Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett survived a leadership challenge on September 20, easily seeing off his former Transport minister Dean Nalder. Another minister also resigned from cabinet in solidarity with Nalder in the lead up to the contest, which has been brewing since the start of the year.
Australia's largest cities are urban planning disaster zones. Two facts in particular bear this out. First is the ongoing housing affordability crisis, which shows no sign of abating. Second is the relentless march of car-dependent urban sprawl, which continues to devour remnant native vegetation and good farming land. You get an eyeful of this latter problem as you approach Perth by plane, by some accounts the second-biggest metropolis in the world by surface area.
On August 4 the family of Ms Dhu and their supporters marked the second anniversary of her death in police custody in South Headland with a rally outside Perth's Central Law Courts. Ms Dhu's family is calling for an independent investigation into her death, as well as demanding the release of CCTV footage that shows her last hours alive in custody. Ms Dhu, who was 22 years old at the time, had been detained for the non-payment of fines amounting to $3622, but died within two days of being taken into custody.
Hundreds of people marched in Perth on July 23 to say that #BlackLivesMatter. The rally included strong expressions of solidarity with Nyoongar and Aboriginal campaigns for justice and sovereignty as well as expressions of anti-racism. Here are some of the photos from the event.
Maintenance workers at Griffin Coal and their supporters held a protest outside the Fair Work Commission (FWC) in Perth's CBD on July 5. They called for a stay on the commission's decision to terminate the recent enterprise bargaining agreement between the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) and the company, citing the latter's alleged unprofitability. Griffin Coal claims to be surviving only due to financial support from its parent company, Lanco Infratech. The 70 workers, who work at Collie in WA's south-west, face a 43% pay cut if the FWC's decision were to stand.
At the Perth Vigil for Orlando on June 15, our community stood in unity and mourned the lives lost. By candlelight we stood together in the Perth Cultural Centre and listened to heart-warming speeches from our queer siblings, as well as from the Socialist Alliance, the Greens and the Labor Party, before observing two minutes of silence to remember the 49 lives lost.
I moved to Perth in June last year from a small, rural town in central Pennsylvania. There I witnessed first-hand the impact of the “fracking” boom — the rapid exploitation of the unconventional gas resources in the Marcellus shale play. It hit rural Pennsylvania particularly hard because it is economically depressed, struggling to make ends meet by farming and what's left of manufacturing that has not been outsourced to China, Mexico, and other exploitable labour pools.
The CFMEU has labelled the $21,225 fine imposed by the Federal Court on May 30 for taking action over hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid wages as a “disgrace”. WA CFMEU secretary Mick Buchan said this action characterises the absolute bias of the Fair Work Building Commission (FWBC). “They came after the union for helping workers get the wages that were owed to them for work they had done. We are being punished for doing our job.”
Cycling on footpaths was made legal in WA last week and the government agreed to increase the number of dedicated bike paths after two cyclists were hit and killed by cars in Perth on the same day last month. Previously only children under 12 were allowed to ride on footpaths but the new rules apply to all cyclists. All other states now allow adults to ride on footpaths except Victoria and New South Wales, which restrict the right to children under 12 and accompanying adults.