Australian News

GLW Issue 1079

Anti-racist protesters once again easily out-numbered the racist and Islamophobic Reclaim Australia at rallies around Australia on November 22.


The biggest rally was in the outer suburb of Melton, about 35 kilometres west of Melbourne, where anti-Islam groups have been campaigning against the construction of an Islamic school and mosque.

GLW Issue 1078

The Queensland Land Court has begun hearing objections to the expansion of New Hope Coal's Acland Stage 3 coalmine in the Darling Downs, one of Australia's richest agricultural and pastoral regions.

There are 27 objectors to the mining lease applications and 35 objectors to the draft Environmental Authority.

The objectors include Oakey Coal Action Alliance, Darling Downs Environment Council, Clean Air Queensland and many local farmers concerned about the impact the coalmine expansion will have on the sustainability of their operations.


Come to the Latin America and Aboriginal Grassroots Solidarity Conference. Sharing ideas, experiences and stories of struggle against capitalism. Saturday November 28, 11am-5pm. Tenth & Gibson, 87 Gibson St, Bowden.


Join us at the Socialist Alliance New England Workshops. Reappraise socialism as our species faces its greatest collective threat in history. Saturday November 28 – Sunday November 29. Kent House, Faulkner St, Armidale. Phone Bea 0458 752 680. Email


Emergency protests were held in Sydney and Melbourne on November 14 against the Turkish government's military bombardment and siege of the Kurdish city of Silvan.

Since November 2 parts of the town of Silvan have been occupied by the Turkish military. There is a 24-hour curfew and civilians are not allowed to leave for basic necessities, to take the wounded to hospital or bury the dead. Armoured cars and helicopters have been machine gunning parts of the city.

More than 50 teachers at Yeronga State High School in Brisbane, including principal Terry Heath, held an afternoon strike on November 17 as part of their campaign to free 21-year-old Mojgan Shamsalipoor from immigration detention.

Australia's offshore oil and gas authority, National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) has rejected BP's application to drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight on the grounds that its “environment plan does not yet meet the criteria for acceptance under the environment regulations”.

NOPSEMA had earlier said BP needs a comprehensive risk assessment and a comprehensive oil pollution emergency plan.

Despite the immigration minister's attempts to block information and ban journalists from offshore detention camps, information continues to leak out.

Ali Bakhtiarvandi was held in immigration detention for four and a half years in the early 2000s before being recognised as a refugee. He is in regular telephone contact with detainees on Christmas Island.

He spoke to Green Left Weekly's Chris Peterson about the recent events on Christmas Island.

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An Aboriginal man has died five days after attempting suicide at Casaurina prison, 35 kilometres south of Perth, just two months after another Aboriginal man killed himself at the same prison.

He was found in his cell on October 28 and was taken to nearby Fiona Stanley Hospital, but died on November 2.

His is the fourth Aboriginal death provisionally put down to be suicide by hanging at the prison since 2013. The families of each of those men are still waiting for the coroner to set the date for their respective inquests.

A plan for a new national park to protect the endangered Leadbeater's possum has been dealt a blow with revelations VicForests has locked in millions of dollars of new logging contracts.

State Labor ducked a promise to create a Great Forest national park in the recent state election following pressure from the CFMEU, which had threatened to campaign against Labor on the basis that ending logging in the area would threaten jobs.

Environment groups have welcomed the passage of legislation on November 12 that restricts sea dumping and port expansion in the Great Barrier Reef heritage area as a victory for people power.

The campaign against fracking in the Northern Territory ramped up a few notches last week, with the government announcing a successful bidder in the North East Gas Interconnector project coming amid allegations of a conflict of interest for a key NT government advisor.

Around 1000 people rallied in Martin Place on November 18 to protest the Coalition state government's moves to forcibly amalgamate local councils in Sydney and throughout New South Wales.

The rally began with a black coffin to mark the “near death experience for democracy in the state”.

The rally was held on the last day the NSW government had allowed for councils to “voluntarily” agree to merge. While some councils had submitted to the amalgamation push by the deadline, the majority have refused to surrender to the government's ultimatum.

“We're all very happy and proud of our efforts in this dispute: 106 days ago we didn't have a job and now we are going back inside,” a waterfront worker at the Hutchison Port Botany community assembly told Green Left Weekly on November 19.

He was commenting on the settlement agreed between Hutchison management and the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) to bring to an end conclusion the long-running industrial battle over the jobs of 97 workers sacked by text and email on the night of August 6.

About 200 people rallied outside the NSW Supreme Court building on November 12 to demand justice for the small community of Bulga, in the upper Hunter Valley, and an end to the expansion of the Rio Tinto Warkworth coalmine that is threatening the future of their village.

GLW Issue 1077

Forty people attended a public meeting in the Melbourne suburb of Brunswick on the campaign against conscription during World War I.

Michael Hamel-Green, a draft resister during the Vietnam War who is now an emeritus professor at Victoria University, gave a talk on the history of the anti-conscription campaign, with a particular emphasis on the role of local residents.

Prime Minister Billy Hughes called two referenda on conscription for military service outside Australia, in 1916 and 1917. Both were defeated, the second by a greater margin than the first.

The rise in popularity of anti-austerity parties, responses to the global climate crisis and challenges in building alternatives to neoliberal capitalism will be explored at the Socialism for the 21st Century Conference, to be held in Sydney on May 13 to 15 next year.

Green Left Weekly is proud to co-host this conference — which will be held in our 25th year of publication.

Newcastle anti-racists are counter-mobilising again against Reclaim Australia, the anti-Muslim group, who are again attempting to establish a support base in the Hunter Region.

The far-right racists are using a proposal by Newcastle's Muslim Association to build a mosque and small funeral parlour in Buchanan, in the Hunter Valley, as a pretext to attack the Muslim Community.

Buchanan is a rural area just outside Kurri Kurri and close to the Hunter Expressway.

The Australian Education Union (AEU) Victoria has won millions of dollars back-payment for more than 40,000 Victorian teachers and principals in a landmark case decided on November 6.

The Federal Court found the Victorian government made unlawful deductions from teachers’ and principals’ salaries in contravention of the Fair Work Act, by requiring them to pay for access to the Education Department’s laptops directly out of wages.

Early childhood educators and supporters have been gathering in cities across Australia during November, calling for pay increases that reflect the professional nature of the early childhood education and care sector. United Voice, the union that represents these mostly female workers, is running the “Big Steps: Value Our Future” campaign for professional wages.

In a surprise move, the far-right group Reclaim Australia has moved its rally on November 22 from Melbourne’s CBD to Melton, which lies west of Melbourne.

Reclaim Australia is modelled on far-right groups in Europe that target mosques and the Islamic community in order to promote racism and far-right policies.

Reclaim Australia is focusing on opposing the construction of a mosque in Melton.

Reclaim Australia has been outnumbered by anti-racists at the two previous rallies it held in the Melbourne CBD. The timing and move is designed to make it harder for anti-racist

As of December last year, anyone who is not an Australian citizen who has spent 12 months or more in jail can be deported at the discretion of the immigration department.

By September, 75 New Zealanders and Pacific Islanders were being detained on Christmas Island awaiting deportation.

In this nine-month period, 406 New Zealand citizens had their visas cancelled, 95 had been deported and up to 184 were being held in detention centres.

Yet another refugee has been found dead while in the care of the Immigration Department thanks to Australia's harsh and punitive refugee policy.

Thirty-year-old Iranian Kurd, Fazel Chegeni, who first arrived in Australia in 2011, died after escaping from the detention centre, although how he came to be found dead remains unclear.

Two hundred Public Service Association (PSA) members were joined by people with disabilities, their relatives, friends and other trade unionists in a protest in Newcastle on November 4, as part of a four-hour strike against the privatisation of disability services.

The Baird government is using the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme as a cover to sack 13,000 workers in public disability services and gift state assets to private providers.

More than 600 people gathered on a farm near the small town of Breeza on November 7 and 8 to celebrate the Liverpool Plains "Harvest Festival against Shenhua” in opposition to the proposed Watermark open cut coalmine. They declared they will return to continue peaceful protest at the site if the mine goes ahead.

Waterfront workers at Hutchison Ports in Sydney and Brisbane are set for a crucial vote on a new enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA) on November 16. The vote takes place after 100 days of community assemblies at Port Botany and Port of Brisbane, following the controversial sacking by text and email of 97 workers at the two ports on August 6.

Health services are under serious attack in WA, with the Health Department asking hospitals to finalise “budget management strategies” by the end of January.

Amid claims of massive cuts to funding, hospitals in Perth are bracing for staff cuts. The Health Services Union (HSU) expects about 500 jobs to be shed at Royal Perth Hospital and similar numbers at Fiona Stanley Hospital. The union says its previous predictions of about 1000 job cuts “across the board” now appeared “conservative” and job uncertainty is causing widespread stress.

More than 100 people attended a heated community meeting in Ceduna, South Australia, on November 7, to hear Assistant Minister for Social Services Alan Tudge discuss the Healthy Welfare Card.

Over 100 doctors, nurses and other health professionals gathered outside the Princess Margaret Hospital in Perth on November 13 to support the nationwide mobilisations of health workers against detention of children.

Grandmothers Against Removals (GMAR) attended the launch of a “guiding principles document” in Tamworth on November 9 to be implemented by Tamworth Family and Community Services (FACS).

The document was negotiated with GMAR after a series of protests last year that targeted the Tamworth FACS office, which had removed an unprecedented number of Aboriginal children from their families. The campaign forced FACS to admit that the situation needed to change.