Australian News

GLW Issue 984

The proposed East-West tunnel being built in Melbourne’s inner-north has been delayed again as residents prevented soil testing by staging rolling protest actions.

But the battle is likely to resume soon.

The East-West tunnel was originally proposed in 2008. After a community campaign, the former Labor state government dropped the proposal, but Premier Denis Napthine’s Coalition government revived the $8 billion plan in 2011.

How could a former agent of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet’s notorious secret police, who is facing charges of kidnapping and forced disappearances and whose bail conditions prohibited them from leaving Chile, now be living in Australia?

This is the question many have asked after the recent broadcast on SBS Radio of an interview with former National Intelligence Directorate (DINA) agent Adriana Rivas.

In the interview, Rivas says she began working at DINA in 1974.

When the global financial crisis (GFC) unfolded in 2008, the unemployment rate for 15 to 19-year-olds looking for full-time work in Australia increased from 15% to 25%. It has remained at this level ever since.

In July, it stood at 25.5%. However, in the 10 areas listed by the Department of Human Services as the most disadvantaged in the country, the youth unemployment rate is more than 40%.

Adelaide-based welfare campaign group Stop Income Management in Playford released the statement below on October 3.

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Reports that the Coalition is planning to fund major expansions of Income Management as part of the 2014 Federal Budget are deeply alarming.

Despite six years of income management operating in the Northern Territory, there remains no compelling, solid data that the policy improves the financial-management skills or well-being of welfare recipients.


West Papuans and supporters took part in a Freedom Flotilla earlier this month to highlight the fight for a free West Papua

Sydney’s Refugee Action Coalition released the statement below on October 12.

Read More:
West Papua: Indonesia uses soldier deaths to escalate conflict
Australian gov't backs Indonesian atrocities

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Abortion rights activists will mobilise in Melbourne on October 12 to oppose threats to women’s access to abortion from the federal government and anti-choice groups.

The rally, to be held at the steps of the Victorian parliament, is a counter-rally to the annual "March for the Babies", which will be staged on the same day.

Pro-choice activists will also protest the controversial "Zoe’s law", currently under debate in the NSW parliament.

GLW Issue 983

The infamous front page of Rupert Murdoch's Daily Telegraph on August 5, screaming “KICK THIS MOB OUT” in reference to Kevin Rudd's Labor government, reminded many of the role the media play in politics.

As a huge fan, I'm really disappointed to hear that, despite looking at the situation closely, Amanda Palmer has decided to cross the picket line of the Palestinian call for a cultural boycott of Israel and organise a gig in Tel Aviv.

I had the honour for the first time of rocking out with Palmer live for myself earlier this month.

Refuge groups are concerned for the welfare and security of seven West Papuan asylum seekers flown overnight from Horn Island to Port Moresby.

The seven who arrived in Boigu Island in the Torres Starit on September 25 are fleeing Indonesian military and police.

One West Papuan accused of promoting West Papuan independence and involvement in an independence ceremony on September 12 has been arrested by Indonesia police, while others are being hunted.

The West Papua Freedom Flotilla released this statement on September 25.

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Six West Papuans have fled across the border to Australia after being hunted by Indonesian authorities for taking part in a ceremonial handover of sacred water and ashes from Australian Aboriginal elders. They have been detained by Australian immigration after reaching Boigu Island in Australia on September 24.

NSW parliament narrowly voted down a September 17 motion to discipline Liberal MLC Peter Phelps over comments he made in parliament defending General Augusto Pinochet’s violent military coup against Chile’s president Salvador Allende in 1973.

Members of the Chilean community have vowed to continue the campaign to hold Phelps to account for his outrageous comments.

On September 11, 40 years to the day of the coup, Phelps praised Pinochet as “a reluctant hero, a morally courageous man” and said he supported a military coup that deposed a democratically elected government.

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The third Swan Island Peace Convergence was held in Queenscliff, Victoria from September 22 to 26. About 50 peace activists from around the country converged in Queenscliff with the aim to blockade the top secret Swan Island Military Base.

The military base on Swan Island is used as a training facility for SAS troops, a special operations force of the Australian army. This includes troops involved in counter-terrorism operations in Afghanistan.

It is also a communications centre for the Australian Secret Intelligence Service.

"We are at a critical point in human history," prominent Canadian environmentalist David Suzuki told an audience of about 500 people at a public forum at Sydney University, on September 25.

"What we do or do not do in the next period will determine the future of the human species and the planet,” he said.

The meeting, called "The challenge of the 21st century: Setting the real bottom line”, was sponsored by the Sydney Environment Institute, University of Sydney. It was part of a series of talks and media appearances by Suzuki on his Australian visit.

GLW Issue 982

About 1000 protesters marched through the streets of Melbourne on September 21, in opposition to the Coalition government’s attacks on refugees. It was the first refugee rights rally since the election of Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

The rally heard from several speakers, including Bishop Philip Huggins, from the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne, Ingrid Stitt from the Australian Services Union, Janet Rice, newly elected Greens Senator for Victoria, and Karen Jones from the Refugee Action Collective.

Large stop-work rallies were held across Western Australia on September 19 to fight the Liberal state government’s education cuts.

About 15,000 people attended the rally in Perth and another 5000 attended stop-work meetings across regional WA, including 2000 in Bunbury, 500 in Albany, 520 in Pinjarra and 200 in Port Hedland.

Even small schools in the remote north-west of the state took part. A total of 62 schools were shut down for the morning.

Members of Sydney's Chilean community and supporters protested outside New South Wales Parliament on September 16 to demand Premier Barry O'Farrel sack Liberal MP Peter Phelps.

Hundreds of people gathered at Federation Square in Melbourne on September 14 to oppose the planned construction of a McDonald’s restaurant opposite a primary school in the Dandenong Ranges town of Tecoma.

The demonstration included performances by the Tecoma flash mob and musicians, colourful handmade signs and costumes, passionate speakers, and the launch of a documentary about the campaign, which detailed the events of Tecoma’s ongoing fight against the corporate bullying of McDonald’s over the past year.

Hundreds of blind people and their supporters have linked white canes in front of Vision Australia Enterprises in support of blind manual workers facing the sack at the end of this month. The white cane chain stretched more than 200 metres, doubling back across the length of the Kensington worksite. It received widespread media coverage.

The crowd, which gathered on September 15, chanted, “people before profits” and “have some vision, change your decision”, referring to Vision Australia’s decision to close its supported employment program because it failed to make a profit.

Jeff Halper, the leader of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), spoke about his ideas on the future of Palestine and Israel at Melbourne University on September 19.

The ICAHD campaigns against the demolition of Palestinian houses by the Israeli occupation regime. It has rebuilt 187 houses that had been demolished.

"Over the past 20 years since the Oslo Accords were signed, we have seen the continued reduction of Palestinian sovereignty over their legitimate territory,” Richard Falk told a forum at Sydney University on September 19.

“Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and elsewhere are consigned to a permanent never-never land. The oppression of the Palestinians by Israel over the past decades is one of the most unspeakable denials of human rights in the world today.”

Falk is the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights, and a leading legal academic from the US.

Socialist councillor Sam Wainwright is one of three Fremantle councillors facing a challenge in the local government elections that open on September 26. Mayor Brad Pettitt, a member of the Greens, also faces a challenge from defeated federal Liberal candidate Matthew Hanssen.

The city of Fremantle has a relatively progressive council. All the challengers are more conservative than the incumbents.

GLW Issue 981

The fight to defend public education is shaping up to be a key campaign against the cutback agenda of the Colin Barnett government in Western Australia. Thousands of teachers and education assistants rallied outside state parliament on September 3 in two separate mobilisations and further industrial action is planned.

The government claimed it has not cut education funding. However, the central issue is not about overall funding but the cuts to staffing levels. In August, the government announced they were planning to cut 500 education assistants and other support workers.

The Socialist Alliance ran seven lower house candidates and a Senate team in NSW in the recent federal elections. Through letterboxing, campaign stalls, public forums and polling day, it engaged people who wanted to be involved in activism and politics in a meaningful way.

September 11 marked 40 years since a brutal military coup brought down the left-wing government of President Salvador Allende in Chile.

The "Other September 11" represented the state terrorist actions of the US government and the CIA in subverting and overthrowing a democratically elected progressive government — one of many such right-wing coups sponsored by the US in Latin America over the past century.

Are you sick of elections that primarily involve a choice between two pro-capitalist parties?

Well, here's your chance to experience an election involving a mass mobilisation of revolutionary-minded people determined to bring about socialism of the 21st century in their country.

The Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network (AVSN) will host its 14th solidarity brigade to Venezuela over December 4-13. The registration closing date has now been extended to October 1.

The NSW firefighters union has slammed the Barry O’Farrell state government for recent budget cuts that left five fire stations closed as more than 60 bushfires raged across the state on September 10.

The West Papua Freedom Flotilla released this statement on September 12.

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Evading the Indonesian navy, two tiny boats met near the Australia-Indonesia border to ceremonially reconnect the indigenous peoples of Australia and West Papua. The ceremony was the pinnacle of a 5000 kilometre journey beginning in Lake Eyre, in which sacred water and ashes were carried and presented to West Papuan leaders.

Supporters of the Freedom Flotilla to West Papua, including the Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy, gathered outside the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Brisbane on September 2.

They were protesting against the arrest of four supporters of the Freedom Flotilla in the West Papuan city of Sorong on August 28 and who are now facing charges of treason for raising the West Papuan Morning Star flag.

Pro-choice activists fear that a new bill, soon to go to NSW parliament, will pose a threat to women’s reproductive rights. “Zoe’s law” will create a new offence that recognises crime or harm against a foetus.

The Crimes Amendment (Zoe’s Law) Bill 2013 No. 2 was introduced by Liberal MP Chris Spence. It is named after the stillborn daughter of Brodie Donegan, who was 32-weeks pregnant when she was hit by a car on Christmas day in 2009 near Ourimbah on the central coast. Donegan suffered severe injuries and an emergency caesarean was too late to save the foetus.

GLW Issue 980

Gippsland Trades and Labour Council secretary John Parker is standing as an independent candidate in the seat of MacMillan. Green Left Weekly’s Susan Price spoke to Parker about his campaign.

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What prompted you to stand as a candidate?