Australian News

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.

More than 100 people encircled by chalk rainbows greeted the weekly meeting of Newcastle city council on June 25.

Chaired by Save Our Figs veteran Debbi Long, the rally heard from Greens councillors Michael Osborne and Therese Doyle; federal Labor candidate Sharon Claydon; Michelle Lancey from support service Parents, Friends and Family of Gays and Lesbians; and Miss La Bang, a flamboyantly dressed bridal drag queen representing the radical rainbow army.

About 400 activists from across Australia converged on Sydney over June 21-23 for Australia’s Climate Action Summit 2013.

As the science of climate change becomes ever more alarming, and as the refusal of business and political elites to act becomes ever more glaring, the activists met to share ideas and strategies to build a strong movement for a safe climate.

The Illawarra regions of Shellharbour, Shoalhaven and Kiama combined have the highest unemployment rate in the country, at 15.3%, the Australia Bureau of Statistics said.

This is 178% higher than the national average of 5.5%. If Wollongong is included, the average figure is 10.2%, 85% higher than the national average.

The decline in manufacturing has hit the region hard. In 2011, Bluescope announced it would sack 700 workers at its Port Kembla steelworkers. In response to those sackings, Patrick Stevedoring announced the next month that it was sacking 160 wharf workers at Port Kembla.

About 100 people attended a public meeting jointly organised by Socialist Alliance and Socialist Alternative in Sydney on June 25.

The meeting discussed how a united left would be in a stronger position to campaign against a conservative Coalition government. Speakers from both organisations, Pip Hinman and Diane Fields, raised ideas about how a possible united socialist party could organise.

A prominent Bahraini surgeon and human rights defender, Dr Ghassan Dhaif, has been barred from entering Australia for a speaking tour organised by Amnesty International Australia and the Bahrain Australia Youth Movement.

The Department of Immigration rejected DrDhaif's visa application on the grounds that he may seek asylum even though he applied for a Temporary Work (Short Stay Activity) Visa (Subclass 400) with the support of Amnesty International Australia, the Australia Council of Trade Unions, the Australian Nursing Federation and the Australian Education Union.

Paul Mees, well known to many Victorians, was an academic specialising in urban planning and public transport. He was an associate professor in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies at RMIT University. He died of cancer on June 19.

Mees was an indefatigable campaigner for sustainable public transport. One of his last public appearances was in a video shown at the launch of the Yarra City Council’s “Trains Not Toll Roads” campaign, just days before his death.

About 100 people attended a public meeting jointly organised by Socialist Alliance and Socialist Alternative in Sydney on June 25.

The meeting discussed how a united left would be in a stronger position to campaign against a conservative Coalition government. Speakers from both organisations, Pip Hinman and Dianne Fields, raised ideas about how a possible united socialist party could organise.

Hundreds of people turned out in Perth, Australia on June 23 to support the Brazilian protests.

About 40 people gathered in Raintree Park, Darwin, to mark World Refugee Day on June 20.

Larrikiah woman June Mills opened the gathering with a rendition of Arafura Pearl, and an explanation of the Aboriginal practice of welcoming strangers to their land. Other speaker included Greens councillor Robin Knox, Tamil-Australian lawyer Kajaliny Ranjithkuma and Reverend Basil Schild.

A minute’s silence was held for the 62-year-old refugee from Afghanistan who was found dead at Darwin’s Wickham Point detention centre on June 15.

Prominent human rights advocate, Julian Burnside, QC, was scathing in his assessment of both the major parties and mainstream media’s approach to asylum seekers in a public address at the invitation of the Townsville branch of Amnesty International on Jun 14.

Burnside told the audience that “both parties are trading in human misery in order to win or retain power” and mainstream media have to stop spreading the message that asylum seekers are illegal.

Stop Income Management in Playford released this open letter on June 17.

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We the undersigned call for the suspension of the federal government’s compulsory income management, expanded to Playford and four other sites as part of programs that began in July last year.

We believe compulsory income management is humiliating, unfair, and unlikely to improve quality of life for recipients or their children.

We note the lack of solid evidence that this policy achieves its goals, and fear this approach will be counterproductive.

Many protests took place last week. There were protests against government inaction on the climate emergency, against the mass sackings by a bank making record profits and a sad vigil for a 26-year-old Hazara man who died in an Australian immigration detention centre.

More protests were also planned for refugee rights, Aboriginal rights and in solidarity with the new people's power movement in Turkey united around the defence of Gezi Park.

This is not unusual in Sydney these days. There is a lot to protest about today but most of these campaigns are quite small.

The Refugee Action Coalition released this statement on June 21.

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Asylum seekers are angry and upset at the death of an Afghan asylum seeker in the Villawood detention centre on June 20.

According to witnesses inside the detention centre, Serco guards left the man, named Ali, on the ground for almost an hour before calling an ambulance.

He was taken from the centre around 7.30pm and died later that night.

About 400 people filled the Fitzroy Town Hall for the launch of the “trains not toll roads” campaign on June 13.

The Yarra City Council organised the launch to advocate for a rail line from the CBD to Doncaster Hill, as well as to oppose the state government’s proposed East-West road link.

Maritime Union of Australia national secretary Paddy Crumlin released the following statement on the one-year anniversary of Julian Assange entering the Ecuadorean embassy in London on June 19, 2012, to seek political asylum.

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Throughout the MUA’s long history, our union has been at the forefront of a global human rights movement seeking justice and transparency.
 
We continue that long tradition today as we mark the one-year anniversary of Julian Assange entering the Ecuadorean embassy in London.
 

Taxi drivers at Melbourne airport have started a hunger strike in protest at changes that will see their pay cut by up to 40%.

The Australian said on June 11 that drivers rallied against "a new fares system implemented at the airport earlier this year, which sometimes sees them wait two hours for a fare of less than $10."

Previously drivers could skip the general queue after returning to the airport after a short fare, but this queue has now been axed. As drivers are paid based on fares collected, rather than a fixed wage, this amounts to a pay cut for drivers.

About 120 landowners from NSW and Queensland staged a sit-in at Parliament House in Canberra on June 20 to protest the federal government approval process for mining projects.

It follows the Liberal and Labor parties voting down legal changes to give farmers the right to say “no” to mining on their land, despite a new opinion poll that shows 86% of people support giving landowners the right to refuse access to miners.

About 90 people attended the launch of a new book by Labor for Refugees titled Alternatives to offshore processing on June 17.

World Refugee Day rally in Perth. Features music from Junkadelic and speeches by Tamil and Hazara refugees, Amer Saabi from the Palestinian community, Rob Callan from Refugee Rights Action Network and Greens senator Scott Ludlam.

Green Left TV's coverage of the Sydney World Refugee Day rally, held on Sunday June 16.

About 250 people, mainly from the Turkish and Kurdish communities, held a protest in Melbourne’s Federation Square on June 10 in solidarity with protesters in Taksim Square and Gezi Park, Istanbul, who have come under intense repression from the Turkish state.

The rally was organised by the Melbourne Taksim Platform, a coalition consisting of the Anatolian Cultural Centre, the Australian Alevi Council and the Australian Turkish Cultural Association. The rally was also supported by the Kurdish Association of Victoria.

The September election is approaching and the Socialist Alliance needs the financial help of members and supporters to run an effective election campaign.

This is even more essential this federal election since the two big parties have made it harder for socialists and progressive, single-issue parties to stand, by doubling the fees required for candidates to nominate.

A two-day seminar, "Organising for 21st century socialism", drew 150 people from around Australia to Sydney over June 8-9.

The seminar hosted US author and socialist activist Paul Le Blanc. Le Blanc is the author of Lenin and the Revolutionary Party and A Short History of the US Working Class, and spoke at the conference on the topic “Lessons from Lenin for 21st century socialism”. The talk prompted constructive debate about how to organise a socialist party in Australia today.

Moreland City Council has voted to accept an offer from the Victorian government to fund the installation of CCTV cameras on Sydney Road in Brunswick.

The offer was made following the rape and murder of Brunswick resident Jill Meagher in a side street near Sydney Road last year.

Three councillors voted against the decision: Socialist Alliance councillor Sue Bolton, and Greens councillors Samantha Ratnam and Lenka Thomson.

Australian foreign Minister Bob Carr finally acknowledged the US grand jury investigation into WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange on June 5.

This investigation will decide whether Assange should be prosecuted for his role in releasing confidential documents through WikiLeaks.

Despite the risk to Assange, Carr told a Senate budget estimates committee that the Australian government will not be seeking information from the US government about the grand jury, because “it doesn’t affect Australian interests”.

The statement below was released by the Socialist Alliance on June 5.

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Liah Lazarou has been pre-selected by the Socialist Alliance to run for the seat of Adelaide in the federal election in September.

Lazarou is a communications student and a committed grassroots activist. She has been involved in organising workers, students and young people as a member of the Socialist Alliance since 2006.

The Victorian government continued its attack on civil rights last week with the announcement that new prison cells would be built at train stations for use by protective services officers (PSOs).

The Refugee Action Coalition held a public forum on June 3 titled: “Bridging Visas, Community Detention: what rights do asylum seekers in the community have?”

About 12,000 asylum seekers who have arrived since August 13 last year are living in the community on “bridging visas”. August 13 was when the government introduced the “no advantage” policy and ceased processing refugee applications.

Refugees on bridging visas receive less than the paltry Newstart allowance with little support. They could be sent to detention on Nauru or Manus Island at any time.

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