Australian News

GLW Issue 955

In an attempt to avoid anti-racist protesters, the February 18 meeting to launch the Australian speaking tour of Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders, was, at the last moment, moved to a desolate, non-residential part of Somerton on Melbourne’s northern edge.

More than 200 anti-racists, however, picketed Wilders’ meeting while another 100 protested in Melbourne CBD, where one of the speakers was Greens Senator Richard Di Natale.

Geert Wilders called off his February 20 public meeting in Perth after the hotel where he was going to speak cancelled his booking.

Organisers of Wilders' tour tried to claim that protesters had intimidated the hotel and implied that Wilders' "free speech'' was threatened as people were "denied'' the chance to hear Wilders talk.

Wilders' most prominent supporter in the Australian parliament — disgraced Liberal senator Cory Bernardi — also tried to claim that there was "free speech double standard" involved.

When NSW members of parliament from both Labor and Coalition start campaigning against coal seam gas (CSG) — and the federal Labor Party starts musing that it might impose “strict regulations” on state governments to control the industry — you know that the movement against this dirty fossil fuel is starting to pack a punch.

CSG was hardly known two years ago. Today, the thought of it frightens people. Gas companies have poured millions into advertising to reassure people that the industry is safe — but it hasn’t worked.

The National Tertiary Education Union released this statement on February 19.


National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) members at the University of Sydney have voted overwhelmingly in favour of taking industrial action over their claims for a new Enterprise Agreement.

The ballot for protected industrial action was counted and declared on Friday afternoon. Over 1000 members voted.

This statement was released by Stop CSG Illawarra on February 19.


The NSW government has announced new coal seam gas (CSG) rules, including a ban on CSG development in residential areas and critical industry clusters, such as horse breeders and wine producers. But they also stated this would only apply to new CSG exploration, assessment and production activities, and they have not ruled out drinking water catchments.

The Darwin Asylum Seeker Support and Advocacy Network (DASSAN) released documents exposing the “appalling” extent of child self-harm in a Darwin detention centre on February 18.

DASSAN obtained the documents via a Freedom of Information request, which took the department of immigration more than nine months to release. They detail 26 cases of self-harm by detained refugees aged 9 to 17 between August 2010 and November 2011.

Spokesperson Fernanda Dahlstrom said the documents “concern one detention centre over a relatively short period of time”.

GLW Issue 954

The Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation released this statement on February 13.

On February 12, Federal Court Justice Neil McKerracher handed down a decision that validated the vote of the Yindjibarndi people to authorise a new and unified applicant group of 12 Yindjibarndi men and women to run the Yindjibarndi #1 claim — this includes the area of vacant crown land where [Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest’s] Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) is developing the Solomon Hub and “Firetail” mine.

16.10.1946 – 02.02.2013

My memories of Bill Gluyas are mostly from Union Solidarity picket lines. It did not matter how early a picket line started or how far away it was, Bill was always there.

What many people who supported those picket lines didn’t know is that Bill funded much of the Union Solidarity infrastructure — the picket line BBQ and the PA system. Bill didn’t like the limelight and didn’t want thanks. He just wanted to know that he was helping workers fight for their rights.

A picket line that lasted for two weeks at the site of a water treatment plant in Werribee has been disbanded. The Age reported that the protesters left the site on February 14 after “police and the water authority warned them they were trespassing”.

The picketers — established by unemployed tradespeople — were protesting the employment practices of Tedra Australia and its associated subcontractors.

Around 200 people turned out for the February 13 protest in Casula to tell Barry O’Farrell to "lock the state" on coal seam gas companies. The protest was initiated by Socialist Alliance and Greens activists in Western Sydney.

The breadth of growing anger against the CSG industry was on display through the number of groups that supported and spoke at the rally. This included representatives from the Scenic Hills Association, SOS Rivers, NSW Greens MLC Jeremy Buckingham as well as Stop CSG groups from St Peters, Ingleburn, Blacktown, Blue Mountains and Illawarra,

Protesters gathered in Redfern on February 14, to mark the ninth anniversary of the death of the 17-year-old Aboriginal youth TJ Hickey and repeat the call for an inquest into his death.

In 2005, police pursued Hickey causing him be thrown off his bike and land on a spiked fence.

The Knitting Nannas Against Gas staged an anti-coal seam gas (CSG) protest outside the office of Lismore MP Thomas George on February 13. The protest was held to coincide with a stop-CSG action in Casula, Sydney, outside the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce, which hosted a luncheon with NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell.

The Knitting Nannas Against Gas, who have been actively supporting the blockade to stop CSG mining at Doubtful Creek, sent this message to be read out at the Casula action.


About 80 residents held a rally outside Coburg Town Hall before a meeting of Moreland City Council on February 13.  They then went into the Council meeting and raised their concerns during question time.

The rally was organised by Save Coburg, a residents group recently formed in response to the proposed new Coburg Structure Plan.  This plan includes 10-storey buildings alongside existing homes. 

Several hundred people attended a night of solidarity with Cuba at the Uruguayan Club in western Sydney on February 9.

The event, organised by the Committee in Solidarity with Cuba, Western Sydney, raised funds to help pay for repairs to the widespread damage caused to homes and infrastructure by cyclone Sandy last year. It featured entertainment by a variety of cultural groups from the Latin American community.

About 400 people rallied outside NT parliament on February 12, the first sitting day for 2013, to protest the Country Liberal Party's (CLP) service cuts, job losses and price hikes.
The CLP came to power in August, promising to decrease the deficit but pledging  "Your job is safe" to concerned public servants. By December, when the government's mini-budget was released, that promise was broken and it was revealed that 600 jobs would be scrapped.

More than 500 unionists, mainly Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) and Builders Labourers Federation (BLF) members, rallied outside the Brisbane Magistrates Court on February 11 in support of long-term union and community activist, Bob Carnegie.

In mid 2012 the Australian government deported Sri Lankan asylum seeker Dayan Anthony back to Colombo despite the wider community, lawyers and refugee advocates mounting a compelling case to show that his claims of torture in Sri Lanka were justified. Anthony became the first Tamil deported back to Sri Lanka where it is claimed he now lives in fear and under virtual house arrest.

Film by Yask Desai, submitted to Green Left TV.

GLW Issue 953

The Save Coburg group has already registered a win.

The group was formed at a public meeting of about 60 residents, facilitated by newly elected Socialist Alliance councillor Sue Bolton.

The main concern at the meeting was the scale of a development proposed by Moreland Council, which will create two huge corridors of 10-storey buildings on Louisa, Waterfield and Bell Street.

Perth activist Trish McAuliffe had a run-in with Stirling City Council in Perth's northern suburbs over a banner on her property advertising a public meeting about gas fracking.

McAuliffe is a member of grassroots campaign group No Fracking Way and put up a hand-painted banner on her property that said “Fracking = pollution”. The sign also gave details for a public meeting organised by the Clean Water Healthy Land Alliance featuring a speaker from the Lock the Gate Alliance.

About 100 people gathered outside the Queensland state government’s executive building on February 1 to voice concerns over the coal industry’s destruction of the Great Barrier Reef.

The rally was organised under Greenpeace's Save the Reef campaign. It was supported by the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, the Australian Marine Conservation Society, Friends of the Earth and Beyond Zero Emissions.

The open letter below was released by the Aboriginal Tent Embassies in Canberra and Brisbane of February 8.


We are disappointed and outraged at the racist message conveyed in the Australian article "Rivers of Grog" on February 6. Those of us gathered at the Aboriginal tent embassy in Canberra, in preparation for the protest against legislative changes, completely reject the stereotypes being used as wedge politics by the Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard. 

Unemployed workers staged a protest at a Werribee construction site where they say workers have been brought from overseas on subclass 457 work visas, without advertising the positions locally.
“We've spoken to management on site, they have confirmed there's 457 visa workers here,” protest spokesperson Nick Donohue told Green Left Weekly.
“The 457 workers are welding tanks. We've got an abundance of skilled labour in the area that can do the same job, so there's no necessity for these workers to be brought here,” Donohue said.

The Refugee Action Coalition has condemned the deal with New Zealand to take 150 refugees processed in Australia each year.

“This deal does nothing to provide security for a greater number of asylum seekers or refugees. Australia can easily resettle 150 a year itself.

The Support Assange and WikiLeaks Coalition (SAWC) is inviting people to join their float in this year’s Mardi Gras parade on March 2.

Spokesperson Linda Pearson said: “SAWC is entering a float in this year’s Mardi Gras to raise awareness about Bradley Manning and Julian Assange, and to demonstrate our solidarity with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex communities. We also wanted to offer our supporters this opportunity to take part in what will be a unique and enjoyable event.

Last August, La Trobe University was engulfed in protests from students demanding a reversal of cuts to the humanities and social sciences faculty.

More than 600 subjects and 41 full-time positions were permanently wiped out by the corporate-minded vice-chancellor, John Dewar.
The campaign of peaceful protest and civil disobedience has been faced with severe repression and violence from the university security. One piece of video footage clearly showed a member of the security team physically assaulting and injuring one of the protest organisers.

The article below first appeared on TamilNet on February 5.


Tamil diaspora activists in Europe, Canada and Australia staged protests on February 4 coinciding with Sri Lanka’s official 65th “independence day”, with activists alleging that this so-called “independence” was only a freedom given to the Sinhala nation to commit a protracted genocide of the Tamil Eelam nation.

NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell is scheduled to meet the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce in Casula on February 13, but he’s not going to enjoy a quiet lunch. Anti-coal seam gas (CSG) campaigners are planning a protest to show their opposition to CSG mining in the area.

Greens activist Suzie Wright and Socialist Alliance Parramatta branch convener Fred Fuentes organised the action with anti-CSG groups.

This statement was released by The Wilderness Society on February 8.


The Wilderness Society is deeply disappointed that the Tarkine National Heritage listing does not recognise the extraordinary natural values of this iconic region.

A branch of the James Connolly Association was established in Melbourne in November last year. The Association was formed in Australia in 2011 and is named after the Irish patriot who lived and died in defence of Irish socialist republicanism.