Australia

“Political hostages” is an apt term to describe the situation of the several hundred men on Manus Island, Greens Senator Nick McKim told a forum hosted by the Refugee Action Coalition in Sydney on April 29.

McKim gave an insight into the siege on Manus Island detention centre in October and November last year. Aziz, one of the refugee leaders on Manus Island, spoke via video, detailing the desperate situation the men are living in today.

The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) says that contracting another 1000 private call centre operators to answer calls to Centrelink will not fix the problems caused by the federal government’s damaging cuts to the agency.

Minister for Human Services Michael Keenan announced on April 23 the introduction of another 1000 low-paid and insecure jobs, on top of the 250 positions currently generating a profit for multinational company Serco.

About 500 members of the Health Services Union (HSU), United Voice, NSW Nurses and Midwives Association (NSWNMA) and other unions gathered in Hyde Park on April 19 to "Rally for Respect: Time to Care for Aged Care."

Speakers represented the various health sector unions, as well as UnionsNSW, and Labor federal and state politicians.

Malcolm Turnbull’s Coalition government has cut billions of dollars from the aged care sector. This has had an enormous impact on the lives of older Australians in care, their families and those who care for them.

For more than 20 years, locals on the NSW Central Coast have been fighting a proposed coalmine in the Dooralong and Yarramalong valleys near Wyong.

The area is an important part of the drinking water catchment for more than 300,000 people, and the proposed Wallarah 2 longwall coalmine threatens to take millions of litres of water each year out of the catchment and pollute local waterways.

 

Former staff and United Voice union members protested outside Barry cafe in Northcote’s trendy High Street shopping strip on April 23 after workers said they were sacked for asking to be paid award wages.

The staff say they were paid $18 an hour and no penalty rates for weekends or public holidays. Under the award, the minimum rate should have been $23.51 for weekday shifts and $29.30 for weekends.

Almost 100 people gathered at the Redfern Community Centre on April 21 for an exhibition and memorial to commemorate the third anniversary of the passing of Ray Jackson.

The memorial, which was organised by Jackson’s family, with the support of friends, comrades and the Indigenous Social Justice Association (ISJA) started with a very emotive smoking ceremony.

More than 100 people rallied for renewable energy outside the COAG Energy Council meeting in Melbourne on April 20.

The Yes 2 Renewables campaign called the snap rally to demand greater action on renewable energy and climate change. The rally urged state energy ministers to reject the federal government's dodgy energy policy, the National Energy Guarantee, which would end investment in renewable energy and lock in polluting coal and gas.

About 100 people attended a forum on April 23 with the theme: "Change the rules for refugees".

The forum, organised by the Refugee Action Collective (RAC), aimed to show the links between the struggles for union rights and refugee rights.

Chairperson Lucy Honan, a member of RAC and the Australian Education Union, said that unionists and refugees are under attack by the same Coalition government. She noted that many refugees are themselves workers.

A "Justice for Josh" rally organised by the Australian Unemployed Workers' Union (AUWU) was held in Sydney on April 19, as part of a national day of protest demanding action on the federal government's Work for the Dole scheme.

Speakers condemned the federal government's refusal to release a report into the death of Josh Park-Fing in 2016, and called for an end to Work for the Dole.

More than 600 activists rallied here on April 22 to condemn Chief Minister Michael Gunner’s announcement that fracking would go ahead in the NT despite his election promise of a 5-year moratorium.  

The Gunner Labor government was elected in 2016, partly on the promise to hold back on fracking which would open 51% of the NT to the controversial process of mining gas via hydraulic fracturing or “fracking”.

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