More than 200 people gathered at the Yirara College in Alice Springs over July 6-9 for a conference entitled Defending Indigenous Rights: Land, Law, Culture Convergence. The convergence brought together Aboriginal communities affected by the Northern Territory intervention to speak and coordinate with anti-intervention and Aboriginal rights groups from around the country.
Environmentalists are calling for the state government to cancel a mining lease on North Stradbroke Island, off the coast of Brisbane. Huge quantities of sand on the island has been illegally mined and sold to landscape and building industries. On July 3, the Queensland Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal by mining company Unimin against a Supreme Court ruling in December 2009 that it had carried out illegal mining and sale of the sand.
"The recent campaign by the big mining companies, which brought down PM Kevin Rudd, shows the enormous power of these giant monopolies in our capitalist society”, Socialist Alliance activist Marg Gleeson told a public forum, sponsored by the SA on July 6. "This two-month campaign of lies and distortions by the mining barons was victorious. It underlines exactly who holds the levers of power in our 'democratic' country."
The ongoing disaster in the Gulf of Mexico caused by the April 20 explosion at the Deepwater Horizon oil rig has exposed the obscene behaviour of the world’s fourth-largest corporation, British Petroleum (BP). Evidence has come from many sources revealing BP was aware of safety concerns, but did nothing about them.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard is enjoying a honeymoon in the polls since taking Kevin Rudd’s place. A July 2 Reuters Trend poll confirmed a series of polls since Gillard became PM on June 24, giving Labor the lead over the right-wing Coalition. The June 26 Sydney Morning Herald said a Herald/Nielson poll found Greens support since Gillard took over had fallen from 15% to 8%. But another crucial poll indicated the true nature of Gillard’s rise to power. As soon as she was installed as prime minister, the share price of the large mining corporations rose.
In July, Socialist Alliance election candidates will be taking a trip to the Northern Territory to personally witness conditions under the federal government's intervention into Aboriginal communities. SA youth candidates — and Resistance members — Jess Moore, Zane Alcorn and Ewan Saunders will join Indigenous activists, students, community groups and campaigners from across the country in Alice Springs for an important gathering of intervention-affected Aboriginal communities.
Newly installed Prime Minister Julia Gillard has offered a truce and fresh negotiations with the mining industry over the government's proposed Resources Super Profits Tax (RSPT). Watching the industry's advertising campaign, you'd think the RSPT spelt the end of civilisation as we know it. According to one BHP Billiton ad, the RSPT will mean “fewer projects, jobs and opportunities for our future generations”. The ad's title, above an all-Australian image of young blokes playing footy, reads: “Australia loves to compete, but the Super Tax could take us out of the game.”
In late June, two important events related to renewable energy took place. On June 24, the Senate passed changes to the government's renewable energy target, removing the bias towards small-scale energy systems that put many wind farm projects on hold. The scheme set a 20% renewable energy target by 2020.
NASA climate scientist James Hansen has called them “factories of death”. British columnist George Monbiot has said “everything now hinges” on stopping them. US climate writer Bill McKibben is prepared to be arrested to have them shut down. But Australian state governments don’t get it — they are still enchanted by coal-fired power stations. Climate campaigners say Australia should urgently replace existing coal-fired power plants with renewable energy, but 12 new “death factories” are slated to be built in Australia over the next few years.
Sand mining on Stradbroke Island, offshore from Brisbane, will be phased out by 2027, under a new plan announced by the Queensland state government on June 20. Most of the island will become national park and development of ecotourism will be the main industry.