Chris Slee

The Senate voted on October 10 to pass legislation aimed at blocking the Victorian Country Fire Authority (CFA) enterprise agreement.

Those voting for the law were the Coalition, Pauline Hanson's One Nation, the Nick Xenophon Team and right-wing independents David Leyonhjelm and Derryn Hinch. Labor, the Greens and independent Jacqui Lambie opposed the bill.

Refugee activists attended a meeting on October 3 to discuss strategy for the refugee rights movement.

The meeting was organised by the Refugee Action Collective (RAC) in response to an article written by Robert Manne, Tim Costello, Frank Brennan and John Menadue calling for a "compromise" solution to "our refugee crisis".

RAC invited Manne to speak at the forum. Chris Breen spoke on behalf of RAC.

Both professional and volunteer firefighters have spoken against the federal government's proposed new law aimed at blocking the implementation of the Victorian Country Fire Authority (CFA) enterprise agreement.

Tamils protest on August 3 against Sri Lankan navy land grabs in Mullivaikkal.

Tamils who had been protesting outside a military cantonment in a suburb of Kilinochchi began a hunger strike on September 7.

An Australian lawyer who lodged a submission to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2014 calling for an investigation of Australian detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island, told a Refugee Action Collective (RAC) forum in Melbourne on September 5 that the release of the Nauru files has improved the chances of action being taken.

In March, the Victorian Country Fire Authority (CFA) received a secret report from anti-union law firm Seyfarth Shaw Australia giving advice on how to attack the United Firefighters Union (UFU).

According to a Fairfax Media article summarising the leaked report, it recommended hiring firefighters on "individual and/or non-union contracts". It also recommended reducing union officials' right of entry into CFA workplaces.

Tamils protest for the release of political prisoners. Colombo, October 2015.

When Maithripala Sirisena was elected as president of Sri Lanka in January last year, he promised to end human rights violations by the security forces.

Under Sirisena's predecessor, Mahinda Rajapaksa, it was common practice for the army and police to abduct people and torture them. Some were later released, while others were murdered.

The United Firefighters Union (UFU) has commissioned a survey of bullying, harassment and discrimination within Victoria's Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) and Country Fire Authority (CFA). The survey is being conducted by researchers from the University of Newcastle.

Meanwhile, the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC) is carrying out a survey commissioned by MFB and CFA management. The UFU has advised its members not to participate in the VEOHRC survey.

A former member of Bahrain's parliament, Jassim Hussain, who resigned in protest at the repression of the 2011 reform movement, spoke about the current situation in Bahrain and the broader Gulf region on January 24.

Hussain said the falling price of oil has caused economic problems for the Gulf States. They have also spent a lot of money on the wars in Yemen and Syria.

As a result, there have been cuts to government subsidies for meat, fuel and electricity, as well as cuts to unemployment and retirement benefits.


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