Good news (for a change)

Research commissioned by Environment Victoria shows that 12 months after the highly polluting Hazelwood power station closed, Victoria has a reliable electricity system and less climate pollution.

About 30 National Union of Workers’ members at Yakult’s Dandenong South probiotic drink factory won a wage rise of 3% and reinstatement of RDOs on March 28 after being on strike for 10 days.

The workers walked off the job on March 19 and maintained a 24-hour picket line at the site while management refused to discuss the issue. Yakult had offered 2.5% at the cost of ending RDOs and deduction of union dues from wages. Australia is profitable for Yakult — it made $332 million profit in 2016-17.

Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews apologised on May 25 to the state’s Chinese community for the racism and unjust policies their ancestors endured during the gold rush era.

Protests disrupt Westpac’s 200th birthday dinner

Guests attending Westpac’s black tie 200th birthday gala dinner on April 8 were greeted by hundreds of protesters outside the event at Carriageworks in Redfern, who angrily denounced Westpac for not distancing itself from Adani’s proposed Carmichael coalmine in Queensland's Galilee basin.

Shaun Murray climbed some scaffolding and chained himself to the building, interrupting the dinner for 90 minutes.

Melbourne's trams to be solar powered

The Victorian government announced on January 19 that Melbourne's tram network will soon be powered by the first large-scale solar plant to be built in Victoria.

The solar plant, which will be completed by the end of 2018, is expected to be located in Victoria's north-west.

The project is expected to create 300 new jobs and will produce 75 megawatts of power, with about half of that production to be linked to the tram network.

The rest of the energy produced by the plant will flow into the broader electricity system.

BP finally announced in late December it had withdrawn its two environmental plans for exploration drilling two months after announcing it would ditch the controversial project.

Australia’s offshore oil and gas regulator, NOPSEMA, had already sent back BP’s application to drill in the Bight three times and was due to make a decision on its latest two submitted plans by the end of the year.

Chevron, Santos, Murphy and Karoon Gas still have exploration licences but will face the same massive costs and increasing community opposition that BP experienced.

The federal government has officially walked away from its plan to privatise the Australian Securities and Investments Commission corporate database of critical information on more than 2 million private companies in Australia.

Opposition to the proposed sale has grown. A GetUp! petition signed by more than 40,000 academics, journalists and others called on the government to reverse the plan as the privatisation would impede corporate transparency in Australia.

Supreme Court Justice David Hammerschlag dismissed former NSW minister Eddie Obeid’s civil case against the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) on September 27.

Obeid had claimed he had suffered financial and reputational harm as a result of ICAC’s inquiry into a coal deal in 2012 and that he had been denied procedural fairness at the hearing which found he acted corruptly.

He faces a sentence hearing in October after a jury found him guilty of wilful misconduct in public office in 2007 over retail leases at Sydney’s Circular Quay.

Truck drivers are celebrating a major win over industry lobby group NatRoad in its bid to pay them less by seeking an exemption from rules in NSW setting minimum pay rates.

The NSW Industrial Relations Commission dismissed NatRoad’s application, which was opposed by the Transport Workers’ Union (TWU), on October 4.

TWU NSW branch secretary Richard Olsen said: “This is an important win for owner drivers in NSW. NatRoad do not represent owner drivers, they represent companies that want to rip them off.”

The momentum to boycott Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) products is growing. The Monash Student Association’s Sir Johns Bar and the Swinburne Student Association will no longer stock any CUB products.

Hotels across the nation — including The Tote in Abbotsford, The Lincoln in Carlton, the Kent Street Bar in Collingwood, and the Raccoon Bar in Melbourne, the Unicorn in Ballarat and the Grand Yamanto and Cecil Hotel in Queensland — are also refusing to serve CUB beers on tap.

However, most pubs are locked into contracts for their tap beers.

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