Australian News

GLW Issue 764

The Socialist Alliance has condemned NSW Premier Morris Iemma’s latest bid to rush through enabling legislation to sell off the state’s energy retailers and generators.

On August 20, activists from the Student Housing Action Collective (SHAC) at Melbourne University occupied four terrace houses in Faraday St, Carlton. The houses are owned by Melbourne University and were used as student counselling offices until 2005.

In a move eerily reminiscent of the lousy pay offers this year to NSW and Victorian public sector workers, the Queensland Labor government has offered staff at the Department of Main Roads a 3.25% per year increase for the three years of their current enterprise agreement. The offer is significantly below the official inflation rate in Brisbane of 5.1%, the highest of any capital city in Australia.

Around 150 women and men gathered on the lawns of the Mt Isa Civic Centre on August 19 to condemn Mayor John Moloney’s recent statement degrading women and to demand his resignation.

Documents leaked from Telstra’s human resources department and released by the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) to the Sydney Morning Herald on August 14, show that the company wants to bypass unions and impose a non-union collective agreement on its 32,000 employees, thereby cutting its annual wages bill by $50 million. On August 13, Telstra announced a $3.7 billion profit for the 2007-08 financial year.

Two thousand striking Technical and Further Education (TAFE) teachers gathered at Melbourne’s Atheneum Theatre on August 20 to demand better pay and conditions. The last time Victorian TAFE teachers went on strike was under Jeff Kennett’s Coalition state government 13 years ago.

GLW Issue 763

Thirty people protested outside the office of NSW Labor MP Carmel Tebbutt on August 16 as part of a “Super Saturday” of campaign stalls against electricity privatisation. Around 50 electorates around the state were targeted by Power to the People — a campaign group that includes ALP members, trade unions, Greens, the Socialist Alliance, Solidarity, and other community and environment groups.

Thirty people protested outside the office of NSW Labor MP Carmel Tebbutt on August 16 as part of a “Super Saturday” of campaign stalls against electricity privatisation. Around 50 electorates around the state were targeted by Power to the People — a campaign group that includes ALP members, trade unions, Greens, the Socialist Alliance, Solidarity, and other community and environment groups.

The WA branch of the Socialist Alliance will stand Julie Gray, a nurse, as a candidate in the September 6 state election. Gray will compete for the Metropolitan North area of the Legislative Council.

More than 200 people attended the preview screening of This is Our Country Too on August 13 at the NSW Teacher’s Federation Auditorium. The event was organised by the Stop The Intervention Coalition, Sydney.

“Renewables now!”, “Leave coal in the ground”, “No carbon trading loopholes!”, “Expand public transport” and “Keep power in public hands” will be the key demands of a climate emergency rally to be held at Darling Harbour in Sydney on October 2, just days after Ross Garnaut is to deliver his final report on recommendations for Australia’s response to climate change.

On August 6, in memory of the bombing of Hiroshima by the US in World War II, a vigil to call for the abolition of nuclear weapons was held outside Hobart’s Town Hall. The vigil, attended by 40 people, had a street theatre component to it titled Target X. Members of the Medical Association for Prevention of War (MAPW) and medical students demonstrated the effect nuclear weapons had on people.

On August 13, Justice Bernard Bongiorno began his summing up in the trial of 12 Muslim men accused of terrorist offences.

Issy Wyner, one of the early Australian Trotskyists, passed away on August 13, aged 92.

Victorian TAFE teachers voted on July 18 to take 24-hour strike action on August 20 in support of better pay and conditions after negotiations with the Victorian TAFE Association stalled.

In one of the youngest local government election tickets ever, the Socialist Alliance is standing Laura Ealing, 21, Tom Cameron, 19, and Zane Alcorn, 24, for ward 3 in the upcoming Newcastle council elections.

The Socialist Alliance campaign for Marrickville council is underway, with a ticket of three committed activists nominated for the north ward. The candidates are Pip Hinman, Jill Hickson and Howard Byrnes.

Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs) were “abolished” by the Rudd Labor government in February. However, mining giant BHP has taken advantage of “gaps” in the new laws to sign up 46 new employees to a virtually identical Enterprise Workplace Agreement, according to Steve McCartney, WA president of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU).

A group of maintenance workers at the National Foods milk processing plant in Chelsea Heights has won a 21% pay rise after having been on strike for three and a half weeks from late July. They will resume work on August 17.

Around 200 angry residents crowded into Sunshine’s Glengala Community Centre on August 12 for a second meeting on a proposed $9 billion east-west road tunnel to be built in their neighbourhood.

“All those who want to live in a healthy, equal society should vote for the Socialist Alliance”, Soubhi Iskander, one of three candidates to contest ward 3 of the Blacktown City Council elections for Socialist Alliance on September 13, told Green Left Weekly.

Victorian Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) vice president Noel Washington will now face the Geelong Magistrates Court on September 12. Washington was summonsed on June 19 to appear in court on August 8 for failing to comply with the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC). Lawyers acting for Washington contested the charges.

In a reprise of the battle to save the Franklin River, rural and urban communities are uniting to oppose plans by the Queensland state government to construct a dam across the Mary River. David White asked Steve Posselt about the campaign.

GLW Issue 762

The fourth annual Equal Love rally and exchange of “Midwinta” vows was held in Melbourne on August 3.

“Queensland is the biggest coal producing state in the biggest coal producing country in the world”, John MacKenzie of Friends of the Earth told an August 6 Socialist Alliance forum.

South Australian teachers undertook four days of rolling stoppages and community rallies across the state from August 4-7 in an attempt to force the state government to re-negotiate its pay and funding arrangement for public schools and TAFEs. Eighty-three per cent of teachers voted in favour of the stoppages in workplace ballots in late July.

Palestinian refugee Akram al Masri, 31, who was deported from Australia in 2002, has been shot dead in his homeland less than six months after Australian authorities allegedly refused him a visitor’s visa.

“Abolish the ABCC! Support rights of building workers!” was the message on protesters’ placards outside PM Kevin Rudd’s electorate office in Morningside on August 8.

From indigenous rights to liberation theology, Brisbane’s third Latin American Film Festival will showcase inspiring films.

Fifty people took part in a discussion around the topic “Sex, sexuality and the church” hosted by the Socialist Alliance on August 6.