Australia

A pin could have been heard dropping in Sydney’s Prince Alfred Park in the moments before the result of the postal vote on marriage equality was announced on the morning of November 15.

Lovers stood with their faces pressed into each other’s chests, whitened knuckles held shaking hands, friends stood shoulder-to-shoulder and rainbow families held each other in tight embraces. Even the blustering wind that had dishevelled our stall all morning seemed to have been holding its breath. All was silent as we braced for the result.

It is difficult to predict the result of the Queensland election on November 25.

Polls continue to indicate a close result between the major parties with a likelihood that preferences will determine the outcome in many seats. Most likely, whichever party forms government will need the support of independents or minor parties.

Australia’s behaviour at the UN Climate Conference in Bonn (COP23) has been described as that of a bully. Australia has collected a swag of “Fossil of the Day” awards — given daily by climate activists to the country or group doing its best to stop effective action on climate change.

Australia, along with the US, has been disgracing itself in one of the most contentious areas of the climate talks, known as Loss and Damage. Other developed countries, particularly the European Union and Canada, have not been very helpful either.

When this debacle around Section 44 of the Australian Constitution started becoming apparent, I found myself amused.

The fact that a group of white politicians were falling victim to a section I believed was inherently xenophobic, particularly when some of those same politicians have been integral in fanning xenophobia to win votes, contained a delicious irony.

A crowd of unionists, estimated by organisers at 15,000, gathered at Belmore Park and marched through city streets to a rally in Cook and Phillip Park on November16, demanding "Stop the War on Workers".

Members of the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) walked off building sites for the rally, while waterside workers belonging to the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) closed down the Port of Botany for the day.

Investment bank Goldman Sachs is set to reap $16.5 million in NSW taxpayers' funds for a mere 11 months work as financial advisor to the state government on privatisation of the controversial $16.8 billion WestConnex tollway. The money will be paid for work between August this year and next July, in flogging off 51% of the Sydney Motor Corporation (SMC) which is building WestConnex.

The corporate vampires are circling as the sell-off process advances, with Transurban the favorite to buy WestConnex. Transurban already owns most of the toll roads in Sydney.

This month there have been four big wins for the union movement. Seventy jobs were saved at Murray Goulburn after a six month campaign; Dave, the union delegate sacked for leading a protest in his undies, has been reinstated; electricians at Crown Casino all got their jobs back on union conditions; and supermarket giant Coles has agreed to fast-track a vote on a new workplace agreement that will pay much higher penalty rates.

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La Via Campesina is a global social movement that unites 148 groups representing small farmers, peasants, rural workers and indigenous communities around the world. It fights for food sovereignty and ecologically sustainable agriculture. At the COP23 climate talks in Bonn, Germany, La Via Campesina released the statement that is slightly abridged below on November 9.

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More than 100 people attended a rally in defence of public housing at the Walker Street Estate in Northcote on November 11.

The Victorian Labor government has announced a "public housing renewal program" that will involve the demolition of nine public housing estates across Melbourne. The land will be sold to developers who are likely to build high rise towers in place of the current low rise buildings.

How would you feel if you were one of the 6000 workers at National Australia Bank (NAB) who will be made redundant in order to cut costs?

You might have a family with small children, struggling to pay for the weekly groceries and bills, on top of the monthly rental or mortgage payments that you can barely afford.

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