Australian News

GLW Issue 1068

Hundreds from across NSW gathered outside AGL's HQ on September 2 to mark the 100th week of a protest first initiated by Camden residents angry that AGL is allowed to frack near their homes. AGL first started fracking in Camden, south west Sydney, in 2001.

Speakers included Jennifer Schoelpple, Anne Thompson, an original Knitting Nanna from the Northern Rivers, Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham and Julie Lyford, president of Groundswell Gloucester.

Gas company Metgasco is so determined to drill for unconventional gas in northern NSW it is prepared to make enemies of old friends — the NSW Coalition government.

On September 1, Metgasco declared it was halting talks with the Baird government and suing it for damages.

GLW Issue 1067

Well over 1000 people attended the Bersih 4.0 rally in Perth on August 29. This was more than double the number who attended Bersih 3.0 in Perth in 2012.

On August 25 the Melbourne Magistrates Court dropped terrorism charges against 18-year-old Harun Causevic, who had spent 120 days in maximum security solitary confinement for the alleged “Anzac Day terror plot”.

In April more than 200 police were deployed to arrest five Melbourne teenagers. The mainstream media unquestionably repeated police allegations about the plot, allowing politicians to talk and act as if its existence were an established reality.

A plan to swamp Melbourne’s CBD with Australian Border Force officials, police and transport officers to check the visa status of “any individual we cross paths with” was cancelled before it began following sustained criticism of the operation from politicians, unions, Melbourne city council, human rights lawyers and the people of Victoria.

The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and Hutchison Ports management agreed on August 28 to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU), which will result in all sacked workers at Port Botany and Port of Brisbane being reinstated for a further six weeks from August 31.

An emotional and highly charged stopwork meeting of hundreds of tram workers jammed into Trades Hall on August 27 to hear a report on their dispute with Yarra Trams.

Yarra Trams and Metro Rail workers had called off a planned four-hour strike on August 21 in the hope that the companies would present the Rail Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) with a better offer. The better offer never came so the tram workers struck for four hours on August 27. This was the first tram strike since 1997.

BRISBANE

Come to a rally to save penalty rates on Saturday September 5 at 11am. Capalaba Sports Club, 113 Ney Rd, Capalaba. Organised by United Voice Queensland and supported by QCU.

MELBOURNE

More than 800 workers gathered in Bicentennial Park on August 23 to protest against the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement in a rally organised by the Electrical Trades Union (ETU).

ETU National Secretary Allen Hicks told the crowd Chinese companies need invest only 15% in a project worth at least $150 million to be able to bring in workers from overseas who are not subject to labour market testing.

For as little as $22.5 million, a Chinese investor in a joint venture with an Australian company can avoid paying Australian wages and conditions.

An Australian film, Gayby Baby, that follows four children with same-sex parents and highlights the obstacles they face has been banned from NSW schools after the Daily Telegraph objected.

Burwood Girls High, where the director went to school, had planned to show the film as part of the Wear it Purple Day campaign aimed at supporting LGBTI students.

Earthworker Cooperative was formed to respond to the challenges of climate change and the need for local job creation, by establishing worker-owned cooperatives throughout Australia in sustainability-focused industries.

It has just raised $570,000, mostly via small donations, to establish the Eureka's Future Workers' Cooperative to produce and install high-quality Australian-made solar hot water systems.

The first Eureka’s Future worker-owned factory has now been established through the mutualisation of the Everlast Hydro Systems factory in Dandenong in Melbourne’s south-east.

The federal government’s anti-union agenda, on behalf of the Australian ruling class, has been further frustrated following its failure to ensure two key pieces of legislation pass the Senate.

On August 17, the Senate defeated a bill that would have reintroduced the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) along with its coercive powers and weakened protections for unions.

Early this year supporters of Green Left Weekly in Melbourne decided to relaunch the Green Left Radio show on community radio 3CR. This was after urging from station management and Green Left supporters volunteering at the station.

The Green Left Radio program previously aired on 3CR between the mid-1990s and early 2000s.

Australian condom and rubber glove maker Ansell is engaged in some aggressive union busting in Sri Lanka. It has sacked about 300 poor mainly women workers who are fighting for the right to strike in one of Sri Lanka's so called Free Trade Zones.

Workers gathered outside Ansell’s Melbourne headquarters on August 25 to demand Ansell reinstate the sacked workers and recognise workers' right to organise.

Sri Lankan unionist Anton Marcus, who addressed the rally in defence of the sacked workers, said the workers had wanted nothing more than the right to negotiate through their union.

BREAKING NEWS: Aunty Jenny Munro announced on August 31 that the Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy had forced the hand of the Aboriginal Housing Company to sign a commitment to guarantee that housing for Aboriginal families will be built as a part of the redevelopment of The Block. The signing is due for September 1, 2015.

The Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy released this statement on August 27.

The Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy (RATE) has claimed an important victory in its fight for Aboriginal housing on the Block, ahead of a Supreme Court decision today on a timeline for forced eviction of the Embassy camp.

Green Left Weekly’s ROBIN MAYO caught up with MICH-ELLE MYERS on August 23, a family day at Port Botany in support of the workers sacked by Hutchinson Ports. Myers is a national officer for the Maritime Union of Australia.

Why is the Hutchison dispute so important?

The Hutchison dispute is important because it is waking the community up about why we need to get rid of the Abbott government. It helps the community realise how anti-worker this government is. It thinks it’s OK for people to be sacked by SMS and email in the middle of the night.

GLW Issue 1066

The battle continues at Hutchison Ports terminals in Sydney and Brisbane against the sacking of 97 waterside workers by the company on August 6.

The campaign for reinstatement of the workers and for the defence of jobs on the waterfront refuses to die.

West Papua supporters held a peaceful rally at the Prime Minister’s Sydney residence, Kirribilli House, on August 15 to mark the signing of the New York Agreement, which betrayed the people of West Papua.

On August 15, 1962 an agreement was signed between the Republic of Indonesia and the Kingdom of the Netherlands concerning West New Guinea.

A vote on a Dutch/Indonesian resolution on the agreement by the UN General Assembly on September 21, 1962 was adopted and included this statement:

Students rallied across the country on August 19 to protest education minister Christopher Pyne's third attempt to introduce a fee deregulation bill.

Tony Abbott’s government has twice failed to pass fee deregulation, which could allow fees in excess of $100,000 for students. The bill has not yet been put for a third time, but Pyne is determined to pass it.

More than 80 people rallied at the Sydney University protest, called by the National Union of Students, to oppose deregulation, defend current degrees and oppose all course and job cuts.

After a huge amount of political pressure from the Victorian government, the Rail Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) agreed to postpone its August 21 tram and train strike, and Metro Rail and Yarra Trams agreed to return to the negotiating table.

Had the strike gone ahead it would have been the first such strike in 18 years.

RTBU members were clearly fed up with their respective train and tram companies, with 98% of railway workers and 99.4% of tram workers who returned ballots voting for industrial action.

BRISBANE

Come to a Red Cinema screening of Pride on Friday August 28 at 6pm at the Activist Centre, 74b Wickham St, Fortitude Valley with special guest, Bob Carnegie, Queensland secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia.

The film portrays the inspirational true story of the rainbow community’s solidarity with the miners’ strike in Britain under Margaret Thatcher.

MELBOURNE

About 7000 people marched for equal marriage rights in Melbourne on August 15. It was the largest such rally in years. Contingents of teachers, nurses and other unions were out in force.

The march featured a portable rainbow and ended with a mass illegal wedding outside the registry office. Rally chair Anthony Wallace rejected PM Tony Abbott's call for a referendum and said "Just pass the bloody bill!".

The federal Coalition’s plan to repeal a section of a 16-year-old environmental law can only be for one reason — to support mining companies at the expense of communities and the environment.

Attorney General George Brandis announced on August 19the government planned to repeal section 487 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act) which gives the community the right to enforce Australia’s environmental laws and hold decision makers and corporations to account.

John Percy, well-known socialist and member of Socialist Alternative, died in Sydney on August 19. He was a life-long activist and his involvement in many campaigns spanned more than 50 years, from the protests against the Vietnam War in the 1960s.

Fears are growing for the health of a 23-year-old Iranian asylum seeker on Nauru who has been flown to Australia for medical treatment.

Nazinan was allegedly raped in May while on day release in the community from the detention centre. Her physical and mental health have deteriorated badly since the attack: her family says she has not been eating or drinking for the past few weeks and has attempted suicide.

Asylum seekers from Iran whose claims for refugee status have been rejected are being intimidated into “voluntary” repatriation. The Australian government does not have an agreement with the Iranian government which will not accept the forced return of those who have fled the country.

The Victorian Auditor General released a report on August 19 that warned that well-recognised risks may make unconventional gas mining unsuitable for Victoria because of its dense population, scarce water resources and reliance on agriculture.

The Victorian government has fined three conservationists from the Goongerah Environment Centre who entered a logging coupe to document illegal rainforest logging. They were each fined $440 for entering a “timber harvesting safety zone”.

In April the three entered an area being harvested by VicForests to investigate concerns that rules designed to protect vulnerable plant communities were being flouted by the government logging corporation.

On August 19, the refugee rights group People Just Like Us hosted another in its series of meetings in Parramatta Library. Speakers included Sayid Kasim, a Rohingya from Arkan and Salmore, a Rohingya from Myanmar who told their stories of fleeing for their lives. Rohingya are stateless people, victims of racism and genocide. Dhugel, from Bhutan, told of his escape via India to Nepal. Paul Power from the Refugee Council of Australia told the meeting that governments should listen to refugees when making policy. “They are not a threat to our values”, he said.