Australian News

GLW Issue 827

A memorial for left-wing musician Alistair Hulett was held on February 14 at Sydney’s Gaelic Club.

On February 13, NSW Teachers Federation (NSWTF) councillors elected two new left candidates to the executive of the union at the first NSWTF Council of the year.

Aboriginal singer-song writer Ruby Hunter passed away on February 17. Her music dealt with her personal history, Indigenous struggles, and social and women’s issues.

Hundreds of grassroots climate activists will meet in Canberra from March 13-15 to attend the second Climate Action Summit. It will build on the success of the first summit, which occurred in January 2009 and attracted more than 500 people, representing about 150 climate action groups.

The article below is by Richard Downs, who is the spokesperson the Ampilatwatja walk-off against the Northern Territory intervention.

GLW Issue 826

On February 1, NSW premier Kristina Keneally announced changes to public transport fares and ticketing at a Parramatta railway station press conference.

Socialist councillor Sam Wainwright has called on Fremantle residents to support a March 11 rally against the state government’s attacks on the public sector.

Andrew Bolt of Melbourne’s Herald Sun published a mind-blowing scoop on his blog on February 6: there are socialists in the movement against climate change.

New figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics said unemployment had fallen in January by 22,300 to 612,000 — a drop of 0.2% to 5.3%. The ABS, which released its unemployment figures on February 11, estimated that 52,700 jobs were created in January.

More than 200 coal miners in Tahmoor, southwest of Sydney, were locked out with no pay, on February 9.

Forty-five people attended a Womens Action Abortion Coalition (WAAC) forum on February 6. They discussed the need to reanimate the campaign for women’s right to control their own fertility, in the wake of the charging of a Cairns couple in April 2009 for using the abortifacient, RU486.

More than 2500 TAFE teachers filled Sydney Town Hall on February 11 during a 24-hour strike. The action was in response to New South Wales government attacks on TAFE teachers and the delivery of quality education.

Anti-war and democratic rights activists are organising protests for US President Barack Obama’s upcoming visit.

From February 1-14, in a remote part of the Northern Territory, a group of trade unionists and Aboriginal rights activists from Victoria, New South Wales and the NT joined forces with the Alyawarr people from Ampilatwatja community to help make history.

When minimum wage negotiations begin in March, the Australian Council of Trade Unions will push for a rise of $30-$40 a week. The current minimum wage is $543.78 a week, or $14.31 an hour.

GLW Issue 825

On January 29, the federal court granted the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) access to confidential medical files held by the largest medical clinic servicing remote Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory — breaking doctor-patient confidentiality.

Forty-five people attended a public forum called "Indigenous Survival and Resistance: Solutions — Rudd vs Chavez and Morales” in Sydney’s Resistance Activist Centre on January 30. The forum was co-sponsored by Socialist Alliance and the Sydney Latin American Social Forum.

The federal opposition and the Australian Greens have both slammed Prime Minister Kevin Rudd for delaying his promised report card on Indigenous affairs for a second year in a row, saying it is a telling indicator of the government's commitment to Indigenous people.

The New Way Summit on Aboriginal rights was held at the Australian National University, Canberra from January 30 to February 1. It was attended by 150 people, plus around 600 who hooked in via phone and internet links.

Morning commuters at Laverton and Seaholme stations may have thought they had gone back in time on February 3. Usually the only staff are roving squads of ticket inspectors. Instead, commuters found a uniformed tram conductor riding the trains with them — giving out information on how the public transport system can be improved and made free.

In early December, there was a call from Mexico for artistic activities to occur in March 2010 around the world.

The crew on board the Tien Hau in the South Australian regional port of Wallaroo have had to resort to fishing for their meals. The International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) is calling for the $47,000 backpay owed to them in to be paid in full.

A number of refugees in the Christmas Island detention centre remain in a state of lock-down, following an argument over a pool table on November 21.

I had the good fortune to attend a lesbian wedding in Sydney’s Waterfall National Park on January 10. Activist Georgina Abrahams married Journey, her partner of five years, in a ceremony conducted by a monk, Dada Prana, and a nun, Didi, of the Ananda Marga.

Bronwyn Jennings, Geelong teacher and community campaigner, is the Socialist Alliance candidate in the Cowie ward by-election for the Geelong City Council, which is currently underway by postal vote.

GLW Issue 824

Federal Labor’s workplace relations minister Julia Gillard and Western Australian Liberal Premier Colin Barnett joined forces last week, demanding striking Pluto project workers return to work.

Seafarers in the offshore oil and gas industry, members of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA), are on the verge of winning historic improvements to their pay and working conditions, including a 30% pay rise and construction allowances that would give them parity with other workers involved in the construction phase of oil and gas projects.

On January 25, newly announced Australian of the Year and youth mental health expert Patrick McGorry said refugee detention centres were “factories for producing mental illness”.

“We are human beings, why are we ignored?”, a Tamil refugee inside the Christmas Island detention centre told Green Left Weekly on the night of January 28.

On January 29, woodchipping giant Gunns Limited has dropped its law suits against the last four defendants in the “Gunns 20” case and agreed to pay the four $155,088 for legal costs.