Australian News

GLW Issue 753

On May 23-25, 160 Indigenous and non-Indigenous activists gathered in Sydney for the Unite and Fight conference, organised by the Sydney Aboriginal Rights Coalition. The conference was intended to update people on the impacts of the ongoing Northern Territory intervention and plan the campaign against it. A key priority coming out of the conference was to build large community rallies around the country on June 21, the anniversary of the announcement of the NT intervention.

Natasha Moore
and Wayne Collard, two Nyoongar members of the West Australian Aboriginal Rights Coalition (ARC-WA), attended the conference and caught up with Green Left Weekly’s Annolies Truman, also an ARC-WA member, on their return to Perth.

Tasmanian Labor Premier Paul Lennon resigned suddenly on May 26, after an opinion poll revealed his popularity had dived to just 17%, and 39% of voters would have preferred Liberal leader Will Hodgman as premier.

GLW Issue 752

A rally against a ban by the Gold Coast City Council on demonstrations in the city’s parks is being held on May 26 outside the Gold Coast council chambers in Surfers Paradise.

According to a May 21 Australian article, Dr Paul Mees, senior lecturer in transport and land use planning, intends to sue Melbourne University. Mees’s pay was cut after a university inquiry found him guilty of making insulting remarks about a state government official.

Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) president Professor Ian Lowe called on Australians to “mutiny” against government inaction on climate change, at a public forum on May 17. Forty people attended the event organised by Friends of the Earth (FoE).

MAdGE (Mothers Against Genetic Engineering) took its opposition to genetically modified food to the streets on May 21, to coincide with a May 21-22 GM crops summit in Melbourne.

Victorian Premier John Brumby announced on May 5 that a deal had been struck with the Australian Education Union. While Mary Bluett, AEU branch president, described it as “the deal we were fighting for”, many union members are furious with the agreement made on their behalf.

The Connex ticket inspectors, who already have a reputation for violent and thuggish behaviour, are pushing for the right to carry handcuffs. Julian Burnside QC, president of Civil Liberties Victoria, has described the plan as “insane”.

The Combined Rail Unions in NSW are recommending industrial action to force the NSW Rail Corporation (Railcorp) to back away from plans to cut 400 jobs on stations, along with rail workers’ conditions of work.

The opening night of the first conference of the Aboriginal Rights Coalition (ARC), held in Australia Hall on May 23, drew 170 activists from around Australia.

Anti-desalination plant campaigners rallied at the Victorian Labor Party conference in Melbourne on May 24. They were protesting against the state ALP government’s construction of a large desalination plant at Wonthaggi on the South Gippsland coast.

Only 35 of the 7500 Aboriginal children examined as part of the federal government’s Northern Territory “intervention” have been referred to child authorities for suspected abuse, according to figures released by the federal health and reported in the May 19 Brisbane Courier Mail.

On May 6, five major construction unions met in Brisbane to plan a national campaign to abolish the draconian Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC).

On May 22, 40,000 public school teachers in NSW took 24-hour strike action in opposition to the Labor state government’s refusal to negotiate with the NSW Teachers Federation (NSWTF) over the way teachers are allocated to public schools.

GLW Issue 751

Israel’s 60th birthday caused quite a stir in Leichhardt (Sydney). To mark the 60th anniversary of what Palestinians call al Nakba (the catastrophe), on May 8 the Leichhardt Public Library allowed a local peace activist group to install Hebron and al Nakba.

Angry at the raw deal they received in Treasurer Wayne Swan’s budget, up to 300 pensioners blockaded one of Melbourne’s busiest intersections on May 16.Angry at the raw deal they received in Treasurer Wayne Swan's budget, up to 300 pensioners blockaded one of Melbourne's busiest intersections on May 16.

Traffic was blocked for up to an hour before police moved the crowd onto the footpath; and some of the protesters stripped off to express their frustration.

NSW Labor’s proposal to build a dam in the Tillegra Valley will be a waste of $300 million, according to local residents who picketed the offices of Hunter Water in Newcastle on May 16.

Thirty people held a Quaker-initiated vigil at the steps of Newcastle Local Courthouse on May 13 in support of the “Kooragang 16”. The 16 faced charges for trespassing on the construction site of a new coal-loader being built in Newcastle.

“Today Israel celebrates its 60th birthday. Today is anything but a celebration for Palestinians. For them it is the 60th anniversary of The Catastrophe (Al Nakba, in Arabic)”, Fay Waddington from the Queensland Palestinian Solidarity Campaign told a speak-out on May 15. The speak-out was organised by the QPSC, Fair Go for Palestine and the Stop the War Collective.

Public school teachers committed to keeping a state-wide centralised model of staffing that guarantees teachers’ transfer rights and delivers equity for students and school communities voted on April 8 for a 24-hour strike on May 22.

After more than three years of detention, on May 16 Ali Beg Humayun was told by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship he had been granted permanent residency.

For the last four weeks, Muslim students at the city campus of RMIT have been protesting the university administration’s decision to convert the newly built Muslim prayer room into another multi-faith centre. Muslim students have held their Friday prayers in congregation in an open public space, to demonstrate their need for a dedicated Muslim prayer facility.

Five months into its term the Rudd government delivered on one of its pre-election promises and ended the Temporary Protection Visa program. The TPV program was hatched by the ultra-racist Pauline Hanson and introduced by the Howard government in 1999. It placed successful asylum seekers on three year temporary visas, having to endure the horror of being reviewed and possibly deported after three years.

More than 1000 electricity workers, employed by Energex, Ergon Energy and Powerlink, marched through the city on May 14 in an escalation of the combined power unions’ campaign for improved pay and conditions from the three state government-owned corporations.

GLW Issue 750

While Mount Isa welfare organisations are alarmed about not being able to provide for the large influx of Aboriginal people who have fled the federal government’s Northern Territory intervention, the government is looking to expand this racist bipartisan policy.

On April 27, around 300 residents gathered at Rozelle’s Callan Park in the second Sunday protest against the NSW ALP government’s bid to close the psychiatric hospital and redevelop the parklands.

Western Australian public servants voted unanimously to continue their fight for a decent pay rise at a 1000-strong rally on the steps of Parliament House on May 8.

Thirty people participated in a media stunt outside the office of federal resource minister Martin Ferguson on May 7 to demand that he and the ALP keep their election promise to repeal the Commonwealth Radioactive Management Act of 2005 and its 2006 amendment. The protest was organised by Friends of the Earth.

On May 5, the night before the Victorian budget was released, it was revealed that Premier John Brumby’s government is proposing to pay households with solar power$0.60 per kilowatt hour for electricity that they feed into the grid. However, this $0.60 will only be paid if households are exporting more energy than they are taking from the grid.

On May 5, Victorian Premier John Brumby and education minister Bronwyn Pike announced that they had struck a deal with the Victorian Australian Education Union (AEU) over teachers’ pay. While there are several aspects of the agreement to be finalised, the government decided to go public and claimed that Victorian teachers are now the highest-paid teachers in Australia.