Australian News

GLW Issue 1063


Refugees injured by guard violence. Manus Island, 2014.

The proposed Migration Amendment (Maintaining the Good Order of Immigration Detention Facilities) Bill 2015, or, as it is better known, “the Kill Bill” will be another test for Labor on asylum seeker policy.

Esso has locked out maintenance workers from its oil and gas plants in Victoria and its offshore platforms in Bass Strait.

The move is part of an enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA) dispute with members of the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) and the Australian Workers Union (AWU).

Unions had imposed bans on overtime and call-outs as part of their campaign against Esso’s proposed changes to pay and conditions. The lockouts affect the Longford gas plant, Long Island Point and Esso's oil and gas plants in Bass Strait.

The Whistleblowers , Activists and Citizens’ Alliance released this statement on July 25.
* * *

Refugee supporters broke through security barriers at the ALP conference today, dropping a banner reading “No refugee tow-backs” and wearing shirts saying “turn back the votes” in opposition to Labor's boat turn-back policy.

On July 21 about 400 people packed the Fremantle Town Hall, with an overflow crowd of more than 100 gathered around an outdoor screen, as part of the campaign to stop the Perth Freight Link (PFL).

PFL is a $1.6 billion freeway project conceived by Prime Minister Tony Abbott with no local consultation or planning. Its purported function is to serve the growing number of truck movements to and from the container terminals at Fremantle port.

On July 26 more than 150 activists from around the country met in Melbourne for the National Refugee Rights Conference, hosted by the Refugee Action Collective (Victoria).

Many of the participants had attended the protest outside the ALP national conference the day before, and inevitably discussion revolved around the decision of the majority of delegates to reject an explicit ban on refugee boat "turn backs" which paves the way for Labor to once again follow Coalition policy.

More than 100 people rallied on July 25 to campaign against the promotion of rape culture and the vilification of women as displayed on vans hired to backpackers by Wicked Campers.

Last year, more than 127,000 Australians signed a petition calling for Wicked Campers to remove its misogynist slogans. Greens Senator Larissa Waters moved a resolution condemning Wicked Campers. It was seconded by Labor Senator Claire Moore and passed unanimously.

Bjorn again?

Flinders University is in talks with climate “inactivist” Bjørn Lomborg about hosting his unique brand of climate action denial.

Since being ejected from the University of Western Australia by outraged students and staff in May, Lomborg and the Department of Education have been searching for a university to host his Australian Consensus Centre.

About 5000 trade unionists rallied in front of NSW Parliament House on July 31 as part of a round of nation-wide actions against the secretly negotiated and recently signed China-Australia Free Trade Agreement.

Unions object to provisions that will undermine working conditions and safety and point to powers — like those in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, which is still in secret negotiation — that allow big corporations to sue signatory governments for damages arising out of laws and regulations adopted to protect jobs or the environment.

ADELAIDE
Forum: Making solar thermal happen
Wednesday August 5, 6pm
Come to an interactive discussion about next steps for the campaign. Entry by donation. Hosted by Repower Port Augsuta Alliance and CLEAN SA.
Allan Scott Auditorium (H2-16), Hawke Building, City West Campus, University of South Australia. Visit repowerportaugusta.org

BENDIGO
Forum: Tariq Ali: Why is democracy under siege and what can be done to restore it?
Saturday August 8, 7.30pm
This is part of the Bendigo Writers Festival. For bookings visit bendigowritersfestival.com.au.

Racism is alive and well in Australia.

You would think that such a statement would be relatively uncontroversial. But the shit-storm surrounding AFL footballer Adam Goodes’ decision to call out racism on the sporting field reveals how desperate a section of the establishment is to avoid any scrutiny about where racism comes from and how it is perpetuated.

They want to cling to the fiction that Goodes brought the whole controversy onto himself by “playing the victim”.

GLW Issue 1062

The crew of Caltex oil tanker the Alexander Spirit have ended a three-week industrial dispute that began on July 2. They have set sail from Tasmania to Singapore, where the company intends to replace the Australian crew with seafarers on drastically reduced pay and working conditions.

The Alexander Spirit is the fifth tanker that primarily circuits the Australian coastline to have its crew replaced in 12 months.

The Bandyup Action Group (BAG) held its most recent speak out on July 18 to protest against conditions in Bandyup Women's Prison.

There has been a dramatic rise in incarceration rates, particularly for non-violent acts such as non-payment of fines. About 30% of women detained at Bandyup are there because of unpaid fines; 30% have existing and severe mental health problems; and 90% have been physically and/or sexually assaulted at some point in their lives.

The Melbourne Street Medic Collective released this statement on July 19.

* * *

On July 18, first aiders and medical professionals working as part of the Melbourne Street Medic Collective provided medical support to anti-racist/fascist protesters at the Rally Against Racism near the Victorian Parliament.

During the course of this rally, officers from Victoria Police deployed chemical weapons in the form of OC (pepper) spray against the crowd. As a result several people required urgent medical attention and eventually hospitalisation, directly as a result of exposure to the spray.

On the weekend of July 18 and 19 rallies were held around Australia to counter the racist rallies organised by Reclaim Australia and the fascist United Patriots Front.

Following is a roundup of some of the rallies.

* * *

Melbourne
A planned show of strength by racists and neo-Nazis in Melbourne backfired when once again far-right protesters were outnumbered 20 to one on July 18.

At a protest outside the Turkish Consulate in Sydney on July 23, Kurdish activists and their supporters accused the Turkish government of complicity in the massacre in Suruc of 32 young socialists on their way to help rebuild Kobane, in the liberated area of Rojava in northern Syria.

Sixty people listened as refugees gave harrowing accounts of what had led them to seek asylum in Australia at a forum in Parramatta on July 15 organised by People Just Like Us.

Shokufa Tahiri and Ezatullah Salar spoke about the long history of oppression of the Hazara minority in Afghanistan.

In 1890, Abdur Rahman Khan exterminated 63% of the minority group and until the 1930s Hazaras were systematically driven out of cities, and deprived of citizenship and education. Under the Taliban, it became a crime to be Hazara, Turkic or Shia.

The union movement’s opposition to the China Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) has ratcheted up since the agreement was signed in Canberra on June 17.

ChAFTA allows for 95% of Australian exports to China to be tariff free. These will include many agricultural products, including beef and dairy. In addition, there will be liberalisation of market access for the Australia's services sector, and investments by private companies from China under A$1.078 billion will not be subject to Foreign Investment Review Board approval.

Perth protests against Reclaim Australia

Between 300 and 400 anti-racist activists faced off against racist and Islamophobic "Reclaim Australia" demonstrators in Perth on July 19. This was part of a national weekend of counter-rallies against those called by the far right group “Reclaim Australia”.

Protests against coal, for real action on climate change, for the rights of refugees and for a binding vote in support of equal marriage rights took place outside the ALP conference in Melbourne on July 25.

The Refugee Rights Action Network (RAAN) released this statement on July 23.
* * *

Baby Y Nhu and four year olds Khoi and Chuong are among those on board the Vietnamese asylum seeker boat intercepted by WA Water Police off the coast of Western Australia on July 20.

At least eight children and about 30 adults are now being held by Border Force. They are on board a navy boat, possibly the HMAS Choules, which was used in April to hand back another group of asylum seekers from Vietnam.

About 50 people took part in a lively protest outside the Resources and Energy Division of the NSW Department of Industry on July 22. The protest, organised by Land, Water, Future and Protect Sydney's Water Alliance, was against coalmining in Sydney's water catchment area.

Wollongong Coal has two coalmines in Sydney’s water catchments — Russell Vale and Wongawilli — and is now seeking approval to triple-seam mine under the catchment for Sydney's drinking water. Triple-seam mining has never been tried before in Australia.

Melbourne woman sacked in pay dispute takes Grill'd to court

A Melbourne woman has launched Federal Court action against fast-food company Grill'd, alleging she lost her job after complaining about being underpaid.

Kahlani Pyrah, a member of United Voice, said she received a flat rate that was less than the award wage and did not receive the shift loadings she was entitled to, while working at the Camberwell outlet.

MELBOURNE

Come to Rage for refugees, a fundraiser for the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre:. Lineup: Anchors; Raccoon City Police Department; Tired Minds; Summer Blood; Pitt the Elder; Knife Hands. Tickets: $10 online; $15 at door. Sunday August 2 at 1pm. Wrangler Studios, 8C Whitely Pde, West Footscray. Tickets: visit oztix.com.au.

45 people gathered in Perth on July 24 to express solidarity with a group of young people who were victims of an Islamic State suicide bombing in the Kurdish town of Suruç on July 20.

A few days before the National ALP Conference on July 22, Labor leader Bill Shorten announced that he would support a policy to turn back boatloads of asylum seekers at sea if it is elected to government.

The announcement shocked and angered refugee rights advocates around the country, including members of his own party.

The call for help below comes from the Melbourne Street Medic Collective in the aftermath of the police pepper-spray attack on an anti-racist protest on July 18. The group has launched a crowd-funding appeal for badly needed first aid supplies. Visit their crowd-funding page for more information and to donate.

***

GLW Issue 1061

Members of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and supporters rallied outside the Caltex Kurnell oil depot on July 20 to support the seafarers on the tanker Alexander Spirit in Devonport Harbour who are campaigning to protect their jobs and conditions.

MUA Sydney branch secretary Paul McAleer, MUA national secretary Paddy Crumlin, Unions NSW secretary Mark Lennon and representatives of the international transport union addressed the protest.

3-400 anti-racist activists faced off against 4-500 "Reclaim Australia demonstrators in Perth on July 19. This was part of a national weekend of counter rallies against those called by the far right group 'Reclaim Australia'.

Today someone tried to stab me with an Australian flag.Yet in spite, or maybe because, of that, I am glad I made it to the Canberra anti-racist rally on July 19.

When overtly racist right-wing forces come out onto the streets, we need to show that there are many more of us who are against that kind of hatred.

I was in the middle of a large crowd opposing racism and xenophobia and opposite a small one waving red, white and blue flags and carrying placards that said “Islam is a hate group, not a religion”. I think we can tell from that who is the hate group.

A United Patriots Front (UPF) rally of about 20 people was met by 200 Say No to Racism protesters and about 25 police in Hobart on July 19.

The UPF rally moved from Franklin Square, through the Elizabeth Street Mall to the ABC building and concluded at the Domain Rose Gardens.

Say No to Racism protesters included Greens, Socialist Alliance, anarchists, local musicians, and people who had "never been to a rally before".

Say No to Racism protesters disrupted the UPF rally at each stopping point and as they marched on the street.