Australia

As 2017 drew to a close the climate movement had much to celebrate. Hard fought campaigns directed at potential financial backers had resulted in Adani’s Carmichael coalmine being a far less certain prospect as one by one financial options dissolved.

With major financial institutions in Australia and overseas ruling out support for the project, Adani had pinned its hopes on China as a possible funding source as well as a market for Galilee Basin coal. In spite of the Australian government oiling the wheels for a deal, all major Chinese banks backed away in the end.

Despite appeals from the Prime Minister to keep it open, AGL has announced it will close Liddell, NSW’s dirtiest coal-fired power station, and repurpose it with clean energy.

This is a blow to the government’s pro-coal agenda, and an important step forward for the transition to clean energy and a better future.

AGL will close Liddell in 2022 as planned and invest in gas, renewables and battery storage as part of the NSW Generation Plan. It is also exploring the feasibility of a pumped hydro project in the Hunter region.

The South Australian government has approved a solar thermal power plant to be built at Port Augusta this year.

SolarReserve's 150 megawatt plant will use mirrored panels to concentrate sunlight onto a central receiver at the top of a 220 metre tower.

This will heat molten salt to 565°C, which is used to generate steam, drive a turbine and produce 150 megawatts of electricity, even without sun.

On January 13 Socialist Alliance members took the opportunity to visit the striking Esso workers in Longford who have been maintaining their picket line for more than 200 days.

The picket was established on June 20 last year in protest at 200 sacked Esso workers being offered their jobs back with a 30% pay cut and unfair roster changes.

The Port Kembla Coal Terminal (PKCT), south of Wollongong, locked out its 58 permanent employees without pay for five days from January 7. The move is part of the company’s ongoing drive to force workers to accept cuts to their wages and conditions.

PKCT has been in negotiations with the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) for a new agreement since 2015, when the previous enterprise agreement expired.

The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union's Queensland construction branch has reached an in-principle agreement that will end weekend work and increase pay and overtime rates.

The new agreement with Multiplex, Hutchinson, Watpac, Probuild and Icon complies with the federal government's building code. This prevents builders with agreements containing banned conditions, including restrictions on casual labour, union consultation arrangements and controls over rostered days off, from competing for federally-funded work.

Imagine what countless numbers of ordinary folk went through on January 13 when they received an official SMS alert reading: "Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii. Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill."

The false alarm was a result of a mistake made by a worker at the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency who pressed a wrong button.

Labor backbencher Michael Danby charged taxpayers $4574 for two advertisements in The Australian Jewish News attacking the ABC's coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The MP for Melbourne Ports, who has long been an outspoken defender of Israel, used his parliamentary communications allowance to fund the ads.

One advertisement accused ABC journalist Sophie McNeill of covering the eviction of a Palestinian family but ignoring the murder of three Jewish settlers by a Palestinian.

Figures released on December 28 by the Australian National Audit Office revealed the Australian Defence Force has spent $10.3 billion on weapons and military equipment from the United States in the past four years. The report estimated about half the money was spent supporting Australian Defence Force activity in Syria and Iraq in that four-year period.

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