Analysis

Several months after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, we’re beginning to get a sense of the likely long-term impacts. Radiation has spread across much of the northern hemisphere and parts of the southern hemisphere, including northern Australia. Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency estimates the radioactive release at 770,000 terabecquerels in the first week of the crisis. Total radiation releases will probably fall somewhere between 10-40% of those from the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. Radiation releases have not been stopped and will continue for some months.
I was 12 years old when for the first time in my life I became a citizen of a country — Australia. Before that, I was a stateless Palestinian refugee. There were two laments my parents always repeated whenever they spoke of their place of origin Palestine: if only we could have stayed and if only we could return. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in 2009 there were more than 10 million refugees around the world in need of assistance.
In a show of anger against the attacks on workers rights by NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell, 12,000 public sector workers stopped work and rallied outside NSW parliament on June 15. The protest was organised in just over a week, and several unions, including the Nurses Federation and the fire fighters took stopwork action on the day. In spite of constant rain, the rally spread out for more than a block along Macquarie Street and into Martin Place.
I was 12 years old when for the first time in my life I became a citizen of a country — Australia. Before that, I was a stateless Palestinian refugee. There were two laments my parents always repeated whenever they spoke of their place of origin Palestine: if only we could have stayed and if only we could return. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in 2009 there were more than 10 million refugees around the world in need of assistance.
Victorian premier Ted Baillieu.

For something as simple as stubbing your toe and saying “Oh, fuck” in public, the Victorian police will now be able to fine you $238.90 for swearing or using offensive language. Does this mean that an entertainer or musician can also be fined for swearing or using offensive behaviour in their act or song? The anti-swearing legislation doesn’t define what a “swear word” actually is. This gives the police extraordinary power to use these laws in discriminatory ways.

Unions Tasmania President Roz Madsen gave the speech below at a large June 16 rally outside the Tasmanian parliament — the day Tasmanian premier Lara Giddings announced a harsh new budget. * * * Not so long ago, politicians and political parties were fairly predictable. People entered politics on one side or the other, based on a set of values they held personally and then they pursued outcomes designed to fulfill those values.
On June 22, the federal government announced a six-week consulting period before creating new laws to continue the Northern Territory intervention. Prime Minister Julia Gillard “left no doubt that abolishing the intervention was not on the agenda”, said the June 23 Australian. The statement below, titled Rebuilding From the Ground Up — an Alternative to the Northern Territory Intervention, was officially launched at the Prescribed Area People’s Alliance conference in Darwin on June 21. * * * The NT intervention has been a disaster for Aboriginal communities.
The public wants meaningful action to address climate change. The 2010 annual Lowy poll found that 86% of Australians support climate action. Forty-six percent said they supported strong action and a further 40% supported gradual steps. Moreover, a 2011 poll by the 100% Renewable Energy Campaign asked 14,000 people their views on renewable energy and the government’s responsibility. It found 91% of respondents think the government should increase action to roll out renewable energy and that 86% think the government needs a plan to get to 100% renewables.
The June 10 Sydney Morning Herald said that a study released by the National Union of Students (NUS) that day indicated a “surprisingly high proportion of female university students have been sexually assaulted, stalked or sexually harassed”. The article mentioned an Australian Defence Force Academy student who, after being raped, had experienced attitudes of “just get over it” from fellow students — a culture of silence surrounds such attacks.
Feeling the heat from opposition leader Tony Abbott’s scare campaign against the government’s planned carbon price, PM Julia Gillard told ABC radio’s AM on June 24 that she “never meant to mislead anybody during the last election campaign about carbon pricing”. This was a reference to her promise — made days before the 2010 election — that a Labor government would not set up a carbon tax.
Contrary to the popular belief that Australian citizens hold absolute rights to freedom and privacy, Australia continues to evolve toward a “big brother”-like society as the government strengthens the powers of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO). With the support of the opposition, the government expanded ASIO’s powers to share information from wiretaps and computer access with other agencies. The expansion came with the Telecommunications Interception and Intelligence Services Legislation Amendment Act, passed in March.
The federal Labor government put a new law before the Senate on June 14 to set up a nuclear waste dump in the Northern Territory. The same day, opponents of the radioactive waste dump plan gathered outside Parliament House in Canberra to protest. Federal resources minister Martin Ferguson has said the government’s preferred site is Muckaty station, 100 kilometres north of Tennant Creek. The proposed bill also gives the government the go-ahead to set up dumps elsewhere in the NT.