Australian News

"Is that the truth, or did you read it in the Murdoch press?" is a well-known slogan in social media these days. Public confidence in the mainstream media generally is at an all-time low.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop have been reborn as international statespeople over the shooting down of the Malaysian airliner in eastern Ukraine, if you can believe the coverage in the Australian mainstream media.

Only in Green Left Weekly will you read the truth that the government have been exploiting the tragedy to deflect attention from an unpopular budget.

Representatives from Irish republican party Sinn Fein are touring Australia from August 30 to September 7, speaking at public meetings in Perth, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

This year, Sinn Fein has emerged as the largest all-Ireland party on the basis of opposition to brutal austerity measures. In recent weeks, Sinn Fein has increased its solidarity with Palestine, inside and outside parliament, including demands Ireland expel Israel’s ambassador and for an arms embargo on Israel.

On the recommendation of Shamikh Badra from the Palestinian People's Party in Gaza, the Socialist Alliance in Australia is launching a special appeal for funds to help the Palestinian people recover from Israel's latest genocidal war.

All funds collected will be divided between Inma’a Association and the Palestinian Agricultural and Development Association (PARC).

The Students for Women Only Services Group held a vigil in Sydney on July 24 to protest against the recent decision to defund specialist women’s and children’s refuge centres in NSW.

The vigil was attended by about 300 people. Speakers included Asian Australian Alliance convener Daphne Lowe Kelley, United Muslim Women Association CEO Maha Abdo, NSW Greens MLC Mehreen Faruqi and Labor MLC Sophie Cotsis.

This was a speech given to the rally for Palestine in Melbourne on July 26.

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Over the past few weeks we have seen two major horrific events. Firstly Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 shot down over the Ukraine and 298 innocent people were killed.

This horrific event has been thoroughly condemned by many world leaders. Many of the Western world leaders have called for retribution against the Russian separatists and for retribution against Russia.

Many Western leaders want embargoes against Russia some from the US Senate and Congress even want war with Russia.

These two resolutions were passed on July 25.

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Australian Education Union

The Australian Education Union (AEU) Victoria Branch condemns Israel’s latest horrific assault on the people of Palestine, which has resulted in over 750 deaths in the past three weeks – the overwhelming majority of the dead being civilians, and many of them children.

The AEU supports the peaceful community protests called in solidarity with the people of Palestine, to be held on August 1 at 5pm, outside the State Library in Swanston Street, Melbourne.

Anti-coal activist Jonathan Moylan was sentenced at a hearing of the Supreme Court in Sydney on July 25. He was sentenced to one year and eight months imprisonment, but was released immediately on a two-year good behaviour bond with $1000 surety.

Moylan was charged under the Corporations Act for issuing a press release on ANZ letterhead saying the bank had withdrawn its $1.2 billion loan facility from Whitehaven’s Maules Creek Coal Project on environmental and ethical grounds. Whitehaven’s share price temporarily fell before quickly recovering.

A small group of eight people from the racist, far right "Party For Freedom" held a protest outside Woolworth's supermarket in Marrickville on July 26.

They were objecting to a sign saying "Happy Ramadan" the store had put up earlier in the week.

The Party for Freedom is a newly formed group that grew out of the white nationalist Australian Protectionist Party.

The campaign against the East West Link received a boost on July 18 when the Moreland Council voted to take legal action against the Victorian state government in the Supreme Court in a bid to overturn planning minister Matthew Guy’s approval of the unpopular motorway.

The proposed East West Link is an 18-kilometre tollway between the Eastern Freeway in Collingwood and the Western Ring Road in Sunshine West.

In a special meeting, the councillors voted six to two to take the legal action, challenging the process by which the minister made the decision to give the project a green light.

At the weekly meeting of Unions NSW, unionists handed an open letter to Secretary Mark Lennon, calling for it to organise another daytime mass delegates meeting of all unions following the July 6 “Bust the Budget” rally and to plan for a NSW-wide strike.

The letter also calls on Unions NSW to call a weekday stopwork protest against the budget and coordinate with the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) and other state union peak bodies to turn this into a national day of action.

The Refugee Action Coalition held a rally on July 19 demanding the Sri Lankan asylum seekers imprisoned on an Australian Customs boat in an unspecified location, be brought to Australia.

During a High Court hearing on July 22 it was revealed there are 157 asylum seekers on board the boat, not 153 as previously reported, and they are allowed only three hours of daylight a day.

The Feminist Collective and newly-formed group the No Shelter Collective held a meeting at the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre on July 16 to address the NSW state government’s plans to defund key women and children’s refuges across the state.

About 130 people came to hear about government plans to defund around 80 specialist refuges, which could potentially force many women and children’s refuges to shut down, or be handed over to be run by private organisations.

Many women’s refuges have already been shut down or are under the process of being handed over.

Two Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) members addressed Unions NSW on July 17 about their dispute with Ausreo for wage parity with their Victorian counterparts.

Ausreo supplies concrete reinforcing products to the building and construction industry. According to its website, it “takes pride in manufacturing products which meet the highest industry standards and providing superior services and support to match”.

Anti-coal activist Jonathan Moylan is awaiting sentencing after Justice David Davies adjourned his decision at a Supreme Court hearing in Sydney on July 11. On the same day, more than 100 people gathered outside the court in a silent vigil to support Moylan.

Moylan pleaded guilty in May this year to one count of disseminating false information to the market, after being charged last year under the Corporations Act 2001 for making a “false or misleading” statement.

Aboriginal communities from across Australia met in Brisbane on July 11 to attend a day of protest and planning against the ongoing removal of children from Aboriginal families.

Aunty Karen Fusi from the Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy and Aunty Hazel Collins from Grandmothers Against Removal Gunnedah told the National Forum Against Ongoing Stolen Generations that child removal is having devastating effects on families and communities.

Students for Women’s Only Services released this statement on July 14.

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Candles, as well as petitions, will be given out at a Sydney rally to shine a light on the statewide closure of independent women’s homelessness services.

University students have organised the vigil for July 24 in Pitt St Mall at 5.30pm and hope to gain the attention and signatures of late-night shoppers.

The Community and Public Services Union (CPSU) has slammed a move by the federal government's biggest department, the Department of Human Services, which incorporates Centrelink, Medicare and the Child Support Agency, to force staff to work extra time for no additional pay. The department wants its 35,000 staff to work an additional half hour a week in negotiations for a new industrial agreement.

Journalist Nic Maclellan spoke at a public meeting in Melbourne on July 10 about his visit to New Caledonia to observe the May 11 elections.

Maclellan said New Caledonia was colonised by France in 1853. Indigenous Kanaks have been reduced to a minority in their own country. Kanaks are now 44% of the population. In addition to settlers from France itself, there are also people from other French colonies in the Pacific (Tahiti, Wallis and Futuna), as well as people whose ancestors came from former French colonies such as Vietnam and Algeria.

NSW Premier Mike Baird has pushed ahead with plans to privatise the state's power network, without waiting for the results of the NSW election in March next year.

The Stop the Sell Off campaign has condemned the move, saying it makes a mockery of the premier's claim that he would seek a mandate from voters before pressing on with the sale of 49% of the state-owned electricity network businesses Ausgrid, Endeavour Energy, Transgrid and Essential Energy.

The case of 153 asylum seekers from Sri Lanka taken into Australian custody at sea returned to the High Court on July 18. Due to government secrecy, court proceedings have so far been the only reliable source of information about what is happening to the group.

Documents submitted to the High Court on July 17 revealed further details about the conditions in which 153 Tamil asylum seekers are being held. Lawyers representing 86 of those taken aboard an Australian Customs ship but not brought to Australia say the asylum seekers have not been able to make any formal refugee claims.

The Australian government's efforts to pressure Cambodia to take refugees from Christmas Island is fraught with risks, experts told a forum organised by the Refugee Action Coalition (RAC) on July 14.

Kyja Noack-Lundberg from RAC told the meeting that Cambodia could soon be signing a memorandum of understanding with the Australian government to resettle refugees from Nauru.

The deal being negotiated between Australia and Cambodia appeared to be on track in May, however news of it has all but disappeared from the media since then.

With news that Israel has now escalated its bloody assault on Gaza, which has already killed at least 230 Palestinians, by starting a ground invasion, new protests are being planned in cities across Australia against Israel's slaughter.

It comes after thousands of people joined people around the world outraged by Israel's killing by taking part in rallies last weekend. The details of the actions are below.

About 1000 people rallied in Melbourne on July 12 to protest against Israel's attack on Gaza.

Samah Sabawi, a playwright, poet, political analyst and human rights advocate originally from Gaza, gave the speech below to the rally.

In May, attempts were made by Zionists to prevent Sabawi speaking at a public forum on Israel and Palestine.

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Australian man Jock Palfreeman was assaulted by a guard at Sofia’s Central Prison in Bulgaria on July 8.

Palfreeman has been serving a 20-year in the prison since being found guilty of murder in 2007.

Andrei Monov was killed during a street brawl in Sofia, Bulgaria’s capital. He was the only son of two well-connected people in the Sofia legal fraternity.

Palfreeman says he went to the defence of a young Roma boy who was being attacked in the street by Monov and others. When Palfreeman intervened, he was also attacked and acted in self-defence.

The “incommunicado detention without judicial scrutiny” of 153 Tamil asylum seekers has turned the world's eyes on Australia's refugee policy and brought many questions into the spotlight.

The first question was raised by 53 international law scholars from 17 Australian universities, who released a statement after the government revealed it had handed over 41 passengers of an asylum boat to the Sri Lankan navy.

The Refugee Action Coalition released this statement on July 8.

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Up to 10 mothers in the family camp have attempted suicide in the last two days on Christmas Island — some by hanging, some by drinking concoctions of liquids.

Scores of police and Serco officers have been stationed inside the family camp — almost one to a room — to try to maintain calm and prevent more suicide attempts.

One 25 year-old woman remains in the medical centre, with at least one deep cut requiring 16 stitches, after throwing herself from a container two days ago.

Women’s crisis shelters in New South Wales are in a state of upheaval. There are concerns that critical services are about to be shut down.

In inner-Sydney there will be no women’s only, specialist refuges operating in the near future. The New South Wales government’s “Going Home Staying Home” reform plan will force at least in metropolitan Sydney 20 specialist women’s shelters to close so that more services in regional areas across the state can be opened.

Pasi Sahlberg is an educator and past policy advisor in Finland, author of books on education and currently a visiting Professor of Practice at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education. He spoke to a meeting of teachers and union activists in Melbourne on June 19.

He agreed with what Australian teachers have argued for years: that great schools are well funded on a needs basis, are not publicly ranked for performance, have small classes, have teachers that are highly regarded and trusted and value all subject areas equally.

It is depressing but it is true. Prime Minister Tony Abbott is deliberately stoking racism and nationalism in a bid to reverse his collapse of public support, as shown by the polls.

Why else would he have made a speech that revived the legal fiction of terra nullius that was officially killed by the High Court in its historic 1996 Mabo decision?

Why else would he have chosen to declare, just before NAIDOC week that the British colonial invasion of this continent was a great act of “British foreign investment” that Australians today should be grateful for?

Victorian planning minister Matthew Guy approved stage one of the East West Link toll road on June 30, ignoring key recommendations from the planning panel to reduce impacts from the project.

Guy said he had granted relevant approvals for the project on the condition that the Linking Melbourne Authority redesign parts of the project.

Students of Sustainability (SOS) is an annual conference dedicated to environmental activism.

About 400 students travelled to the Australian National University in Canberra for this year’s event over June 30 to July 5. The event was organised by the Australian Student Environmental Network (ASEN).

The conference had guest speakers from environment and labour movements, international guests, and academics and activists from around Australia.

Australian environmental and international solidarity campaigner Natalie Lowrey was arrested and detained for six days in Kuantan, Malaysia for standing with Malaysian activists campaigning against Australian company Lynas Corp's toxic rare earth refinery near that city.

At a peaceful protest of more than 1000 people outside the Lynas plant on June 22, 16 protesters were arrested and a number were injured by police, one very severely. Lowrey was released with no charge on June 27, the other 15 protesters faced court on July 8 on a variety of charges. She has since returned to Australia.

About 120 Sydney residents, concerned about the impact of the proposed WestConnex motorway, met at the Annandale Neighbourhood Centre on June 25.

The meeting heard that WestConnex, the biggest and most expensive motorway in the Australia, will not reduce congestion and is just an excuse for a developer land grab along Parramatta Road.

More than 80 people attended a community forum and organising meeting at the Ingleburn Community Centre in Sydney’s south west on June 29 in opposition to coal seam gas (CSG) mining.

Stop CSG Illawarra spokesperson Jess Moore, Doctors for the Environment’s Helen Redmond and Australia Institute researcher Mark Ogge addressed the meeting.

Moore presented a brief introduction to the nature of the CSG industry and detailed the environmental catastrophes that have followed the industry from the US to Australia.

More than 2000 people marched in Melbourne on June 28 to protest the proposed East West Link motorway.

The East West Link is to be a partially tunnelled toll road that would give commuters crossing the Yarra River an alternative to the currently overloaded West Gate Bridge.

Protesters, however, said the East West Link will be excessively costly, will contribute to pollution and will generate far fewer jobs than an equivalent public transport project. Demonstrators also voiced concerns that the East West Link would erode Melbourne’s culture of public transport.

The NSW Coalition government's proposed private North West rail link, from Chatswood to Rouse Hill, will be "unfit for the purpose" it is intended for, according to Gavin Gatenby, co-convener of EcoTransit Sydney.

Instead of being a more efficient mode of mass commuter transport, the planned single-deck line would be an "entry wedge for the privatisation of the city's rail system”.

Communities in Maules Creek, New South Wales, are banding together with environmental activists in order to stop coal mining in the Leard State Forest, which threatens to kill wildlife, destroy forestry and worsen climate change due to increased greenhouse gas emissions.

Whitehaven Coal, a relatively small coal-mining company, is opening up new mines in various communities around Australia, aiming to maximise profit through the destruction of the environment.

Sunrays pierced the cold rain to make a sudden halo around the Blackbird as it approached the Collins Landing wharf in Melbourne on June 21, docking across from the Republic of West Papua’s new state of the art Department of Foreign Affairs, Immigration and Trade office.

People in suits, high heels, dreadlocks and traditional Melanesian headdresses sang, danced and waved West Papua’s outlawed Morning Star flag as they gathered to greet the boat of West Papuan Foreign Affairs staff arriving to formally open their new office.

Conservative Murdoch mouthpiece Janet Albrechtsen and former deputy Liberal Party leader Neil Brown have been appointed as new members of the panel that oversees appointments to the ABC and SBS boards.

The appointments by the Tony Abbott government come after the announcement of serious funding cuts to both public broadcasters in the May federal budget. The cuts were passed in parliament with the support of Labor and the Greens.

Many local residents in Victorian regional city Bendigo were shocked when right-wing groups from outside of Bendigo began mobilising residents against the proposal for the city’s first mosque.

The mosque is planned to be built on underdeveloped industrial land in East Bendigo. It is to include a prayer centre, a cafe and a sports centre which would be available for the general community to use.

A heated council meeting on June 18 approved the mosque plans by a vote of 7 to 2. However, opponents say they will appeal to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

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