Geelong Trades Hall Secretary Colin Vernon, along with other union and community activists raised the rainbow flag above Geelong Trades Hall on June 27. The flag symbolises support for marriage equality, the LGBTI community and Surf Coast Shire residents who have been campaigning to keep the flag flying at their local council building.
CSIRO staff voted by 58% to approve a new enterprise agreement, in a second round of voting after the 70% No vote last October.
The CSIRO Staff Association said the new agreement restored rights including a commitment to secure, ongoing employment, flexible working hours and on-site childcare, which were not in the October deal.
“While the new agreement represents a substantial improvement on the CSIRO’s first offer there is a long way to go to rebuild morale, trust and confidence among scientists, researchers and other staff,” the Staff Association’s Sam Popovski said.
Members of the Australian Workers' Union have set up a protest outside the Longford gas plant in Victoria because of changes to the maintenance contracts for hundreds of workers in the oil and gas industry.
UGL holds the maintenance contract for Esso's onshore facilities and offshore platforms but about 200 workers were told they had to sign up with UGL subsidiary MTCT Services at between 15% and 30% lower wages or lose their jobs.
In a move similar to the one that preceded abortion law reform in Victoria and Tasmania, Queensland Attorney-General and justice minister Yvette D’Ath has referred abortion to the Queensland Law Reform Commission (QLRC). It has been tasked with drafting legislation to modernise abortion law. The current laws date back to 1899 and have not been amended since.
Homelessness is a growing problem in Australia.
The biggest privatisation scam in NSW history is about to start as the NSW Coalition government prepares to sell off the $17 billion WestConnex tollway. The government and its project adviser Goldman Sachs are expected to start a market-testing exercise, with a deadline of October for expressions of interest from major private corporations.
Refugee activists from the Whistleblowers, Activists and Citizens Alliance (WACA) hung a banner off the Channel 7 building in Melbourne’s Docklands on June 23.
The Channel 7 building is in direct line of sight of the Border Force headquarters in Customs House, where operational matters in Manus Island and Nauru refugee detention camps are managed.
Eighty tenants and supporters rallied at the Northcote public housing estate on June 24 to protest plans to evict the tenants and demolish their homes.
Northcote is one of nine public housing estates the Victorian Labor government wants to demolish. It wants to sell the land to private developers who would build high rise units. Some "social housing" would also be built.
Addressing the rally, Aboriginal activist and public housing tenant Viv Malo linked the planned evictions to the history of dispossession of Aboriginal people.
The neo-Nazi True Blue Crew held their second "Australian Pride" rally in Melbourne on June 25 and were met with an "anti-racist/anti-fascist" counter protest by No Room For Racism and Campaign Against Racism and Fascism.
There were about 150–200 fascists and about 200–300 anti-racists. Several hundred police, including from the Public Order Response Team, kept the two sides apart.
Five people were treated by Ambulance Victoria after police pepper-sprayed the anti-racists in Russell St after the main rally had broken up.
More than 200 people packed into the Pitt Street Uniting Church on June 28 to protest the state government’s plans to privatise public bus services in the city's inner west.
The community assembly, organised by UnionsNSW and the Sydney Alliance, drew bus drivers and other workers, unionists and concerned members of the public to join the growing campaign to stop the sell-off of public transport.
The Australia Institute has warned that continued coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef could lead to plummet in international visitors to the region by more than a million a year. The massive drop in visitors would result in the loss of $1 billion in tourism income and up to 10,000 jobs.
The institute surveyed 3000 Chinese, US and British visitors. The Great Barrier Reef is Australia’s top tourist attraction, but more than one-third of Americans, 55% of Chinese and 27% of British visitors surveyed said they would holiday elsewhere if the reef died completely.
The Socialist Alliance has announced three candidates for the Inner West Council elections to be held on September 9.
Pip Hinman will run in Stanmore, Susan Price will run in Ashfield and Blair Vidakovich in Leichhardt.
Twenty-five abortion rights protesters picketed in central Brisbane on June 28 to demand decriminalisation of abortion. In peak-hour traffic, they walked into a pedestrian intersection, chanting and waving placards and urging motorists to honk their horns in support of abortion rights.
Christians, Jews, Baha'is, Buddhists, Hare Krishnas and Quakers were among the religious groups represented at multi-faith gathering for climate action in Brisbane on June 27.
Anglican Dean Peter Catt spoke first arguing that Earth is part of God's creation and needs to be protected for its own sake, not simply for utilitarian reasons. This opened up a theme developed by other speakers about religious motivations for taking environmental action.
Justice Peter Applegarth of the Supreme Court rejected on June 23 the application by New Acland Coal (NAC) for judicial review of the Queensland Land Court’s decision, which recommended rejecting the Stage 3 expansion of the New Hope Mine. He said he was not satisfied irreparable harm would be caused to New Acland Coal and other third parties if a stay was not ordered.
The giant Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA) will be subject to a parliamentary inquiry over wage deals that have cost workers hundreds of millions of dollars.
The Senate inquiry, initiated by Nick Xenophon and backed by the Greens, will examine claims that workers at retailers such as McDonald's, KFC and Coles are paid penalty rates under their SDA-negotiated enterprise agreements that are lower than the industry award.
The V8 supercars race due to run through Newcastle streets in November places “private profit over the common good and social justice” according to the Newcastle East Residents Group (NERG).
In a recent leaflet NERG points out that residents continue to be sidelined by Newcastle City Council, Destinations NSW (a government tourism body) and Supercars Australia Pty Ltd.
The race deal was worked out in a private briefing and closed council meetings without community involvement last year.
A proposed law restructuring Victoria's fire services has been referred to a parliamentary select committee, and will not be put to a vote until parliament resumes in August. This follows the expression of "concerns" about the law by conservative crossbenchers in the upper house.
The proposed law would end the antiquated situation where regional cities and a large part of the Melbourne metropolitan area are covered by the Country Fire Authority (CFA), and receive an inferior service.
Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe has called on workers to start demanding pay rises.
Lowe said on June 19 Australia’s economy is suffering a “crisis” in wage growth and the relatively low unemployment rate means workers should start asking for a larger share of the nation’s economic pie.
His call comes as data shows the share of national income going to workers has fallen to a 50 year low and the underemployment rate, where workers want to work more hours, rose to 8.8%.
Underemployment has now risen for the past six consecutive quarters.
Representatives at the annual meeting of the Australian Local Government Association voted on June 20 to back a motion by Hobart city council to push for the federal government to change the date of Australia Day.
Hobart city council voted in April to sponsor changing Australia Day from January 26, a date many Indigenous people regard as Invasion Day.
This year, the City of Fremantle moved some Australia Day events to January 28, after local Aboriginal elders said January 26 was not a day to celebrate.
People living in and around Gloucester have barely drawn breath since successfully defeating AGL’s plans to turn the Gloucester Basin into a coal seam gas field. Now, they are fighting to stop a massive coal mine, the Rocky Hill Coal project.
Gloucester Resources Limited (GRL) first proposed an open-cut coalmine, 900 metres from homes on productive agricultural land in 2012. The project included major pieces of infrastructure including a coal handling and preparation plant and a rail load-out facility and operating four open-cut pits 24 hours a day.
The WA state Labor government announced on June 20 that it will not obstruct the construction of the four uranium mines in the state that have already received environmental approval. But it says it will block future proposals.
Toro Energy's Wiluna project, Vimy Resources' Mulga Rock project, and Cameco's Kintyre and Yeelirrie projects were all approved before Labor won the March election. Environmental approval for Yeelirrie was initially denied amid fears several species of subterranean fauna would be made extinct, but it eventually got the nod anyway.
Stop Adani groups are rapidly springing up in cities and towns across northern Queensland, intent on helping the movement against the company’s Carmichael coalmine.
Campaign roadshows have been springboards, including in Townsville and Port Douglas, with others proposed for Gordonvale and the Atherton Tablelands.
The federal government and its offshore detention contractors will pay more than $70 million in compensation to 1905 refugees and asylum seekers for illegally detaining them in dangerous and damaging conditions on Manus Island.
In what may be Australia's largest ever human rights-related settlement, on June 14 the government settled out of court before the class action, brought on behalf of the refugees and asylum seekers detained on the island, began.
The following article is excerpted from a speech Rachel Evans gave at a vigil in Sydney to commemorate the first anniversary of the Orlando massacre in the US.
* * *
I look into the crowd and see our diverse community. I see that we are creative, expressive people. I see that we are loved and that we love. I see our LGBTIQA community and I see our straight allies. I see that we are not white, that we are non-gender binary. I see our sadness, feel our loss.
Environmental approval for the expansion of Adani’s coal port at Abbot Point was ruled lawful in the Queensland Supreme Court on June 15.
Local group Whitsunday Residents Against Dumping (WRAD) had challenged the legality of the Queensland government’s decision to approve the controversial Abbot Point coal terminal expansion in Queensland’s Supreme Court on October 7.
Proposed new logging rules for NSW public land will convert much of the north coast's public forests into “quasi-plantations”, reduce buffers on vital headwater streams and remove protections from most threatened animals and plants.
The proposed changes remove the need to look for and protect most threatened plants and animals. Only 14 animal species and populations are to retain their current protection, 23 will have their protection removed and 26 will have their protection significantly reduced.
There were chants and clicking knitting needles on June 9 as the Illawarra Knitting Nannas Against Gas (IKNAG) and Wollongong Climate Action Network (WCAN) joined concerned community members for a large, loud and long lunchtime rally outside the Commonwealth Bank in Wollongong.
They were there to tell the bank: “Don't wreck the Reef, don't wreck the climate and don't fund Adani”.
Production and maintenance workers at the Carter Holt Harvey Myrtleford site, who have been locked out by management for more than seven weeks, voted on June 8 and 9 to reject the company’s proposal for a new Enterprise Agreement covering the site.
The result of the secret ballot demonstrates that the company’s proposals are totally unacceptable to the workers.
Compensation paid to 7-Eleven workers by 7-Eleven's head office has so far reached $110 million — an average of $39,000 for each of the 2832 claims by workers who were underpaid by franchisees.
The payout is much greater than fines that could be imposed under existing laws, raising questions about whether the federal government's proposed law to protect vulnerable workers will go far enough in holding similar conduct to account.
VicForests' new Timber Utilisation Plan 2017 for western Victoria shows logging will target areas known to contain high numbers of threatened species, including the iconic red-tailed black cockatoo, and large areas of endangered, vulnerable or depleted native vegetation types.
Much of the timber to be harvested is for low-value uses including commercial firewood, poles, posts and some sawlogs.
In a statement to the Senate on June 13, the federal government confirmed it will sell uranium to Ukraine despite significant safety and security concerns raised by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT).
In February a JSCOT investigation found that existing safeguards were “not sufficient” and there was a risk Australian nuclear material would disappear in Ukraine.
Norwegian oil and gas company Statoil has taken over two exploration permits from BP and plans to begin drilling for oil in the Great Australian Bight by late next year.
Statoil and BP have signed a swap agreement covering four offshore petroleum titles. Under the deal Statoil transferred its 30% equity in two of its permits to BP and exited the licences. In return, BP has given its 70% equity in two other permits to Statoil and relinquished those licences.
The NSW Department of Planning & Environment admitted on June 7 that it had been inundated with more than 23,000 mostly oppositional submissions to corporate giant Santos’ plan for a gas field in the Pilliga region in north-western NSW.
The department has now totalled the figures: more than 18,000 “form submissions” were sent in — meaning that many people took advantage of anti-fracking groups’ efforts to broaden the anti-gas campaign, by signing a form and adding their personal view to a statement of concern.
Health services in Australia are resource intensive and a leading producer of waste and greenhouse gases, which contribute to global climate change.
The Victorian public healthcare system contributes 1% of Victoria’s total emissions and is estimated to be 2.8% of Victoria’s total ecological footprint.
The City of Sydney has put forward an alternative proposal for the controversial $17 billion WestConnex tollway project.
Based on the original design for the motorway project, the alternative proposal offers a more direct motorway route to Port Botany and Sydney Airport for traffic from the west of the city.
The City of Sydney claims this alternative model will reduce congestion and remove the need for expensive tolls, while saving the NSW taxpayers billions of dollars.
Residents’ groups from Sydney's west and inner-west came together in a protest outside NSW Minister for WestConnex Stuart Ayres’ electorate office in Penrith on June 5. New tolls are about to be introduced on the M4 motorway as part of the giant tollway and tunnel scam that is WestConnex.
Commuters from western Sydney will be charged $2000 a year in the new M4 tolls, according to a letter from Penrith Valley Community Unions NSW (PVCU) that was delivered to Ayres' office.
Vigil protests were held on May 25, in Hobart and Melbourne, to mark 100 days of peaceful occupation of the wildlife-rich forests of Tasmania’s Tarkine. The vigil, organised by the Bob Brown Foundation and Save the Tarkine, urged members of the Legislative Council to reject the Hodgman government's proposed destructive forests legislation and to provide National Park protection for the Tarkine.
The proposed sale by Australia Post of Sydney's historic GPO building to private business is "scandalous" and puts the complex at risk of neglect, according to the head of the National Trust NSW (NTNSW).
Architect and NTNSW branch president Clive Lucas, who specialises in restoring historic buildings, said the GPO was one of, if not the most, important colonial post offices in the country.
Australia's lowest-paid workers will get a $22 a week pay rise after the Fair Work Commission lifted the national minimum wage to $694.90 from July 1.
FWC lifted the wage by 3.3% or 59 cents an hour to $18.29 an hour. Inflation for the year to the end of March was 2.1%. Minimum rates in modern awards will also rise by 3.3%.
ACTU secretary Sally McManus said the rise would not make up for penalty rate cuts affecting 700,000 workers.
The decision will affect up to 2.3 million people reliant on minimum rates of pay.