Australian News

More than 100 people marched through the streets on September 13 to demand their right to participate in local council elections. The action, organised by Wollongong Against Corruption, was addressed by Vicki Curran, Paul Matters and Graham Larcombe from WAC, Peter Moran from the Greens, Jess Moore from the Socialist Alliance, plus others.

“There needs to be action in this country. People like yourselves can make it happen”, Palm Island Aboriginal leader Lex Wotton, who is facing a jail sentence of 10 years, told a public meeting at the Queensland University of Technology on September 10.

Women seeking a termination of their pregnancy during the second trimester, and beyond, may be denied access to Medicare funding if Tasmanian Senator Guy Barnett is successful in his bid to axe funding for abortions after the 14th week of pregnancy. Currently, women seeking an abortion are covered under the Medicare scheme up until 26 weeks of pregnancy.

The dumping or resignation of half a dozen ministers from the NSW Labor government over the last fortnight — brought on by internal warfare over the cabinet’s refusal to scrap its electricity privatisation plan — has still not convinced the new premier and ALP power-brokers to drop the plan altogether.

On September 4, the federal Labor government introduced a bill in parliament to partially end discrimination against same-sex couples.

The United States administration has stepped up pressure to ban Hezbollah TV station Al-Manar (The Beacon) in Australia and Indonesia.

“We knew we had to have the support of migrant women, of the union, and of the community or we couldn’t win”, Robynne Murphy, from the Jobs for Women campaign (JFWC), told a September 11 forum organised by Green Left Weekly and the Socialist Alliance.

Thirty people gathered at the Governor of Hindmarsh Hotel for the second Politics in the Pub hosted by the Socialist Alliance on September 11. The topic — “Can we solve the water crisis?” — was addressed by Peter Laffan, chair of the Save our Gulf Coalition, and Bernie Laidlaw of the Socialist Alliance.

While “Blue Glue” may sound like a new party drug, it’s in fact much more sinister and less fun. According to the company of the same name, Blue Glue is a marvel of innovation, “helping clients create secure environments, manage information and deploy global solutions”, says the Defence Materiel Organisation’s website.

Ross Garnaut’s long-anticipated “Targets and Trajectories” report into Australia’s carbon emissions future signals a wholesale surrender to the corporations desperate to change as little as possible and preserve their profits at any cost. It is a refusal to take the steps necessary to avert the very real dangers that climate change poses to life on the planet.

Eight hundred unionists and supporters protested outside the Geelong Magistrates’ Court on September 12, as Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) official Noel Washington appeared, charged with refusing to cooperate with the Australian Building Construction Commission (ABCC).

After a boring, month-long state election campaign, Western Australian politics suddenly burst into life immediately after the September 6 poll, in which Labor won more seats than the Liberals but neither major party won a clear majority.

The Stop the Eastern Terminal Substation (SETS) Action Group, in the Perth Hills area, is an outstanding example of what can be achieved by community-based action groups.

People in Australia are being urged to pressure the federal parliament to pass a resolution calling on the Japanese government to apologise and provide compensation to the “comfort women” of World War Two.

Information released under freedom of information (FOI) laws shows that NSW Police is keeping detailed documentation about numerous groups and individuals on the political left. Police intelligence assessments have targeted a variety groups, including Mutiny and Greenpeace.

Ambre Energy’s proposed coal-to-oil project at Felton, a farming community 30 kilometres from Toowoomba, would be a disaster for the local community and environment, according to the newly formed Friends of Felton group.

“Construction unions across Australia are running the Rights On Site campaign against the union-bashing ABCC [Australian Building and Construction Commission].

“The news that nine Australian special forces soldiers have been wounded in Afghanistan — the largest number of casualties since the Vietnam War — reminds us that, as in any occupation, there will be resistance”, Alex Bainbridge, a spokesperson for Sydney Stop the War Coalition (STWC), told Green Left Weekly on September 4.

For construction union delegate Howard Byrnes, who is standing for the Socialist Alliance in the Marrickville council elections, the struggle over the privatisation of electricity, the alarming scientific news about climate change, and Labor’s cuts to services and wages have provided opportunities to talk up the need for a democratic, working-class party.

If the firm Altona Resources has its way, South Australia within five years will have a major new source of base-load electricity, set to feed into the power grid for many decades to come. Not only that, but the firm promises to supply the Australian market with as much as 10 million barrels per year of diesel fuel.

Public discussion during Newcastle’s council election campaign has shifted to the left.

The overwhelming public opposition to electricity privatisation in NSW has claimed the political scalps of former premier Morris Iemma, hated treasurer Michael Costa and deputy premier John Watkins.

“The Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister have got it right on the ABCC [Australian Building and Construction Commission]”, wrote Wilhelm Harnisch, Master Builders Australia’s (MBA) chief executive officer, on August 28 on the ABC Unleashed website.

“The state Labor government’s failure to honor its promise to pay $55.4 million in reparations to Indigenous stolen wages claimants [is] incomprehensible”, Queensland Council of Unions (QCU) general secretary Ron Monaghan said in an August 19 statement.

On August 28, Gunns Limited announced to the Australian Securities Exchange that there is a possibility the controversial Tamar Valley pulp mill may not proceed.

On August 29, Dr Mohamed Haneef was officially declared“no longer a person of interest” — after more than 12 months of “investigations” that included detention without charge, the then-federal Howard government revoking his visa, and continual insinuations of “support for terrorism”, at a total cost of over $8.5 million.

On August 27, education minister Julia Gillard tabled legislation enabling welfare recipients’ payments to be denied for up to three months if their children were regularly absent from school.

Fairfax journalists, photographers, artists and graphic designers returned to work on September 1 after a four-day strike. The strike affected the Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian Financial Review, the Age, the Illawarra Mercury and the Newcastle Herald.

“Archbishop [John] Bathersby must have solved all Brisbane problems of homelessness, of abuse, of refugees … if he wants to focus on such idiotic matters”, a St Mary’s parishioner told a 500-strong packed gathering at the South Brisbane church on August 25 in response to the archbishop’s threat to shut the popular, progressive parish down.

Fifteen hundred electricity workers walked off the job on August 29, just 24 hours after the NSW cabinet voted to sell off electricity retail in NSW.

Up to 5000 Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union members in Victoria’s building industry unanimously endorsed an enterprise agreement that guarantees a 15% pay rise over the three years of the agreement.

The NSW Greens have called for moratorium on the issuing of water licenses in the Murray-Darling Basin until a thorough independent study of the cumulative impact of mining on water resources in the basin has been made.

A busload of “Save the Mary River” activists from Brisbane will join an expected 1000-plus protesters to form a human chain at the location of the planned Traveston Dam on the Mary River on September 6. The rally will be part of GetUp’s climate torch relay, in support of actions to address climate change.

A county court judge reduced the sentences of four G20 protesters on appeal on August 28. The four, along with other activists, received severe penalties last April in relation to altercations with police at a protest against the G20 meeting held in Melbourne in November 2006.

In a breakthrough for the WA anti-uranium movement, Premier Alan Carpenter has promised to legislate to ban uranium mining in the state if his government is re-elected at the September 6 state poll.

Journalists at Fairfax publications walked off the job after mass meetings on August 28. The journalists, members of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA), struck for a pay increase and against the announced sacking of 550 staff from Australian and New Zealand Fairfax operations.

The Queensland branch of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union has called statewide stop-work actions and rallies on September 12, the day Victorian CFMEU official Noel Washington faces an initial hearing in Geelong over charges brought by the Australian Building and Construction Commission.

Teachers in Victoria have been dealt another blow, with greater powers being handed to the Victorian Institute of Teaching as part of a review of the VIT launched mid-2007.

A Rudd government plan to punish parents dependent on welfare with up to three months’ loss of income if their children play truant has been condemned as “elitist and out of touch” by Tasmanian Aboriginal leader Michael Mansell.

“People are eating mainly bread, flour, milk powder and sugar, and deriving a huge proportion of their energy from these foods that cost the least but are going to fill people up and divert hunger”, Julie Brimblecombe told ABC Radio National’s The World Today on August 25.

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