Australian News

GLW Issue 1083

Activists unfurl banner off eastern freeway overpass in Melbourne

Five climate guardian angels were arrested by police on February 9 while blockading the road to Santos' Leewood wastewater facility in the Pilliga forest near Narrabri in north-west New South Wales.

Join the February 20 #TheseCutsAreKillingUs rallies against the Turnbull government's cuts to Medicare.

All rallies on Saturday 20 February

Adelaide
1pm Parliament House North Terrace
www.facebook.com/events/497916927055345

Brisbane
1pm Queens Park cnr Elizabeth & George Sts, Brisbane

Love Makes a Way, a national movement of Christians concerned about refugee rights, protested outside Immigration Minister Peter Dutton's electorate office on February 10.

The protest is a part of some 20 events to take place around the country over the next two weeks.

Gail Hickey at the site where her son TJ died,

TJ Hickey was a young Aboriginal man, just 17 years old. On February 14, 2004, TJ died as a consequence of a Redfern police pursuit.

Thousands of people came out around Australia in cities and regional centres as part of the growing #letthemstay movement, aimed at preventing the removal of 267 asylum seekers, including 37 babies, from the Australian mainland to detention in Nauru.

Protests were held in Adelaide, Canberra, Darwin, Melbourne, Hobart, Sydney and Perth on February 8, as artists, writers, state and territory leaders and ordinary citizens voiced their support for the asylum seekers, most of whom were detained in Nauru and have been flown to Australia for medical treatment.

Sydney


Photo by Marziya Mohammedali

The High Court ruled on February 3 that the federal government has the power to send 267 refugees and asylum seekers to Nauru, with only 72 hours' notice. But a #LetThemStay groundswell across the country is demanding the refugees be allowed to stay -- with snap protests across the country.

The 267 people includes 37 babies — many of whom were born in Australia — and at least 15 women who were allegedly sexually assaulted on Nauru.

A television advertisement featuring a barista paying his way through university, a mother working at a checkout who is missing her children's sporting activities and an emergency department nurse whose weekend work makes up one-third of her salary, is part of the Save Our Weekend campaign authorised by the ACTU.

After two decades of failing to secure a nuclear waste dump site in South Australia and the Northern Territory through a top down approach, early last year the federal government initiated a voluntary nomination process calling on landholders to put forward their land for assessment.

A shortlist of six was released after 28 sites were nominated around Australia: Hill End in NSW; Omanama in Queensland; Hale in the Northern Territory; Cortlinye and Pinkawillinie in the Kimba region of South Australia; and Barndioota station in the Flinders Ranges, South Australia.

The Queensland government gave Indian mining company Adani environmental approval to build Australia's largest coalmine in the Galilee Basin on February 3.

Tony Fontes of the Environment Council of Central Queensland said: “This project has no money, no social license, is universally hated, and has been rejected by most of the world's largest banks.

"With coal prices at an all-time low, support for protecting the Great Barrier Reef at an all-time high, the Palaszczuk government is treading a dangerous line in supporting this reef-wrecking coal project.”

Some of Australia's most important climate research institutions will be gutted as 350 jobs are cut at the CSIRO. Up to 110 positions in the Oceans and Atmosphere division will go, with a similar reduction in the Land and Water division. Data and Manufacturing divisions will also be hit.

“Coal seam gas in New South Wales is dead in the water”, Julie Lyford, spokesperson for Groundswell Gloucester, said after AGL announced on February 4 it was quitting Gloucester.

AGL had planned to drill at 300 sites in a geologically complex and rich farming region north-west of Newcastle. It had been facing fierce opposition for conducting tests in the Gloucester region under PEL 285.

The decision has been welcomed by anti-coal seam gas (CSG) campaigners across NSW. AGL's licence was due for renewal on February 22.

This week marks 25 years since Green Left Weekly was launched.

When it was first published on February 18, 1991, Bob Hawke was prime minister, the worst drought in Australia's recorded history was beginning and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had just released its First Assessment Report, which concluded that “immediate reductions in emissions from human activities of over 60% [were needed] to stabilise their concentrations at today's levels”.

"The NSW Coalition government's proposed sell-off of public housing to property developers is a huge hand-out to big business from the public purse," Peter Boyle, Socialist Alliance candidate for the seat of Sydney in the upcoming federal election, said on February 3.

"And the planned 'redevelopments' of public housing will make the housing crisis for workers and poor people even worse than now."

Protesters opposing a coal seam gas (CSG) wastewater plant in northern NSW say they will not let police use of pepper spray deter them from their fight against Santos' plans to drill up to 850 CSG wells in the Pilliga.

The Pilliga forest is a vital recharge area for the Great Artesian Basin, which forms the lifeblood of eastern Australia.

As part of its CSG plans, Santos is building a wastewater treatment works at Leewood, which was approved without an environmental impact statement and without public consultation.

The high court just threw out a challenge by the Human Rights Law Centre alleging the government had unlawfully detained people on Nauru, before they were brought to Australia temporarily for medical reasons.

Now the government is free to send 267 vulnerable people back to Nauru.

Here are 5 reasons to come and join protests on Thursday 4 February calling for the government to #LetThemStay and not send them to Nauru.

1. Babies

GLW Issue 1082

Residents attending a public inquiry on February 2 at Wests Ashfield into the New South Wales government's plan to amalgamate Ashfield, Leichhardt and Marrickville Councils were of one mind: they opposed it.

About 50 people spoke in the afternoon session, and only 5, including Ashfield Liberal councillor Julie Passas and a self-described businessman, supported the plan.

Similar meetings were organised at Sandringham, Bankstown, Manly, North Sydney, Parramatta, Mona Vale, Deniliquin and Shellharbour and more will take place over the next fortnight.

Former Greens leader Bob Brown has been arrested while protesting against logging in Tasmania's Lapoinya Forest. He is the third person to be charged under the Tasmanian government's pro-forestry legislation, the Workplaces (Protection from Protesters) Act 2014.

Brown was arrested in an area of state forest marked for logging at Lapoinya in north-western Tasmania on January 25. The area is designated forestry land and has been selectively logged in the past. Last year Forestry Tasmania announced a plan to clearfell 49 hectares of the forest.

Grandmothers Against Removals (GMAR) Sydney and supporters protested outside the offices of the NSW Department of Families and Community Services in Strawberry Hills on January 29 to demand the immediate return of Aboriginal children forcibly removed from a Queensland family and placed in out-of-home care in Sydney.

Kukulangi Grandmother Aunty Karen Fusi from the Brisbane Sovereign Grannies Group addressed the crowd of around 60 about the case. Other speakers included Aunty Jenny Munro, Aunty Val Colbung from WA, Greens NSW MP David Shoebridge and STICS activist Paddy Gibson.

China Shenhua Energy reported an 18% decline in coal sales in 2015. Shenhua’s internal coal production was down 8.4% — with a further 10% drop in sales from third-party providers.

Its coal imports fell to almost nothing, reflecting an overall trend in which China’s total coal imports were down 30%.

Shenhua still says it is committed to the $1 billion Watermark coal project in the Liverpool Plains of New South Wales, but the project now appears to lack financial backers.

In a move designed to restrict examination and comment, the NSW government released the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the New M5 in late November. The EIS was on public exhibition until January 29 — virtually the whole summer holiday period.

The New M5 is the second major tunnel section of WestConnex and will run between the existing M5 East at Kingsgrove and the new interchange at St Peters.

A former member of Bahrain's parliament, Jassim Hussain, who resigned in protest at the repression of the 2011 reform movement, spoke about the current situation in Bahrain and the broader Gulf region on January 24.

Hussain said the falling price of oil has caused economic problems for the Gulf States. They have also spent a lot of money on the wars in Yemen and Syria.

As a result, there have been cuts to government subsidies for meat, fuel and electricity, as well as cuts to unemployment and retirement benefits.

A union picket line has been established against Dulux in Rocklea. The workers are fighting for two key elements: the payment of sick leave and for redundancy payouts to be uncapped.

Currently redundancy payments are capped at 20 years, reducing the payout for workers who have worked for Dulux for upwards of 35 years. The issue arose when, in March last year, 60 redundancies were announced. This was later reduced to 40.

About 300 unionists rallied on January 27 outside the Melbourne Liberal Party headquarters to demand an investigation into Alcoa's actions after the American-based company forcibly replaced Australian seafarers with foreign workers. A simultaneous rally in Sydney attracted about 100 workers.

Yale’s environmental performance index has placed Australia so low in its rankings that only Saudi Arabia has a worse ranking among wealthy nations.

The index ranks countries’ performance in protecting human health and ecosystems, and looks at nine areas including air quality, climate and energy, forests and water resources.

Australia was ranked 150th out of 180 countries for its carbon emissions for electricity generation. Overall in the climate and energy category, Australia was ranked 82nd.

Perceptions of corruption in the Australian government and public sector increased in 2015 for the fourth year running.

Transparency International’s annual index ranks Australia 13 globally for perceived openness, the country’s equal lowest ranking in the 20-year history of the index.

A federal anti-corruption agency, strong anti-foreign bribery laws and political donations reform were required to help arrest the slide, the anti-corruption group said.

Perceptions of corruption in the Australian government and public sector increased in 2015 for the fourth year running.

CANBERRA

Come to a rally: Stop continuing Stolen Generations. More Aboriginal kids are being taken from their families than ever before. Called by Grandmothers Against Removals. Thursday February 11 at 12pm. Aboriginal Tent Embassy, Parliament House.

MELBOURNE

Queensland Senator Glenn Lazarus says he hopes a Senate inquiry into unconventional gas mining will restart a push for farmer land rights, which has waned in the months since the death of activist George Bender.

Lazarus has dubbed it the “Bender inquiry”, in honour of the farmer whose suicide last October after a 10-year battle with gas companies put the issue on the national agenda.

Information on how to make a submission or where to attend a public hearing can be found here.

GLW Issue

Contractors carrying out construction works for the controversial multi-billion dollar Westconnex tollway, even before official planning approval has been given, called police on February 2 after some local residents occupied their planned drilling site in the middle of Tempe Reserve.

No arrests were made during the peaceful protest, which stopped the contractors starting work after residents set up a picnic in the public space where they planned to conduct drilling.

One resident also climbed the drill rig and occupied it for several hours to stop work going ahead.

Thousands of people turned out around the country as part of #LetThemStay rallies in opposition to the governments plans to send 267 vulnerable people including babies and women who have being sexually assaulted to Nauru. After the high court ruled on Wednesday 3 February it was not illegal for the government to detain people on Nauru.

Read 5 reasons to say #LetThemStay here: https://www.greenleft.org.au/node/60991

Sydney

Photos by: Zebedee Parkes