Australia

On September 13, Micah Weekes, once a coal miner and now an anti-coal activist stopped a coal train heading into the world’s largest coal port in Newcastle.

A former scaffolder from the Central Coast, Weekes worked in the coal industry for nearly 10 years. He said he was taking action because of the coal industry’s toxic impact on people’s health.

“You don’t have to work in the industry to get sick from this. My kids are going to get sick. It’s already happening. People in my community have reoccurring respiratory illnesses, cancers and tumours.”

“Kick coal out of politics” was the key message protesters sent to the new Prime Minister from Cronulla Park on September 8.

The action in the PM's electorate involved some 500 people and was part of the global #Rise for Climate. It was one of 40 protest actions organised in all capital cities and some 30 other cities and towns across the country.

Actions focussed on clean energy where people and justice are put before profits were organised in 83 countries.

Fifty refugee supporters held a vigil on World Suicide Prevention Day, September 10, to commemorate the suicides of three refugees in the space of two weeks.

A snap protest was organised by the Committee in Solidarity with Peoples Struggles in Iran on September 12 in response to the execution of three Kurdish political prisoners in Iran: Ramin Hussein Panahi, Loghman Moradi and Zanier Morandi.

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.

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