Basics Card. But just like working for ration like our people done in the past. If we don't work then they'll cut our Centrelink."
Green Left Weekly has won a victory in its free speech struggle at Brunswick’s Barkly Square shopping centre. Management stopped our stalls in late November and offered us a completely unacceptable deal. We began our defence campaign in late February and over the next three months it developed considerable momentum. The response from shoppers was warm and extremely heartening. About 1000 people signed our petition. People were clearly outraged at the ban and concerned at the ongoing privatisation of public space.
On June 3, a small group of protesters educated Edgewater residents about the threat climate change poses to their suburb. Edgewater, one of Melbourne’s newest suburbs, could be partly underwater if climate change is not stopped. According to council data, 370 Maribyrnong homes were affected during floods in 1974.
One hundred pensioners rallied outside Victorian Parliament House on May 27 to demand a raise in the aged pension. The rally was organised by the Fair Go for Pensioners Coalition (FGPC), which had previously organised nationwide protests in November 2008. Frank Cherry, national coordinator of the coalition, told the crowd: “We’re rallying today to highlight the plight of pensioners, both to the state and federal government, and to begin the second stage of our campaign to increase the pension.”
The following is abridged from a motion unanimously passed on May 22 by the general membership of the Climate Emergency Network, Victoria. For more information on CEN, visit the group's website. *** Over the past decade or so, a climate movement has developed in many countries, both developed and developing. There has been a tendency for the climate movement in North America, Europe, and Australia to focus on ecological modernisation as a climate change mitigation strategy.
Dozens of campaigners have hit Melbourne’s streets to campaign for the Hazelwood power station to be shut down. Climate action groups in the inner city are doorknocking thousands of homes every weekend to get the message across. Hazelwood is Australia’s most polluting power station. Climate campaigners have targeted it with protests since the state government extended its operating licence until 2030. It was originally meant to be closed down and replaced in 2005.
The Fair Work ombudsman began legal action on May 19 against a 7-Eleven store operator in Geelong who owed hundreds of hours in unpaid wages to four workers. The decision came after a two-year campaign by the Unite union, which organises workers in part-time and casual work. The ombudsman alleges that four workers were owed a total of $85,408 for work over 2005-09. One worker alone was underpaid $40,583.