Australian News

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.

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.

As Victoria’s parliamentary debate on abortion decriminalisation nears, pro-choice activists are stepping up their clinic defence against anti-abortion zealots. On the fourth Saturday of every month, pro-choice activists stand outside Melbourne’s Fertility Control Clinic to keep anti-abortionists on the other side of the street.

Local residents, environmentalists and public transport supporters gathered at Debney Park on May 25 to voice their opposition to a proposed tolled east-west road tunnel and a large housing tower development in the local area.

After a vibrant protest on May 26, the Gold Coast Bulletin and Channel Nine news reported that “people power” had won out over a new council policy that banned protests in almost all public parks in the Gold Coast.

“The Venezuelan revolution is slowly going forward, despite problems. President Hugo Chavez hasn’t stopped for a minute in pushing the process ahead, in the face of serious challenges”, Coral Wynter, co-leader of the Australian May Day 2008 solidarity brigade to Venezuela, told a meeting of the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network on May 26.

Around 300 Melbourne Sudanese community members and supporters took to the streets on May 27 to protest the indiscriminate killings taking place in the disputed oil-rich Abyei territory of Sudan.

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.

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.

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.

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