Australian News

GLW Issue 709

The proposed Anvil Hill coalmine in NSW is rapidly becoming a central battleground in the fight against climate change.

The proposed Anvil Hill coalmine in NSW is rapidly becoming a central battleground in the fight against climate change.

The federal budget includes a multi-million package of extra spending on "security" during coming years, according to media releases from the attorney-general's department.

GLW Issue 708

Two leaders of Melbourne’s Tamil community have been arrested and charged with terrorism offenses. Aruran Vinayagamoorthy and Sivarajah Yathavan have been accused of diverting funds raised to help tsunami victims to assist the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Twelve workers have been sacked for refusing to sign AWAs (individual contracts) with their employer, Vopak Terminals, a Port Botany company that stores and handles bulk petroleum and chemical products.

Brisbane rock band Powderfinger have removed a song from their upcoming album after being threatened with legal action by the lawyer of a cop who is on trial for beating aboriginal Palm Island man Mulrunji to death.

Melbourne’s Stop the War Coalition (STWC) held a public meeting at Trades Hall Bar on May 1 to discuss organising a contingent to protests at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference, being held in Sydney in September.

“Activists are calling for Sydneysiders to stay in the city during the APEC summit in September to protest against climate change and war, despite the NSW government urging people to go away for the weekend to ease expected congestion”, Australian Associated Press reported on May 3.

The April 27-29 ALP national conference adopted an industrial relations policy for the forthcoming federal election. Forward with Fairness confirmed Kevin Rudd’s announcement on April 17 that a future ALP government would seek to enforce the Howard government’s ban on all strikes outside of a recognised bargaining period and insist on secret ballots before strikes could be called.

On May 2, the Socialist Alliance announced that two candidates from the Gold Coast will stand in the next federal election. Amelia Taylor will run on the alliance’s Senate ticket in Queensland, alongside Aboriginal activist Sam Watson. Tim Kirchler will stand for the seat of Moncrieff, currently held by Liberal MP Steven Ciobo.

At its national conference, April 27-29, the ALP revised its policy on same-sex relationship recognition, supporting state-based registries for same-sex relationships modeled on the registry scheme in Tasmania. The conference also endorsed legislation to prohibit discrimination on the grounds of sexuality and/or gender identity.

The ALP made some minor changes to its refugee policy at its April national conference but maintained its approach: deterring asylum seekers from applying for refugee status after entering Australian waters.

RMIT university is proposing to sack note-takers and Auslan (Australian sign language) interpreters currently working at its Disability Liaison Unit (DLU), replacing them with contracted staff from outside RMIT to “save” a mere $98,000 a year.

On May 2, 200 students and staff rallied at the Carseldine campus of the Queensland University of Technology to demand that vice-chancellor Peter Coaldrake’s foreshadowed closure of the QUT humanities and human services school be withdrawn.

On April 24, the Locals for Esperance Development (LED) residents' group told the WA south coast town’s local council they wanted a complete ban on the shipment through Esperance of lead for nickel to be transported in closed containers, and community consultation about further transportation of heavy metals through the port.

GLW Issue 707

Around 1000 workers rallied in Musgrave Park on April 20 to oppose the Howard government’s Work Choices legislation, under the theme “Time’s Up”.

Civil rights and anti-war activists rallied around Australia on April 21 to demand immediate freedom for David Hicks and the closure of the US’s military prison in Guantanamo Bay.

Workers at Wangaratta fabric manufacturer Bruck Textiles defeated a second attempt by management to implement a non-union agreement in votes held on April 19 and 20. Bruck tried to entice workers to sign its sub-standard non-union agreement with a 3% annual pay increase that wouldn’t even keep up with inflation.

new front in the battle against the Howard government’s anti-union laws has opened with a push by federal workplace relations minister Joe Hockey for local councils to sign their employees up to the new Work Choices legislation.

The eight-day trial against seven people facing charges relating to a February 2006 protest against Kerry Packer’s taxpayer-funded state memorial has concluded with the dismissal of one or more charges against each defendant. Four defendants decided to plead guilty to one minor charge each.

A community protest organised by Union Solidarity shut down the construction site at Woodside’s Otways gas plant near Port Campbell on April 17.

Refugee-rights groups have accused immigration department and GSL management at the Villawood detention centre of collective punishment of detainees in the aftermath of two detainees escaping on the evening of April 19.

Around 100 people filled Newtown Neighbourhood Centre on April 18 to hear visiting Zimbabwean socialist Munyaradzi Gwisai explain the background to the Zimbabwean people’s struggle for democracy.

The “Our Public Transport” campaign was launched in Melbourne on April 12, when some 40 local commuters rallied at Flinders Street Station to demand free, publicly run transport.

Forty-nine workers at Coghlan and Russell, a car components factory in Geelong, have been stood down after the company called in receivers.

On April 14, the Victorian Socialist Alliance held its state conference, which unanimously voted to make the federal election a key area of campaigning for the coming year. The alliance will hold further meetings to preselect candidates and determine the shape of the election campaign.

Sydney city council is preparing a vicious crackdown on the ability to distribute newspapers such as Green Left Weekly and leaflets advertising political rallies and events.

GLW Issue 706

Citing low pay, management intimidation and poor safety, metal construction workers at the Coles Myer distribution centre in Somerton resigned their casual employment with labour hire contractor Busicom Solutions on April 11 and set up a 24-hour protest outside the centre.

While NSW police minister David Campbell has inspected the new APEC command in Sydney — in which the state government is wasting millions of dollars — anti-war, environmental and workers’ rights activists are preparing to send their message to US President George Bush, PM John Howard and other APEC leaders in Sydney in early September.

A dispute at Preston Motors has been resolved after an almost five-week-long campaign by workers, the National Union of Workers (NUW), Union Solidarity and other community groups. The company’s initial offer of a mere $4 a week pay rise left the workers with little choice but to fight for their rights. A community picket line was established and held tight while the dispute was underway, and the company finally agreed to negotiate with the workers’ union, the NUW.