Australian News

There was standing room only at the Collingwood Health Centre as about 200 people met on July 20 to oppose the East-West tunnel and tollway. The road plan threatens to demolish homes, spew fumes onto a primary school and childcare centre, and destroy wetlands and parks in Melbourne’s west.

Yarra councillor and Socialist Party member Stephen Jolly said the campaign was not a lost cause, but a long-term fight. He urged people to look at the legal and political options, as well as mass actions and pickets if work went ahead on the project.

The New South Wales government recently announced it would privatise the state's largest remaining port in Newcastle for an estimated $700 million.

Coal exports are expected to double from 135 million tonnes over the next 20 years after the state government's recent expansion of the port.

It will be subject to a 99-year lease under the sell-off deal.

State treasurer Mike Baird announced the plan as part of the budget.

The WikiLeaks Party formally announced its Senate candidates on July 25.

Three candidates will be standing for the Senate in Victoria, including WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, author and Monash University gender studies lecturer Leslie Cannold, and RMIT law lecturer Binoy Kampmark.

Two candidates will stand in the Senate in NSW — human rights lawyer Kellie Tranter and former diplomat Alison Broinowski. Another two candidates, refugee activist Gerry Georgatos and president of the National Ethnic Disability Alliance Suresh Rajan, will run for the Senate in Western Australia.

Mass stopwork meetings of NSW Nurses and Midwives Association (NSWNMA) members on July 24 resolved that: "Public health system nurses and midwives will escalate their community and workplace campaign to convince the NSW government that the nursing hours/ratios system should be extended to more clinical areas, and improved to guarantee the same minimum levels in all hospitals in NSW.

About 100 people rallied outside the Downing Centre Court in Sydney on July 23 to support Jonathan Moylan, the environmental activist who is facing charges under the Corporations Act for his alleged "hoax" that exposed ANZ bank's funding of mining activities by Whitehaven Coal, which threaten community health and agricultural land at Maules Creek, as well as the survival of koala populations in Leard State Forest in northern NSW.

The Beyond Nuclear Initiative and Uranium Free NSW released this statement on July 25.

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On July 25 and 26, the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering held a conference in Sydney titled “Nuclear Energy for Australia?”

The conference might be framed as a question but the answer is predictable given that the majority of keynote speakers were from organisations in favour of developing a nuclear power industry in Australia, including industry representative bodies and pro-nuclear think tanks.

This guide was created by the Refugee Action Collective Victoria.

The Regional Resettlement Arrangement

The new arrangement is called the Regional Resettlement Arrangement (RRA), and it goes further than the "Pacific Solution Mark II" introduced by former prime minister Julia Gillard last year. It allows Australia to send asylum seekers to Papua New Guinea for processing and resettlement.

Salvation Army staff members released this statement on July 23.

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In light of the recent events that have taken place in Nauru, a collection of former and current Salvation Army staff who have spent the last 10 months working with asylum seekers at the regional processing centres in Nauru and Manus Island would like to make a public statement.

This statement was released on July 19 by the Protect Arnhem Land community group, based in Maningrida, Northern Territory; The Wilderness Society; the Environment Centre NT; and the Australian Marine Conservation Society.

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Arnhem Land traditional owners have forced US oil and gas company Paltar to meet with them by travelling to the firm’s Australian headquarters in Sydney.

Paltar had steadfastly refused to talk to the traditional owners about its near-shore drilling plans that threaten their food, water and culture.

The Victorian government has escalated its plans to build an unpopular, costly and environmentally damaging East-West road tunnel.

The Age reported on July 15 that "about 250 residents have received a letter advising the east-west link road tunnel is likely to be constructed near their properties, triggering concern that many homes will be compulsorily acquired.

“The state government last week sent the letter to residents in Collingwood, Fitzroy and Clifton Hill on or near Alexandra Parade and whose homes could stand in the way of the multibillion-dollar tollway.

"We don't want oil or gas mining in our country,” Aboriginal traditional owner Eddie Mason, based in Maningrida, a community in eastern Arnhem Land, told a rally in Sydney on July 19. “We are protecting our land and sea rights."

About 100 people rallied with visiting Arnhem Land residents outside the offices of US-based oil exploration company Paltar Petroleum.

"We are saying no to Paltar,” Mason said. “We don't want exploration destroying our land and waters. You are welcome to visit our country, but don't destroy it.

Forest protesters disrupted work in the southern Tasmanian town of Esperance on July 16, disrupting operations of Malaysian logging company Ta Ann.

The Huon Valley Environment Centre (HVEC) said 40 people occupied the logging area and one person held a tree sit, which was attached to the logging machines.

HVEC spokesperson Jenny Weber said: “Controversially Ta Ann continues to receive timber from old growth ecosystems, and this logging area is forest that was promised protection, and now tragically the ancient eucalyptus regnans and wildlife habitat is being lost.

For the third time since the Victorian government sold off the Yallourn power station in 1996, Yallourn power workers have been locked out of their workplace. In 2000, the workers were locked out for seven weeks.

Yallourn power station’s owner, Energy Australia, locked out all 75 shift operators at midday on June 21 after the workers began industrial action by limiting power output.
They are not being paid and are not accruing any leave or service. Even operators who were on holidays or sick leave have had their pay stopped. The company has locked the workers out indefinitely.

The National Tertiary Education Union released this statement on July 16.

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The release of Universities Australia’s report, University student finances in 2012, on July 15 clearly shows that students need much more support while they are studying at university, Jeannie Rea National President of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) said today.

“It’s a national disgrace that almost one in five university students reports going without food and ends up graduating with an average debt of almost $38,000,” Rea said.

Scarlet Alliance released this statement on July 19

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Recent murders and violent attacks on sex workers have sparked an unprecedented wave of international action calling for an end to discrimination and criminalisation of sex workers.

Scarlet Alliance, an Australian sex-worker association, along with our members and allies in Australia, joined the international protests in memoriam of sex workers Jasmine in Sweden and Dora in Turkey, murdered within one day of each other.

Protesters are facing legal threats over their fight to protect the Dandenong Ranges from the yellow fluorescent arches of McDonald's franchises.

In a proposal first rejected by the local council last year, McDonald’s was later given approval by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) to build a restaurant opposite the local primary school in the small town of Tecoma. VCAT made the decision despite strong opposition from local residents, including a petition with 2000 signatures.

Telstra has been sharing its customer’s data information with the FBI and US Department of Justice for at least a decade, the Crikey website revealed on July 12.

Thousands gathered around Australia with less than 24 hours’ notice to protest against Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s newly announced policy of denying asylum in Australia to all refugees arriving by boat.

About 700 people gathered in Sydney on July 20. Protesters sat down in the middle of George St in the CBD, blocking a big city intersection while several speeches were made. Photos by Peter Boyle.

Kevin Rudd's astounding announcement that all boat arrivals "from now on" would never be resettled in Australia, and subject to a jerry-rigged offshore dumping deal with the Papua New Guinea government has shocked many.

Every asylum seeker that arrives by boat for at least the next 12 months would be sent to Papua New Guinea, with no cap on the number. In exchange, Australia would pump money into PNG's government for apparent health and education reforms.

More than 100 people attended a lively forum at Glebe Town Hall on July 9 on the topic of "Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in the Constitution."

The forum was organised by RECOGNISE and the Glebe NAIDOC Committee, as part of the National Aboriginal and Islander Day of Commemoration (NAIDOC) Week celebrations.

More than 200 pensioners rallied on the steps of Victoria’s parliament house on July 10.

The rally was called by the Fair Go for Pensioners Coalition, which has a list of demands on the state and federal governments.

Their demands on the federal government include a pension rise from 27.7% of average weekly earnings to 35%; improved healthcare measures, including medical, dental, optical, hearing, pharmaceutical and culturally appropriate services; and more funding for aged care services.

Aboriginal traditional owners and the Protect Arnhem Land community campaign, based in the town of Maningrida, Northern Territory, are seeking the assistance of environment groups and Indigenous networks in Sydney to help raise awareness of the threat to Arnhem Land from oil and gas exploration.

Five traditional owners are travelling from Maningrida to Sydney in mid-July and are holding a public protest in Martin Place outside the offices of exploration company Paltar Petroleum.

The Victorian government's Fire Services Levy was introduced on July 1. It replaces the original levy, which was deducted from insurance premiums, and now collects funds from all property holders along with council rates.

The original levy was introduced in 2009 to pay for implementing the recommendations of the 2009 Bushfires Royal Commission.

Environment Victoria released this statement on July 13.

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Environment Victoria has described news that the owners of Yallourn power station are seeking payment for closure as a desperate measure that is unlikely to succeed.

This statement was released by Gomeroi traditional owners of north-west NSW on July 8.

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More than 50 Gomeroi traditional owners, senior elders, elders, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal community members and families have formed a picket line at Whitehaven Coal near Gunnedah in north-west NSW [on July 9] amid a stopwork action in protest against the Maules Creek coalmine and the incomplete and disrespectful cultural heritage process.

A sign reading “Moreland City Council welcomes refugees and asylum seekers” has been erected outside the council's office in the Melbourne suburb of Coburg, on July 4.

The motion to install the sign was moved by Socialist Alliance councillor Sue Bolton, and passed council vote on May 8.

The council also committed support to the World Refugee Day rally in Melbourne, which called for an end to mandatory detention and deportations, and the closure of Nauru and Manus Island detention camps.

John Shipton, a founder of one Australia's newest political parties, the WikiLeaks Party, will be the keynote speaker at Green Left Weekly's annual dinner in Sydney on July 27.

Pip Hinman, a spokesperson for Green Left Weekly, said: "As the world watches to see if Edward Snowden manages to leave Moscow's airport to claim asylum in Venezuela, or another Latin American country, it is clear that there is widespread alarm at the news he's broken about the extent of the US spying ability.

The Refugee Action Coalition released this statement on July 9 in response to immigration minister Tony Burke's announcement that he would delay processing of asylum seekers who don't have their “documents”.

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Refugee groups have accused the Immigration Minister, Tony Burke, of playing politics with asylum seeker policy.

Ian Rintoul, from the Refugee Action Coalition said: “Tony Burke is singing the same misleading song as the Liberals. He needs to drop the ‘me too’ rhetoric if he wants to be taken seriously.

The Refugee Action Coalition released this statement on July 6.

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The pilot of an Etihad airliner at Sydney thwarted government attempts to deport an Egyptian asylum seeker on July 5, when the pilot asked for the protesting asylum seeker to be taken off the plane.

Urgent attempts are now being made to get a stay on his removal because of the military coup in Egypt, and the changed political situation there.

Protestors called for more privacy protection at rallies held around Australia on July 6 in response to the revelations that US’s National Security Agency (NSA) has been spying on the communications of most internet users.

Sydney rally organiser Matt Watt from the Support Assange and WikiLeaks Coalition said: “We demand freedom for Edward Snowden, a courageous whistleblower who revealed the wrongdoings by the NSA.

No Maccas In Tecoma is a grassroots group campaigning to stop a McDonald’s store being built in the Dandenong Ranges. Hundreds of protesters have been holding a community picket line at the construction site since July 1. Four people are occupying the roof of the building in an attempt to delay construction.

They released this statement on July 4.

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The Building Industry Group meeting today convened by the Victorian Trades Hall Council (VTHC) resolved to support the rights of the Tecoma community to protest against what they believe is an inappropriate development.

About 50 people attended a forum on the Labor government's oppressive "Pacific solution" refugee policy at the Teachers Federation building in Sydney on July 1.

Organised by the Refugee Action Coalition, the forum condemned "the logic of Labor's race to the bottom on refugee policy with [Liberal leader] Tony Abbott”.

“Under the government's 'no advantage' measures, hundreds of asylum seekers have been sent to Nauru and Manus Island as part of the revamped Pacific Solution," the meeting said.

Stop CSG Illawarra released this statement on June 28.

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After three days of debate, the “water trigger” — an amendment to the Environment Protection Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 – passed the Senate on June 19.

Coal seam gas (CSG) projects that could affect water resources will now trigger federal approval. The trigger will bring CSG projects in for consideration; a good but very limited measure that does not match the hype.

The Hazara community in Melbourne have been forced to hold another vigil after yet another bombing targeting the Hazara community in Quetta, Pakistan.

On June 30, a suicide bomber attacked a Hazara neighbourhood and killed more than 30 people, including children.

More than 1300 Hazaras have been killed in Pakistan over the past decade, with more than 4000 maimed, according to the Australian Hazara Students Group. Not a single perpetrator has been punished by the courts for these bombings which have become more frequent over the last three years.

Sydney City Council officers, with the support of police, moved to close down the Occupy Sydney camp in Martin Place on the night of July 4. This follows a resolution passed by the council to evict the camp recently.

Occupy Sydney participant Lance told Green Left Weekly that the council took away two truckloads of Occupy material that evening, most of which was to support the homeless community of the city, as well as political banners.

“Australia is at a crossroads,” said Liam Flenady, Socialist Alliance candidate for Griffith on July 5.

“One path leads to more austerity, more oppression of minorities, more environmental destruction; the other leads to a just, equal and sustainable society. There is no middle path.

“We require a fundamental change to our economic and political system to build the future we need.”

Flenady has pledged to put a different kind of politics on the agenda in Griffith in the upcoming federal election, one that puts the needs of the 99% in front of the greed of the wealthy 1%.

One thousand firefighters from around Victoria descended on parliament house on July 1 to protest Premier Denis Napthine’s cuts to the fire services budget.

United Firefighters Union (UFU) state secretary Peter Marshall said that as of July 1, the Napthine government’s fire services levy collection will increase “from $322 million [in 2009] to $654 million [last year].

“The government is collecting more, but it is putting $157 million of the fire services levy in a bank account to help the government’s coffers”.

The Electrical Trades Union released this statement on July 1

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Unions have criticised today’s announcement of the sale of power generator Eraring Energy as a “fire sale” that fails to realise the true value of the asset for NSW taxpayers.
Power industry unions said it was absurd to sell off the profit-making enterprise, which delivered almost $140 million in profits last year alone, for just $50 million.

About 90 people gathered in the Coburg library on June 6 to oppose the Moreland Council’s plans for a mini-CBD in the central Coburg shopping centre.

The meeting was organised by the Save Coburg Residents Network which formed in January to oppose the council’s C123 planning amendment. Most residents only discovered the plans a couple of weeks before the deadline for public submissions.

The plan includes a row of 10-storey buildings along both sides of Bell St on the western entrance to the shopping centre and 10-storey buildings along one side of Sydney Road to the north.

Australia's four biggest banks — the Commonwealth Bank, ANZ, NAB and Westpac — dubbed the "banksters", were condemned for crimes against people and the environment during a protest in Melbourne on June 29.

Protesters marched to each bank, cordoned of the entrance to create a symbolic crime scene and read out a charge sheet.

The action was called by the Socialist Alliance. Margarita Windisch, the Socialist Alliance candidate for the seat of Wills, argued the big banks, mines and energy companies should be nationalised and put under community control.

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