Australia

While polls are giving the Yes vote for marriage equality a substantial lead, campaigners for equality do not want to leave any vote to chance. 

They have and are organising across the country until November 7 — the final deadline to return postal survey forms to the Australian Electoral Commission.

The October 17 edition of The Age has a front page story about bullying and sexual harassment in the Country Fire Authority (CFA).

The article said: "Women working for the CFA have been sexually assaulted and harassed amid a culture of fear, bullying and impunity, according to a leaked internal report whose existence has been a tightly held secret until now."

The iconic Bondi Pavilion on the foreshore of Bondi Beach has been saved from privatisation, and discussions have commenced about plans for its future as a cultural centre and creative hub.

The big swing against the Liberal Party in recent council elections resulted in former Liberal mayor of Waverley Council Sally Betts, who was pushing hard for the commercialisation of the pavilion, being replaced as mayor.

A new report by the World Wildlife Federation (WWF), The Living Forests, has highlighted Australia as the only developed country in the top 10 deforestation hotspots.

WWF predicted up to 6 million hectares would be cleared in Eastern Australia by 2030, ranking it with the Amazon, Vietnam, Borneo and the Congo.

The Victorian Government’s announcement on October 18 that it will ban single-use plastic shopping bags is a welcome step towards reducing plastic pollution.

Victoria will join South Australia, ACT, Northern Territory and Tasmania, which already have similar bans in place. Queensland and WA will follow in 2018, leaving NSW as the only state to allow the bags.

A single-use plastic bag is used for just 12 minutes on average, but can take up to 1000 years to break down.

Traditional Owners from the Gulf Country in the Northern Territory showed their opposition to fracking  for shale gas outside Origin Energy’s AGM on October 18. The protest was organised by SEED — the Indigenous Youth Climate Network.

Traditional Owner Nancy Hoosan said: “I’m not just talking for myself and my people, I’m talking for everyone. No matter what colour you are or what language you speak, we drink the same water.

“Australian government, listen to us. We don’t want fracking in our country.”

A new report, entitled Don’t send me that pic, has reaffirmed what most women and girls already knew: sexual abuse and harassment are incessant, it starts young and it is on the rise.

Commissioned by Plan Australia and Our Watch, the survey collected responses from 600 girls and young women aged 15–19 across Australia.

Protests are continuing in Manus Island detention centre as refugees resist the Australian government's plans to move them to the East Lorengau Refugee Transit Centre. Two refugees have died since August and numerous others have been attacked by locals in East Lorengau.

More than 200 staff and students rallied outside the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) after staff took protected strike action on October 19.

Vince Caughley, UTS Branch President of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) told Green Left Weekly: “The major aim of our industrial action was to send a message to UTS management to respond to our claims. The NTEU has been bargaining for six months and as yet no senior management figures have come to negotiate with us.

Martin Rorke gave this speech at a speakout for marriage equality at Sydney University on October 11.

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I am a member of staff here at the University of Sydney and I support same sex marriage. I am also a member of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) and I'm proud that my union is fully behind the Yes campaign. 

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