Australian News

The Retail and Fast Food Workers Union (RAFFWU) was launched on November 21 to challenge the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association (SDA) in the wake of several wage scandals.

RAFFWU secretary Josh Cullinan said enterprise agreements struck between major retailers and the SDA mean “every day retail and fast food workers have over one million dollars taken from their pay packets”.

Cullinan said the RAFFWU is determined to help these underpaid workers.

Federal Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR) staff have made history by rejecting a management proposed deal on pay and conditions for the fourth time, each time by a larger margin.

Two other enterprise bargaining agreements were also rejected by staff in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and the National Museum of Australia.

About 100 members of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and other unions rallied outside the Indonesian consulate in the Sydney suburb of Maroubra on November 16 in support of 1000 Indonesian truck drivers and port workers who have been on indefinite strike since November 1.

Solidarity actions were held in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth on November 16 as 100,000 people joined in the Bersih 5 democracy march in Kuala Lumpur on November 19.

Bersih is the Campaign For Free and Fair Elections in Malaysia and this was its fifth major mobilisation since 2007.

More than 150 community members marched down the main street of the western New South Wales town of Cowra to demand justice for Dennis “DJ” Doolan, who was shot in the back by local police two months ago. Doolan remains in custody in Bathurst jail.

The peaceful protesters, with banners and flags, demanded justice for all Aboriginal deaths in custody as they made their way to Squire Park.

Doolan’s relative Les Coe thanked the community for their support and said he hoped this show of solidarity would unite the community beyond Cowra.

Mark Rogers, a 66-year-old retiree and grandfather, has been threatened with legal action by the Department of Human Services (DHS) over a “misleading or deceptive” logo using the Medicare colours for his website, savemedicare.org.

Rogers has been campaigning to defend Medicare from the attacks of the Tony Abbott-Malcolm Turnbull Coalition government since 2014.

Leichhardt residents and other opponents of the controversial $17 billion WestConnex motorway project picketed a test drilling rig site near Pioneer Park on November 21, preventing the site’s establishment for 24 hours.

Protests continued at the site for several days after that, with information pickets planned every morning over the next week.

Due to route changes announced by Sydney Motorway Corporation (SMC) in early November, the M4–M5 link tunnel is now slated to go underneath a larger part of Leichhardt than previously proposed.

A rally outside Victoria’s Parliament House on November 20 organised by far right racist groups United Patriots Front (UFP) and True Blue Crew to celebrate the election of US president-elect Donald Trump attracted about 25 people, far short of the 1000 hoped for by the organisers.

The racists were outnumbered more than 10 to one by 300 anti-Trump protesters and more than six to one by police who kept the two groups apart.

Refugee rights activists in the Illawarra dropped off nearly 300 postcards at the Wollongong office of local MP Sharon Bird on November 18.

The postcards call on Labor to close the Manus Island and Nauru detention centres and bring the refugees to Australia.

Employees of a Brisbane 7-Eleven store have told the ABC they were forced to pay back thousands of dollars from their wages or face losing their jobs.

They have backed up their claims with covert video showing an employee handing back a sizeable portion of her pay to the store franchisee.

Known in the industry as the “cash back” scam, workers are paid the full award rate of $25 an hour, but have to hand back up to $11 for every hour worked to the store franchisee.

Wedge-tailed eagles have found a new but unlikely prey in the Western Australian goldfields: mining company surveying drones.

South African goldmining company Gold Fields, the world's seventh-biggest gold producer, has lost nine drones to the birds, costing the company more than $100,000.

Wedge-tailed eagles are one of the largest birds of prey in the world.

Their wingspan is more than twice that of the one metre-wide drones and they have razor-sharp talons that allow them to grab and destroy the drones in flight.

Iranian refugee Mojgan Shamsalipoor finally received her high school certificate on November 16 after missing her graduation last year because she was in immigration detention.

Shamsalipoor arrived in Australia by boat in 2012 and attended Yeronga State High School.

She lived in the Brisbane Immigration Transit Accommodation Centre (BITAC) but was suddenly removed to the Darwin detention centre last August.

Greens leader Senator Richard Di Natale expressed his strong support for the embattled Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in Turkey at a Kurdish solidarity meeting at the Victorian Trades Hall on November 17.

The left-wing party has a strong base among Australia's oppressed Kurdish community. Di Natale condemned the current crackdown by the regime of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The HDP’s joint leaders, Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag, have been arrested along with a number of the party’s MPs.

The first time residents in Newtown — one of the oldest suburbs in Sydney — heard of a new Westconnex tunnel route under their homes was when a couple of test drill sites were set up in the neighbourhood. They immediately responded with a series of early morning protests at these sites.

Then an article in the November 11 Sydney Morning Herald reported that the Mike Baird Coalition government had decided to bring forward the construction of an eight-lane tunnel to link the M4 and M5 tollways.

The NSW Coalition government is in deep trouble after the disastrous by-election in the rural seat of Orange on November 12 in which the Nationals suffered a 34% swing against it.

Nationals state leader and Deputy Premier Troy Grant has been forced to resign, and has been replaced by John Barilaro.

The swing was the highest ever recorded in a NSW by-election, with some booths reporting a swing away from the Nationals of more than 60%. It is now possible the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party (SFFP) candidate, Philip Donato, could win the seat on Labor preferences.

NSW Premier Mike Baird agreed on November 15 to meet with residents campaigning against the controversial $17 billion tollway WestConnex. His promise came after they staged a sit-in at NSW Parliament House that day.

At the start of question time, three protesters attempted to drop a banner from the gallery that read “No WestCONnex / Baird it’s time to listen”.

The trio then chanted “No WestConnex” and informed MPs that dozens of residents were waiting for Baird to speak to them. They were escorted out by security.

The US Declaration of Independence declares: “When a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government”.

Err, like now, when we have just seen the racist, misogynist, billionaire bully Donald Trump “elected” US president by only 25% of the eligible vote and with 700,000 fewer votes that his opponent Hilary Clinton?

When the majority of US residents did not vote for either of these two candidates of the richest 1%?

Landholders are celebrating after a gas exploration lease south of the environmentally sensitive Whicher Range, near Margaret River, was cancelled on November 11 after it expired and was not renewed.

Mariah de Cerquiera from the Whicher Range Action Group said the cancellation was a victory for the local campaign to save the area from being turned into an industrialised gasfield.

Jasmine Pilbrow, a refugee rights activist who tried to stop the deportation of a Tamil asylum seeker, was sentenced on November 11 to a two-year good behaviour bond. No conviction was recorded.

In February last year, Pilbrow was among a group of activists trying to prevent the deportation of asylum seeker Puvaneethan.

She bought a ticket on his flight and once on board distributed flyers and refused to sit down unless he was allowed off the flight.

She was arrested by AFP officers and later charged with interfering with a cabin crew member and found guilty.

Palestinians and their supporters gathered on November 15 at Federation Square in Melbourne to celebrate the Palestinian National Day. The Palestinian flag was raised for the first time ever in Melbourne and stood next to seven other Palestinian flags.

Up to 40 teenage prisoners from Victoria’s youth justice centre at Parkville will be sent to a segregated wing of the maximum security Barwon adult prison after it was gazetted as a youth remand centre and a youth justice custodial centre on November 17.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said an adult prison was the “most appropriate facility” for those responsible for allegedly rioting at the Parkville Justice Centre the previous weekend.

He said the prisoners, all over 16, would be moved to Barwon prison “for a number of months” while the Parkville centre is “fortified”.

Staff of the federal Department of Human Services (DHS), which covers Centrelink, Medicare and the Child Support Agency, voted to reject a management-proposed enterprise bargaining agreement that would strip away workplace rights and conditions.

This is the third comprehensive “No” vote in 14 months in DHS, which is the Commonwealth government’s largest public service agency.

Communities in South Gippsland and the Latrobe Valley were delighted on November 9 to hear that Western Australian-based mining company Mantle Mining had walked away from their coalmining licences in the area.

The Victorian government granted Mantle Mining six exploration licences for brown coal in June. The licences cover almost 500 square kilometres across the Latrobe Valley and South Gippsland, including the surrounds of Mirboo North, Callignee, Jeeralang and Carrajung.

Hundreds of Health and Community Services Union (HACSU) members disrupted the Victorian State Labor Conference on November 12 to protest against plans by the Daniel Andrews government to privatise public disability services.

Delegates walked off the conference floor to meet HACSU members, people with disabilities and their friends and families at the Moonee Valley Racecourse where they heard the message loud and clear: No to the privatisation of public disability.

The Bureau of Meteorology says wind gusts up to 260km/h from a “supercell” thunderstorm and multiple tornadoes were recorded on September 28, destroying transmission towers and causing the state-wide blackout in South Australia.

The report from the BoM – which mapped the passage of storms and seven tornadoes over critical network infrastructure – makes it clear that a freak weather event was responsible for the grid blackout.

A report by UNICEF and Save the Children found operating the detention system on Nauru and Manus Island had cost $3.6 billion since the reintroduction of offshore processing in 2012.

The report said shutting offshore detention facilities would save $2 billion over four years.

Turnbacks are estimated to have cost nearly $300 million since Operation Sovereign Borders began.

In response to the election of right-wing billionaire Donald Trump as president elect in the US, a “Dump Trump” protest was organised on November 12.

The action was in solidarity with African Americans, Latinos, LGBTQIA people, the disabled and women, all of whom have borne the brunt of attacks by Trump and his supporters as they exploited xenophobia, Islamophobia, racism, homophobia and misogyny during the long election campaign.

The Queensland government has charged five former executives of Linc Energy with breaching environmental law over the operation of its underground coal gasification (UCG) site in Chinchilla from 2007 to 2013. They face up to five years in prison if found guilty.

Up to 1000 people gathered outside state Parliament on November 15 to protest against plans by the Western Australian Coalition government to sell the state’s main electricity provider, Western Power.

The protest was organised by the Use your Power Group, headed by the Australian Services Union (ASU) and Electrical Trades Union. There was also strong support from the Maritime Union of Australia, Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, United Voice, Australian Manufacturing Workers Union and State School Teachers Union.

Three Australian unionists, visiting Indonesia as part of a delegation to a South-East Asian asbestos conference, had their passports seized and were deported from Indonesia after visiting a picket line organised by transport workers in Jakarta.

The unionists, including Jackie Kriz, a member of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation and President of Geelong Trades and Labour Council, have been barred from re-entering Indonesia for six months. They were told by the Indonesian department of immigration they could apply to have the ban lifted after that time.

The WestCONnex Action Group (WAG), one of the main residents' groups opposing the NSW Coalition government's $17 billion WestConnex tollway, has slammed the government's latest changes to the controversial project.

Under new plans announced on November 10, the tollway's Camperdown interchange will be scrapped, and the M4–M5 Link tunnel widened and moved further west.

“These latest changes show yet again that the Baird government’s so-called ‘planning’ for WestConnex is a complete farce,” said WAG spokesperson Pauline Lockie.

As more than 3000 people rallied in Melbourne’s CBD on November 5 to protest against the federal government’s refugee policies, about 200 people gathered in the far northern suburb of Eltham in support of a group of Syrian refugees who will be resettled in the area in the coming weeks.

A rally was held outside the US Consulate in Sydney on November 10 in solidarity with the Standing Rock protest camp against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The Dakota Access oil pipeline is threatening to pollute water and land of the Sioux and other Native American groups. If completed it will move almost half a million barrels of oil a day, worsening climate change and threatening the entire planet's survival.

Victoria Police has evicted homeless people from empty properties in Bendigo Street, Collingwood, that had been acquired by the previous government for the now-cancelled East West Link.

The government said the homeless people had to be evicted so it could give the houses to homeless people.

The Refugee Action Collective organised a public meeting on November 7, addressed by Harry Wicks, who had worked as a carpenter at the Nauru detention centre and Bernard, a Malaysian who has done volunteer work at refugee camps in Malaysia.

Wicks said that Nauru, a small island with a population of 10,000 people, has a 90% unemployment rate.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) announced on October 25 that last year, thanks to cost reductions and significant policy support in key countries, renewables have surpassed coal to become the largest source of installed power in the world. This has prompted the IEA to significantly boost its five-year forecast for renewable energy growth.

One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts held a press conference on November 7 to release a 42-page document that claims the CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology corrupted climate data and that global warming is an international Jewish banking conspiracy to gain global control through environmentalism.

The list of things renewable energy can be blamed for received a creative contribution from little-known Liberal backbencher Craig Kelly on November 7 when he linked renewable energy with child drownings.

His argument went like this: environmentalists promote renewable energy policies; renewable energy will drive up the cost of electricity; public swimming pools require electricity to filter and heat; higher electricity prices mean pools will have to either cut swimming lessons or charge more for them; fewer children will learn to swim; therefore, more children will drown.

rally for workers comp

About 200 unionists rallied on November 3 to highlight the plight of injured workers in the state. The day marked the beginning of the NSW parliamentary Law and Justice Committee’s review of the 2012 changes to workers' compensation legislation by the Coalition state government.

Speakers included representatives of UnionsNSW and individual unions, state MPs, and workers who had presented testimony to the committee that morning.

In the wake of the horrific burning to death of Brisbane bus driver Manmeet Sharma on October 28, the Rail Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) held a national day of respect on November 9 to highlight the issue of driver safety across Australia.

In a statement RTBU national president Phil Altieri said: “It was an honour to join sisters and brothers from across the union movement today in honouring Manmeet Sharma (Alisher).

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