Australian News

GLW Issue 940

About 200 people rallied in Sydney on October 6 at a protest organised by the Support Assange and WikiLeaks Coalition and the Stop the War Coalition Sydney. Speakers are the rally included Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon, independent journalist Antony Loewenstein, Sydney branch secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia Paul McAleer, The Justice Campaign's Aloysia Brooks and Stop the War Coalition's Christine Keavney. Rally-goers also heard statements of support from independent journalist Austin Mackell, lawyer and human rights activist Kellie Tranter and the Afghan Peace Volunteers.

Members of the Australian solidarity brigade in Venezuela released the statement below on October 8.

* * *

“We, members of the Australian solidarity brigade to Venezuela, congratulate socialist President Hugo Chavez on his re-election on October 7”, said Coral Wynter, an organiser of the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network (AVSN) 2012 brigade. “We have seen Venezuela's unique participatory democracy system in action, and it works.”

Photos from the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network (AVSN) 2012 Presidential Elections Brigade. The brigade's program kicked off with an introductory talk on Venezuelan history and politics by Dr Marcelo Alfonzo, Central University of Venezuela. Then visits to National Institute of Hygiene plant, a world leader in the manufacture of vaccines, the Bolivarian University, ALBA (the Bolivarian Alternative for Latin America) and the Latin American School of Medicine. Photos by Pip Hinman unless otherwise designated.

The third Australia-wide gathering of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaigners took place in Adelaide from September 21 to 23. The Australian Friends of Palestine Association (AFOPA) hosted the weekend of events.

A highlight of the three days was the appearance by London-based Israeli academic Ilan Pappe, who spoke twice. He spoke to 600 people at the annual Edward Said Memorial lecture, which is named for the late Palestinian academic.

About 40 concerned citizens opposed to the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan and Australia’s role in the conflict, gathered in Queenscliff on the Bellarine Peninsula, 30 kilometres from Geelong, to blockade the entrance to the Swan Island military base over September 23 to 27.

The student left has won a big victory at Curtin University, taking several key positions in the student guild elections held over September 25 to 27. Positions won include president, education vice-president, women's officer and queer officer.

The Left Action ticket ran a very political campaign, highlighting a range of student rights issues. These included opposition to the university's planned budget cuts and cuts to courses.

The university is also planning to increase parking fees, which will hit students hard.

Leaving a legacy marred by ecological annihilation, government bribery, coercion and corruption, and a penchant for poisoning the environment and communities alike, one of Australia’s most powerful companies — timber-logging firm Gunns — has announced voluntary administration.

The September 25 announcement came after the company’s $904 million loss last financial year, ending an eight-year struggle by Tasmanians against a controversial $2 billion pulp mill project.

Tasmanian community groups Friends of the Tamar Valley and Pulp the Mill released the joint statement below on September 26.

* * *

In expressing their sincere regret about the job losses that must inevitably result from the closure of Tasmanian logging company Gunns Limited, community groups Friends of the Tamar Valley and Pulp the Mill said Tasmanians can breathe more easily now the spectre of the world’s fourth largest pulp mill has receded further into the background.

Front Line Action on Coal released the statement below on September 25.

* * *

Three men who blockaded the Boggabri open-pit coalmine in Leard Forest, NSW, on September 3 and 4 will appear before Narrabri Local Court this morning, as the Front Line Action on Coal camp marks its 50th day in Leard Forest.

Still Wild Still Threatened released the statement below on September 25 in response to news that two environmental groups, The Wilderness Society and the Australian Conservation Foundation, had sent letters to customers of logging company Ta Ann urging them not to cut ties with the company.

* * *

About 200 people rallied at Melbourne’s Maribyrnong Detention Centre on September 22, against deporting refugees to danger and mandatory detention. Dayan Anthony, a Tamil refugee, was deported to Sri Lanka in July against his will from Maribyrnong.

Antony's Lawyer Sanmati Verma said: “Each and every professional and all community members in contact with Dayan Anthony attested that he was a torture survivor. And yet he was put on a plane and yet he was sent back to Sri Lanka.

Queenslanders continue to stand up against state Liberal National Party premier Campbell Newman's vicious austerity budget and job cuts, with several hundred joining a rally and march to parliament on September 22. The rally was organised by the Queensland Uncut coalition.

Activists and members of the community sector gave speeches to the rally about the many people affected by the cuts and reiterated the need for a strong, sustained campaign.

GLW Issue 941

Forest protection group Groundswell released the statement below on October 3.

* * *

A group of activists gathered at the federal government's community cabinet forum on October 3 in Launceston to send a clear message to the Labor government that the Tarkine needs an emergency world heritage listing.

Over the recent Labour Day weekend in Canberra, students from around the country came together at the EduFactory conference to discuss the current situation of Australian universities, to swap strategies and understanding and to foster links between campaigns and collectives.

The conference was the result of dedicated work by grassroots organisers and included current and former, undergraduate and post-graduate students from a wide range of political persuasions.

The Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney (STICS) released the statement below on October 1.

* * *

STICS has renewed calls for the national income management system to be dismantled, following the release of a damning report by the NT Coordinator General for Remote Indigenous Services (NTCGRIS).

The report, which documents extreme waste on spending on bureaucracy, comes as the $120 million national expansion of income management is badly stalling, with few referrals and work bans on the scheme in NSW.

GLW Issue 939

With little fanfare or media attention, the small island nation of Cuba has been running an Aboriginal literacy program in the town of Wilcanni, in central new South Wales. Already, 16 local Aboriginal residents aged between 25 and 53 have learned to read and write through the program.

The Socialist Alliance Victoria released the statement below on September 19.

* * *

Socialist Alliance is standing Sue Bolton as its candidate for the October local elections in the north-east ward of the City of Moreland on a platform of “community need, not developer greed”.

Sue Bolton is the state convener of Socialist Alliance. She was has been involved in the Northern Communities and Union Solidarity Group, the campaign to save Ballerrt Mooroop College, the Aboriginal school in Glenroy and the campaign in support of refugees and asylum seekers.

“TAFE cuts are Baillieu's form of class war,” Colin Long told an angry crowd on September 20. “Baillieu started the war, but we will finish it.” The Victorian National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) secretary was speaking to 2000 Victorian TAFE teachers, students and supporters at a rally in Melbourne.

Allegations raised by former Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks that he was drugged as a form of torture by US staff have been substantiated by documents uncovered in recent legal action in the US.

Detainees were allegedly drugged by US military personnel before interrogation sessions and before they had their charges read to them.

A crowded forum of 200 people organised by the Stockton Community Action Group learned about the serious risks posed by a proposed ammonium nitrate storage facility at nearby Kooragang Island on September 19.

The new facility is proposed by Incitic Pivot and would add 21,500 tonnes of ammonium nitrate to the 9000 tonnes already stored there by rival company Orica.

Repower Port Augusta, the historic campaign to have the South Australian town host Australia’s first solar-thermal power station, is gathering momentum, with formal endorsements from several health and union organisations.

The campaign has generated widespread public interest. In Port Augusta itself, a community vote in July resulted in one-third of residents voting for solar over gas. The result was 4053 votes to 43, a remarkable turnout for the voluntary exercise.

Water workers to strike

Workers at Sydney Water, angered by the axing of more than 300 jobs as well as the undermining of conditions, have voted for rolling strikes into next year.

More than 1000 workers took part in a four hour walkout on September 20, rallying at Parramatta Stadium. They voted to begin the strikes from next month.

On September 16, 100 people began a 300-kilometre journey, walking from Port Augusta to Adelaide to highlight the importance of building a solar thermal plant at Port Augusta and to call for state and federal government support for the project.

The Palestine Action Group Sydney released the statement below on September 20.

* * *

One hundred and fifty supporters of Palestine staged a rally in Parramatta in support of the global campaign of boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israeli apartheid today. The protest was timed to also commemorate the massacres at the Sabra and Shatila Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon 30 years ago.

A colourful group of environmental activists gathered on the steps of Australian mining giant Lynas Corporation’s head office on September 20 to protest the company’s move to build a rare earth mineral refinery in Malaysia.

Thousands of Malaysians have joined protests against the Malaysian government and Lynas for their lack of transparency in not disclosing plans to deal with radioactive toxic waste produced by the Lynas Advanced Minerals Plant, near the town of Kuantan.

More than 2000 people rallied in Melbourne on September 20 to protect the public TAFE system, which is facing budget cuts of over $200 million by the state government.

Community Action Against Homophobia released the statement below on September 19.

* * *

Community Action Against Homophobia (CAAH) express disgust at today's rejection of equal marriage rights by Australian parliament. Only 42 MPs supported the private members bill put forward by Labor backbencher Stephen Jones, while 98 MPs voted against.

On September 17, NT Coroner Greg Cavanagh handed down his damning findings regarding the death in custody of Kwementyaye Briscoe in the Alice Springs watch house in January.

Briscoe, a young Aboriginal man, had committed no crime, but was taken into so-called protective custody for being excessively drunk. He was found dead in his cell before the night was through.

He was found to have consumed most of a bottle of rum in the police van, which he obtained from another prisoner. He was dragged through the watch house and shoved down against a bench, where he hit his head and arm.

The Geelong Socialist Alliance released the statement below on September 18.

* * *

The Socialist Alliance has announced today that they will endorse 55-year-old health and safety teacher, Sue Bull, as its candidate for Mayor in the Greater Geelong City Council elections, which take place on October 27.

Bull said: “I’ve decided to run because I can’t see that there are any candidates campaigning against corporate greed and putting the community and the environment first.

Stop CSG Sydney Water Catchment released the statement below on September 18.

* * *

The residents of Nattai, a township that overlooks Lake Burragorang — the source of fresh drinking water for residents of the city of Sydney and the lower Blue Mountains — have overwhelmingly supported a declaration that Nattai and Sydney Water Catchment be CSG Mining Free.

The local community will be celebrating this event during the National Week of Action at Lake Burragorang Lookout in Nattai on Sunday October 14 from 11.00am to 1pm.