Analysis

Nala Mansell-McKenna is a well-known Aboriginal political activist in Tasmania, who was recently elected state secretary of the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre (TAC). “We like to call the secretary the role that’s our main political spokesperson, but when you work in the same building as Michael Mansell you are usually the second main political spokesperson,” she laughed, referring to the way that Michael (her father) is frequently contacted for comment on political issues.
With climate change, humanity basically doesn’t get any second chances. For a recognisable climate to be preserved, net global greenhouse gas emissions need to peak within the next decade, then decline to zero by around mid-century. It’s a tight call, so we have to get things right first time. If we delay, the laws of physics will not be kind.
Toro Energy has submitted an application to build Western Australia’s first uranium mine, at Wiluna, the start of WA’s iconic Canning Stock Route. The debate over the proposed mine has far-reaching ramifications. The construction of WA’s first uranium mine is likely to be the “thin edge of the wedge”, whereas a strong show of public opposition can significantly increase the likelihood of keeping WA uranium-free. That, in turn, is important in the context of the national debate over uranium mining.
A huge crowd of about 650 people attended a memorial service at the Elder Hall, University of Adelaide on September 9 to farewell Elliott Johnston, the only communist to become a judge in Australia. He died on 25 August, aged 93. Those paying tribute included representatives from the legal profession, trade unions, the Aboriginal community, the original Communist Party of Australia (CPA) and his son Stewart.
Australia’s ability to remain a signatory to the UN refugee convention would be put in serious doubt if the government succeeded in weakening protection for refugees in the migration act, prominent human rights lawyer Julian Burnside QC told Green Left Weekly. “The judgement was clear that the arrangement that had been made with Malaysia has been made legally invalid,” he said. “The question is whether the government thinks having signed the convention limits the range within they can change the act.
Now that the Labor government has almost entirely reneged on its 2007 election promise to end Australia’s sickening abuse of refugees, the two big parties are united on an issue they have so vehemently pretended to disagree. Unhappy with the High Court’s interpretation of the law — that Australia must uphold fundamental human rights when making policies on refugees, and that deporting them to a country that does not have such rights violates the law — the Labor government is cajoling the opposition to agree to water down Australia’s refugee protections.
Some years ago I and many others, fought and demonstrated against the toxic verbal bile that was mouthed then by what was seen by most Australians to be a fringe party. Their disgusting rantings only proved them to be an ultra-racist party. Some politicians agreed with them, some used them politically whilst the rest whimpered and whispered in case they lost votes.
Jeff McMullen, a prominent journalist and Aboriginal rights advocate, gave the address below at the Sydney launch of Walk With Us: Aboriginal Elders Call Out to Australian People to Walk with them in their Quest for Justice at Gleebooks, Sydney, on September 1. * * * The welcome to country from Aunty Millie [Ingram] and the elders’ statement goes to the heart of the issue: that we walk in an Aboriginal land.
A decade ago most experts would have thought it impossible. But several teams of scientists say the Arctic ice cap had shrunk to its smallest recorded extent, volume and area. Environmental physicists from the University of Bremen said on September 9 the Arctic ice cap extent was “small as never before”.
A motion condemning anti-apartheid protests targeting the Max Brenner chain of chocolate and coffee shops was passed by the Australian Senate on September 13. The motion was moved by Queensland Nationals Senator Ron Boswell and supported by all parties except for the Greens. Another motion, from Liberal Senator Eric Abetz, “condemning the Australian Greens and their leader for failing to condemn the vile boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel” was defeated.
The Refugee Action Collective (Victoria) released the statement below on September 13. * * * The Refugee Action Collective condemns Labor’s plan to try and change the Migration Act to make the Malaysian “solution” lawful in the wake of the High Court victory. We reiterate our demand to end all offshore processing. Asylum seekers should be processed on the mainland, in the community.
The “Say No to Government’s Income Management: Not in Bankstown, Not Anywhere” campaign coalition released the petition below in August. To sign the petition, visit www.sayno2gim.info. * * * To the honourable president and members of the senate in parliament assembled: We the undersigned are opposed to the federal government’s income management system, which quarantines between 50% to 70% of Centrelink payments so they can only be used to buy “priority items” at government-approved stores.