Western Australia’s proposed “stop-and-search” laws look dead in the water after the National Party opposed the bill on November 11. The proposed laws were to expand WA police powers to search people without having to provide grounds for suspicion. The laws would also allow the police minister to declare areas in which police had the power to arbitrarily stop and search people.
Woodside and the Western Australian government’s push to build a massive gas-processing plant at James Price Point will be a key battle in a broader campaign to protect the cultural and environmental heritage of the Kimberley region in WA. This battle is significant for several reasons. First, the government is trying to compulsorily acquire Aboriginal land. Traditional owners, some of who had previously been prepared to support the project, are now united in opposition. Many unions, including the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, are supporting them.
Over 100 people, including Taser victim Kevin Spratt, attended a rally on November 13, which focused on the excessive use of Tasers by police. Most speakers, including Deaths in Custody chairperson Marianne Mackay, called for a complete end to the use of Tasers by police. However shadow attorney general John Quigley merely called on the government to release video footage of a second Taser attack on Spratt that it has kept secret.
See a photo slilde show of the rally here. Hundreds of people took to the streets of Perth for the fourth time this year to protest against the federal government’s same-sex marriage ban. The November 6 rally heard from speakers including Kitty Hawkins representing GALE (Gay and Lesbian Equality), Rebecca Leighton from the Greens and a representative from the State School Teachers' Union.
Campaign group Safe Climate Perth reached the milestone of 2000 signatures on its no new coal petition on October 30. The petition calls for WA's parliament to stop to expansion of coal-fired power stations, mines and related infrastructure, and to fund a roll-out of renewable energy with priority access to the new jobs, with equivalent conditions, given to coal communities. The petition was launched on October 10, and Safe Climate Perth has embarked on an energetic effort to reach 10,000 signatures by Human Rights Day.
Sixty people gathered at City Farm, East Perth, for an update on the opening up of WA to uranium mining and the growing campaign to stop it. The night was hosted by the newly-formed WA Nuclear Free Alliance (WANFA), which groups together about 60 Aboriginal people from communities around the state.
On September 2, the Western Australian government moved to compulsorily acquire over 2500 hectares of pristine wilderness on James Price Point, 60 km north of Broome on the Kimberley coast. The land grab was to make way for a $30 billion liquefied natural gas (LNG) processing precinct. Premier Colin Barnett described the decision as “compulsory acquisition of unallocated Crown Land”, on ABC Kimberley radio that morning. Barnett cited delays and costs to the tax payer of ongoing negotiations with the Kimberley Land Council (KLC) as the main reasons for initiating compulsory acquisition.
Corporations trying to construct a gas processing hub at James Price Point “might have a bit of difficulty getting their power plant built” if Premier Colin Barnett completes compulsorily acquiring the Aboriginal land, WA Australian Manufacturing Workers Union state secretary Steve McCartney told a Fremantle Socialist Alliance forum on October 28.
On October 20, the committee of the WA parliament tasked to look into the proposed Criminal Investigation Amendment Bill 2009 reported its findings. A majority of the committee opposed the bill, which would drastically expand police stop-and-search powers at the expense of civil liberties. The report was delayed twice due to the controversial nature of the bill and disagreements on the committee. Protests against the proposed laws were held this year by the group, Search For Your Rights.
PERTH — Jewish American author Anna Baltzer spoke to a packed audience of more than 100 people at a forum hosted by Friends of Palestine WA on October 21. She began by explaining that there were differences between the words "Jewish" (relating to faith or kinship), "Israeli" (relating to citizenship in the state of Israel) and "Zionist" (a political ideology). Most of her presentation documented the illegal occupation of Palestinian land sponsored by the state of Israel and the effects of that occupation.