Australian News

An anti-privatisation rally calling for the expansion of “renewables, not coal” was held outside NSW treasurer Michael Costa’s Newcastle office on July 14.

Former employees of the sacked Wollongong City Council (WCC) are seeking to expose the culture of sexual harassment and bullying that they say existed in the council workplace for years.

Raul Molina — a former Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity (URNG) candidate for mayor of Guatemala City, an academic and a refugee advocate now resident in the US — addressed a public meeting on July 4.

On July 17, 50 people heard Dr Mohamed Haneef’s lawyer, Peter Russo, launch a guide to Australia’s “anti-terror” legislation in Bankstown Town Hall.

On July 14, a rally against the corporatisation of Housing Tasmania was organised by the Tenants’ Union of Tasmania. Proposed changes will mean the state housing agency becomes a government-owned business, rather than a government service.

Tasmania Greens leader Peg Putt announced her resignation on July 7 after 15 years in parliament, with Nick McKim replacing her as leader.

“The world is facing twin disasters in the near future: the coming economic meltdown of the international capitalist system, and the looming climate change crisis”, Jim McIlroy told a Green Left Weekly forum on July 15.

Figures from the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) show that since the election of the Labor government in November, the commission has upped the ante in its witch-hunt of building industry workers.

The unjust quarantining of Aboriginal people’s Centrelink benefits, enforced as part of the federal government’s Northern Territory intervention, has been labelled by some as the intervention’s most destructive element.

A Galaxy poll of 1009 people nationwide found that Australian workers want the hated Work Choices legislation abolished immediately rather than waiting until 2010, the date set by the federal ALP for the repeal of the laws.

Australia is a leading exporter of coal, shipping millions of tonnes every year around the globe. It was appropriate, therefore, that the annual environmental conference, Students of Sustainability (SoS), was this year held in the world’s coal export capital: Newcastle.

On July 8, 600 NSW teachers and principals gathered outside the Department of Education to protest against the state ALP government’s attacks on teacher transfer rights.

The following letter was sent last week to the secretaries of Unions NSW and unions covering the NSW power industry.

One thousand Tamils gathered in Federation Square on July 5 for Pongu Thamil (Tamil upsurge). The event included traditional Tamil dancing, music and speeches on the Tamil people’s struggle for self-determination in Sri Lanka.

Activists have asked the Federal Court to rule that the recently gazetted NSW regulation declaring that people can be fined $5500 for “annoying” behaviour during July, but especially during the pope’s World Youth Day (WYD) visit, be declared invalid. The case was heard on July 11.

Each year, National Aboriginal and Islander Day of Observance Committee (NAIDOC) week, July 6-13, celebrates Indigenous history and culture, with events taking place in regional and urban places. Organisers say a record number of people took place this year.

Postal workers protested outside Australia Post HQ on June 25 to voice their opposition to AP’s policy of hiring new employees on lower pay rates and the splitting up their jobs.

Socialist Alliance candidates in the upcoming local government elections are calling for a state-wide referendum on power privatisation to be conducted alongside council elections.

“Unions are totally enmeshed in Cuban society”, Scott Wilson, an organiser for the Queensland branch of the Electrical Trades Union told a July 9 public forum, sponsored by the ETU and the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network (AVSN).

Rail workers’ militancy against Morris Iemma’s NSW Labor government has won some important concessions and forced the government onto the back foot.

On July 8, the Australian Fair Pay Commission (AFPC) granted a pay rise of $21.66 per week to around 1.3 million workers earning the standard federal minimum wage. This 4.15% rise translates into an hourly increase of 57 cents. Last July, the minimum wage was increased by only $10.26.

According to the 2006 census, the most commonly spoken language in Sydney households, after English, is Arabic. In Australia as a whole, Arabic is the fifth most commonly spoken language.

Five thousand people attended the vibrant Climate Emergency Rally in Melbourne on June 5. Grassroots environment activists and groups came from all over Victoria to protest numerous environmentally destructive projects currently underway or proposed, demanding action instead be focused on renewable energy and public transport.

More than 200 people from across Australia turned anger into action at the Resistance National Conference, held in Sydney from June 27-29. Activists met to discuss everything from revolutions in Latin America to the next steps in the climate change campaign.

Indigenous communities have been underfunded and deprived of essential resources for decades because of faulty census data, a technical paper produced by Australian National University (ANU) academics has discovered.

Hundreds of building workers took their demand for the secretive Australian Building and Construction Commission to be abolished to its headquarters on St Kilda Road on June 26. The protest was timed to coincide with the compulsory hearing of four crane workers, all members of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU).

While the NSW teachers have won some concessions, they are continuing to campaign against the state government’s abandonment of the state-wide staffing transfer system. The NSW Teachers Federation (NSWTF) decided at its June 14 state council meeting on a two-hour stopwork the week beginning August 25.

On July 3, NSW public-sector delegates met at Unions NSW and unanimously endorsed a resolution calling for “a day of action on July 30th where members will be called upon to demonstrate the extent the public relies on services delivered by public sector workers”. Public sector workers will “withdraw their goodwill” on the day, Unions NSW secretary John Robertson said at a press conference on July 3, although he has ruled out any strike action.

One of the lawyers for Mohamed Haneef, the doctor charged with terrorism-related offences in 2007, told a 100-strong June 21 public meeting that the Howard government had “wanted Dr Haneef to be a terrorist — but he wasn’t”. The Australian Federal Police (AFP) case against Haneef spectacularly imploded.

Three of the five Sydney residents who joined a May Day solidarity brigade to Venezuela reported back on their observations and experiences of the Bolivarian revolution to a meeting of 35 people on June 24.

At its state council meeting on June 11, the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) strengthened its environmental policy, and pledged to support to the revolutionary process unfolding in Venezuela.

Truck drivers are planning a national strike if demands for changes to new transport reforms are not met by the federal government. Drivers from NSW, Victoria and Queensland will take action from midnight on July 27.

On June 26, NSW Nurses Association branches voted in favour of the pay and conditions offer and classification review offer made by the NSW health department. The first 3.9% pay rise will happen in early July. There are some improvements to conditions; notably, part-timers can choose to increase their contracted hours to the average actually worked over the preceding 12 months.

Employees and Australian Workers Union (AWU) members at CSR’s Yarraville sugar refinery are in dispute with management over a log of claims for their enterprise bargaining agreement.

A public meeting on June 24 against the proposed desalination plant drew 500 people. The gathering, 12 months after a 700-strong public meeting that kicked off the campaign, vowed to continue the fight against the energy-inefficient and costly non-solution to Melbourne’s water crisis.

In Sydney, for the month of July, you can be arrested and charged $5500 for causing “annoyance” or “inconvenience” to others (but mainly to the pope, or his supporters) in more than 600 places across Sydney — including railway stations, schools and tourist icons, such as the Harbour Bridge.

On July 3, 95% of NSW Rail Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) members voted to take action on pay and conditions in the next 30 days, not ruling out disrupting World Youth Day.

Lawyers for Jack Thomas are seeking leave to appeal to the High Court to prevent him being re-tried on charges under the “anti-terror” laws.

Bill Zhang, a Chinese refugee, killed himself after his forcible deportation from Australia, according to a June 16 ABC report. Zhang spent two years in Australia’s Villawood refugee prison.

Thirty people attended the June 17 meeting of Wollongong Against Corruption (WAC), which has spearheaded the anti-corruption campaign in Wollongong since its local council was sacked in March.