Australian News

GLW Issue 977

A public meeting held in the Tasmanian town of Oatlands on August 2 discussed the application by PetroGas, an offshoot of Petratherm, to explore for shale gas and oil in more than 3000 square kilometres of southern Tasmania.

About 80 residents attended the meeting. Tim Kirkwood, general manager of Southern Midlands council, said it was the best-attended public meeting ever held in Oatlands.

The process of “fracking” for gas requires millions of litres of water and a major concern for many of the farmers present was the question of where the water would come from.

While Australia’s mining sector shows signs of resilience, there is one mineral whose outlook may be terminal. 

There are five significant events that have occurred recently that send a clear message about the future of the uranium sector and the wider nuclear industry.

The uranium price dropped to US$34.50 a pound Energy Resources of Australia, the operator of the Ranger uranium mine in Kakadu, announced a $54 million loss.

Asylum seekers are welcome on Aboriginal lands in Australia despite the inhumane approach of both major political parties, the Aboriginal Provisional Government said on July 29.

Secretary Michael Mansell said: “As people who know what it’s like to be invaded by boat people we are in a better position to judge how the current boat people should be treated. Where the original boat people who took over our country were armed to the teeth and bent on conquest, asylum seekers in 2013 are unarmed and seeking sanctuary.

Nauru's terrible poverty, stagnant economy and unstable administration has paved the way for its main aid-provider, the Australian government, to sign it up for a similar refugee “deal” as Papua New Guinea.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced that refugees who arrived in Australia by boat could be sent for processing and then would “settle and reside” on Nauru.

About sixty people attended a meeting on “America’s Pacific Push” on July 25.

Bruce Gagnon, coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, spoke about the growing US military presence in the Pacific.

Examples included the expansion of a missile test range in Hawaii, the building of a naval base on South Korea’s Jeju Island despite strong resistance from local people, and the plan to station 2500 US troops in Darwin.

Gagnon said that US bases in Australia play a crucial role in US military strategy.

A protest to defend welfare rights and public housing was held in Coburg on August 3. The rally called for a rise in all welfare payments to a liveable income, the restoration of the sole parents pension, an end to welfare quarantining and public housing for all who need it.

Moreland city councillor and Socialist Alliance member Sue Bolton told the rally: "The single parent payment is important because it allows women to leave violent relationships and gives parents the right to decide  to be at home with their children."

Zane Alcorn, Socialist Alliance candidate for the seat of Newcastle, scored equal top in a survey of candidates on environmental issues.

The Hunter Central Rivers Alliance conducted a survey of 17 questions designed to compare the different parties policies on coal and coal seam gas and related issues.

The Hunter Central Rivers Alliance campaigns for “an alternative vision for the Hunter, where sustainable industries, historic communities, and public health are more valuable than the boom — bust cycle of coal industry profits.”

Several hundred people gathered in Greeves Street, St Kilda, on August 8 for a candlelit vigil for local street sex worker Tracy Connelly, who was murdered in the street on July 21.

The vigil was a chance for her family, friends and, importantly, her community to honour her as well as protest against violence against women.

The vigil was held outside the St Kilda Gatehouse, a drop-in centre and community resource for street sex workers. 

About 40 people gathered in Wollongong on August 6 to commemorate the 68th Hiroshima Day.

The day marks the anniversary of the atomic bomb being dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima by the United States in 1945. The bomb caused tremendous devastation and instantly killed between 70,000-80,000 people. By the year’s end the bomb had claimed 140,000 lives.

The Koori community and supporters rallied on the historic Redfern Block in on August 3 to show their solidarity with Trayvon Martin, the young black man who was followed and shot by a neighbourhood watch volunteer in Florida, and to oppose racism and racial profiling anywhere in the world.

The action was organised by Koori community activists Chris Bonney and Dan Munro. Bonney told Green Left WeeklyIt is 2013 and I don't want my children to grow up experiencing the racism all us Kooris experience today. It is not right in the United States and it is not right in Australia."

GLW Issue 976

The Israeli Law Centre, Shurat HaDin, has filed a complaint under the Racial Discrimination Act with the Australian Human Rights Commission against the Sydney Peace Foundation’s Stuart Rees and Sydney University's Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies’ Jake Lynch.

The complaint claims Rees and Lynch are supporting racist and discriminatory policies through their support for the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against the Israeli government.

It is the first time Australia’s anti-racism laws have been used against people involved in the BDS campaign.

Stop CSG Illawarra released this statement on August 2.

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The NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer, Professor Mary O'Kane, released the initial report from her review into coal seam gas (CSG) on July 31.

The findings — particularly the contaminants involved and risks to water resources — confirm risks that community members have been talking about for years.

However, the recommendations from the review are framed by the terms of reference, and focus on how to develop the industry, not if or under what conditions development is safe.

Dave Kerin from the Victorian Earthworker Cooperative toured the Hunter region on July 30 and 31 to talk about the Eureka Future Cooperative. The cooperative plans to make solar hot water units in the LaTrobe Valley of Victoria, with the support of trade unions, the Uniting Church, Victoria Trades Hall, the Australian Council of Trade Unions and community fundraising.

The project is particularly relevant to the Hunter, whose coal industry is in the midst of an overproduction crisis, fuelled by lower than expected demand for steaming coal from China and the rise of renewables worldwide.

A forum at the University of Wollongong on August 1 called "Trouble in the Edufactory: The Sydney Uni Strike and the Struggle for the University" heard from Sydney university PhD student and casual academic staff member Mark Gawne.

Gawne, a graduate of the University of Wollongong, described this year's series of strikes at Sydney as the product of years of dissatisfaction among staff and students over increasing cutbacks.

This statement was released by Gasfield Free Seaspray on July 28.

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A crowd of more than 600 hundred people came together in Seaspray today to celebrate the results of a survey that showed 98% of the community wants the area to remain gasfield free.

"Thirty Years But Still No Justice!" was the theme of an Aboriginal deaths in custody forum held in Redfern on July 27. Speakers addressed issues of deaths in custody, victims of police brutality and other social justice concerns.

The forum was also the Sydney launch of the National Deaths in Custody Coalition (NDCC), established in February this year to organise for a national day of action on Saturday, September 28 to mark 30 years since the death at police hands of WA Aboriginal youth John Pat in 1983. The meeting was sponsored by the Indigenous Social Justice Association.

Doggedly loyal to the struggle for socialism and a member of five different socialist organisations over his life, Allan Little departed our ranks in Brisbane on July 12 at the age of 81.

A person of incredibly modest means, he began his working life as a cane cutter in Queensland’s north and finished as a unionist and manufacturing worker in the Brisbane suburb of Rocklea.

Ferociously independent and always reluctant to burden anyone with personal requests — even when bed bound — Allan rarely talked about his life’s experiences.

GLW Issue 975

Support WikiLeaks and Assange Coalition released this statement on July 31.

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The conviction of US Private First Class Bradley Manning for 19 offences, including five counts of espionage, is a travesty of justice.

Manning is not a spy who betrayed his country, but a courageous whistleblower who acted on his conscience when he leaked US government documents to WikiLeaks.

He should have been commended, not prosecuted, for revealing evidence of war crimes, human rights abuses and corruption.

Socialist Alliance released this statement on July 30.

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Newly endorsed Socialist Alliance candidates for the Senate in NSW, Jim McIlroy and Reg Dare, said: "The current hysteria against asylum seekers, pushed by both the Kevin Rudd government and the Liberal opposition, is aimed at drawing public attention away from the real source of economic insecurity in this country — the billionaires and their stolen wealth.

About 2000 people joined the second march and rally in Sydney on July 28 against prime minister Kevin Rudd's plan to send refugees who arrive in Australia by boat to Papua New Guinea.

This was significantly bigger than the previous weekend's protest. Another rally and march will be held on August 4, 2pm at Sydney Town Hall Square.

Photos by Pip Hinman and Peter Boyle.

The following motion was passed by Victorian Trades Hall Council (VTHC) executive council on July 26.

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“The VTHC believes refugees should not be punished for fleeing war and persecution to seek asylum. This is a right granted to all people under Australian and international law.

“There are over 10 million refugees in the world.

“Last year, Australia granted 13,759 humanitarian visas. This is less than 0.2% of the world’s refugees. Australia ranks 12th in the world by GDP, yet we rank 71st in taking refugees by GDP. By any measure, we do not do our fair share.

A former Tehran University student, Behzad Bargheri, spoke to 50 people at a public meeting on Iran on July 20.

Bargheri told the meeting in Melbourne that during the 1980s the Islamic Republic regime took “harsh and bloody measures” to suppress the left. Many thousands of leftists were arrested, tortured and murdered.

The universities were closed for several years. When they reopened they had been purged of leftist students.

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.

GLW Issue 974

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.