Perth

On September 22, 20 people protested outside the Western Australian parliamentary hearing into the transportation of detained persons to call for an end to private companies transporting prisoners. The protest was organised by the Western Australian Deaths in Custody Watch Committee (DICWC). The inquiry was held in light of the death of Aboriginal elder Mr Ward, who was cooked to death in the back of a private security company van in January 2008. Members of DICWC and Daisy Ward, cousin of Mr Ward, gave evidence at the hearing and called for justice for Mr Ward and his family.
Momentum is building in solidarity with a couple from Cairns who have been charged under Queensland’s anti-abortion laws (see article on page 12). The couple is to face court in Cairns on October 12, and the Pro-Choice Action collective, Women’s Abortion Action Campaign, and Radical Women have issued a call for a National Day of Action to be held on Saturday October 9. The rallies will demand the dropping of the charges, repealing of the anti-abortion laws and free, safe, accessible abortion on demand.
On September 6, 35 people attended a meeting held by the Perth Refugee Rights Action Network to hear a reportback from participants of the RRAN “Compassion Caravan”. The Compassion Caravan involved 25 people traveling to the Leonora detention centre, in remote Western Australia, where 200 men, women and children refugees are detained. The caravan delivered toys and welcome notes to the refugees, written by Perth primary school children.
An important campaign is emerging against the proposal to establish a coalmine in the iconic tourist and wine-making region of Margaret River in south-west Western Australia. The campaign has attracted support in the local community, reflected in a pre-election Walk Against Warming rally attended by hundreds of people and several successful community organising meetings.
Safe Climate Perth has called a strategy meeting to plan a grassroots campaign against the new coal-fired power stations approved by the state Liberal government. The campaign will also take up other proposed developments such as a suggested new coal mine at Margaret River, which has already sparked a dynamic community campaign. Safe Climate campaigner Kamala Emanuel told Green Left Weekly: “We are planning a campaign that can win. “The first step to getting to a safe climate future is to stop the increase in emissions of greenhouse pollution from new coal power stations.
PERTH — Members of the Perth Burmese community held a commemoration on August 8 for the democratic uprising that took place in Burma exactly 22 years before. Speakers at the commemoration called for a restoration of democracy in Burma, including freedom for pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and for stronger action in support of democracy from the Australian government. A solidarity dinner for the Burmese struggle was also held on August 7.
If imitation is the greatest form of flattery, Friends of Palestine (WA — FOPWA) must be doing something right: Friends of Israel (WA) was launched on August 8. The group’s website is a mix of nationalism and barely concealed racism. “Israel is in the front lines of the global battle between those who love life and those who glorify death”, it says. The launch took place at the Victory Life Centre, a fundamentalist Christian church, in Osborne Park, Perth.
The family of Aboriginal elder Mr Ward, who died in the back of a prison transfer van in January 2008, will receive $3.2 million from the WA government. It is in addition to the $200,000 interim payment previously given to the Ward family. The payment comes in the wake of escalating protests organised by the Deaths in Custody Watch Committee (DICWC) in support of the family. The most recent rally was a large march through the city on July 11 in the wake of the Director of Public Prosecutions’ (DPP) decision not to lay any charges in this case.
On July 27, Cockburn Shire council workers took industrial action in protest to the managements offer of a pay-rise in this years new enterprise bargaining agreement. The workers for the shire, which is in southern Perth, have refused the offer, which falls sort of what they consider fair. The workers belong to two unions, the Australian Services Union (ASU) and the Local Government Racing and Cemeteries Employees Union (LGRCEU), which are organising their pay campaign.
On July 31, 100 anti-uranium mining protesters rallied outside the Esplanade Hotel in Fremantle, which was hosting the Australian Uranium Conference. WA Liberal Premier Colin Barnett lifted the ban on uranium mining in November 2008 soon after winning office. There are no commercial uranium mines operating in the state but the Australian Uranium Association has identified eight major uranium deposits in WA. The Anti-Nuclear Alliance of WA (ANAWA), which organised the protest, said there are 137 mining companies with uranium interests in the state.
Refugee Rights Action Network (RRAN) WA is organising a “Compassion Caravan” to the detention centre in Leonora, WA, where more than 30 families are being held, including more than 40 children. Some of these families’ applications have been “frozen” by the Gillard-ALP government in a political ploy to placate xenophobic sentiment toward refugees. This not only violates international law, but also punishes the bulk of refugees coming to Australia. To show that not all Australians agree with these policies, we will travel to Leonora to take gifts for the families being detained.
Five hundred people rallied outside the Perth Supreme Court Gardens on July 11 to demand that the coronial investigation into Mr Ward's tragic death be reopened. Mr Ward, a respected Aboriginal elder, was literally cooked to death in the back of a prisoner van while being driven from Laverton to Kalgoorlie to face court for a traffic offence in January 2008. The coroner found that temperatures inside the van reached 47° Celsius and that metal surfaces in the van would have reached 56°C.
On July 12, state environment minister Donna Faragher approved an additional three coal-fired power stations in Western Australia. These power stations will contribute to a 75% increase in the state’s greenhouse emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Authority. Of the three power stations, one is a brand new private sector development. The other two are older power stations that were built in the 1960s and have not been in use for some time, which will be expanded and refurbished. This will more than double the number of coal-fired power stations in Collie.

Socialist Alliance member Sanna Andrew speaks on the open microphone at the July 11, 2010 rally protesting the decision by the DPP not to lay charges in the case of Mr Ward.

From the standpoint of conventional political analysis, Julia Gillard has had a spectacular start to her reign as prime minister. She wrested the position from Kevin Rudd with minimal bloodshed, announced she was going to neutralise the mining tax controversy by negotiating with the mining billionaires and was rewarded with a dramatic turnaround in the opinion polls.

Over 100 people protested outside the office of the director of public prosecutions after the DPP announced that they would not lay ANY charges in the case of the Warburton elder killed in the back of a prison van in January 2008.

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