Australian News

GLW Issue 755

Opponents of the proposed Traveston Crossing Dam on the Mary River, inland from the Sunshine Coast, are preparing for a mass protest march to the Queensland ALP state conference on June 21.

Between June 10-13, NSW Nurses Association (NSWNA) branches met to consider the state government’s paltry offer of a 3.9% wage rise over one year, with strings attached.

A group of Japanese consumer representatives currently visiting Western Australia have been assured by Labor Premier Alan Carpenter that the state’s current moratorium genetically modified (GM) organisms will not be removed. The assurance was made during parliamentary question time on June 11.

Around 200 people joined a “Walk for Peace and Unity in Zimbabwe” on June 8, organised by the group Australians Supporting Zimbabwe. Gathering at the Peace Pagoda at South Bank, they walked along the Brisbane River bank to Davies Park for an information session and BBQ.

A morning rally of 50 in City Place on World Environment Day, June 5, demanded action for sustainable transport. Renee Lees from Cairns Action for Sustainable Transport (CAST) pointed out that the current Cairns transport plan proposes only that a minimum of 10% of passenger travel should be by public transport by 2036.

CSIRO staff took protest action in Melbourne and Geelong on June 13 over stalled enterprise bargaining agreement negotiations. The CSIRO Staff Association is part of the Community and Public Sector Union.

More than 100 people rallied in Wollongong’s mall on June 7 for World Environment Day. Organised by the Wollongong Climate Action Network (WCAN), the action was in opposition to the proposed sell-off of NSW electricity and plans to build a new coal-fired power station.

Who says Australians are too laid back, lazy and spend most of their time holidaying? This myth has been shattered with the findings of a global survey conducted by online travel company Expedia, which revealed that of all study participants Australians were the least likely to take their annual leave entitlements.

Anticipating a report scheduled to be released by the office of federal resources minister Martin Ferguson in about a month, NT Labor Senator Trish Crossin told the ABC on June 10 that the Northern Territory could be home to a nuclear waste dump.

Despite the longstanding water supply crisis in Queensland, big business continues to guzzle water.

As Green Left Weekly goes to print, public school teachers in South Australia are planning to strike on June 17. It will be the first all-day stopwork the SA Australian Education Union (AEU) has called in over ten years.

While the increasing censorship of art made headlines with the police raid and confiscation of Bill Henson’s work in Sydney, this is far from a stand-alone case of political interference in art.

A Chinese man, Pang Pang, was deported back to Tian Jing province last week from Sydney’s Villawood detention centre. After he had been placed into State 1 at Villawood — the immigration prison’s maximum security area — he had asked to see his case officer. No-one came to see him for two weeks, and he was subsequently deported.

GLW Issue 754

Mining giant Xstrata has been condemned by environmental campaigners for its failure to release 1999 data quantifying the impacts of mining operations on lead levels in the Mount Isa area.

A report released on June 5 by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) calls for massive job cuts and fair hikes to make Sydney train services more “efficient”. The report recommends cuts amounting to $480 million a year, the June 6 Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Key NSW public sector workers — firefighters, teachers and nurses — are to negotiate new agreements this year and are fighting a tough campaign for fair wages as they face attacks from an anti-worker state Labor government.

A new group of climate activists resolved on May 31 to campaign against the construction of a massive electricity substation in state forest in the Hackett’s Gully area.
The Hills Climate Action Group was holding its first business meeting after forming at a May 17 public forum.

NSW Treasurer Michael Costa’s third budget, on June 3, included massive handouts to big business and a nasty backhander to workers.

On June 2, the West Australian reported that WA Premier Alan Carpenter had called for a nationwide suspension of approvals for foods containing genetically modified (GM) crops until more health research was carried out. Carpenter said the national food regulator, Food Standards Australia New Zealand should not approve any more food for human consumption until independent scientific trials were conducted to better determine the safety of GM foods.

The Victorian state government’s TAFE “reform” blueprint Securing our Future Economic Prosperity: Discussion Paper on Skills Reform, released in April, pitches for higher course fees and a Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS)-style payment system spread over a few years. Currently, TAFE students pay their course fees up front.

One of the less noticed consequences of the ALP’s pre-election promise to take a “meat axe” to the federal public service has been the impact of the cuts being made to cultural institutions.

The June 5 South Australian Labor government budget has been praised as “outstanding” by business groups and the corporate media. The budget reduces business taxes and funds extensive infrastructure development.

One thousand farmers from across Victoria descended on Melbourne on June 3 to protest the state government’s North South Pipeline plan, which will bring 75 billion litres of water each year from the Goulburn River across the Great Dividing Range to Sugarloaf Reservoir. The pipeline is due to be completed by 2010.

“Under the jackboot of Howard’s Northern Territory intervention, the great majority of Aboriginal people supported Rudd in the last election. Now they feel betrayed by the Rudd Labor government”, commented Sam Watson, the Socialist Alliance’s national Indigenous affairs spokesperson, at its Queensland state conference on May 31.

GLW Issue 753

Northern Territory teachers carried out rolling stoppages on May 26-28 as part of their campaign for a new enterprise agreement with the NT government. Teachers also held an after-work rally in Darwin’s city centre on May 29.

GEELONG — On May 30, 150 workers attended the launch of the campaign against the Australian Building and Construction Commission and laws targeting building workers. The ABCC was set up under the Howard government and has been retained by Labor PM

Your Water Your Say (YWYS), the group campaigning against Victoria’s proposed Wonthaggi desalination plant, is facing bankruptcy due to the state and federal governments’ decision to pursue costs against the group after it lost a preliminary court case over the project.

On May 23, Hafizur Rahman, who has lived in Australia for 12 years and was working as a printer in Sydney, was told by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship that he must leave the country by June 6.

A climate emergency rally to be held in Melbourne on July 5 has been endorsed by more than 30 groups and more have indicated they will support it.

Qantas engineers stopped work for four hours at Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney airports over May 29-30. The workers are campaigning for a 5% wage increase.