Australian News

Preparations are advancing for a solidarity conference under the theme, "Venezuela: The Revolution Continues," being held in Sydney on October 6.

The conference is being co-sponsored by the Venezuelan Embassy in Australia, the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network, the Bolivarian Circle, unions and other political and solidarity organisations.

Treasurer Joe Hockey could not escape hearing the voice of the people when 100 staff, students and community activists rallied on the Smithfield campus of James Cook University in Cairns on September 18.

The rally highlighted the federal government's planned cuts to higher education and the rest of the budget.

The National Tertiary Education Union JCU branch called the rally because Hockey was speaking at a business conference at JCU before attending a G20 finance ministers meeting in Cairns.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has made a deal with the Palmer United Party to reintroduce Temporary Protection Visa’s (TPVs) for asylum seekers. These will be known as the Safe Haven Enterprise visa.

The Refugee Action Coalition released this statement on September 25.

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The government’s bill introduced on September 25 will not just reestablish TPVs. In sweeping changes to definitions and processing arrangements, the minister is trying to use the legislation to undermine human rights and remove appeal rights for asylum seekers.

Aboriginal activist Kyol Blakeney has won the position of Student Representative Council (SRC) president at the University of Sydney.

The ticket that supported him, “Grassroots”, was backed by progressive Greens, independents and socialists. It beat the Labor ticket by a significant margin. University newspaper Honi Soit reported on September 25 that Blakeney had won every voting booth, with 61% of the vote.

G4S was labelled “fundamentally flawed” in 2005, when its operation of onshore detention centres led to the wrongful detention and mistreatment of Australian resident Cornelia Rau, as well as the detention of Naomi Leong from birth until she was three years old, and several cases of “unsafe and inhumane” treatment of refugees.

The Herald Sun has launched a vitriolic campaign against two councils in Melbourne for their opposition to the Victorian government’s $15 billion East West Link toll road project.

In an appalling lack of sensitivity, the paper has also sought to use the rape and murder of journalist Jill Meagher in defence of the paper’s pro-corporate and road-building agenda.

The Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance club on University of Western Sydney (UWS) Bankstown campus organised a free barbecue for students and staff on September 10.

The BBQ raised $100 in donations for Gaza recovery charities. A week later, on September 16, it held a campus film screening of Hope in a Slingshot, a film about Palestinian resistance.

Resistance is taking a proactive stand for support of Palestine with weekly petitioning and distributing information and organising contingents for upcoming rallies and events.

A meeting of about 200 union delegates and activists, organised by Unions NSW on September 17, unanimously supported a call for statewide action against the federal budget to defend jobs, workers’ rights and services.

Unionists concerned that Unions NSW was failing to lead a campaign against the budget attacks drafted the motion, which was moved from the floor. Initially, Unions NSW Secretary Mark Lennon told the group there would not be time to move the motion.

However, just before the meeting closed the motion was put to the vote and unanimously supported.

More than 40 renewable energy suppliers have written an open letter to the federal government urging it to save jobs by not scrapping the renewable energy target (RET).

They say the renewable energy industry employs tens of thousands of Australian workers, both directly and indirectly. This open letter to federal and state politicians from businesses supplying the sector highlights the importance of the RET in generating jobs and investment.

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Following a mass campaign that mobilised thousands of people across the country and beyond, it appears the Western Australian government's shark cull has been dropped.

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has advised against continuing the cull this summer. Premier Colin Barnett said he was “disappointed” by the decision but is unlikely to challenge it and is also unlikely to reinstate the cull in future.

The NSW Nurses and Midwives Association (NMWA) has commissioned a billboard on Sydney's northside to send a message to Premier Mike Baird to stop the privatisation of the new hospital planned for the city's Northern Beaches.

The billboard, featuring nurses from the area, displays the slogan: "Stop the privatisation of our Northern Beaches Hospital”.

Yet again, the Fair Work Building Industry Inspectorate (a federal government body set up to attack unions in the building industry) has launched legal action in the Federal Court against the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union (CFMEU).

The inspectorate said on September 12 that CFMEU organiser Theo Theodorou was alleged to have told the director of a demolition company wishing to work at a Carlton building site that: “as [the demolition company] is working in the city, it needs to obtain an enterprise agreement with the CFMEU for its employees”.

A solidarity conference called, "Venezuela: The Revolution Continues" will be held in Sydney on October 6. It is sponsored by the Venezuelan Embassy in Australia and supported by the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network, the Bolivarian Circle and other organisations, including the Socialist Alliance.

A Jewish academic will walk from Sydney to Canberra in September to promote the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign (BDS) against Israel for its continuing subjugation of the Palestinians.

Marcelo Svirsky is a lecturer in politics at the University of Wollongong and an Australian-Israeli Palestine activist. He is the author of several academic works on Israel-Palestine, activism and colonialism, and is an active member of the National Tertiary Education Union.

The People’s Bill, an initiative of the Lock the Gate Alliance to oppose the growing coal seam gas and coal industries, was launched in Brisbane on September 4.

The People’s Common Rights and Provisions Bill 2014 would amend the Mineral Resources Act to give land holders, local governments, Aboriginal communities and others the power to deny mining companies access to their land.

The Save Millers Point spring picnic, held at Argyle Place in the heart of the historic inner suburb on September 14, drew thousands of people to support the campaign to stop the sale of public housing by the NSW Coalition government. Live music, market stalls, a free BBQ and information about the campaign were features of the day.

An art exhibition and film screening was held. In addition, a history walk took attendees on a tour of the unique architectural sites of the area.

Activists demonstrated outside global big brand fashion outlets in the centre of Sydney's central shopping district on September 17 to demand that these companies pay the workers who make their products (in countries like Cambodia) living wages and respect their right to organise.

Other solidarity actions in Australia were held in Canberra and Melbourne.

According to Tailored Wages Report — Are the Big Brands Paying the People Who Make Our Clothes Enough to Live On? published by the Clean Clothes Campaign and the Asia Floor Wage Alliance on March 2014, only four of 50 big brand multinational clothing and footwear companies contacted were able to demonstrate they had taken any steps that might lead to improved wages for the Cambodian workers who make many of their expensive fashion products.

Hundreds of Australians endure the ordeal of jail because of unpaid fines. Their poverty is a burden. Disproportionately, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are incarcerated “to pay off” their fines.

Ray Jackson, president of the Indigenous Social Justice Association, says this “draconian practice criminalises people and destroys families and futures”.

Recently, “unpaid fines” cost the life of a 22-year-old Yamatji woman, Juliecka Dhu. Dhu and her boyfriend, Dion Ruffin, were arrested on August 2 and detained by Western Australia’s South Hedland police.

Nauru detention camps’ water reserves are close to running dry, leaked emails showed on September 10.

A Transfield operations manager wrote in an email: “We are currently nearly out of water … Due to recent outages at the DIBP RO [immigration department reverse osmosis facility] we have not been able to build up stock so have been slowly going backwards.”

The Sydney Refugee Action Coalition released the statement below on September 10.

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Refugee advocates have rejected immigration minister Scott Morrison’s latest push to introduce temporary protection visas.

“The Minister is holding asylum seeker children hostage to the introduction of temporary protection visas,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

"We are calling on all parliamentarians to reject the minister’s blackmail attempt and vote against the reintroduction of TPVs.

While Prime Minister Tony Abbott sealed a deal in New Delhi to export uranium to India, the Queensland government granted six mining development leases to two companies on September 5.

No uranium has been mined in Queensland since 1982 and has been banned since 1989. However in October 2012 the QLD government lifted the mining ban.

Summit Resources was granted four of the mining development leases and Fusion resources were granted two. The leases cover areas near Mount Isa and are the latest stage in Premier Campbell Newman’s plan for the uranium industry.

After consultations with the family of Hamid Khazaei, who died on September 5 after being detained on Manus Island, an agreement has been made to give his family an Aboriginal passport, in his name, to honour both their son and their offer to donate his organs to Australian citizens.

The Indigenous Social Justice Association (ISJA) organised the passport proposal. ISJA president Ray Jackson said: “This gesture by his family shames the Tony Abbott government, in particular immigration minister Scott Morrison, for incarcerating innocent asylum seekers seeking sanctuary in this country.

Residents in Gloucester, NSW, have set up a permanent camp to stop coal seam gas (CSG) company AGL from beginning exploration in the Gloucester Valley.

Organisers of the camp said: “In August, the state government changed a state planning regulation to allow AGL to frack four existing coal seam gas wells without undertaking a full environmental impact statement.

“AGL have not started fracking yet — they will give the government 28 days notice before beginning fracking, but we don’t want to let them get started at all.

The NSW Coalition government has been forced to cancel parliamentary debate on a bill to give businesses two votes in Sydney City Council elections. The bill, sponsored by Shooters and Fishers Party Senator Robert Borsak, has been widely interpreted as a measure designed to defeat independent Sydney Mayor Clover Moore and give the Liberal Party control of council.

A small but growing group of workers in Sydney has been turning the tables on exploitative employers who have cheated staff out of minimum entitlements.

Organised in the Sydney Solidarity Network (SydSol), workers have been using direct action to win wages from bosses who have paid employees less than the minimum wage, or not paid them for their work at all.

The Queensland government has limited the ability of the public to object to a mining lease.

The Mining and Energy Resources Bill, passed on September 9, means only affected landholders, their neighbours or local councils can object to mining lease applications in the Land Court.

In a statement, campaign group Lock the Gate said: “In an 11th hour move, the Queensland government has silenced objections to mining projects across the state giving open slather to Indian coal billionaire Gautam Adani to develop the Galilee Basin into one of the largest coal precincts in the world.”

The following statement was adopted by the Socialist Alliance national executive on September 4 in response to the Australian government's decision to join the US and other imperialist states in further military intervention in Iraq.

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The US wars on Iraq, in 1991 and 2003, killed hundreds of thousands of people and completely wrecked the country. The US promoted sectarian divisions to maintain control. It created the conditions for the rise of the “Islamic State” and is thus responsible for the crisis.

Stop the War Coalition in Sydney released the statement below on September 11.

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Anti-war activists gathered outside the Defence Department in Sydney on September 11 to say no to another war on Iraq.

Called by Stop the War Coalition (STWC) and Marrickville Peace Group, the snap action heard from several activists, who said Western military and political interference was largely to blame for the rise of fundamentalist and sectarian groups in the Middle East.

Two representatives from Irish republican party Sinn Fein toured Australia from August to September 7, speaking to hundreds of people at public meetings about the campaign for Irish reunification.

Sinn Fein vice-president and member of the Dail (Irish parliament) Mary Lou McDonald and Sinn Fein MP for Mid-Ulster in Ireland's north Francie Molloy, spoke in support of the campaign to end partition and unite the six counties still claimed by Britain with the 26 counties that make up the southern state in a democratic republic.

People gathered outside the World Bank office in Sydney on September 5 to protest the bank’s involvement in an Australian mining company’s attempt to sue the government of El Salvador for US$301 million.

Pacific Rim, a Canadian company that was bought by Australian OceanaGold last year, applied to mine gold in northern El Salvador in 2004. The Salvadoran government refused it permission, arguing the company did not own or have rights to the land it proposed to mine, it did not have environmental permissions and it did not submit a final feasibility study for the project.

The University of New South Wales acting vice chancellor Iain Martin cancelled a Town Hall meeting on September 3, organised to brief staff on the University’s response to proposed fee deregulation.

UNSW students had planned to protest their exclusion from the meeting.

In cancelling the meeting, Martin told staff: “We have been advised this morning by police and security that the meeting was being targeted by protest groups, which we understand were predominately external to UNSW. Our advice is that the intention was to disrupt the Town Hall.”

Rallies were held in cities around Australia on August 30 to demand the extradition to Chile of former Pinochet regime secret police agent Adriana Rivas.

This follows revelations shown on SBS last year about her involvement in repression of political prisoners as a member of the National Intelligence Agency of Chile during 1976-77.

Scientists at the CSIRO have published research that shows there is a 99.999% chance that rising temperatures are caused by human activity.

Writing in The Conversation they say: “Ignoring the problem is no longer an option.”

The third round of March Australia rallies were held over the weekend of August 30 to 31. More than 40,000 people were estimated to have marched in 40 events around the country.

Participants were marching about issues that included budget cuts, refugees, education, welfare and the environment.

24-YEAR-OLD ASYLUM SEEKER DECLARED BRAIN DEAD

DETAINEES ACCUSE IMHS

The Refugee Action Coalition released the statement below today.

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A 24 year-old Iranian asylum seeker, Hamid Kehazaei, who was urgently medivacced from Manus Island to Brisbane on Wednesday, August 27 has been declared "brain dead".

By the time Hamid was medivacced to Brisbane, he was suffering septicaemia, from an infection spreading from a cut foot, and went directly into intensive care in the Mater hospital. He had sought medical attention for days on Manus Island for the pain and the infection.

Around 50 protesters held a picket outside the opening of the World Congress of Families on August 30, which finally found a venue in the bunker-like premises of the Catch the Fire Ministries in outer suburban Hallam.

This sect gained notoriety for declaring the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires were a punishment from God due to the decriminalisation of abortion in Victoria.

READ MORE: Why we disrupted the World Congress of Families

The charmed run before the courts enjoyed by John Gay, former chairperson of Tasmanian timber company Gunns, may soon be over.

Gunns became insolvent in 2012, owing investors more than $1 billion. The company had been in serious financial trouble since February 2010, when a director’s report detailing its falling revenue was made public.

Two months before the report was released, Gay used his inside knowledge of the company’s financial position to sell Gunns shares worth more than $3 million. He avoided what was thought at the time to be a loss of $800,000.

The Tasmanian Liberal government released its first budget on August 28. About 1500 people protested outside Parliament House on the same day to voice their opposition to the government’s plans.

The budget will cut 700 full-time jobs from the public sector and freeze public sector wages for at least one year.

School attendant and United Voice member Ken Martindale addressed the rally about the impact the pay freeze will have on low-income families in Tasmania, saying that bills will go up each year even if pay does not.

Residents of the Millers Point public housing community and supporters protested outside the private auctions of the first two houses sold in the NSW Coalition government's planned sale of nearly 300 government-owned homes in the suburb.

The auctions were held at real estate agents’ offices in Edgecliff on August 21 and Woollahra on August 26.

The first house was sold for $1.9 million, and the second for $2.6 million.

Protesters draped banners condemning the sales on walls and fences nearby the offices, as security guards and police guarded potential buyers going inside.

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