The worst drought in 1000 years means that water shortage is as burning issue across Australia, cutting across the city-country divide. A Morgan poll, back in October 2005, found that 80% of Australians believe governments are not doing enough about water conservation, a view that has since been reinforced. But just how well will restrictions, water saving devices such as dual-flush toilets and rainwater tanks, and water trading schemes tackle the problem?
The Howard governments anti-worker Work Choices laws have placed a powerful weapon in the hands of bosses, which they are using to drive down wages and eliminate hard-won conditions. Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics released on November 16 showed that average weekly earnings for full-time workers had fallen by 1.2% in real terms since Work Choices became law an average loss of $13 a week.
Workplace Relations Act (1996) This law stripped allowable matters in industrial awards back to 20, restricted the right of union officials to enter workplaces and introduced individual contracts (AWAs). Trade Practices Act (1974) Sections
A visit by US officials has raised fears on Christmas Island that an immigration detention centre could be turned into a Guantanamo-style prison, the November 17 Melbourne Age reported.
More than three thousand people had a somewhat surreal experience on November 18. They attended a rally, called by the Melbourne Stop the War Coalition and Stop G20, to oppose the genocide by poverty being promoted by the finance ministers meeting, and the warfare that makes the corporate plunder of the Third World possible.
Drasko Boljevic was abducted and assaulted in Melbourne on November 19. Chief commissioner Christine Nixon confirmed on November 20 that a man had been mistakenly arrested, saying that he was released because he wasnt the person we thought he was. Below, Eleonor Palacio, the partner of the man that was mistakenly arrested, describes what happened. It has been abridged from Melbourne Indymedia.
Below, Dr Jim Green, Friends of the Earth anti-nuclear campaigner, summarises the EnergyScience Coalition’s critique of Ziggy Switkowski’s Uranium Mining, Processing and Nuclear Energy Review released on November 21.
Unions NSW is promoting a campaign, including shopfront stickers and advertising in union journals, to encourage small businesses to promote themselves as union-endorsed fair employers. The union body is spending time and money on advertising through union journals. But this campaign detracts from our efforts at mobilising workers and the community against Work Choices and bosses who use these new laws.
Among the proposals included in the Australian Council of Trade Unions industrial relations legislation policy, adopted at its October conference, were provisions for unions to be able to hold elections to win recognition in workplaces where the boss refuses to bargain with them. These ballots are aimed at addressing the lack of a mechanism whereby unions can make an employer negotiate a collective agreement for workers. Such ballots have been a feature of the US industrial relations system for over 70 years.
Debate continues over how guest workers and those on 457 visas should be treated. The WA branch of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) passed a resolution at its July state conference that recommends avoiding falling into the federal government and bosses’ divide-and-rule trap.
Australian unionists have a wealth of experiences to draw on in the fight against the Howard governments Work Choices legislation. Lessons can be drawn not just from the historic victories and defeats of the union movement in this country, but also from the experiences of working-class struggles in other countries.
The Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office claims that nuclear safeguards “provide assurances that exported uranium and its derivatives cannot benefit the development of nuclear weapons”. In fact, the safeguards system is flawed in many respects, and it cannot provide such assurances.
The role of mining companies overseas is often shrouded in secrecy. Residents of my country Malawi, in the warm heart of Africa, are learning first hand about Australian mining companies as four of them are currently exploring for uranium.
Senate estimates hearings in November revealed that the federal government’s plans for a nuclear dump in the Northern Territory are not running smoothly. The site evaluation is lagging six months behind schedule and, as a result, Canberra wants to conduct environmental assessment and site licensing processes concurrently.
Kim Beazleys speech to the Australian Council of Trade Union (ACTU) Congress on October 25 illustrated the limitations of the Labor Party today regardless of who ends up being its federal leader. Beazley told the delegates that he will govern in the interests of all Australians, never just for the vested interests of a few. This is the same sort of language that PM John Howard uses, but what exactly does it mean?
With the speed of global warming and the seriousness of climate chaos now firmly established in the minds of our politicians, it is urgent that they display leadership on actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The leadership so far — in that it has promoted the dirty lie of “clean coal” and the farcical view of nuclear energy as clean and green — has been ethically vacuous. The frames that the Howard government has used to drive public debate on our energy future are dangerous dead ends that will deliver huge problems to future generations.