Australian News

Off the coast of the Kimberley region in north-western Australia is the Browse Basin, home to migratory hump-back whales and pristine coral reefs, within close proximity to traditional Aboriginal land and — below the seabed — one of the largest reserves of natural gas in the country.

On November 24, around 600 pensioners atttended a mass meeting called by the Fair Go for Pensioners (FGP) campaign at Melbourne Town Hall.

Almost 2000 Victorian TAFE teachers voted on November 25 to continue their industrial campaign for a new enterprise agreement, which will include a further stop-work meeting in February 2009. Teachers from regional centres were joined at the meeting by metropolitan TAFE colleagues.

“World at a Crossroads: Fighting for Socialism in the 21st Century” is a four-day conference to be held in Sydney on April 10-13 (the Easter long weekend) next year.

The federal Labor government announced on November 18 that it will extend into Western Australia a key component of the racist intervention into Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory.

Bette Boreham, an activist recently returned from volunteer work in Kiribati, told a Socialist Alliance meeting on November 12 about how the low-lying Pacific Island country is facing annihilation by rising seas. Boreham spoke of the courage of the Kiribati people, and the horror of knowing their country would soon be gone. She also recounted the important role that Cuban doctors are playing in the country, providing essential medical care.

On November 11, around 50 people attended a public meeting at Unions NSW on building unions under a Labor government, organised by new left-wing “think-tank” Catalyst.

On November 14, 70 people attended the Gleebooks launch of Trade Unionism in Australia — From Flood to Ebb Tide by Queensland academic and Socialist Alternative activist Tom Bramble.

Areyonga community members have begun a campaign to defend teaching in Pitjantjatjara at their local school.

Geelong Trades Hall secretary Tim Gooden thinks it’s high time for the construction industry unions to “stop feeding the hand that strangles us”. Gooden was referring to the fact that under the legislation that set up the Australian Building and Construction Commission, unions and workers have been hit with $1.39 million in fines ($654,000 of which has been suspended).

NSW teachers stopped work for two hours on November 19 to consider the next stage in their campaign for the reinstatement of a centralised staffing system and salary justice.

The Liberal Party government of Western Australia announced on November 18 that it has lifted the state’s ban on uranium mining.

On November 16, the Community Solidarity group took part in the annual Fremantle Festival parade, calling for the Rudd government to repeal all of the Work Choices legislation and completely scrap the Australian Building and Construction
Commission’s powers.

The Victorian division of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) rallied 500 supporters of tertiary education on November 20.

When the beautiful 100-year-old elm trees in Methven Park, Brunswick began to show signs of stress from lack of water, a group of local residents came together to pressure the local council for a plan to save the trees.

Families For a Nuclear Free Future (FFANFF) is a recently formed community group of families in Alice Springs with a united voice against the exploration and mining of uranium.

On November 15, thousands of people took to the streets across Australia to demand that governments take much more urgent and serious action to stop the global warming that is threatening life on Earth.

Sean Pickard, an Indigenous rights activist, has been threatened with jail for non-payment of fines imposed as a result of convictions on five counts of “failing to produce a ticket” on Melbourne’s privatised public transport system.

St Mary’s church in South Brisbane has been threatened with excommunication if it maintains progressive practices that have the overwhelming support of the parish and community.

Hundreds of community workers and members of the social and community services (SACS) division of the Queensland Services Union (QSU) rallied on November 10 outside the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC).

The Goulburn Nine were arrested in November 2005 in Sydney, as were the Barwon 13 in Melbourne. A big deal was made about them being the first local terrorist groups in Australia to face trial under the draconian new “anti-terror” laws.

From November 8-10 at least 135 detainees in Villawood Immigration Detention Centre refused to take any food or water. The hunger strike was suspended when the Immigration Department gave in to the strikers’ demand for consultation.

On Armistice Day, November 11, anti-war protesters marked the end of the war that was supposed to end all wars with “troops out” banners and placards outside the US consulate. Sydney Stop the War Coalition (STWC) is campaigning for all Australian troops to leave Iraq and Afghanistan.

The family of Palm Island Aboriginal man Lex Wotton say they are relieved he did not get a life sentence and they will not be mounting an appeal against his six-year jail sentence. However, there has been widespread questioning of the discrepancy in the “justice” received by Wotton and white senior sergeant Chris Hurley.

SYDNEY — On November 10, a Sydney City Council ban on bill postering came into effect — and was immediately defied.

Green Left Weekly’s Chris Williams interviewed Tim Dobson from the Wollongong Public Transport Coalition (WPTC).

Beats are a toilet or park where men gather to have consensual, casual sex.

The challenges, opportunities and responsibilities that socialists face today are huge.

More than 200 people, including local residents, packed a community hall in Footscray on November 6 to protest vice-chancellor (VC) Liz Harman’s announcement that 270 Victoria University (VU) staff will face the chop, most before Christmas.

The NSW mini-budget on November 11 is a full-on assault on public services and the public ownership of major assets in NSW.

The Rudd government is proposing to make funding for vocational training “contestable”, the Sydney Morning Herald revealed on October 29. The proposal, effectively a privatisation of TAFE colleges, was drafted by state and federal bureaucrats and will be discussed at the November 17 Council of Australian Governments meeting.

The Sydney Stop the War Coalition has described the US people’s rejection of President George Bush’s war policies and the election of Barack Obama as “historic”.

Activists have planned a civil disobedience action in response to anti-democratic moves by the City of Sydney to crack down on bill posters. From November 10, putting up posters on street poles could result in fines ranging from $320 to $1500 per poster.

The Rudd government, elected to office promising to repeal the Howard government’s unpopular student unionism (VSU) legislation, is planning to introduce a voluntary $250 “student levy” in early 2009.

Pat Dodson, a Yawuru man from Broome, Western Australia, used his Sydney Peace Prize acceptance speech on November 5 to slam the Northern Territory intervention. He described it as a “crude, racist and poorly considered policy”.

On November 7, rallies in support of Lex Wotton took place around the country as Wotton was sentenced in Townsville to six years’ prison for “riot with destruction”.

A crowd of 1000 people marched through the Perth CBD to Parliament House on October 30 to tell the Western Australian government to keep the state GMO (genetically modified organism)-free.

On October 30, 100 people attended a public forum and film screening of My Daughter the Terrorist, at the University of Melbourne.

Aboriginal rock art found on Western Australia’s Burrup Peninsula is in danger of destruction. Friends of Australian Rock Art (FARA) released photographs showing the full extent of damage for the first time on October 25.

On October 26, part of the roof of a multi-story Canberra building collapsed. The building is under construction in the city centre.