Australian News

GLW Issue 1054

A 23 year-old Iranian asylum seeker has been savagely attacked on Nauru.

The young woman had been on day-release from the detention centre on May 16, visiting refugees in the community. She was expected back at 5pm so at 4.30pm she left the house she was visiting to catch the bus back to the detention centre.

She never arrived.

At about 8pm Nauruan police were seen wrapping the woman in a blanket and trying to place her in a police car. She had been found naked, distressed and disoriented.

A Friday night march through Sydney city streets marked the 67th anniversary of Al Nakba, “the catastrophe”, the beginning of the violent dispossession of the Palestinian people.

Community and Public Service Union (CPSU) members at the Bureau of Meteorology and Agriculture Department, including Quarantine and Meat Inspectors, are the latest in a growing number of public servants taking industrial action to highlight the federal government’s attacks on workers’ rights, pay and conditions.

Members held one hour stop-work meetings on May 19, part of a week of rolling stoppages across the Commonwealth public service that has already seen tens of thousands of CPSU members walk off the job in Centrelink, Medicare, Child Support and the Tax Office.

Members of Latin American solidarity organisations from various Australian cities met in Canberra on May 9 for a Gathering in Solidarity with Latin American Struggles and in Defence of Venezuela's Bolivarian Revolution. Around 40 representatives attended from Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney.

Melbourne Fair Go For Pensioners protest, May 20, 2015. Photo: Annaki Rowlands

Pensioners rallied in Melbourne on May 20 to protest against the federal government's budget. The rally was organised by the Fair Go for Pensioners Coalition.

NETHERLANDS’ SOLAR BIKE PATHS

A Dutch project to turn the nation's bike paths into energy-generating solar roadways has just cleared its first major test.

Protesters hold a banner opposing BP oil drilling in the Great Australian Bight, in St Kilda beach on May 16. Photo: Chris Peterson

About 100 people rallied at Glenelg in Adelaide to protest against plans by oil company British Petroleum to explore for oil in the Great Australian Bight.

Tasmanian Greens leader Kim Booth quits parliament

Kim Booth has announced he is stepping down as Tasmanian Greens leader and resigning from State Parliament, effective immediately. His seat will be filled on countback by another Greens candidate.

He cited family reasons and the need for renewal in the Greens as the reasons for his shock resignation.

BRISBANE

Watch a film: Roque Dalton — Let’s Shoot the Night on Saturday May 30 at 12.30pm. Hosted by Latin American Community Association. Marooka Community Centre, 40 Gainsborough St, Brisbane.

GEELONG
Come to a film: Ivory Tower on Thursday Jun 4 at 5.30pm. The film examines the recent student debt crisis through a broad spectrum of institutions and startling statistics that directly address concerns for the future of higher education. Geelong Trades Hall, 127 Myers Street. Bookings visit eventbrite.com.au. Presented by the NTEU.

I guess there were some people who thought that the leopard Tony Abbott may have changed his spots after his look-we've-changed 2015 federal budget. The polls certainly suggest this.

As William Bowie wrote in his Poll Bludger column in Crikey.com: “A flurry of post-budget opinion polls adds up to a solid increase in the Coalition’s standing, with Tony Abbott’s personal standing now rivalling his least-bad results since his short-lived post-election honeymoon.”

This is how Tony Abbott explained the new work-for-the-dole measures in the latest federal budget to the Queensland Chamber of Commerce: “That person can do up to four weeks of work experience with your business, with a private sector business, without losing unemployment benefits so it gives you a chance to have a kind of try-before-you-buy look at unemployed people.”


A student action against education cuts was held at the University of Sydney on May 20. It was organised by the National Union of Students. Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon talked about the fantastic campaign in Chile for free education and how students here should take inspiration from the mass campaign there that made it happen. Photo: Pip Hinman.

Refugee Council of Australia president Phil Glendenning spoke at a public forum in Melbourne on May 13 about the fate of refugees deported from Australia.

Glendenning is also the director of the Edmund Rice Centre, which has investigated the fate of asylum seekers deported to their homeland, or pressured to return "voluntarily".

More than 8000 Rohingyan asylum seekers are stranded in the Malacca Straits. About 200 people have already died and more are at risk from dehydration and starvation.

The stateless Rohingyans are victims of ethnic cleansing in Myanmar. Australia must immediately lift its ban on accepting UNHCR refugees from Indonesia and offer Rohingyan refugees safe passage to Australia.

The lives of the Rohingyan asylum seekers rest in the hands of regional governments of Australia, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. Every hour that passes without assistance puts more lives in danger.

GLW Issue 1053

The Refugee Council of Australia released this statement on May 8.

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The Refugee Council of Australia has met delegates of the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment to raise serious ongoing concerns regarding the lack of oversight, safety and protection for asylum seekers detained at Australia’s behest on Nauru.

On May 14 a group of 10 asylum seekers and their families began a case in the High Court challenging the legality of the government’s policy of offshore detention. The Human Rights Law Centre is running the case on behalf of the asylum seekers.

The Centre’s Director of Legal Advocacy Daniel Webb, who is part of the legal team representing the families, said the group has been temporarily returned to Australia but are facing imminent removal back to Nauru.

NSW Greens MP John Kaye has slammed the upper house inquiry, chaired by Christian Democrats leader Fred Nile, into the government's planned privatisation of the state's "poles and wires" electricity network. The public was given just seven days to make written submissions into the future of the NSW electricity grid, and will not be able to appear in person before the inquiry.

"By delivering a quick-and-nasty timetable to suit the political convenience of the [Mike] Baird government, Fred Nile has denied his inquiry any credibility," Kaye said on May 11.


Photo: NSW Education Action Network/Facebook.

Students took to the streets on May 12, budget day, to call for free education and an end to the fee deregulation bill.

More than 100 people filled Thirroul Community Centre for the launch of Women of Steel, a new book on the inspiring “Jobs For Women” campaign. The campaign saw working class, mostly migrant, women take on Australia's biggest corporation BHP, who refused to employ women at the Port Kembla steelworks.

The event was opened with a passionate rendition of Solidarity Forever from the Illawarra Union Singers.

Melbourne Resistance Centre was packed on May 9 as people gathered to hear First Nations activists and other anti-racism activists talk about fighting racism in Australia today.

The seminar began with Wendy Brabham, nationally-respected Aboriginal academic and traditional owner from the Wamba Wamba, Wergaia, Nyeri Nyeri and Dhudhuroa first nations. Brabham is the former director of the Institute of Koori Education at Deakin University. She outlined the history of colonisation as experienced by her family. Brabham’s mother was born on Ebenezer Mission.

Large numbers of heavily armed federal and Victorian police raided a house in the northern Melbourne suburb of Greenvale on May 8.

A 17-year-old male was arrested and charged with “terrorism related offences” after appearing in court on May 11.

“Balaclava-clad officers with assault rifles stood guard around a two-storey home while heavily-armoured vehicles blocked off the street,” the ABC reported on May 9.

A 14-year-old boy was questioned after raids in Sydney on the same day. The police have not said whether the raids in Melbourne and Sydney were connected.

LONG-THOUGHT EXTINCT FROG REDISCOVERED

The large brown tree frog, with its distinctive orange markings on its hind legs, has not been seen or heard in the East Gippsland forest for more than 20 years and was thought to be extinct.

But on April 12, Wildlife Unlimited’s Rena Gaborov was doing a spotlight survey for yellow-bellied gliders and greater gliders when she heard the frog’s distinctive call.

An open letter to the Australian government calling for the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) to be removed from the list of proscribed terrorist organisations is gathering support.

Initiated by the Melbourne-based Australians for Kurdistan campaign committee, the open letter has attracted some notable endorsements. The letter and endorsements can be viewed here.

BLUE MOUNTAINS

Come to a forum, Refugees: Let’s Do Better on Sunday May 24 at 2pm. Speakers: Dorothy Hoddinott, Principal Holroyd High School; Two young refugees; Lee Rhiannon, Greens Senator; Phil Glendenning, Refugee Council of Australia. Wentworth Falls School of Arts, Great Western Highway, Wentworth Falls. Entry: $15/$10 concession. Get tickets here. Email. Organised by the Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group.

MELBOURNE

Moses Havini, former leader of the Bougainville independence movement, died in Sydney on May 2 after a long battle with cancer.

Vikki John from the Bougainville Freedom Movement said: “Moses inspired so many people and will be truly missed. The love, dignity and freedom for his people on Bougainville and their right to self-determination were at the forefront of Moses' life.

People who regularly visit refugees and asylum seekers detained in the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation in Broadmeadows have reported that the rules for visiting have recently become much more restrictive.

Visitors must now give 24 hours notice. They must give the names of the specific detainees they wish to talk to, and are not allowed to talk to any others. This makes it hard for them to make contact with new arrivals in the detention centre. Requests to visit are often refused on the pretext that the visiting room will be full, whereas in fact the room is often half empty.

The Anti-Poverty Network South Australia released this statement on May 11.

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This year marks the 21st anniversary of the last time Newstart Allowance was raised in real terms.

Since the 1994 federal budget, when Newstart was raised by a mere $2.95, the level of the payment has stagnated, falling increasingly behind the rest of community, and creating widespread poverty for unemployed people.

GLW Issue 1052

The Aboriginal Provisional Government (APG) made the following media release on May 12, 2015.

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APG diplomat Pekeri Ruska (Goenpul/Yuggera) was harassed and threatened by customs officials at Brisbane international airport this afternoon after presenting only her Aboriginal passport which had been stamped on entry and exit from Honiara, Solomon Islands.

The University of Western Australia (UWA) cancelled the contract for Bjorn Lomborg’s Consensus Centre on May 8 after a "passionate emotional reaction" to the plan.

In a statement, UWA Vice Chancellor Paul Johnson said the creation of the centre had attracted "mixed reactions" from staff, students and the general public.

"The scale of the strong and passionate emotional reaction was one that the university did not predict," he said.

On May 2, following the rally in King George Square to oppose the forced closures of Indigenous Communities in WA, activists spontaneously marched into the Auditorium of City Hall and occupied it.

The Aboriginal flag was strung over the podium and we engaged in a peaceful but uncompromising sit­-in demanding the media's presence to cover our resistance to what is happening in W.A.