Australian News

Three “Quaker Grannies for Peace” set up breakfast on the road to Pine Gap on September 26 and invited military personnel arriving for work at the base to sit down with them.

The action is one of a series of events marking the 50th anniversary of the secret US military facility at Pine Gap, by groups advocating for the base’s closure.

At 5pm on September 23 anti-racism activist Jafri was attacked, pepper sprayed and detained without provocation by Victoria police while holding up his "Stop Racism Now" sign — as he has done for years at Flinders St Station. During the arrest Jafri was not given access to legal or medical support. 

In a show of support, hundreds of protesters gathered at the Flinders St intersection on September 24, demanding accountability from Victoria Police and protesting police violence.

Former Brisbane high school student and Iranian refugee Mojgan Shamsalipoor was released from detention on a temporary three-month bridging visa on September 21.

Mojgan came to Australia aged 18 in 2012 from Iran, fleeing sexual assault and an arranged marriage to a 60-year-old man.

She was released from Christmas Island into community detention on a temporary visa while her refugee claim was being assessed. She went to high school and later met and married her husband.

“Tell him to write a will” was the reaction of the Australian government when doctors requested an emergency transfer to an Australian hospital for a seriously ill Afghan asylum seeker.

He has written a will, requesting that if he dies, the Australian government care for his children and provide them with an education.

Doctors have expressed extreme concern for “Abdullah”, a single father of two teenagers trapped on Nauru with an urgent heart condition requiring airlift to Australia. His case has not been classed as an emergency. 

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Western Sydney University (WSU) student elections are just around the corner and Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance members Philip Craig, Omar Ismaeel, and Ian Escandor have put their hands up as Bankstown campus student representatives and student editors for the student newspaper W’SUP.

Police dragged local residents out of a Sydney Park protest camp at 3am on September 20 so WestConnex contractors working for the private Sydney Motorway Corporation (SMC) could set up a construction site and begin work destroying thousands of trees in the park.

WestCONnex Action Group spokesperson Colin Hesse said: “The police had assured us numerous times that we were camping lawfully on public land, therefore they wouldn’t be taking any action to remove us from the site.

Some of Australia’s most respected investigative journalists have signed an open letter to the federal government urging it not to privatise the corporate registry held by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). They have urged the government to make access to the database free, as it is in New Zealand and Britain.

More than two-thirds of voters oppose the federal government’s decision to give public funding to the “Yes” and “No” campaigns in a plebiscite on equal marriage, according to an Essential poll published on September 20.

Only 22% approved the government’s decision, while 68% disapproved.

More than 60% said they would vote yes to the question “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?” and 30% said they would vote no.

The NSW Land and Environment Court found government-appointed delegates who recommended mergers for Mosman and North Sydney with Willoughby City Council and Burwood and Canada Bay with Strathfield Council had not followed the Local Government Act. The court found there was "no proper statutory foundation" for either of the proposed amalgamations, given the flaws in the delegates’ recommendations, and set the mergers aside.

About 20 National Gallery of Australia staff were told on Friday September 16 their jobs would not exist on Monday.

The gallery's deputy director, Kirsten Paisley, told staff they would be transferred to other areas of the gallery or offered voluntary redundancies.

The job cuts represent about 8% of the gallery workforce, including some senior positions. 

Hobart City Council has joined eight other Australian councils in pledging to end its involvement with any company profiting from abusive practices towards people seeking asylum.

The pledge states that the council will no longer do business with companies, such as Wilson Security and Ferrovial’s Broadspectrum, that take up contracts in Australia’s immigration detention camps.

Connect Settlement Services, the company that provides welfare services for refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru, has told the federal government it will not re-apply when its contract lapses in December.

The company, which has about 100 staff on the island, provides health and education services and helps refugees look for work in the Nauru community.

Both professional and volunteer firefighters have spoken against the federal government's proposed new law aimed at blocking the implementation of the Victorian Country Fire Authority (CFA) enterprise agreement.

More than 1000 people marched through Circular Quay to The Rocks on September 17 to protest plans by the NSW state government to demolish the iconic Sirius public housing building. The march coincided with the declaration of a Green Ban by the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union (CFMEU).

CFMEU state secretary Brad Parker announced that the union was "officially imposing an interim Green Ban here today" on the site. The ban on any redevelopment of the Sirius means no unionised workforce will be allowed on the site, and pickets will be introduced when any work commences.

Several hundred members of the NSW Public Service Association (PSA), the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association (NSWNMA), and other unions rallied outside state parliament on September 21 to “Stop the Secret Sell-Off” of five NSW public hospitals and other services by the Mike Baird state government. The rally followed the revelation on September 15 of plans by the Coalition government to call for private tenders to build and run upgraded regional hospitals at Maitland, Wyong, Goulburn and Shellharbour, and carry out hospital improvements at Bowral.

One-tenth of the Earth's wilderness has disappeared since the 1990s, according to a new study published in the journal Current Biology.

Over the past 20 years, wilderness areas equal to half the size of Australia have been lost. Researchers say the loss highlights the need for global agreements to protect remaining areas unaffected by human activities.

Community and union supporters joined sacked Carleton & United Breweries (CUB) workers and "Scabby the Rat" for a lunchtime protest outside Wallan Engineering in Campbellfield, in Melbourne's northern suburbs on September 15.

Wallan has been supplying most of the scabs to replace the CUB maintenance workforce, who were sacked, only to be offered the same work with a 65% wage cut, under an external labour hire company enterprise bargaining agreement.

Campaigners against the inappropriate Absoe development in Brisbane's West End scored a small but important victory on September 14. The state government “called in” the approval that had previously been granted by the Brisbane City Council. This means the state government will reassess the development approval.

This decision comes on the back of a concerted community campaign supported by Greens councillor Jonathan Sri.

The campaign to Save Sydney College of the Arts (SCA) has forced the Dean of the College to resign. It was a major demand of the fight to retain Sydney University’s unique, studio-based arts college in the heart of Callan Park — the jewel of Sydney's inner west.

Colin Rhodes announced his resignation on September 13. He will be replaced by SCA teacher Margaret Harris. 

The announcement came as the student occupation of SCA's administration building entered its third week — the longest occupation against management dictates, in USYD history. 

Conservationists who gathered outside the Land and Environment Court on September 13 were extremely disappointed by the court decision to allow the continued discharge of polluted mine water into Sydney's drinking water supplies. They chanted "Wild rivers, not waste water" and "Clean water, not coal water" after the ruling.

Colong Foundation for Wilderness Director Keith Muir said: "4nature has failed to overturn the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) decision that allows Centennial Coal to discharge polluted water from the Springvale mine into the Coxs River.

On the 43rd anniversary of the coup that ousted the elected government of President Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973, a forum “Crisis in Venezuela: An Eyewitness Report” drew parallels with the current situation in Venezuela. 

The forum was hosted by the Australia Venezuela Solidarity Network (AVSN) Brisbane and Australian Solidarity with Latin America (ASLA).

Members of the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) across the country walked off the job for 24 hours on September 9 in protest at the federal government's refusal to make reasonable offers on pay and conditions in agency bargaining throughout the federal public service.

The strike involves staff in key agencies, including Human Services, Medicare, Centrelink, Child Support, the Tax Office, Defence, the Bureau of Meteorology, Agriculture and Water Resources and Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Aboriginal candidate Yingiya Mark Guyula has won an upset in the seat of Nhulunbuy, toppling sitting member and deputy-chief-minister-to-be Lynne Walker by only eight votes after preferences and recounts on September 9.

Guyula delivered the NT Labor Party its only defeat in the August 28 election — it now holds a whopping 18 seats in the 25-seat parliament. The seat was previously seen a safe one for the popular Walker.

In a reaction to the NSW government banning greyhound racing, Racing NSW announced on September 13 that it will introduce a 1% levy on the $204 million it pays in prize money to look after horse welfare.

Racing NSW will form a new department, including vets and staff to retrain racehorses and place them within the horse community beyond their time on the track.

Its role will be to establish partnerships with riding schools, pony clubs and other equestrian organisations to promote re-homing of thoroughbreds.

The Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) announced on September 13 plans to close its permanent research station on the sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island, which has been operating since 1948, and instead use a network of field huts to be used by seasonal staff.

The AAD said an independent engineering investigation had concluded there were increasing occupational health and safety risks, environmental contamination and risks from ocean inundation at the ageing base unless it underwent a major upgrade.

Thousands turned out to SlutWalk in Melborune on September 3, an annual event against against victim blaming, slut-shaming and rape culture happening all over the world. Here are photos of the Melborune protest by Alison Eldridge. You can find more of her photos here.

 

 

 

About 300 Aboriginal people have joined a class action filed in the Federal Court on September 12 to recover wages they say were stolen by the Queensland government more than half a century ago.

The claim is for unpaid wages held in government trust accounts under Queensland’s Aboriginal Protection and Preservation Act 1939, which allowed the government to control the earnings of Aboriginal people until 1972. Much of the money was lost or stolen.

Activists gathered in Melboune on September 10 to protest the racist mureder of  Elijah Doughty, a young boy in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia and the decison to charge the perpetratour with manslaugher instead of murder. Read more about it here.

 

Here are photos of the Melbourne protest by Chelsea Dennison

 

On September 8 about 100 childcare workers stopped work across Melbourne to call for equal pay and recognition for their work.

A number of childcare centres, including Dawson St Child Care Co-operative, Monash Community Family Co-operative, Monash Children’s Centre, Monash Caulfied Childcare Centre and East Brunswick Kindergarten and Childcare Centre, closed at 3pm, affecting about 500 children.

An Australian lawyer who lodged a submission to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2014 calling for an investigation of Australian detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island, told a Refugee Action Collective (RAC) forum in Melbourne on September 5 that the release of the Nauru files has improved the chances of action being taken.

Anti-deportation activists were unable to stop the deportation of Tamil refugee Raj Kumar (not his real name) on August 31.

At short notice, refugee rights activists and members of the Tamil community gathered outside Villawood Detention Centre in Sydney to protest the deportation. An application for an interim ban on the deportation was filed but not heard in time to prevent the deportation.

In March, the Victorian Country Fire Authority (CFA) received a secret report from anti-union law firm Seyfarth Shaw Australia giving advice on how to attack the United Firefighters Union (UFU).

According to a Fairfax Media article summarising the leaked report, it recommended hiring firefighters on "individual and/or non-union contracts". It also recommended reducing union officials' right of entry into CFA workplaces.

Thousands of protesters converged on central Melbourne on September 7, marching through the CBD and blocking traffic at key intersections to support sacked brewery workers.

In the latest escalation of the dispute, unions are demanding the AFL pressure Carlton & United Breweries, one of its major sponsors, to meet the workers and to re-engage them immediately at full wages and conditions, or "face a CUB beer-free footy finals season".

Conservationists have welcomed the announcement that the Western Australian Environment Protection Authority's assessment of a proposed coal mine in the Kimberley has been terminated.

The mine, called, ironically, "Duchess Paradise", would have been the first coalmine in the Kimberley/Canning Basin region. Had it been approved it would quickly have been followed by many more coalmine proposals.

After a two-year campaign by students and staff, the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Vice Chancellor Peter Coaldrake has committed to divest the university’s $300 million endowment fund of its shares in coal, oil and gas companies.

The move, announced on September 2, means QUT has joined three other Australian universities — Australian National University, La Trobe University and the University of Sydney — in a global divestment movement to withdraw support from industries fueling climate change.

"We are facing severe economic and political destabilisation in Venezuela. The leaders of the right-wing opposition have been trying to create fear in the country for many weeks now," Eulalia Reyes, a Venezuelan activist in Australia, told a Sydney forum on September 3.

She was in Venezuela during the violent opposition protests in 2014, and more recently from October 2015 to June 2016. She presented an eyewitness account of what is really going on in Venezuela today.

The Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) has scored a victory against the privatisation agenda of the state Coalition government after it abandoned plans to privatise the NSW Public Works Heritage Services, UnionsNSW announced on September 2.

About 40 stonemasons, scaffolders and roofers have been maintaining some of Sydney’s oldest buildings for more than 20 years, but in June last year Finance Minister Dominic Perrottet announced their jobs would be outsourced.

National Threatened Species Day on September 7 is held each year to commemorate the day the last Tasmanian Tiger died in captivity in a Hobart zoo in 1936.

Environment groups Goongerah Environment Centre (GECO), Wildlife of the Central Highlands and Fauna and Flora Research Collective decided to commemorate the day this year by presenting an invoice for $2 million to the state government.

The groups called on the state government to better protect species such as the threatened Greater Glider and Victoria’s animal emblem, the critically endangered Leadbeater’s possum.

Archaeologists working on the Dampier archipelago off Australia’s north-west coast have found evidence of stone houses dating back 9000 years — to the end of the last ice age.

Circular stone foundations were discovered on Rosemary Island. The islands and the nearby Burrup Peninsula are known as Murujuga — a word meaning “hip bones sticking out” — in the language of the Ngarluma people.

Prison teachers at the Cessnock Correctional Centre stopped work for an hour on September 5. A similar action by staff at Long Bay Prison in Sydney took place on September 2.

They were protesting job cuts and the outsourcing of New South Wales prison education to staff without formal teaching degrees.

From February, prisoners in NSW will have most of their education delivered by staff from an external training organisation. Most of the prison teachers will be made redundant in December.

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