Sunday, June 28, 2015

Winter Feast: There is no planet B - Sat 8 Aug

You're invited to Green Left Weekly's Winter Feast:

There is no planet B:
Stop Perth Freight Link - Renewable Energy Now

three course meal plus entertainment

Help support Green Left Weekly

7pm Sat 8 August

North Fremantle Bowling Club
40 Stirling Hwy, North Fremantle
(5 mins from North Freo station or else catch bus 98/99 or 103; parking off Hevron St)

Tickets: $60 solidarity/$30 regular/$15 unwaged

Book online at:

Attend on Facebook:

MUA adds weight to Fremantle Road to Rail campaign

The WA branch of the Maritime Union of Australia has added its weight to the movement sweeping Perth’s southern suburbs opposing the proposed construction of the Perth Freight Link (PFL) connecting Perth Airport with Fremantle Port.

The PFL, slated to cost $2 billion is widely criticised for being poorly planned and unnecessary given that a rail freight line already connects the two points. It would also mean the destruction of the environmentally sensitive Beeliar Wetlands.

Fremantle Road to Rail Campaign organised a march through Fremantle and rally outside the council building on June 24. It was a show of support for a motion that the council was voting on that evening formally expressing its opposition to the PFL.

Addressing the rally, MUA WA secretary Chris Cain pledged MUA support for the grassroots campaign.

“We support the community concerns about this freeway and we defend the environment,” Cain told the crowd.

The PFL plan is linked to the proposed sale of Fremantle Port, Cain said. “If you look at the sale of the Port of Melbourne and the Brisbane Port privatisation you can see that privatisation drives up costs by hundreds of percent.”

“Who ends up paying for that? The consumers, it drives up prices for ordinary people, we pay for the privatisation.”

Cain said that the economic case for the privatisation is laughable. “The government wants to spend $2 billion building this road so they can get a good price for the sale of the Port,” he said. “But they already say that they expect only $1.5 billion from the sale, so where’s the logic?”

Cain told the crowd that the MUA is organising members’ meetings in all the workplaces that it covers to discuss the issue.

[This article by Barry Healy first appeared in Green Left Weekly #1058. Photos by Alex Bainbridge.]

Perth protest against closure of Aboriginal communities

Over 100 people rallied in front of WA Parliament House on June 26, 2015 as part of the third #SOSblakaustralia "call to action" to stop forced closures of Aboriginal communities.

Speakers included Aboriginal heritage advocate Clayton Lewis and Greens MLC Robin Chapple. Bella Bropho from the Swan Valley Nyungar Community gave a Welcome to Country.

Chapple pointed out that at a recent estimates committee hearing, government representatives acknowledged that they did not know which communities they thought should be closed.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Forum lends solidarity message to West Papua

Building a grassroots solidarity movement with the people of West Papua was a strong theme of the forum on human rights in Indonesia and West Papua organised by Socialist Alliance and Green Left Weekly on June 25.

West Papuan activist Wiwince Pigome was one of the speakers and explained the so called "Act of Free Choice" whereby West Papua was integrated into Indonesia was in fact an "Act of No Choice" conducted under military rule.

Rebecca Meckleburg spoke about the history of solidarity activity in Australia and the emergence of resistance to the Suharto dictatorship in the 1990s. Muhammad Ridha from the Working People's Party (PRP) of Indonesia spoke about the limits of the current reformasi period.

The meeting finished with a message of solidarity (below) for the West Papuan independence movement.

One, two, three: West Papua will be free!
A message of solidarity at the end of the Socialist Alliance forum about Human Rights in Indonesia and West Papua.
Posted by Socialist Alliance WA on Friday, June 26, 2015

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The struggle for Human Rights and Democracy in Indonesia and West Papua

With the popular overthrow of the Suharto dictatorship in Indonesia in 1998, expectations were high that real and profound democratic change would result. However today political and economic power still lies in relatively the same hands as before, and widespread corruption and violence continue against workers, the poor and oppressed peoples.

Join us for this panel discussion on the struggle for human rights and democracy in Indonesia and West Papua, and what role progressive movements in Australia have played and can play in building active solidarity in the region.

Guest Speakers:
Rebecca Meckelburg (Indonesia-Australia Solidarity activist)

Muhammad Ridha (Working People’s Party (PRP) Indonesia and Editor of IndoProgress)

Wiwince Pigome (International West Papuan Students Alliance - Curtin University)

6pm Thursday 25 June

Orient Hotel
39 High Street, Fremantle

Hosted by Green Left Weekly and Socialist Alliance WA

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Monday, June 22, 2015

Death in custody at overcrowded Bandyup Women’s Prison

A 50-year-old woman died in custody at Bandyup Women’s Prison in Western Australia on June 15.

The death has been confirmed by the state coroner’s office, but details of the circumstances surrounding her death are yet to be released.

In a statement, Deaths in Custody Watch Committee (DICWC) said: “This is exactly what we have feared and the reason why DICWC established the Bandyup Action Group. One death in custody is one too many. The overcrowding at Bandyup has led to stressful and harmful conditions for the women imprisoned and for staff.

“In April we said: ‘We hope it will not take a death in Bandyup before the government acts on the numerous suggestions, reports and recommendations on women’s imprisonment in WA.’ We call on the government to act immediately to address the overcrowding.”

Last year the Inspector of Custodial Services released a report that described Bandyup as the “hardest and most neglected prison in the state”.

The prison was designed to hold 183. In December last year, there were 348 women at Bandyup. More than one-third of these women were on remand.

Since 2008, the number of women in WA’s prisons has grown by 79%. In 2013, one-third of women who entered prison did so solely for the purpose of clearing fines, that is, they were imprisoned for being poor.

Aboriginal women are severely over-represented in prison, accounting for about half of the female prison population. Women commit fewer and less serious offences than men, but they tend to receive harsher penalties than men. In WA, there are fewer options for women to serve community-based orders than there are for men, so they are more likely to end up in jail.

More than 90% of women in prison have experienced physical or sexual abuse and prisons are under-resourced to deal with such issues. This means women are left to suffer the effects of violence, which is then made worse by being in prison.

Life for the women in Bandyup prison is becoming increasingly tense. It is severely overcrowded, understaffed, under-resourced and the needs of the women inside are not being met.

DICWC’s statement said: “The time for change is now! We must stop regarding female prisoners as ‘prisoners who happen to be women’ and start acknowledging the unique needs and issues that women face.

“We call on the government to act immediately to address the overcrowding:
• release all women in prison for fine default and other minor offences
• accommodate bail for women on remand
• release minimum-security prisoners to home detention, or parole if necessary.

“This would immediately reduce the population of Bandyup to a manageable size. The prison has estimated that by the end of 2015 there will be 370 women in Bandyup and 450 by mid-2016. The government’s proposed ‘fix’ — converting part of Hakea men’s facility into a remand facility for women — will not be ready until the end of 2016 at the earliest. The women inside Bandyup cannot wait that long.”

[This article first appeared in Green Left Weekly #1057 based on a statement by DICWC. Photo from a March 7 speakout by the Bandyup Women's Action Group.]

Friday, June 19, 2015

PHOTO ESSAY: Police, council raid Matagarup again!

Perth City Council and WA Police raided the Nyoongar encampment at Matagarup (Heirisson Island) at 7am on June 18. Tents were seized, move-on notices issued and concrete barricades were erected at the car park entrance to try to deliver a terminal blow to the Matagarup Refugee Camp as the encampment is known.

Police and council workers arrived in large numbers with trucks and equipment. More than 15 people had stayed overnight at the camp.

As on previous raids, there was no regard for the fact that Matagarup is a recognised and registered heritage site where cultural activities - including camping - are permitted. The welcome extended  by the Matagarup community was trampled on by police and council.

People were woken from their sleep.

The rain was still gently falling as they began to seize tents, bedding, food and other equipment.

Nyoongar elders such as Bella Bropho maintained a calm disposition in the face of dispossession.

"This is our country," the people said.

The entire operation was guarded by dozens of police.

They issued at least two move-on notices directing Aboriginal people to leave their own land at the threat of arrest.

What justification was there for this? Ironically, the government had only the night before decided to "recognise" Aboriginal people in the WA constitution. That morning, they made clear what such "recognition" means!

Truckloads of valuable equipment was taken.

This was the site of where the women's camp had been. Food and personal possessions were taken with no regard.

After the bedding was seized from homeless people, the council began erecting concrete barricades at the carpark entrance to try to stop people returning to the island.

They were not successful.

Withstanding heavy rain, a number of people stayed overnight on the island that very night. The next morning, police came back to repeat the whole operation again!

Please share this meme about the raid to support this campaign.

[This photo essay originally appeared in Green Left Weekly online.]

Friday, June 5, 2015

Green Left fundraiser: Russell Brand's new film - Frii 12 June

Group booking fundraiser for GLW: watch the film then go for drinks and discussion together afterwards.

Fri 12 June

6:40pm screening

$15 unwaged/$20 waged/$30 solidarity.

Cinema Paradiso
164 James Street
Northbridge, WA 6003

Bookings essential!
Book online here:

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Refugee Welcome Fiesta and Walk: Sun 14 June

Join Freo Refugee Rights Action Network for the Refugee Welcome Fiesta & Walk including: information and support stalls, low cost exotic foods, arts and crafts, drumming circle, music and dancing & other activities.

Sunday 14 June

11am-3pm, Fremantle Esplanade

11am Community Drumming Circle
12noon Welcome to Country and speeches
12:30 Walk through Fremantle
1:00 Return to Esplanade for non-stop live music and dancing

Attend on Facebook: