The tensions between staff and management in The Wilderness Society (TWS) have been building for years. Beginning as a small activist organisation that battled to save the Franklin Dam and won, it has evolved into a large, professional organisation with 45,000 financial members, campaign centres in most capital cities, and 150 paid staff.
The number of cars using Brisbane’s first road tunnel, which opened on March 18, has remained far below the target projected by the Brisbane City Council. After an initial toll-free period, when 65,000 vehicles used the tunnel daily, the usage plunged to a daily average of only 21,178 vehicles after a discounted toll was introduced. The drop in patronage has forced the tunnel operators, River City Motorways, to extend the discounted toll period by another seven weeks in an attempt to boost vehicle numbers.
When setting a giant oil spill on fire is the least-worst option to limit environmental damage, you know you're in trouble. But that appeared to be the case as US authorities debated how to contain an spill caused by the failure in April of a deepwater oil rig — owned by the oil giant BP — about 80 kilometres off the US in the Gulf of Mexico. On May 2, the Times of London reported that Professor Ian MacDonald, an ocean specialist at Florida State University, said satellite data suggested the leak has already spread 9 million gallons of heavy crude oil.
It had to happen eventually. Kevin Rudd's popularity has gone into decline, and the Labor party now trail the Liberals in the latest polls. According to a May 3 Essential Research poll, Rudd's approval rating has fallen to 46%, down from 71% a year ago. The Liberals lead Labor by 51% to 49% on a “two party preferred” basis according to polling by Newspoll published in the May 4 Australian.
One of the most common cliches western politicians like to use to describe the climate crisis is: “We are all in this together”. But this seemingly harmless platitude all too often conceals a dangerous lie. Actually, on a global scale, we’re not all in this together. Of course, global warming will impact everywhere, but it won’t affect every place in the same way.
Thirty people gathered on May 6 at a meeting organised by the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) and the New South Wales Teachers Federation (NSWTF). The theme of the meeting was “Trade Unions and Climate Change: Challenges, Opportunities and Alliance Building”. Jeremy Kerbel, climate justice campaigner with the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union, outlined some of the LHMU’s climate change initiatives, such as calling hundreds of delegates in the lead-up to the 2009 Walk Against Warming and sponsoring the event.
On May 3, students protested at the entrance to the University of Wollongong to call for 100% renewable energy on campus. The action was a part of nationwide events calling for renewable energy across Australia. More than 2000 students have signed a petition calling upon the university to increase its purchase of renewable energy from the current 15% to 50% by the end of 2010, and then to 100% by the end of 2015.
MELBOURNE — In the wake of the Rudd government’s backflip on climate change, more than 250 people rallied outside the Victorian parliament on May 6 to urge Labor Premier John Brumby and Coalition leader Ted Baillieu to commit to replacing Hazelwood coal-fired power station, the world’s dirtiest, with clean energy by 2012.
Much of the public discussion on Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s proposed tax reforms — made in response to the Henry tax review — has centred on the projected 40% tax on “super-profits” in the mining industry. Most people probably agree that the big mining multinationals could afford to contribute a lot more to the public purse.
The Socialist Alliance has endorsed Dr Renfrey Clarke to run for the Senate in South Australia. Clarke was one of the founders of the Climate Emergency Action Network in 2008, and is a well-known activist and writer on environmental topics. He is a member of the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union. A specialist on Russia and Latin America, Clarke worked for many years as a foreign correspondent for Green Left Weekly and other progressive media. Below, Clarke outlines the priority issues around which he campaigns.
On March 13, five women, the oldest aged 69, began walking 1400km from Brisbane to Canberra to take a message to the prime minister that we should take steps towards a nuclear-free future. The women will arrive at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra on May 24. They proudly carry a message stick presented to them by elders of the Turrabul and Yuggera people of Brisbane, which conveys a story of sustainability and will be presented to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on May 25.
A key demand adopted by the World People’s Summit on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth was for the industrialised First World nations to pay their “climate debt” to the underdeveloped nations. The summit was held in Cochabamba, Bolivia, over April 19-22 and attended by 35,000 people from around the world. A key concept promoted at the summit was that of vivir bien — living well. This is similar to the common idea expressed in the West, “live simply so that others may simply live”.
A huge crowd of 50,000 people marched in Auckland on May 1 against the New Zealand government’s plans to allow mining in the country’s national parks. It was New Zealand’s biggest protest march in living memory. Greenpeace ambassador Robyn Malcolm said: “For nearly 50,000 Kiwis to turn out and be prepared to speak with one voice, must tell the government something ... Our land will always be more important to our identity than some extra dollars in the pockets of mining companies.”
Farmers at Caroona on the Liverpool Plains near Quirindi, New South Wales, have been defending their properties from invasion by BHP-Billiton’s coal exploration drillers. For 615 days, until March 25, they inspired coal-threatened communities everywhere with their blockade, by saying “No” — and meaning it. Trish Duddy and Tommy and George Clift have been at the blockade camp for every one of those 615 days, joined by other locals on a rolling roster for cups of tea, information-swapping, resolve-steeling — and symbolic trailblazing.
"Say no to Roe!", chanted more than 100 people at a rally outside state parliament on April 22. The rally was organised to oppose a five-kilometre freeway extension (Roe stage 8) between the Kwinana Freeway and Stock Road in Melville, south of Perth. Speakers said the proposed extension was expensive, unnecessary and environmentally destructive. It would desecrate Noongar sacred sites and threaten the endangered species.
As towns go, Orroroo in South Australia might seem small, but with 850 people it is one of the larger stops on the road between Broken Hill and Port Augusta. The countryside around it is marginal farmland. Only in the occasional year is there enough rain for a good crop of wheat, and in a process with well-researched links to global warming, the wet years have been getting fewer. It is ironic, therefore, that this district 250 kilometres north of Adelaide now seems destined to hurry climate change along.