Australian News

Geelong Trades Hall announced on November 2 that Tim Gooden has formally resigned as secretary and treasurer after 11 years at the council’s helm.

Colin Vernon, formerly an Industrial Health and Safety Organiser in Geelong with the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union, Forestry and Furniture Products Division, was endorsed as secretary.

Gooden notified Trades Hall of his decision to vacate the positions in a letter to president Jacqueline Kriz.

Crowd at a forum

Hundreds of people attended the first leg of the 100% Renewables Roadshow in Adelaide on October 31, demonstrating strong community support for renewable energy in South Australia.

Solar Citizens National Director Claire O’Rourke spoke about their Homegrown Power Plan, which maps out a proposal for how Australia can get to 100% renewable energy by 2030.

Results in the October 22 Victorian local council elections were mixed.

The Greens won big increases in representation in Melbourne’s inner city councils, the two socialist councillors retained their positions, but racists retained their positions on a couple of councils.

The Greens stood more candidates than in previous council elections. They retained 13 of their 16 council seats and won an extra 16 council seats.

Of the extra 16 seats, four were elected to councils which had never had Greens councillors, including Hobsons Bay, Banyule, Monash and Cardinia Shire.

Melbourne’s Herald Sun newspaper has once again vilified the unemployed by publishing an article linking methamphetamine use with being on welfare. Only individuals who had been arrested by police were surveyed in the study mentioned in this piece.

The October 18 front page article read: “70% of ice users arrested by police admit being on welfare, nationwide survey finds”. However, this does not mean 70% of those receiving welfare payments are ice users.

Residents of Yarraville in Melbourne’s inner western suburbs have campaigned for years to ban heavy truck traffic through the suburb.

Despite some victories such as truck curfews at night and during school hours, and the promise of eventual diversion of traffic through a planned bypass, residents now face the prospect of B Double trucks being diverted through the suburb.

On October 28, the 100th anniversary of the first conscription referendum, historian Michael Hamel-Green gave a talk at the Brunswick Library entitled "When Australians said no to war".

Hamel-Green said that in official commemorations of World War I there is "amnesia" about the divisions among the Australian people over the war.

When the initial high level of voluntary recruitment to the army declined, Labor Prime Minister Billy Hughes decided to introduce conscription for overseas service — conscription for service within Australia was already legal.

The NSW Coalition government is under fire again after property owners in Sydney's south-west were hit by a "monumental stuff-up" in which at least 140 new buyers were not told they would be in the path of a future motorway before they bought their properties.

The blunder affects properties purchased between June 27 and October 24 this year that are in or near the planned F6 extension corridor in Sydney's south and the Werrington Arterial project. The Labor opposition has linked the error with the privatisation of the agency responsible, Land and Property Information.

Members of Melbourne’s Kurdish community rallied outside the city’s Turkish consulate on October 28 to protest the arrests of the co-mayors of the city of Diyarbakir in south-east Turkey.

The two mayors, Gültan Kişanek and Firat Ali, were arrested on October 25 and accused of links to the banned Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK). Kişanek is also an elected member of the Turkish Parliament for the pro-Kurdish Democratic Regions Party. She is also the city’s first female mayor.

Staff of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) have overwhelmingly rejected a proposed enterprise bargaining agreement that would cut workplace rights and conditions, for a pay rise well below inflation. A ballot announced on November 1 revealed that 70% of eligible staff voted against CSIRO management's proposed EBA, dealing a further setback to the Turnbull government's faltering public sector bargaining policy.

The Illawarra Knitting Nannas Against Gas (IKNAG) quizzed candidates in the November 12 Wollongong by-election in a Meet the Candidates knit-in on October 29.

“Right now the Stop CSG fight is neither won nor lost,” said Nanna Annie Marlow. “After passing legislation a year ago on its Strategic Release Framework the Baird government has stalled. One year on there is not a murmur from Parliament House of where they intend to allow coal seam gas mining in NSW and the Nannas are nervous because there is no area in the state that is protected.”

A police action on October 28 evicted occupants of Bendigo Street houses, which had been compulsorily acquired by the former coalition government for the East West Link project that was later scrapped by Labor.

Joel from the Homeless Persons Union of Victoria told Green Left Weekly the eviction was in violation of an agreement with the state government that the houses would be vacated and the keys handed over to assigned occupants of public housing.

The house which was seized was waiting to be occupied by First Nations occupants, he said.

Three activists scaled the roof of immigration minister Peter Dutton’s Brisbane electorate office on November 2 to protest the government’s proposed new immigration law.

Activists Scarlett Squire, Kelly Purnell and Ellen Sargent climbed the roof and unfurled an Australian flag covered in blood.

Under the proposed law, any asylum seeker attempting to enter Australia by boat will be banned from ever entering the country.

Family First Senator Bob Day finally resigned from the Senate on November 1 “effective immediately”, in a major setback for the federal government's plan to revive the controversial, anti-union Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC).

Day first announced his intention to resign on October 17, after his housing businesses were placed into liquidation. He then suggested he might stay on until November so he could vote on the ABCC bill and other legislation.

Victorian Planning Minister Richard Wynne said changes to planning laws about to be introduced mean they could force the developers behind the demolition of Melbourne's Corkman Irish Pub to "replicate the site immediately prior to demolition".

The heritage listed 159-year-old Corkman Irish Pub, previously known as the Carlton Inn, was illegally demolished on October 15.

Its owners had no building or planning permits.

Before the demolition, the developers commissioned an architect to draw plans for a 12-storey tower on the site.

The Narcotic Drugs Amendment Act 2016 came into effect on October 30, allowing people to apply for a licence to cultivate cannabis for their own medical needs, to manufacture cannabis products for sale for medicinal purposes, or to conduct related research.

The Act now gives patients access to a safe, reliable and legal source of cannabis for medicinal use. Previously patients had to import medicinal cannabis products.

Rallies against the systemic violence against Aboriginal people were held in Adelaide, Sydney, Perth and Brisbane on October 22.

The call to action was specifically protesting the murders in custody of Wayne “Fella” Morrison and Miss Dhu, the shooting of Dennis Doolan and the abuse and torture of Dylan Voller in Don Dale prison.

Anti-WestConnex tollway protesters picketed along the street in Salisbury Road, Newtown, on October 28, in opposition to attempts to carry out a test drill at the site. The drilling is part of the geological survey work required for possible future tunnelling under the nearby Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPAH).

The Federal Court has overturned the federal government’s decision to allow a $180 million deep sea port on Melville Island near Darwin without an environmental assessment.

Approval of the Port Melville oil and gas marine supply base on the banks of the near pristine Apsley Strait was reversed on October 21 after legal action by the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) on behalf of Environment Centre NT (ECNT).

The decision means the operation of the base at Port Melville now has no Commonwealth approval and all operations must cease.  

The Rank and File Team has re-won the leadership of the NSW Public Service Association.

Stewart Little, an advocate for the Police Association and part-time disability support worker defeated Anne Gardiner who had been elected general secretary in 2012 on the Progressive PSA ticket.

Gardiner abandoned the Progressives caucus shortly after her election and during her tenure focused on internal union reforms and favoured small target and multimedia campaigns around jobs and defending public services.

Members of the National Union of Workers (NUW) at Caltex’s site in Lytton, Queensland voted to start indefinite industrial action on October 25.

NUW members decided to take indefinite action following attempts by the company to effectively cut workers’ wages by 15%. They had been pursuing a modest annual increase in line with the Consumer Price Index, to protect their current conditions.

Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV) has dropped its legal challenge to the Victorian Country Fire Authority (CFA) enterprise agreement in Victoria's Supreme Court. This enables the agreement to be put to CFA employees for a vote.

However, this is unlikely to be the end of the dispute. VFBV is likely to try other means of blocking the agreement.

Economist and author of Capital in the 21st Century Thomas Piketty gave a lecture entitled “Is Increasing Inequality Inevitable?” to a full house at the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall on October 23.

Piketty presented detailed research on growing income inequality compiled by a number of scholars and sourced directly from national taxation and income statistics from primarily advanced capitalist countries, as well as some statistics from a number of the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).

As part of this year's Anti-Poverty Week, a conference in South Australia A looked at how a lack of jobs is changing the nature of unemployment into an increasingly long-term phenomenon.

The federal treasurer’s “solution” to the housing affordability crisis is to get state governments to relax restrictions on housing developers to increase supply.

Scott Morrison told the industry’s peak body, the Urban Development Institute, on October 24 that “housing in Australia, especially in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, is expensive and increasingly unaffordable, but that does not mean it is overvalued.”

How can you have more affordable housing and keep prices up at the same time?

The answer is you can’t do both.

A defiant action was organised on October 22 to protest the recent murder in custody of Wayne “Fella” Morrison.

Morrison died at Royal Adelaide Hospital on September 26, three days after a beating by prison guards at Adelaide’s Yatala Labour Prison left him brain dead.

In a coordinated effort on United Nations Day on October 24, the Knitting Nannas Against Gas (KNAG) made long-overdue citizens’ arrests of some of the biggest climate criminals in the land.

“The Great NannArrest” involved citizen’s arrests of MPs, including Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at his eastern Sydney electorate office.

When they found the PM missing in action at his Edgecliff office, they arrested another Malcolm — a man wearing a mask.

The Huttonham Estate in Preston was one of Victoria’s first public housing estates when it was built in the 1940s.

Once home to 60 families, the houses were demolished five years ago and the land has been untouched and vacant ever since.

Now the Victorian government has revealed plans to build 68 public housing units and an unknown number of privately-owned dwellings on the land.

Housing groups say the land should be used for its intended purpose of housing low-income residents amid skyrocketing property prices in Melbourne.

For the first time in ACT history, the majority of politicians elected to the Legislative Assembly are women. The final results revealed 52% of the ACT's politicians, or 13 out of 25, were women.

The final result of the election for the expanded 25-seat Assembly, held on October 15, was announced by Electoral Commissioner Phil Green on October 26. The make-up of the parliament will be Labor 12 members, the Liberals 11 and the Greens two.

The Victorian Sentencing Manual, which acts as a guide to sentencing in all Victorian jurisdictions, now says a sex worker’s profession should have no impact on the sentencing of sex offenders who target them. The manual previously suggested that sex workers were less vulnerable in cases of sexual assault than other victims due to the nature of their work.

Charges of offensive language against three protesters at a Community Action Against Homophobia protest against NSW Christian Democrat politician Fred Nile in September last year have been dismissed after a year-long court battle.

On October 25, all charges and fines against Cat Rose, Patrick Wright and April Holcombe were dismissed after a judge ruled that chanting “fuck Fred Nile” and “fuck off bigots” through a loudspeaker does not constitute offensive behaviour.

The NSW Coalition has sold 50.4% of the publicly-owned power distribution network Ausgrid to a consortium of AustralianSuper and IFM Investors. It is spinning it as a "win" for the mums and dads. The reality is otherwise. Without public ownership of energy, we have very little chance of moving swiftly to more sustainable options, as the climate science demands.

Those who believe empowered communities are the best defence to politics-as-usual are celebrating the re-election of two hard-working socialist councillors — Sue Bolton and Stephen Jolly — in Victoria’s local council elections held on October 22.

Caltex workers on picketline

Members of the National Union of Workers (NUW) at Caltex’s site in Lytton, Queensland commenced indefinite industrial action on October 25.

The site manufactures lubricants and motor oils. Its key clients are mining companies. It is the only Caltex lubricant manufacturing plant in the country.

After a successful morning's picket that saw trucks backed up to the motorway, NUW members at Caltex lubricants in Brisbane have voted to repeat the blockade tomorrow morning from 5am.

The University of Sydney has acknowledged many times that students have the right to peacefully protest. For 65 days that is exactly what students and supporters of the university’s Sydney College of the Arts (SCA) did — until dawn on October 25 when 15 police and 20 guards forcibly ended their protest.

The students had been protesting since the university informed students and staff on June 21 of its plan to merge SCA with the University of NSW’s Art & Design Student Centre and the National Art School in Darlinghurst.

The dispute involving 55 unfairly sacked Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) maintenance workers is achieving media fame and causing a widespread boycott of CUB products.

The community protest that began 19 weeks ago has recently exploded on social media and now includes #BoycottCUB merchandise, giant city billboards and anti-CUB parties.

Protesters outside residents being evicted

Contractors for the controversial $18 billion WestConnex tollway project dismantled their Sydney Park construction compound on Euston Road, St Peters, on October 14, following a major community campaign to stop the works.

Residents had mounted a 24-hour-a-day camp beside the site from September 19 after receiving notification that construction, including destruction of trees, would start that day.

The Productivity Commission’s main remit seems to be giving advice on cost savings, which is at odds with its annual budget. The upkeep and functioning of the commission costs taxpayers about $33 million a year.

Clinton Pryor left Matagarup (Heirisson Island) on September 1. It was the start of his long walk to Kalgoorlie, then on to Uluru, south to Adelaide, then Melbourne and Sydney. He plans to finally arrive in Canberra in the second week of January, 2017.

Clinton is a young committed Aboriginal warrior for justice and is a supporter of Green Left Weekly.

“The thing I cherish most in my life was living in community out on country with my mother and my people. My mum was a very happy and lovely lady. She was a person who believed in happiness," he told GLW.

The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) approved the right-wing Australia First Party’s use of the Eureka flag as its logo on October 13, despite 11 written submissions opposing its use.

The AEC said the objectors provided “insufficient evidence” the application should be refused. It said it had no discretion to consider “historical and cultural claims” surrounding the Eureka flag. 

Ballarat Trades Hall Council secretary Brett Edgington said the decision by the AEC marked a “sad day for Australia”. 

On October 18, students delivered an open letter to Vice-Chancellor Martin Bean signed by 401 RMIT academics and staff calling on the university to dump its fossil fuel investments.

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