Australian News

The vote against the planned sell-off of electricity by the NSW government of Premier Morris Iemma at the May 3 NSW ALP conference exceeded the expectations of ALP and union anti-privatisation campaigners.

The Canterbury-Bankstown Peace Group has launched a petition calling for the immediate withdrawal of all Australian troops from Afghanistan. Successive governments have used the "pretext of pursuing terrorists to impose a 'pro-western' government on

On April 29, 640 people attended a public meeting in Launceston entitled "Tasmania: A Failed Democracy?". A week earlier, 300 people had attended a similar meeting in Hobart. The calling of the meetings was sparked by revelations of corruption that

Victorian public school teachers are close to reaching a settlement with the state Labor government on a new pay and conditions agreement. Their previous enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA) expired in August, and they have not had a pay rise since October 2006.

About 2000 people attended the May Day rally in Sydney this year. The rally had been moved from the traditional first Sunday of May to Saturday, May 3, so that it could begin and end outside the state ALP conference in Darling Harbour.

A three-week dispute that stopped production at Port Melbourne-based Boeing subsidiary Hawker de Havilland (HdH), closing sections of the Triple Seven aeroplane assembly line in the US due to a lack of parts, ended on April 27. At a mass meeting outside the gates of the Boeing plant the 700 workers voted overwhelmingly to return to work.

A subediting error in Green Left Weekly #748, "Boeing workers defy bosses, Work Choices", indicated that Boeing's sites other than in Melbourne were either not unionised, or are dominated by industrially weaker unions. The article should have read:

The Australian newspaper has labelled Griffith University (GU) an “agent of extreme Islam” in recent articles targeting the Islamic Research Unit and its director, peace activist Dr Mohamad Abdalla.

On April 28, Labor PM Kevin Rudd’s government began to deport asylum seekers, beginning with a Chinese woman. The next day, two Indian men were placed in stage 1 of the Villawood immigration detention centre for preparation for deportation.

Australia Post is proceeding apace with a restructure ahead of its privatisation. According to Joan Doyle, it intends to close some of its Melbourne delivery centres and wants to replace its full-time workers with casual part-timers.

“The May 1 news that Mt Isa, in central Queensland, is unable to cope with the influx of people fleeing the government’s intervention in the Northern Territory is yet another example of why this policy must end”, Greg Eatock told Green Left Weekly on May 1.

Taxi drivers staged a spontaneous and ultimately successful protest on April 29-30, shutting down the major intersection of Flinders and Swanston Streets for more than 22 hours, after the near fatal stabbing of a young driver.

The death of the fifth Australian solider in Afghanistan on April 27, followed a few days later by the wounding of another, has refocused attention on Australia’s involvement in the US-led occupation.

The Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network May Day brigade of 15 unionists attended a massive May Day march in Caracas along with an estimated 500,000-750,000 people, all in red T-shirts, from all over the country. Two of the participants, John Cleary and Coral Wynter, addressed the rally. “It was amazing and exciting. We gave greetings on behalf of Australian workers and received a loud cheer. You really feel the power of the working class”, Coral Wynter told Green Left Weekly. “We had a great banner and as I think we were the only organised group of foreigners we were interviewed by three television stations — Telesur, VTV and Vive — and had numerous radio interviews. We danced and skipped along the route from La Bandera to Puente Laguno. Unfortunately President Hugo Chavez didn’t speak, but the day before he announced another 30% increase in the minimum wage. It was a great day!”

A landmark legal case has begun against mining corporation Xstrata over claims that it “wilfully and negligently” caused toxic contamination of large parts of the north-western Queensland city of Mount Isa over decades.

Tasmanian public sector workers will be attending stopwork meetings in the week beginning May 5 to consider a government offer on wages and conditions. In a negotiation process that has dragged on for over 18 months, members of the Health and

Indigenous activists are awaiting the full report into stolen wages after preliminary research by a Western Australian government task force found 28,000 references to wages not having been paid to Aboriginal workers between 1905 to 1972. However it the number of workers whose wages were stolen is not yet known. Nor is the exact amount owed.

On April 18, 400 people rallied outside the Newcastle office of NSW treasurer Michael Costa to demand that the state Labor government reverse its decision to privatise NSW’s electricity infrastructure.

Jorge Schafik Handal Vega, leader of the Salvadoran left party Farabundo Marti for National Liberation (FMLN) and deputy in the Central American Parliament, will be visiting Australia in May.

On April 2, federal environment minister Peter Garrett approved the third stage of the controversial Gunn’s pulp mill. Bulldozers have been given the go-ahead at the Tamar Valley site in northern Tasmania.

On April 23, Chicago-based aerospace and military contractor Boeing reported a 38% jump in first-quarter profits for 2008, amounting to a whopping US$1.2 billion. “We’re off to a good start in what we expect to be another strong year of financial performance for Boeing”, chairperson, president and CEO Jim McNerney said.

On April 23, up to 600 public school teachers and their supporters rallied outside state education minister Bronwyn Pike’s electoral office, in the final of their four-hour rolling stoppages. The action was part of the current enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA) campaign that commenced on February 26.

Since the November federal election, the federal Labor government has moved to re-engineer the federal public service. In early December it re-shuffled portfolios to create new departments including the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR), with deputy prime minister Julia Gillard as its minister.

On April 24, as day broke over Canberra, red flags with yellow stars moved in columns throughout the city, held in the hands of marchers, fluttering from car aerials and hanging in the windows of hundreds of buses.

Teachers around the country are in protracted disputes over wages and conditions with their ALP government bosses. Federal education minister Julia Gillard has come out in opposition to teachers’ unions’ proposal to place bans on administrating national literacy and numeracy testing in pursuit of claims for real wage increases and to demand an improvement of working conditions.

As news headlines report riots and food shortages in Third World nations, during March and April more than 5000 people on Australia’s eastern seaboard were able to hear the inspiring story of Cuba’s survival when faced with starvation and its transition to ecological sustainability.

Around 30 adults and children gathered outside Midland Centrelink on April 14 to demand the end of welfare quarantining in the Northern Territory.

“The intervention is an apartheid system. It’s an abuse of our human rights — but we blackfellas are used to that”, Mutitjulu elder Vince Forrester told a meeting of 130 people in Redfern on April 12.

On April 15, 200 people attended a public meeting entitled “Putting the terror laws on trial” at the Kaleide Theatre, RMIT. The meeting was jointly sponsored by the Civil Rights Defence campaign group and Amnesty International.

Australia’s military “would contain a careful mix of capabilities that could in extremis rip an arm off any major Asian power that sought to attack Australia”, said Professor Ross Babbage of the Kokoda Foundation in a private lecture to Australian Defence Force officials according to a March 25 AAP report.

On April 9, some 700 workers employed at the Port Melbourne-based Boeing subsidiary Hawker de Havilland went on strike. They were protesting against the company’s April 7 sacking of an Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) member without going through the agreed dispute-settlement procedure. The HDH plant makes parts for Boeing’s new 787 airliner.

Approximately 20,000 votes were submitted across NSW by teachers who attended stop-work Sky Channel meetings on April 8. Teachers went on strike over the state Labor government’s refusal to negotiate a new staffing scheme that would ensure transfer rights for all teachers and guarantee qualified and trained teachers for all students in NSW public schools.

Tasmanian deputy premier Steve Kons resigned in disgrace on April 9 following the eruption of a new political scandal for Premier Paul Lennon’s Labor government related to its support for Gunns Ltd’s planned Tamar Valley pulp mill.

More than 300 people took part in three days of invigorating discussion at the Climate Change — Social change conference on April 11-13 hosted by Green Left Weekly.

Last month, four injured workers had their light duties suspended by Campbellfield car parts manufacturer Autoliv and were told that they should consider taking “voluntary” redundancy packages.

A snap protest was held outside the Sydney office of World Wide Fund for Nature on April 16 after WWF announced it was joining forces with the Climate Institute, the Australian Coal Association and the mining and energy division of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union to push the federal government to make “clean” coal the centrepiece of its climate change abatement plan.

On April 1, the Sydney May Day Committee voted unanimously to accept a Unions NSW proposal to shift the traditional May Day march and rally from the first Sunday in May to Saturday May 3.

At least 100 people attended the Palestine: Global Perspective conference, held at the Victorian State Library on March 29.

Aboriginal legal aid services are to have their funding cut for the 13th year in a row, despite an election promise by the ALP that a federal Labor government would increase their funding, Trevor Christian, the director of the NSW/ACT Aboriginal Legal Aid Service, told the March 31 Sydney Morning Herald.

After a spirited march through the Adelaide CBD, 1500 unionists rallied on the steps of the South Australian parliament on April 1 to protest the state Labor government’s plans to dismantle the workers’ compensation laws.

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