Australia

Protesters took to the streets of Sydney on September 12 against Australia’s prosecution of Witness K and his lawyer Bernard Collaery for allegedly whistleblowing on Australia’s bugging of Timor-Leste government offices.

The WestConnex privatisation “involves arguably the biggest misuse of public funds for corporate gain in Australian history”, Sydney University transport analyst Chris Standen wrote on September 3.

Standen was commenting on the August 31 announcement by the New South Wales Coalition government that it was selling off 51% of the controversial WestConnex tollway complex to a Transurban-led consortium for $9.3 billion.

“Crystalline silica is the new asbestos, but Australians are simply not aware of the dangers involved in working with such a common substance as compressed stone,” Victorian Trades Hall Council (VTHC) secretary Luke Hilikari said at the release of the new silica dust standard in late August.

There has been a significant rise in the number of workers suffering silicosis and lung cancers caused by inhaling silica particles while manufacturing, cutting and installing compressed stone benchtops.

Banned from entering Australia by the federal government, former United States intelligence analyst turned whistleblower Chelsea Manning instead delivered her message of hope to audiences in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane via video link.

The Australian immigration department denied Manning a visa on the basis of failing “the character test”, citing as grounds the time she spent in jail for leaking documents that exposed US war crimes in Iraq.

Environment consultancy and advocacy group Coast and Country has released damning evidence that suggests Adani acted illegally by undertaking pre-emptive work at its proposed mine site in Queensland’s Galilee Basin. 

An indefinite strike by 1600 workers at Alcoa in Western Australia is set to enter its second month, after a company offer was voted down by 80% of the workforce. Alcoa’s proposed enterprise agreement would mean workers would lose job security and, in some cases, up to 50% of their pay.

New Prime Minister Scott Morrison unsurprisingly revealed on September 4 that he is considering deregistering the Construction Forestry Maritime Mining and Energy Union (CFMMEU).

The reason he gave was not that the union had committed any industrial “crime”. Instead it was a Father’s Day tweet by Victorian CFMMEU state secretary John Setka.

Sources have informed Green Left Weekly that the new CEO of Barwon Health in Victoria is on the warpath and the target appears to be patient services.

Barwon Health incorporates University Hospital Geelong, Geelong’s only public hospital and the only tertiary-level hospital outside of Metropolitan Melbourne. The hospital’s catchment area extends from Werribee to the South Australian border, encompassing more than 350,000 Victorians and up to 500,000 for certain specialised treatments.

The toxic chemical blaze which started in a West Footscray factory, in Melbourne's west, on August 30, and took firefighters 17 hours to bring under control, has provoked such widespread anger that the state government has been forced to intervene.

Newcastle youth Ceder locked on to the side of a coal train in Newcastle, halting all supply heading into the world's largest coal port on September 7. Ceder was later cut loose and taken into police custody. This was the third protest action this week organised by Frontline Action on Coal against Australia’s coal industry and its contribution to global climate change.

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