Australian News

GLW Issue 1060

Scandal has erupted in Victoria as GDF Suez, the majority owner of the Hazelwood coal-fired power station, refuses to pay an $18 million bill to the Country Fire Authority. The bill is for the firefighting effort at last year's coalmine fire that blanketed local towns with soot and smoke for 45 days.

More than 80 people braved Ballarat’s winter weather to demand an end to institutionalised discrimination against LGBTIQ couples. Ballarat’s Equal Love rally featured several speakers, including Equal Love (Ballarat) convenor Koby Bunney.

“Love is love and it always wins” he said at the end of a march from Bakery Hill to Ballarat Town Hall.

About sixty Aboriginal activists and supporters protested outside the federal government’s “Recognition” meeting at Kirribilli House on July 6.

PM Tony Abbott invited a selection of 40 Aboriginal "leaders", and opposition leader Bill Shorten, to discuss his proposal for a referendum on including a new clause in the Australian constitution to recognise prior Aboriginal occupation.

Activists have welcomed the announcement on July 6 that the NSW Coalition government has decided to buy back a coal seam gas (CSG) petroleum exploration licence from AGL that covers Sydney’s water catchment.

“It is a big win,” said Jess Moore, spokesperson for Stop CSG Illawarra. The anti-CSG group, with significant community involvement, has been campaigning for four years to protect the water catchment.

GLW Issue 1059

On July 4, hundreds of people rallied in Melbourne to "Let Greece Breathe."

Protesters chanted "OXI"; meaning "NO" to the austerity cuts imposed by the banks on Greek people.

Socialist Alliance Councillor, Sue Bolton, said "The Greek struggle is our struggle. A victory against austerity in Greece is important for the whole world."

Photos by Ali Bakhtiarvandi.

An ‪#‎Oxi‬ rally was held at Sydney Town Hall on the eve of the Greek referendum on the Troika's austerity ultimatum.

An alliance of business, welfare and environmental groups and trade unions has formed to produce a joint set of goals and principles on climate policy.

The Australian Climate Roundtable announced its formation on June 29. The group formed to try to reset the highly politicised and entrenched debate in Australia on climate change. It aims to demonstrate to politicians and the broader community that there is more that unites the business, environment, union and social groups than divides when it comes to wanting action on climate change.

The Bring Back Asha campaign continues to grow. A snap rally at Sydney Town Hall on June 30, hosted by the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, had 300 demonstrators making a sea of white balloons and placards, listening to speakers condemning the return of baby Asha (not her real name) and her parents to the immigration detention centre on Nauru.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) has called for Australia Post (AP) CEO Ahmed Fahour to be sacked over his plans for 1900 job losses from the government-owned postal service. The call follows Fahour's statement on June 26 that AP would spend up to $190 million slashing employment in the agency in response to a declining volume of letter deliveries.

AP employs 36,000 staff, with about 23,000 working in the mail service. Fahour claims the cuts follow losses in the mail delivery section totalling more than $1.5 billion in the last five years.

Unions have slammed plans to axe more than 2700 jobs from the NSW power industry this year. Publicly owned electricity network companies Ausgrid, Endeavour Energy and Essential Energy have revealed plans to cut 2749 jobs from September, offering staff just one week to consult on the proposal.

The announcement follows the recent passage of legislation by the NSW government to privatise the power "poles and wires" network. The proposed job cuts are part of preparations for the sale of long-term leases for the three public power companies.

2015’s most pressing issues in 2015

GLTV team, Anna and Andry, asked participants at the Socialist Alliance National Conference held Sydney in June what they see as the most pressing issues of the day. They captured their thoughts in this video.

Perth Freight Link: Fremantle council tells premier where to go!

Venezuela halves malnutrition

Venezuela was recognised by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on June 8 for meeting the UN millennium goal of halving malnutrition, Venezuelanalysis.com reported.

SOSBLAKAUSTRALIA held its third round of international action against Aboriginal community closures over the weekend of June 26 to 28. There were rallies in most capital cities in Australia, including Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth, as well as London and Dunedin.

Rallies in Sydney and Melbourne disrupted peak hour traffic due to rally goers marching through the city. In Sydney the march also included an Aboriginal dance troop performing at each intersection as the rally marched through the city to the Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy.

Remand prison riot over smoking ban

First Nations Liberation organised an action on June 30 in solidarity with the inmates, at the Metropolitan Assessment Prison, colloquially known as Metropolitan Aboriginal Prison because so many of the inmates are Aboriginal, following the riot that took place there in response to smoking bans due to commence on July 1.

The action included a smoking ceremony.
The ABC reported that about 300 prisoners were involved in the disturbance, which included breaching a “secure inner perimeter”.

Staff of the Immigration and Border Force agency marked the first day of their newly merged federal department on July 1 by going on strike for the second time in a week.

Two-hour stoppages and meetings took place at seaports, workplaces and international airports, including Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Darwin, Perth and Adelaide. Significant disruption of services was reported.

More than 40 social workers, doctors, nurses, teachers and humanitarian staff who have worked inside Australia’s detention centres have signed an open letter challenging the government to prosecute them for disclosing abuses at detention centres.

They have united in a show of defiance against the Border Force Act, which came into force on July 1, the day their letter was published. The Act criminalises the disclosure or recording of information about abuse occurring at detention centres.

There is standing room only at Singleton Diggers Club. People in hi-vis vests take turns with supporters of the village of Bulga giving short speeches to a panel of commissioners of the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC). At stake is the extension of a Rio Tinto coalmine.

If it gets the green light, Saddleback Ridge, which buffers Bulga from the present noise and coal dust, will go. The 110 Aboriginal sacred sites will go. The amenity of rural life for the people of Bulga-Milbrodale and their belief in justice will go.

On June 24 about 150 people attended a forum organised by the Refugee Action Collective, Labor for Refugees and the Refugee Advocacy Network on the theme “How can we get Labor to oppose offshore detention?”

Australian Council of Trade Unions president Ged Kearney told the meeting that the ACTU has recently adopted a stronger policy on refugees, based on recognition that “seeking asylum is a human right”.

Locals and participants in the Radioactive Exposure Tour gathered to say no to Alkane's rare earths mine, on July 1. The mine, at Toongi, 30 kilometers south of Dubbo, will commence operation towards the end of the year. Uranium will not be sold, but it will be dug up and stored on site in a tailings dam, along with other toxic substances.

ADELAIDE
Learn at Students of Sustainability: Nourishing our roots, an annual environment and social justice conference, on Wednesday July 8 to Sunday July 12. Flinders University. Visit studentsofsustainability.org.

CANBERRA
Come to a conference: Queer Collaborations on Tuesday July 7 to Sunday July 12. The theme for this year is “Queer at Heart”. The Australian National University, East Rd, Acton. Visit qcanu2015.com.

MELBOURNE

Website blocking legislation aimed at curbing Australian's access to online piracy was passed by the senate on June 21.

The Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Act 2015 allows copyright holders to seek a Federal Court injunction to block websites they deem to have copyright infringement as their "primary purpose". The bill passed with bipartisan support and was opposed by Senators Ricky Muir, Glenn Lazarus, David Leyonhjelm and the Greens. Greens Senator Scott Ludlum put a series of amendments to minimise the most drastic elements but these were voted down.

Under NSW government changes to TAFE called Smart and Skilled, many refugees are finding it difficult to study. While people with a permanent resident visa are allowed to study at TAFE, they are not eligible for VET-FEE HELP — the federal government loan that offers access to cover the cost of rising fees.

Emmanuel Bakenga, a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo, lives in Wollongong and works part time for Green Connect, a social enterprise that employs resettled refugees to grow vegetables, keep waste out of landfill and turn food waste into compost.


Sydney protest in solidarity with Greece, June 28. Photo by Peter Boyle

Protests are being planned in the Australian cities of Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra, Armidale and Brisbane in coming days in support of the Greek people and its elected SYRIZA-led government.

Over 100 people rallied in front of WA Parliament House on June 26, 2015 as part of the third #SOSblakaustralia "call to action" to stop forced closures of Aboriginal communities.

Speakers included Aboriginal heritage advocate Clayton Lewis and Greens MLC Robin Chapple. Bella Bropho from the Swan Valley Nyungar Community gave a Welcome to Country.

GLW Issue 1058

About 800 people rallied at Sydney Town Hall Square on June 28 as part of the third #SOSBlakAustralia global mobilisation against the threatened forced closures of Aboriginal communities in Western Australia and elsewhere. Protest actions also took place in other cities around the country, and in some cities overseas, over the same weekend.

More than a thousand people rallied in Melbourne on June 26 against the forced closures of remote Western Australian Aboriginal communities. Melbourne organiser of the protest, Meriki Onus from Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance said the Victorian community wished to stand by Aboriginal communities in other states, who were losing their communities.

Photos by Ali Bakhtiarvandi

The Aboriginal Medical Service Western Sydney released this statement on June 26.

* * *

The Aboriginal Medical Service Western Sydney (AMSWS), an Aboriginal community-controlled health service based in Mt Druitt, is being forced to shut down after the federal government decided to stop its funding from July 1.

All funds allocated to AMSWS have been used in the delivery of health services to the Aboriginal community of western Sydney.

Asylum-seekers and their supporters have been dealt a cruel blow this week thanks to the shameful, bipartisan support for offshore detention within the Australian parliament.

A High Court challenge to the legality of Australia’s offshore detention of asylum seekers has been undermined by an eleventh hour bill rushed through the House of Representatives and Senate, unamended and with ALP support, on June 24 and 25.

"The NSW Coalition government's 2015 budget has a massive 'housing sales tax' windfall from stamp duty arising from the Sydney housing bubble," Susan Price, Socialist Alliance candidate in the recent NSW state elections, said on June 24.

The government expects to reap more than $30 billion in stamp duty in the next four years, but the budget papers note that the cyclical nature of the property market means that revenue source is "inherently volatile".

Fifteen hundred people filled Canberra city centre with rainbow pride on June 21, to demand marriage equality.

The vibrant rally, organised by GetUp! and Australian Marriage Equality (AME), heard from Samantha and Hayley Wilson, Ebony and Ben Grady, Angie Shillington and Ally Howe, Yvette Berry from ACT Labor, Shane Rattenbury from ACT Greens and Ivan Hinton Teoh from Australian Marriage Equality.