Australian News

GLW Issue 1104

Hundreds of Afghans attended a candlelight vigil on the evening of July 27 to commemorate the horrific attack on protestors the previous weekend in Kabul, which left 80 civilians dead and 230 wounded.
The first round of the campaign to Save Sydney College of the Arts (SCA) has been won by students and staff. Sydney University's Vice Chancellor Michael Spence sent an email to all SCA students on July 28 saying their plan to close the Rozelle campus and merge it with University of NSW was over.
Mass meetings of members of the United Firefighters Union (UFU) on July 26 voted to endorse in principle two proposed enterprise agreements negotiated with the Victorian state government. One agreement covers workers employed by the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB), while the other covers the Country Fire Authority (CFA). The two agreements provide for pay rises and cover a wide range of other issues including rostering, staffing levels and occupational health and safety.
National Union of Workers (NUW) members at Polar Fresh, Coles' cold storage warehouse in Truganina, in Melbourne's west, have voted for a new workplace agreement after striking for three days.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has bowed to objections by the Coalition’s right wing and declined to support former Labor prime minister Kevin Rudd for the role of Secretary-General of the United Nations. Turnbull said he made a “considered judgement” to not back Rudd because he was not suited to the role. Turnbull’s nomination is a necessary prerequisite for the bid, so his verdict essentially ends Rudd’s campaign.
The Queensland government will introduce a container deposit scheme from 2018, which will offer 10 cents for bottles and cans returned to a collection depot or placed in a reverse vending machine. Environment Minister Steven Miles said Queensland had one of the lowest recycling rates in the country. A recent NewsPoll showed 86% of Queenslanders wanted a container deposit scheme. Miles said Queensland was in talks with New South Wales to set up a single Container Deposit Administrator to cover both states.
Lock the Gate has reported that a joint Central and Northern Land Council meeting in Tennant Creek on July 27, which was called to discuss a proposed gas pipeline across Aboriginal land, has ended in a walk out by Traditional Owners. The Traditional Owners of the Wakaya Land Trust, whose land has been targeted for the proposed new gas pipeline between Tennant Creek and Mt Isa, oppose the pipeline. They are concerned about the rushed consultation process for the access route for Jemena’s Northern Gas Pipeline and the pipeline’s reliance on fracked gas.
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairperson Rod Sims said selling public assets has created unregulated monopolies that hurt productivity and damaged the economy. Speaking at the Melbourne Economic Forum on July 26, Sims said the sale of ports and electricity infrastructure and the opening of vocational education to private companies had caused the public to lose faith in privatisation and deregulation. Sims said: "I've been a very strong advocate of privatisation for probably 30 years; I believe it enhances economic efficiency.
Advocacy group Doctors for Refugees has launched a High Court challenge to the controversial Border Force Act that prevents them from speaking out about child abuse and other threats to asylum seekers in detention centres. Lawyers for the doctors will argue that the court should declare invalid laws that threaten detention centre staff with two years' jail for disclosing information about conditions they observe behind the wire.
Human rights lawyers are opposed to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's plan to introduce laws that would allow people who have been convicted on terrorism charges to be held in prison indefinitely.
Hume Coal is about to lodge plans for a massive coalmine that, if approved, will be the first large scale coking coal mining operation in the Southern Highlands. The coal will be destined for POSCO's steel mills in South Korea. Hume Coal is fully owned by POSCO.
ABC's Four Corners released CCTV footage on July 25 of horrific abuse of youth offenders in Darwin's Don Dale Youth Detention Centre, spanning six years of consistent abuse by detention centre staff of repeat offenders as young as 11 years old. Some of the footage shows systematic abuse of youth offender Dylan Voller. Voller can be seen in solitary confinement being stripped naked and held down by staff. He can be seen beaten in front of other inmates for taking too long on the phone. Other incidents show guards trying to block cameras before beginning a round of abuse.
Brusk Aeiveri. Sydney Central Local Court, July 29. Photo: Peter Boyle.
In the dead of night on July 26, a young Sudanese man, whom we will call “Walleed”, was forcibly removed by police from a van. Video footage shows a dozen protestors shouting “We love you” and “We will not let you be forgotten” as he is dragged into Melbourne airport. Refugee activists had surrounded the van and blocked it from entering the airport for a few hours before police moved in.
The annual feminist conference, July 1 to 6, organised by the Network of Women Students of Australia (NOWSA) featured an panel of First Nations’ activists who addressed a range issues and answered questions. Kicking it off, Bridget Cama, a Wiradjuri and Fijian woman, and a previous National Union of Students and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander office bearer talked about rights, feminism and spirituality.
Following a string of noise complaints, the City of Melbourne will introduce a three-month ban on amplified busking on Swanston Street. Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said the council hoped making Swanston St from Flinders Lane to La Trobe Street a non-amplified busking zone would cut the number of noise complaints. However Melbourne busker Des Kennedy feared the situation could become more permanent and widespread. He organised a silent protest of about 60 angry buskers outside the Melbourne Town Hall, saying the ban would kill buskers’ income.
A sign posted outside a Bank of Melbourne branch in Footscray that called a rough sleeper "inconsiderate" has sparked outrage. The homeless person had been sheltering in the entrance of the bank. The sign read: "Due to an inconsiderate person using the foyer as a place to live and litter, we are having to close this part of the branch until further notice". The bank's Facebook page was inundated with customers calling the bank "out of touch" with the struggles of people experiencing disadvantage.
“Omid's name should never be forgotten,” said Stephen Langford just before he went into his second hearing in Waverley Magistrates Court. Langford was charged after he chalked “Omid” outside the electorate office of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Omid Masoumali is an asylum seeker, who died from self-immolation in Australia's notorious Nauru offshore detention camp. The case was adjourned again to August 24.
Queensland Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath announced on July 21 that the state government would introduce legislation that will ensure that vehicles with slogans that "fail to comply with determinations by the Advertising Standards Bureau" face deregistration. The move was a result of more than two years of campaigning by feminist activist group Wicked Pickets, directed at the Queensland-based campervan hire company Wicked Campers. The announcement was welcomed by Wicked Pickets, the RACQ, the Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) and the Australian Association of National Advertisers.
Sydney Central Local Court, July 28. Photo: Peter Boyle.

GLW Issue 1103

Plans to build a mosque in Buchanan in the Hunter Valley, NSW, were approved 6–4 after nearly two hours of emotional speeches at a meeting of Cessnock Council on July 20. The Newcastle Muslim Association applied to build a 390 square-metre place of worship and funeral home on 23 hectares at Buchanan, south of Maitland. But the 12 residents who spoke against the mosque said it is too big, will create traffic congestion and noise and is inappropriate in a rural area. Some also said they were concerned about the safety of their children travelling to school and feared increased crime.
The campaign to stop Sydney University closing the Sydney College of the Arts (SCA) based in beautiful Callan Park has consolidated support from staff, arts institutions, political parties and community groups.
The WestConnex tollway project continues to expand, despite widespread community objections to the consequences it will bring. These include increased traffic in the inner west of Sydney; environmental and pollution problems; forced acquisitions and destruction of heritage homes; associated increases in tolls for motorists; and the overall cost to the public — $16.8 billion and counting.
"The Waterloo Tent Embassy has made a big impact, is winning growing support every day, and has already gained government action on fixing longstanding maintenance problems at the Waterloo public housing towers," Richard Weeks, spokesperson for the Waterloo Public Housing Action Group (WPHAG), told Green Left Weekly on July 20.
The chief investigator for Coral Watch Justin Marshall who spent a week this month conducting surveys on the reefs around Lizard Island has said parts of the Great Barrier Reef are suffering from “complete ecosystem collapse”, as fish numbers plummet and surviving corals continue to bleach. He said: “The lack of fish was the most shocking thing. I was seeing a lot less than 50% of what was there [before the bleaching]. Some species I wasn’t seeing at all.”
This advertisement was booked to run in Melbourne newspaper the Herald Sun, to draw attention to the plight of 55 Carlton United Brewery workers who were unfairly sacked and offered their jobs back at 65% less pay. Being the darlings of the big end of town that it is, the Herald Sun has refused to run it. But we can all help to share it far and wide. As the dispute enters its seventh week, you can help to increase the pressure on the company.
The National Union of Workers announced on July 15 that 50 workers who were locked out of a Victorian milk processing plant by Longwarry Foods on July 5 will be able to return to work after they voted for a new agreement. Workers had been protesting outside Longwarry Foods, owned by Parmalat, one of the country's biggest milk producers, for 11 days, calling for better working conditions and to return to work.
Queensland Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath has announced plans to introduce legislation holding commercial vehicle registration holders to determinations by the Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB). This would mean the registration of any commercial vehicle with slogans deemed to be offensive or that otherwise failed to comply with the ASB's standards, such as those on Wicked Campers vans, could be cancelled.
The industrial action by Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) maintenance workers in Abbotsford has entered its seventh week. The company is refusing to back down from its decision to sack the workers and then offer to rehire them with a 65% pay cut. The dispute started on June 10 when 55 fitters, electricians and maintenance workers backed by the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) were told by management that they would be sacked, only to be then “invited” to re-apply for their job through a third-party contractor, Catalyst Recruitment.
The chances of Australia achieving its 2030 emissions reduction target have been further weakened by Australia’s poor performance on an international scorecard for energy efficiency Australia ranked 16th overall on the American Council for Energy Efficiency’s international scorecard released on July 20, which ranks the top 23 biggest energy-consuming countries on their energy efficiency across a range of areas. Australia was ranked in the bottom three countries for industry and transport.