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Australian government unveils sweeping new “terror” powers

Mike Head The Australian government yesterday announced far-reaching new “anti-terrorism” measures, and, appealed for “national unity” to fight an alleged threat of terrorist atrocities. For the...

Wikileaks Defies Australian Court’s ‘Blanket Censorship Order’ by Publishing It

Founder Julian Assange says unprecedented government gag order is 'blindfolding the Australian public' Nadia Prupis Wikileaks has revealed a secret court order in Australia to censor reporting on...

Australian government covers up CBA bank scandal

Terry Cook Following a damning report on losses of life savings by customers of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA)–one of the country’s big four...

Australian government’s phony defence of journalist jailed in Egypt

Mike Head After refusing for months to lift a finger to defend Australian journalist Peter Greste, who has been imprisoned by Egypt’s dictatorship since December...

Australia Seizes 360M From Dormant Bank Accounts And All 50 U.S. States Are Doing...

Do you have a bank account that you don't actively use or a safe deposit box that you have not checked on for a while?  If so, you might want to see if the government has grabbed your money.  This sounds absolutely crazy, but it is true.  All over the world, governments are shortening the [...]

Former Australian prime minister warns of US-provoked war danger

Nick Beams  RINF Alternative News Former Australian Liberal Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser has been given prominent coverage in the Fairfax-owned press for his view that Australia...

Australian “union corruption” inquiry targets workers

Terry Cook  RINF Alternative News Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott this month announced a royal commission into alleged trade union corruption, as part of a broad...

Australian government launches witch-hunt against media for reporting torture

Mike Head RINF Alternative News  As evidence continues to emerge indicating that the Australian navy may have assaulted refugees, deliberately causing burns, during operations to force them...

New Australian school curriculum to promote war and nationalism

Patrick O’Connor RINF Alternative News The Liberal-National government has announced a “review” of the national school curriculum. Education Minister Christopher Pyne declared that revising the...

Australia: Former Labor prime ministers call on conservative government to slash spending more quickly

Richard Phillips RINF Alternative News Former Labor prime ministers Bob Hawke and Paul Keating have added their voices to increasingly strident calls from corporate Australia for...

Australian airline Qantas reduced to “junk” status

Patrick O'Connor  RINF Alternative News International credit rating agency Moody's yesterday downgraded Australian airline Qantas to investment “junk” status, following a similar move by Standard &...

Australian government forces refugee boats back to Indonesia

Mark Church RINF Alternative News Over the past month, the Australian navy has forced or towed at least two asylum seeker vessels back to Indonesia...

Military Spending: Future of Australian Workers Tied to War Aims of US Imperialism

Terry Cook The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) last month submitted a so-called auto jobs rescue plan to Prime Minister Tony Abbott's government. The trade...

Australian Olympians Say They’ll Defy Sochi Social Media Ban

Sam LairdMashableJanuary 6, 2013 Australian Olympians plan to defy social-media restrictions at next month's Winter Olympics...

As Australia Burns, Anger at Prime Minister’s Climate Policies Boils

Places such as Leigh Creek have suffered from extreme weather; more than 123 heat records were broken in Australia last summer (Photo: Independent)As Australia...

As Australia Burns, Anger at Prime Minister’s Climate Policies Boils

Places such as Leigh Creek have suffered from extreme weather; more than 123 heat records were broken in Australia last summer (Photo: Independent)As Australia...

As Australia Heats, Anger at Abbott’s Climate Policies Boils

Places such as Leigh Creek have suffered from extreme weather; more than 123 heat records were broken in Australia last summer (Photo: Independent)As Australia...

‘Human-induced climate change’ to blame for Australia’s hottest year on record: scientists

AFPJanuary 3, 2013 Australia experienced its hottest year on record in 2013, the Bureau of Meteorology...

Australia: Teenage girl assaulted by train ticket inspectors

By Tania Baptist 28 December 2013 The release this month of video footage showing a 15-year-old girl being violently tackled by a Metro Trains ticket inspector at...

Australia Joins Other Governments in Banning Indoor Tanning Salons

tanning beds and melanoma

Australia has joined a number of other government agencies in banning or restricting indoor tanning salons. Is there science behind these laws? This article explores the most recent research and the arguments proposed by indoor tanning operators and suppliers.

Australia’s Year in Review: Hottest, Hottest, Hottest…

Image from Australia's Bureau of Meteorology shows a map with purple added to show the record heat. 2013 has been a year filled with...

Australian media bid to justify spying angers Indonesia

By Mike Head 20 December 2013 A provocative attempt last weekend by the Australian, a Murdoch newspaper, to legitimise US-backed Australian spying on Indonesia's political elite has...

WATCH: This Safe Sex Ad Is So Sexy and Awesome that Australia Banned it...

Luckily, the Internet doesn't care about...

High Court Shoots Down Same-Sex Marriage in Australia

Australia's High Court has struck down a law legalizing same-sex marriage in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), meaning that more than two dozen homosexual...

Australia’s Banking System: Who is Behind Your Credit Card?

by Deb Young We've researched 99 banks, mutuals, building societies, credit unions and direct credit card companies to show which bank is behind your credit....

Australian government rescinds childcare and aged care pay rises

By Will Morrow14 December 2013 The Liberal-National Coalition government of Prime Minister Tony Abbott this week scrapped a $300 million fund for providing meagre...

The role of Labor and the unions in the assault on car industry workers...

By James Cogan13 December 2013 The Labor Party and the trade unions, which for decades have collaborated with the corporate establishment to slash jobs...

Two miners killed in Australian copper mine

By Terry Cook13 December 2013 On Monday, two workers were killed at the Copper Mines of Tasmania (CMT) Mount Lyell copper mine in Queenstown,...

Australia: Toyota foreshadows closure in wake of Holden announcement

By James Cogan12 December 2013 Within hours of General Motors announcing the closure of its Holden plants in Adelaide and Port Melbourne by the...

Australia’s integration into US war plans against China

12 December 2013 The deep integration of Australia into the Obama administration's “pivot to Asia” demonstrates the very advanced character of the US preparations...

UN reports expose conditions in Australia’s offshore refugee camps

By Mark Church12 December 2013 Two reports released in late November by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reveal the plight of...

‘Hastening Death’ of Great Barrier Reef, Australia Greenlights Coal Port

(Photo: The.Rohit/ cc via Flickr)Australia's environment minister has put the nail in the coffin for the Great Barrier Reef, environmentalists charged, after the lawmaker...

Australian Greens make debt ceiling deal with Abbott government

By Mike Head10 December 2013 Signalling their readiness to work closely with the Abbott government, the Australian Greens joined hands with the ruling Liberal-National...

Confronting Neo-liberal Capitalism: SIGTUR’s tenth Congress in Perth/Australia, 2 to 6 December 2013.

Last week, I attended the tenth Congress of the Southern Initiative on Globalisation and Trade Union Rights (SIGTUR) in Perth/Australia, 2 to 6 December 2013. SIGTUR is a network of more militant trade unions from the Global South with a focus on South-South co-operation. In this post, I will reflect on SIGTUR’s achievements, problems as well as possibilities for the future on the basis of the exchanges at this Congress. I will argue that it will only be through joint campaigns against capitalist exploitation that relationships of solidarity can be established through SIGTUR more widely.

Since its establishment in 1991, SIGTUR’s membership has steadily increased. At the Congress in Perth, Latin America was represented by delegates from CUT/Brazil and CTA/Argentina. From Africa, the Nigerian Labour Congress and the South African Cosatu had sent strong delegations, complemented by a representative from Ruanda and a delegate from the ITUC-Africa. Unions from Asia included large delegations from CITU/India and the KCTU/South Korea. Smaller delegations came from the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, Indonesia. One delegate from the smaller Japanese union ZENROREN also participated. Finally, a large delegation represented various federations of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU). The latter had founded SIGTUR together with Cosatu from South Africa against the background of Australian union solidarity with the anti-Apartheid struggle as well as Cosatu support for striking Australian dockers (see also SIGTUR – A movement of democratic unions of the Global South). In the following, I will first look at key differences between SIGTUR members, before discussing common challenges and the need for joint campaigns.


Australian unions and labour movements from the Global South

Although geographically located in the Global South, Australia is clearly an industrialised country unlike the countries of other SIGTUR members. Unsurprisingly, first differences emerged right at the beginning of the Congress. When the various delegations introduced themselves, the ITUC-Africa representative made clear that the capitalist system as such needed to be challenged. CITU from India identified capitalism and imperialism as the main target, while the KMU delegate from the Philippines mentioned monopoly capitalism as the main opponent. In general the unity of the working class was singled out as essential in the struggle to transform existing structures of exploitation.

By contrast, Ged Kearney, President of the ACTU, raised concerns about the recent change in power towards a Conservative government and the related attack on the welfare state and progress enacted by the previous Labour government. The Australian social and industrial compact around the welfare state and employment rights was under attack, she argued. At the global level, workers from different countries would be pitted against each other and a general increase in insecure work was noticeable. While the proliferation of free trade agreements endangered the environment and undermined workers’ rights, corporate power was globalised. Not capitalism as such, but unfettered capitalism was identified as the opponent. Decision-making at G20 meetings should be done in consultation with employers and trade unions, as unregulated free markets would not work. This resembles very closely the position of many European trade unions and their emphasis on social partnership with employers to ensure a capitalist system with a human face, in which economic growth is combined with fairness at work and throughout wider society.

Members at the founding meeting of SIGTUR, Photo by Rob Lambert

Trade unions and the position vis-à-vis political parties and social movements

Another area of differences concerned the relationship between trade unions and political parties and social movements. As the Argentinian CTA delegate outlined, instead of close connections with a political party, his union has emphasised co-operation with social movements. Individuals and social movements can even be directly CTA members without representing sections of the working class. This was the basis, he argued, on which the successful struggle against the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) had been based. These sentiments were echoed by the delegate from the ITUC-Africa, making clear that unions can no longer be islands. They need to co-operate with progressive civil society and move from workplace issues to community concerns as in the successful global campaign for the rights of domestic workers. CUT from Brazil and the South African Cosatu, on the other hand, have close relationships to governing political parties with the PT and the ANC respectively, as had the Australian ACTU until recently with a Labour government. They would still emphasise their autonomy as trade union. Especially CUT emphasised its close collaboration with social movements such as the movement of landless workers (MST) as well as participation in various left networks, combined with critical positions on government policy, when necessary. Nevertheless, this strategy is clearly different from the CTA’s approach.

CITU/India, in turn, completely rejects co-operation with social movements, as 95 per cent of them would be funded by transnational corporations (TNCs) or governments and, therefore, could not be allies in class struggle. The South Korean KCTU, finally, had actually founded its own party, which even gained 10 per cent in elections at some stage. However, soon afterwards it split and one of the two resulting parties split yet further, so that the union decided in the end not to support any longer a specific political party. Instead, it joined the broad alliance People’s Power, which is currently the platform for the struggle against the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).

Considering these differences over who the opponent actually is and whether to co-operate with political parties and/or social movements in the struggle, how can SIGTUR actually function as a coherent network?


Common challenges and joint campaigns

Despite these differences, it soon became clear at the Congress that the various SIGTUR members are conscious of the common challenges they face and the need for joint campaigns to confront them successfully. For example, the damage caused by the increasingly powerful TNCs are everywhere the same. Chevron, the global energy TNC, for example, extracts local wealth and undermines trade union and workers’ rights in Australia as it does in developing countries. Local communities suffer everywhere, as Chevron neither provides jobs with training opportunities for local people nor establishes sustainable infrastructure. The environment is frequently damaged too. Equally, the threat to the public sector through outsourcing and privatisation affects South Korea, where the KCTU is currently involved in a bitter struggle over the privatisation of the railways (see Korea: Support railway workers’ right to strike), as it does Australia, where austerity measures undermine the public provision of services, or India, where the government intends to privatise the system of food distribution to the poor. 

Delegates at the SIGTUR Congress in Perth.


SIGTUR members agreed that these common challenges required joint responses including global campaigns against specific TNCs, such as Chevron, Samsung or Suzuki as well as a joint campaign for the public sector and against privatisation. The current Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) negotiations were especially identified as dangerous. On the one hand, this agreement intends to strengthen TNCs further allowing them to sue specific governments, should they endanger their profits, on the other it pushes the privatisation of the public sector, opening it up precisely to a take-over by these TNCs.

In short, as clear as the differences over members’ position on capitalism and on co-operation with parties and social movements were, it was equally clear that these differences did not prevent in any way joint actions by SIGTUR. Throughout the Congress, Australian trade unionists discussed and worked with their fellow colleagues from other Southern labour movements on an equal footing.


The challenge of joint activities: What future for SIGTUR?

As it became clear at the Congress, the main challenge actually is not how to handle differences between SIGTUR members, but how to move towards joint actions. In individual discussions with various representatives, doubts were frequently raised about SIGTUR’s capacities in this respect. A Thai delegate, for example, told me that he had been at similar Congresses before, but was getting increasingly frustrated about the lack of progress. The CTA delegate from Argentina emphasised that SIGTUR was important for his union’s international activities, but ultimately the ITUC in Latin America was more active and the cultural similarities made it easier to organise joint campaigns regionally. Equally, a Cosatu delegate emphasised the lack of SIGTUR action between Congresses and pointed to the intensive activities by the ITUC-Africa, being a much more worthwhile international organisation to work with. CUT from Brazil still values SIGTUR, I was told, but less than in the past. In short, the next three years will be crucial for SIGTUR. Joint activities will be necessary so that members continue having faith in the network. Alternatively, SIGTUR and the idea of South-South co-operation could lose attraction.

Discussions at the SIGTUR Congress in Perth

And the potential is there. A new structure with four regional co-ordinators has been established and several targets for joint activities identified. The unique Global South dimension, the fact that SIGTUR members perhaps with the exception of the ACTU are not affected by the ideology of social partnership still puts it in a unique place for class struggle against capitalism. The presence of three trade unionists from Myanmar, where it has just recently become possible to form openly trade unions, and SIGTUR’s signing up to the initiative of Trade unions for energy democracyindicates that it remains cutting edge as an international labour organisation. The decisive task will be to translate this potential into concrete actions so that SIGTUR becomes more known internationally and its more militant outlook can provide a guiding example for others.

Solidarity and the overcoming of differences is ultimately always the result of struggle. The next three years may be decisive for SIGTUR’s future as a network. Either members are able to carry out joint initiatives against capitalist exploitation through SIGTUR, or they may well feel that their efforts are better spent elsewhere.



Prof. Andreas Bieler
Professor of Political Economy
University of Nottingham/UK

Personal website: http://andreasbieler.net

9 December 2013

Government sources claim GM will shut Holden subsidiary in Australia

By James Cogan9 December 2013 Senior unnamed Abbott government ministers told the media last week that General Motors has decided to liquidate the operations...

Australia’s Timor Spying Scandal. More Whistleblowers Emerge

The Australian government's moves to suppress further exposures of its surveillance operations suffered a blow yesterday when it was revealed that three more whistleblowers...

More whistleblowers emerge in Australia’s Timor spying scandal

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Australia: Slowing economic growth fuels austerity demands

By Patrick O'Connor5 December 2013 Worse than expected economic growth figures, released yesterday, have added further pressure on the Liberal-National Coalition government as it...

Australian government threatens lawyer with charges over Timor spying revelations

By Mike Head 5 December 2013 The Abbott government yesterday intensified its legal threats designed to suppress the latest revelations of the Australian bugging of the...

Snowden document confirms US-backed mass surveillance in Australia

By Mike Head3 December 2013 Australia's intelligence apparatus mines the telecommunications data of ordinary Australians, and hands over the material to the US and...

Australian media denounces exposure of Indonesia spying operations

By Will Morrow 3 December 2013 The Australian Broadcasting Corporation's (ABC) recent joint reporting of Australian espionage operations targeting Indonesian political figures has been furiously denounced...

Australian spy agency offered to share citizen info with foreign allies

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Australian Spy Agency Goes ‘Orwellian’ with Nation’s Privacy Laws

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Australian High Court hears challenge to anti-democratic electoral laws

By Mike Head2 December 2013 Hearings were held in the High Court, Australia's supreme court, last month in a test case for anti-democratic legislation...

Australian government steps up commitment to US “pivot”

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Indonesia maintains suspended relations with Australia as spying allegations widen

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By Peter Symonds18 November 2013 Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced last Wednesday evening, on the first full parliamentary sitting day of the...

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‘Carbon Cartel’: Canada, Australia Blasted for Fuelling Climate Crisis

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Australian business chief demands wage cutting and budget slashing

By Mike Head13 November 2013 Speaking on the eve of this week's resumption of the Australian parliament, Maurice Newman, the head of the new...

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Australian PM Abbott prepares for carbon tax showdown

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The corridors of the Australian parliament are so white you squint. The sound is hushed; the smell is floor polish. The wooden floors shine...

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By Peter Symonds6 November 2013 The Indonesian government is threatening to wind back intelligence sharing with Australia and the United States after revelations last...

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Zookal will deliver textbooks using drones in Australia next year

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The Abbott government, like the Labor government before it, will depend on minor parties and independents to push its legislation through parliament. Copyright: World...

Australian election results in unstable Senate

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3 October 2013 ...

Australia: Telstra announces 1,100 more job cuts.

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New Australian prime minister sworn in

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Australian PM-elect pledges support for US war in Syria

By Mike Head ...

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With Help From Rupert Murdoch, Rightwing Leader Takes Reins of Australian Gov’t

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The Australian Labor Party was thrown out of office in last Saturday's national election, having suffered its lowest vote in 110 years. Copyright: World...

With Help From Rupert Murdoch, Rightwing Leader Ascends to Power in Australia

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Mystery Deepens Over Ancient African Coins Discovered in Northern Australia

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Australian Labor Party thrown out of office

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Abbott pledges competent Australia govt.

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Australian Parties Sidetrack CO2 Threat

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Australians vote in parliamentary polls

Australians have begun casting ballots in a parliamentary election that will determine which party will lead the country for the next three years. Polls...

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Australian pseudo-lefts complicit in US war drive against Syria

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Australia probes troops ‘misconduct’

Australia has begun an investigation into reports that its Special Forces troops cut off hands of a Taliban militant in Afghanistan for fingerprinting. Several members...

Ford Australia stands down production workers

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US Navy to reinforce Marine taskforce in Australia

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Australia slammed over refugees’ detention

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US to send more jets to Australia

The United States is planning to boost its military presence in Australia as it is preparing to send more fighter jets to the country....

Australia's Abbott gets tough on refugees

Australiaâ„¢s conservative opposition leader Tony Abbott has pledged tougher immigration policies in dealing with refugees and asylum seekers. "This is our country and we...

Australian SEP candidate arrives in Colombo

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Australian film directors defend Edward Snowden

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Australian Election Date PH

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Australian Election Date PH

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Economic Growth: United States vs. Australia (Video)

Tom Eddlem, writer for The New American, gives a contrast between Australia's economy and that of the United States. Some of the contributing factors...

Australia: Job losses mount amid stalling economy

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Australian PM calls September 7 election

  By Patrick O’Connor ...

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The election campaign in Australia is being fought with the lives of men, women and children. Some drown, others are banished without hope to...

Thousands slam Australia refugee policy

A man shouts slogans against the Australian Labor Party (ALP) during a rally in support of asylum seekers outside an ALP meeting in Sydney,...

Australia PM visits Afghanistan

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has arrived in Afghanistanâ„¢s central province of Uruzgan on a surprise visit to meet with Australian troops stationed in...

Australia worries UN refugee agency

Australiaâ„¢s Prime Minster Kevin Rudd (R) and his Papua New Guinea counterpart, Peter Oâ„¢Neill, sign an agreement on asylum seekers in Brisbane on July...

Australia warns UK against EU exit

Australia warns Britain against leaving the European Union.Australia has warned Britain against leaving the European Union (EU), saying British influence and economic power rest...

Australia opp. plans for asylum seekers

Australiaâ„¢s opposition says it will adopt a military plan to handle the influx of the asylum-seekers struggling to reach the countryâ„¢s borders by boat...

Australia asylum-seekers abused at camp

Australiaâ„¢s Immigration Minister Tony Burke has slammed recent Å“horrific” torture and rape claims at one of his countryâ„¢s asylum-seeking processing camps in Papua New...

Australian Labor Party

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The Great Australian Health Mystery

By Scott C. Tips            Australia is the continent-nation that we all know is full of healthy, sun-loving, active people who once tamed a continent...

US jets jettison bombs on Australia

Tow US fighter jets have dropped four unarmed bombs in an emergency jettison on a World Heritage-listed marine park in Australia because of technical...

Australia to send boat refugees to Papua

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Australian War Games: U.S. Military Machine Out Of Control

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‘Australia migrant boats major problem’

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Australian builders unearth ‘significant’ urban trove of 50 million year-old fossils

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Boat sinks north of Australia, killing 1

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Australians urged to vote for Assange

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Australian PM to hold vote on aborigines

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SEP campaigns in Adelaide, South Australia

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Australian Scientists Sound Warning on Climate Change: Fossil Fuels Must Stay in the Earth

A majority of Australia's remaining fossil fuels 'must be left in the ground and cannot be burned' if society is to have any hope...

Australian Scientists Sound Warning on Climate Change: Fossil Fuels Must Stay in the Earth

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13 die after boat sinks off Australia

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Australian military halts all prisoner transfers amid torture concerns in Afghanistan

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Australia refugees statement

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Assange Could Win Australian Senate Seat, Poll Shows

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Vaccinate your children or declare why not, parents in Australia told

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Australia cardinal admits to sex scandal

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Shell to invest $30bn in Australia, demands better tax regime

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Royal Dutch Shell, Europe’s largest oil company, plans to invest $30 billion in Australia over the next five years, CEO Peter Voser has confirmed. ...

Australia harassing left-wing activists

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The SEP will focus on developing a unified struggle of the working class internationally against the US-led preparations for war against China. Via: http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/05/07/sepm-m07.html

Three Australian ministers resign

Three Australian ministers have tendered their resignations after an attempt to replace Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

Minister for Tertiary Education Chris Bowen, Minister for Energy Martin Ferguson and Minister for Human Services Kim Carr resigned on Friday as Gillard managed to hold onto her position as the leader of the Labor Party.

The decision to quit was due to the support of the three ministers for former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who failed to garner enough party support to replace Gillard after a ballot on Thursday.

The 51-year-old Gillard survived the Labor Party power struggle after Rudd decided not to run in the leadership vote.

This marks the third time that Gillard defeated Rudd in his attempt to seize control of the party, with the previous dispute thwarted in February 2012.

A number of parliamentary members had pushed Rudd to take over the Labor Party amid fears that Gillard would damage the party’s image during the upcoming general elections in September 14, 2013.

Numerous opinion polls have suggested that Gillard’s conservative opponent Tony Abbott has a better chance of winning the election as the Labor Party is riddled with one crisis after another.

GMA/HSN

Uranium threat to 15,000yo Australian rock art

Published time: March 08, 2013 15:40

Rare Aboriginal rock art thought to be about 4,000-years-old is shown in this photo taken at a cave located in the Wollemi National Park, located 100 km (62 miles) northeast of Sydney. (Reuters)

Mining companies are queuing up to assault Australia’s cultural heritage. The discovery of a large uranium deposit has prompted mining companies to consider excavations on land which is home to some of Australia’s most ancient rock art.

The Wellington Range in the northeastern state of Queensland has been under surveillance from uranium mining companies for many years. Cameco, a Canadian mining company, recently reported the discovery of a large uranium deposit in this range, according to a Global Mail report.

However, this region is also home to an area dubbed one of the great rock-art precincts of the globe by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and regular guided tours are organized to the areas.

The secret wall paintings display ancient aboriginal scenes and symbols, such as “bullymen” – police-type troopers, the paintings of which were thought to be able to vanquish enemies through sorcery. Other pictures are more nature-related.

The aboriginal paintings are thought to be thousands of years old, with the earliest discovered dating more than 10,000 years back.

Despite the fact that much of the rock art is contained in ‘Designated Landscape Areas’, which means the site of aboriginal heritage is entry is limited to some, state permission for mineral exploration has still been granted.

On Friday, the Global Mail published a report drawing on six-month-long research by Noelene Cole, an assistant research fellow in archaeology with James Cook University, and associate archaeologist Alice Buhrich. Their research discovered that applications for coal and mineral exploration cover what is basically an entire art-covered ‘precinct’ on the Cape York Peninsula.

“It is astounding, internationally speaking, that a region like this would be considered for mining,” said Cole.

Cameco located the deposit in remote northern hills that contained so much of the art, that one mere complex contained a massive 3,000 images. The oldest piece of art here was dated as being approximately 15,000 years old.

“It would be like the French mining the Lascaux Caves and the Dordogne, which is World Heritage listed,” Tony Burke, Australia’s environment minister said.

The ancient Aboriginal rock carving known as 'Climbing Man', believed to be thousands of years old is shown in this photo taken on the Burrup Peninsula in the north of Western Australia. (AFP Photo / Greg Wood)

His office went on to point out that although Cameco has not yet submitted a proposal for a uranium project in the Wellington region, because it is such a sizeable discovery, it is likely the company will pursue it further.

Cameco Australia's managing director, Brian Reilly, has said that his company would work alongside stakeholders to ensure the protection of the area's environment, culture and heritage, strongly suggesting that  further exploration is on the cards. 

Australian mining magnate and billionaire Gina Rinehart, the world’s second-richest woman, began to create a stir in the last week, when it emerged that she had also sought permission to look for minerals over some of the countries older art on Cape York.

At the time, traditional aboriginal owners asked Australia’s Federal Environment Minister, Tony Burke, to place the area on the World Heritage List to protect the site of their ancestors’ art. One of Rinehart’s companies later announced that it would withdraw two applications to excavate for minerals.

Cole and Buhrich found that the Queensland Government has already granted some mineral and coal exploration permits in areas meant to be protected as special Aboriginal places, according to the Global Mail. 

Australia is home to around a third of the planet’s uranium resources and exports roughly 7,000 tonnes per annum.

Ancient Aboriginal rock carvings are shown in this photo taken on the Burrup Peninsula in the north of Western Australia. (AFP Photo / Greg Wood)

Australian Senate seat a possible path to freedom for Assange

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. (Reuters / Luke MacGregor)

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. (Reuters / Luke MacGregor)

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange believes winning a seat in the Australian Senate would force the US and others pursuing him to back down, securing his safe passage out of the UK following his 8-month confinement at the Ecuadoran Embassy in London.

The September 14 elections in Australia could provide a platform for a man once described by Vice President Joe Biden as a “high-tech terrorist,” by raising the political stakes for those seeking his extradition, Assange explained in a recent interview with Australian website the Conversation.

By winning a seat in Australia’s upper house, “the US Department of Justice won’t want to spark an international diplomatic row,” Assange was quoted as saying.

“It will drop its grand jury espionage investigation. The Cameron government will follow suit,” he continued, adding that “the political costs of the current standoff will be higher still” if UK authorities insist on blocking his safe passage out of the country.

In January, Assange submitted his application to the Australian Electoral Commission, paving the way for his 2013 senatorial bid in the state of Victoria. Senate nominations are likely to close on August 22, and the six-year term of office would commence on July 1, 2014.

Australians living abroad can enroll to vote and run for Senate if they have left Australia within the past three years, and intend to return within six years of their date of departure. Assange said the last time he visited Australia was in June 2010.

Assange was dismissive of technical objections to his candidacy, and refuted claims that he was a traitor to his country, or that he had violated section 44 of the Australian constitution by being under the “acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power.”

He is also optimistic that regardless of the immediacy of his release, a rule stipulating that he take up his senate seat within two months would not necessarily cripple his chances: “In that case [of not being released on time], the Senate could vote to evict me. But that would trigger a big political row. Australians probably wouldn’t swallow it.”

The landslide second re-election of Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa on Sunday plays into his strategy, as it will intensify pressure on Swedish authorities whose case against him is “falling apart,” Assange said. “The Swedish government should drop the case. But that requires them to make their own thorough investigation of how and why their system failed.”

Following his victory on Sunday, Correa, who characterized the current standoff over Assange as a problem of “neocolonialism” and not asylum, said a diplomatic solution “must be found… as quickly as possible.”

Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadoran embassy in London since June, after claiming asylum in a bid to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning on sexual assault allegations. British authorities have vowed to detain him if he steps foot outside of the embassy in light of the European Arrest Warrant issued against him.

If handed over to Swedish authorities, Assange fears he will be re-extradited to the United States to be questioned over the WikiLeaks release of thousands of US diplomatic cables.

Assange’s political hopes are married to the new WikiLeaks Party, which he plans to register soon with a 10-member national council. He believes that the party would easily clear the hurdle of attracting the minimum of 500 dues-paying members required to be registered in Australia.

When asked what the WikiLeaks Party would entail, he stressed that “maximum inclusiveness” would be key.

“The party will combine a small, centralized leadership with maximum grass roots involvement and support,” he said. “By relying on decentralized Wikipedia-style, user-generated structures, it will do without apparatchiks. The party will be incorruptible and ideologically united.”

Australia launches probe into ‘Prisoner X’ suicide, demands answers from Israel

The headstone of Ben Zygier is photographed in the Chevra Kadisha Jewish Cemetery, in Melbourne on February 14, 2013.(AFP Photo / Martin Philbey)

The headstone of Ben Zygier is photographed in the Chevra Kadisha Jewish Cemetery, in Melbourne on February 14, 2013.(AFP Photo / Martin Philbey)

Australia is seeking answers from Israel concerning the death of ‘Prisoner X,’ an Australian national who committed suicide in Israeli prison, Foreign Minister Bob Carr said as the ministry prepared to file a formal report on the case.

"We have asked the Israeli government for a contribution to that report," Carr told the press on Sunday.
Australia wants to give Israel the opportunity to submit an explanation of the circumstances surrounding the prisoner's death, the minister said.

"I need to know what the contact was between Australian agencies and those of Israel, and I need to see what the Israelis want to tell Australia," he explained. "The key is to get all the information."

Australian foreign office chief Peter Varghese is preparing the report, which will "canvass all the consular contact between Australia and between Israel,” Carr said. Israeli authorities are reportedly also preparing to release their inquiry into the prisoner's death.

The Australian-Israeli national known as ‘Prisoner X’ was identified by media earlier this week as 34-year-old Ben Zygier. In June 2010, the man committed suicide while being held in a high-security Tel Aviv prison.

The incident raised many questions, as well as speculation. Zygnier was reportedly in prison for 'grave crimes,' but there has been no official comment on the nature of those crimes. He was also rumored to be a Mossad agent.

Israeli officials claimed that Zygier was treated fairly while in prison. But Zygier's lawyer, Avigdor Feldman, said his client had been under intense emotional pressure while in custody, which could have led to his suicide.

"His interrogators told him he could expect lengthy jail time and be ostracized from his family and the Jewish community,”  Feldman told Israel’s Channel 10.

Australian authorities first asserted that they were absolutely unaware of the Zygier's case, but later admitted that months prior to his death they learned that Israel had detained an Australian-Israeli citizen on national security grounds.

An anonymous Israeli official told The Australian that Canberra knew about Zygier's case “long before” he died.

The Australian media also reported that the Israeli Security Agency informed Australian authorities immediately after Zygier's arrest in February 2010.

Assange to run for Australian Senate

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Julian Assange has filed a formal application to run for Australian Senate. He will run for the Senate in Victoria at the September 14 federal election as the lead candidate of the WikiLeaks Party. Acting on his behalf, supporters filed the application to the Australian Electoral Commission in Melbourne on Tuesday.

Apple, Microsoft and Adobe face Australian parliamentary probe

Customers check the latest technology in an Apple retail store in central Sydney. (AFP Photo / Greg Wood)

Customers check the latest technology in an Apple retail store in central Sydney. (AFP Photo / Greg Wood)

Apple, Microsoft and Adobe have been summonsed to appear before the Australian parliament at a hearing into why the tech firms sell their goods to local consumers at higher prices than in the US.

­The parliamentary committee for infrastructure and communications announced that a public hearing will be held on March 22nd in Canberra.

"The Committee is looking at the impacts of prices charged to Australian consumers for IT products – Australian consumers often pay much higher prices for hardware and software than people in other countries," the committee said. "The Committee has been examining claims made by organizations such as CHOICE, and the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network."

"In what's probably the first time anywhere in the world, these IT firms are now being summoned by the Australian parliament to explain why they price their products so much higher in Australia compared to the United States," said ruling Labor government MP Ed Husic, who helped set up the committee.

Australian “people’s watchdog”, CHOICE found that Australians pay on average 34% more for software, 52% more for iTunes music, 88% more for Wii games and 41% for computer hardware than US consumers, their official website states. The research indicated that the majority of these price discrepancies were likely due to price discrimination from large international firms.

Australian Open: Djokovic Too Good For Murray

Novak Djokovic has beaten Britain's Andy Murray in four sets to take the Australian Open title in Melbourne. Murray's bid to claim back-to-back grand slam titles ended in disappointment but Djokovic's victory makes him the first man to win the tournam...

Djokovic makes Australian Open history

Serbia's Novak Djokovic celebrates after victory in his men's singles final against Britain's Andy Murray on day fourteen of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 27, 2013. (AFP Photo/Greg Wood)

Serbia's Novak Djokovic celebrates after victory in his men's singles final against Britain's Andy Murray on day fourteen of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 27, 2013. (AFP Photo/Greg Wood)

There is only one tennis player to have won the Australian Open three times in a row in the sport’s open era and his name is Novak Djokovic. The Serb gave Andy Murray no chance in Sunday’s decider - 6-7, 7-6, 6-3, 6-2.

The world No. 1 won a rematch of the 2011 final, worsening Murray’s career record to five losses in six Grand Slam finals.

Both players kept their serve throughout the opening two sets and only tiebreakers could separate the players. The first went to Murray after Djokovic made a double fault in the beginner and Murray never offered him an opportunity to make a return break – 7-2. Just over an hour later, Djokovic’s time came to respond as he breezed past Murray – 7-3.

The Serb went on to break Murray for the first time early in the third, which was just enough to take the lead in the match.And he built on his success as Murray looked tired and was broken two more times on the way to Djokovic’s third consecutive triumph Down Under.

"I would like to congratulate Novak. His record here is obviously incredible," Murray told the crowd during the trophy ceremony.

"What a joy. It’s an incredible feeling to win this trophy again," said Djokovic, who also grabbed a record $2.5 million in prize money. "This is definitely my favorite Grand Slam. I love this tournament. I love this court.

"I have to congratulate Andy and thank him,” he said. "We have played so many great matches in the last two years. Bad luck for tonight, but I wish you best of luck for the season."

Murray comes up short in Australia

British hearts were broken as fans shared Andy Murray's pain after he lost in the Australian Open final to fierce rival Novak Djokovic in a gruelling encounter. Despite a brave performance, the Scot went down by three sets to one, and friends and fami...

Azarenka defends Australian Open title

Belarus's Victoria Azarenka (L) addresses the crowd as she holds the trophy after victory in her women's singles final against Li Na of China on day thirteen of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 26, 2013. (AFP Photo/Greg Wood)

Belarus's Victoria Azarenka (L) addresses the crowd as she holds the trophy after victory in her women's singles final against Li Na of China on day thirteen of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 26, 2013. (AFP Photo/Greg Wood)

Tennis queen Victoria Azarenka has retained her Australian Open title and No. 1 spot in the WTA ranking with a hard-fought victory over China's Li Na.

Li, the 2011 French Open winner, stunned the favorite in the first set, breaking Azarenka early and not letting the Belarusian cut the deficit right to the end.

Azarenka woke up in the second, racing out to a 3-1 lead before Li slipped and twisted her left ankle. She had it strapped, but apparently had problems pivoting as Azarenka leveled things on court with the same scoreline – 6-4.

The Chinese harnessed her willpower and took a 2-1 lead in the decider, only for Azarenka to strain every sinew and jump to a 4-2 lead. The deficit remained insurmountable for Li, as she capitulated 6-3.

The Belarusian consequently repeated her last year’s success Down Under, which ensured she retained the number one ranking.

"It's been a long two weeks for me," says Azarenka, who collected a winner's cheque for a record $2.43 million.

Murray bites into Australian Open final

Andy Murray (Reuters / Mark Kolbe / Pool)

Andy Murray (Reuters / Mark Kolbe / Pool)

Andy Murray has reached his third Australian Open final beating four-time champion Roger Federer in a five-set thriller.

Murray showed solid play in the first three sets, not allowing Federer a single break. But the more experienced Swiss made the most of his chances during the second set tie-break, which allowed him to stay in the match.

A tense fourth set saw the Scot come from 4-1 down to break Federer’s serve twice as he was serving for the set. But Federer stormed back to earn his second break of the match and went on to level things on court winning another tie-break.

However, Murray proved fresher in the decider as he quickly swept into a 3-0 lead and closed out the four-hour marathon 6-4, (5)6-7, 6-3, (2)6-7, 6-2. His record against Federer is now 11-9.

Murray will now face reigning champion Novak Djokovic in Sunday's final. The Serb, who beat Murray in the 2011 final and last year's semi-final, is regarded as favorite.

In the women’s final on Saturday, world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka will defend her title against sixth seed Li Na.

Meanwhile, the top-seeded Italian pair of Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci have won the first Australian Open 2013 titles by beating local heroes Ashleigh Barty and Casey Dellacqua in the women’s doubles.

Australia to rival Saudi Arabia in oil reserves?

Image from www.lincenergy.com

Image from www.lincenergy.com

An Australian company claims it has found an untapped shale oil field with estimated reserves that could potentially put the country next to remarkably oil-rich Saudi Arabia. Still, extracting the discovered treasure poses a huge technical challenge.

­Brisbane-based company Linc Energy has presented two estimates by respected independent consultants claiming that drilling and seismic exploration they do in South Australia has brought the prize they have been dreaming of for years – a potentially huge untapped shale oil deposit.

DeGolyer and MacNaughton petroleum industry consulting firm evaluated potential shale oil reserves at Arckaringa Basin around the town of Coober Pedy at 103 billion barrels of oil equivalent (BOE), while Gustavson Associates consulting firm put it as high as 233 billion BOE. That is practically comparable to the proven 263 billion barrel reserves of oil heavyweight Saudi Arabia.

The risked mean estimate given by DeGolyer and MacNaughton put it at a much more moderate 3.5 billion BOE.

"We didn't expect it to go this nuts," Linc Energy chief executive Peter Bond told Reuters.

With the current international market oil prices this shale oil could be worth billions of dollars by the most conservative estimate.

"How much is recoverable is always the question. Is it 3 billion barrels or is it 203 billion barrels? Even if it's 3 or 4 billion barrels… that's a massive find in this part of the world. No matter how you cut it, it's still a massive outcome," Bond said.

In any case, Arckaringa Basin might contain more oil than all of the known Australian oilfields combined, finally making the country fully energy independent.

Though Linc Energy’s shares jumped up immediately after Australian media broadcast the news, using “trillions of dollars” and other superlative degree terms, the company still needs hundreds of millions of dollars just to finish exploration, let alone extracting the black gold commercially. The most important issue now is how much of the discovered oil is recoverable.

Linc Energy, which has already spent about AU$130 million (US$136 million) drilling in the Arckaringa Basin, has hired Barclays Bank to search for a partner to invest AU$150-$300 million into the next stage of the project.

Shale oil of the Arckaringa Basin is hidden beneath serious 1-2km of shale rock, but there is still some good news. Usually, oil is extracted from shale by traditional mining, when shale is crushed and organic matter in it is heated to create liquid oil. At Arckaringa basin engineers found oil in droplets, which means it is already liquid and can be extracted by the modern fracking process.

Unlike in the US, where fracking is widespread and has a tendency to become cheaper, in Australia the costs could be many times higher. If drilling a shale well in America has an average cost of around US$10 million, in Australia it might well reach $15 million per well.

The fracking process by itself has always been raising concerns of environmentalists in the US, where it is widely used to extract shale gas, and also in Europe, because chemicals used in this process seriously pollute groundwater. But for Arckaringa Basin, situated in a practically unpopulated area of the land Down Under, fracking shale oil may pose fewer risks.

Sharapova crashes out of Australian Open

Maria Sharapova of Russia reacts during her women's singles semi-final match against Li Na of China at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne January 24, 2013. (Reuters/Damir Sagolj)

Maria Sharapova of Russia reacts during her women's singles semi-final match against Li Na of China at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne January 24, 2013. (Reuters/Damir Sagolj)

China’s Li Na thrashed Russian champion Maria Sharapova in a convincing straight sets victory in Melbourne, putting the Chinese contender through to the final. Li dominated the match, storming through to win 6-2 6-2.

The 30-year-old tennis veteran Li Na will now face off against Belarusian Victoria Azarenka. The defending champion defeated 19-year-old American Sloane Stephens in the other semi.

Sharapova made a shaky start to the match, serving up a double fault on the first point. Li Na then left the Russian in the dust, breaking Sharapova’s serve for the first time in the tournament and taking the first set 6-2.

In spite of Sharapova’s attempts to secure a hold in the second set, an unrelenting display of tennis from the Chinese number six seed left the Russian powerless to respond.

Li Na made short work of the Russian, closing the match in one hour and 33 minutes.

Prior to the match Sharapova had blazed a trail through the tournament, relinquishing just nine games on her road to the semi-finals. However, in less than a set Sharapova had lost the same number of games as in all of her previous matches combined.

The pair have met previously on 12 occasions, with Sharapova holding an 8-4 win-loss record.

Pirate Party Australia officially becomes political party

Screenshot from http://pirateparty.org.au/

Screenshot from http://pirateparty.org.au/

Australia's Pirate Party has become an official political organization after its registration was approved by the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC), the party announced.

­The Commission Tweeted on Monday that the Party was officially registered on January 17. After conducting a series of tests, the Commission "found no reason to refuse the Party's application", wrote the AEC in a statement published on its web site.

The Pirate Party submitted its application in October 2012 and had received only one objection by the January 14 deadline, which was not considered sufficient grounds for a refusal, continued the AEC.

The Party, which describes itself as being "based around the core tenets of freedom of information and culture, civil and digital liberties, and governmental transparency," plans to focus on developing policies and selecting candidates for this year's federal elections, said the party's President David W. Campbell.

"More than ever before there is a necessity in Australia for a Party that holds empowerment, participation, free culture and openness as its central tenets. A Party that understands the modern emerging information society and the imperative for political transparency," said Pirate Party founder Rodney Serkowsky. 

"As the Prime Minister condemns whistleblowers and publishers without trial, the spectre of data retention looms, policy is laundered and Australia’s interests are sidelined by faceless diplomats and bureaucrats… there has never been more reason to put pirates in parliament," concluded Serkowsky.

Founded in 2009 and based on Sweden's Pirate Party, it hopes to mobilize the growing number of Australian voters opposed the introduction of an Internet filter, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) and recent attempts to increase regulation of the Internet by the UN International Telecommunication Union (ITU) – all of which have been actively endorsed by the Australian Government.

In a similarly controversial initiative, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange recently announced his intention to run for a seat in the Australian Senate in the upcoming elections, as well as the formation of a Wikileaks Party. Despite being confined to the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, plans for the registration of the party were "significantly advanced", said Assange.

He is able to register as an overseas candidate in the states of New South Wales and Victoria. Regulations would allow him to appoint a proxy to take up his seat, if he is elected but unable to return.

Bushfires rage in southeast Australia

A handout aerial picture taken on January 15, 2013 shows a bushfire near Tamworth in the New England region of New South Wales, Australia.

Raging bushfires continue to burn out of control across Australia, threatening several towns in the southwestern state of Victoria and New South Wales in the east.

Eighty-four fires were devouring through the state, with more than a dozen still raging as of Friday.

Australian police have confirmed the death of a man in Victoria's southeast as the two-week forest fire emergency claimed its first civlian fatality.

The victim’s body was reportedly found in a burnt-out vehicle near Seaton as blazes rage across the area.

Last week, a 61-year-old firefighter died of a suspected heart attack while trying to contain a fire in Tasmania.

The flames have also sparked fears of a new escalation as temperatures are soaring over 45 degrees Celsius.


A blaze burning around 200 kilometers east of Melbourne has affected a number of communities in the Gippsland region and is feared to spread to residential buildings there.

Reports say the small town of Licola has been surrounded by flames.

Fire officials in New South Wales also say a blaze there has destroyed 51 homes and broken the containment lines.

MRS/JR

Gold rush: ­Man finds massive 5.5 kg gold nugget in Australia

Still from YouTube video/newsday251

Still from YouTube video/newsday251

Searching for gold may not be such a hopeless thing to do, if you know where to look. Apparently a local prospector in Ballarat, Australia knew where to look, as he has found a gold nugget weighing 5.5 kilograms, worth up to half a million dollars.

The name of the lucky man, who discovered the precious nugget, is being kept secret, the Courier newspaper reports.

Experts at the Ballarat Mining Exchange Gold Shop, who took the gold nugget for evaluation, say it was found about 60 centimeters below the surface of the earth. Gold nuggets of such enormous size are extremely rare.

The amateur gold-hunter reportedly used a cutting edge $6000 detector that helped him make the find of his life.

According to the gold shop owner Cordell Kent, if the nugget was sold just on the basis of gold content it’s market value would be around $300,000. However its size and natural shape make it worth more than that.

"If you are silly enough to melt it down, it would be worth just under $300,000 on market value but as a nugget at this size and shape, it's worth significantly more than that," he said. "A finding like this gives people hope. It's my dream to find something like that, and I've been prospecting for more than two decades," he added.

It is expected the nugget will be sold to a collector or possibly a museum within Australia.

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Troublesome draw for Davydenko at Australian Open

Nikolay Davydenko (AFP Photo / Karim Sahib)

Nikolay Davydenko (AFP Photo / Karim Sahib)

The draw for the Australian Open gave Russia’s Maria Sharapova a green light through to thefinal and potential second round trouble for Nikolay Davydenko, who could face four-time Melbourne champion Roger Federer.

Second seed Sharapova will start with an all-Russian match against lowly Olga Puchkova and could face seven-time Grand Slam winner Venus Williams in the third round, and fifth seed Angelique Kerber in the quarterfinals.

Serena Williams, who could become the oldest top-ranked woman to succeed in Melbourne, was drawn in the other half along with reigning champion Victoria Azarenka meaning Sharapova won’t meet either of them until the final.

In the men’s draw, Roger Federer starts his 15th Australian Open against France’s Benoit Paire, while former World No. 3 Nikolay Davydenko must overcome a qualifier to face the Swiss legend.

Federer is second in the world, while poor form has recently seen Davydenko go down to 40th. The Russian, however, proved his class last week by reaching the final of the Qatar Open and thrashing fifth-ranked David Ferrer on the way.

World No. 1 and defending champion Novak Djokovic faces 58th-ranked Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu in the first round and could face fifth seed Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals.

Andy Murray, the U.S. Open champion and third seed, starts against Dutch player Robin Haase and could play Federer in the semi-finals, while clay king Rafael Nadal is still recovering after injury.

Australia Is The Canary In The Global Warming Coal Mine

Rolling Stone has been covering Australia's global warming extremes for two years, and they've stepped up their coverage in light of the continent's current extreme heat emergency:

Though Australia's existing heat record, set in 1960, still stands for the moment, officials believe it may soon be surpassed. The nation's Bureau of Meteorology has been open about the impact that rising greenhouse gases are already having there: The agency's website declares that Australia is "experiencing rapid climate change," including more frequent heat waves and changing rainfall patterns.

The current heat wave has produced above-average temperatures for 80 percent of the country – the nationwide average on Monday was 104 degrees Fahrenheit – and scores of wildfires. The state of New South Wales, home to Australia's most populous city, Sydney, is facing its greatest fire danger ever, officials say. In some areas of the state, the official fire danger rating is "catastrophic.

"Nor are heat waves and wildfires Australia's only climate woes. Decades of drought are causing the salination of groundwater in the nation's prime agricultural region; warming and acidifying oceans are killing the Great Barrier Reef; and extreme storms are increasing. As Rolling Stone's Jeff Goodell reported in 2011, the tendency of climate change to "amplify existing climate signals" means that already extreme places like Australia will be the first to experience the kind of major impacts that could be in store for the rest of the world.

"Australia is the canary in the coal mine," said David Karoly, a climate researcher at the University of Melbourne, in that story. "What is happening in Australia now is similar to what we can expect to see in other places in the future."

Australian firefighters battling wildfires

A firefighter is almost surrounded by red hot flames as he protects a property affected by the Dean's Gully fire near the town of Wandandian south of Nowra, New South Wales, Australia, January 8, 2013.

Firefighters in southeast Australia are battling to contain wildfires near a former bombing range, where unexploded bombs are scattered.

A massive blaze near Wandandian, south of Sydney, is one of about a hundred fires burning in the state, razing through at least 300,000 hectares of land.

The Dean's Gap bushfire in New South Wales is just a few kilometers from the Tianjara plateau, which was used by the Australian Army as a practice bombing range until the mid-1970s.

"We can't do any water-bombing with aircraft or something like that in case the weight of the water when it hits the ground sets off any unexploded ordnance," Brett Loughlin, from the Rural Fire Service (RFS), said.

"So it's a total no-fly zone and that will mean [if] the fire gets into that area, there's nothing we can do for it except wait for it on the other side.”

Fire fighters are using a special gel and are bulldozing containment lines to prevent the fire from entering the military range.


High winds and record temperatures have made the task of containing the fire more difficult.

Meanwhile, firefighters in the state of Victoria are trying to control a fire also caused by Australia's heat wave.

Teams in Tasmania are also fighting a blaze as the fire caused damage to many homes in the island over the weekend.

Meanwhile, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard warned the residents in the affected areas and other regions to remain vigilant over the next few days.

"It is very important that people keep themselves safe, that they listen to local authorities and local warnings. This is a very dangerous day," she said.

YH/HJL

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‘Catastrophic’: Hundreds of wildfires rage in Australia amid record heat wave (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

This undated handout picture provided by New South Wales Rural Fire Service (NSW Rural Fire Service) on January 8, 2013 shows a NSW Rural Fire Service worker spraying water on a bush fire at Green Point in New South Wales. (AFP Photo/ NSW Rural Fire Service)

(11.9Mb) embed video

A heat wave that has already caused devastating fires on the Island state of Tasmania, with 100 people still missing, has now moved to mainland Australia and is reaping havoc in New South Wales, as the heat wave looks to smash records.

­In some areas temperatures have shot up by as much as 20C in three hours and combined with 50 mph winds have created disastrous fire conditions.

Right across Australia records have been broken by the heat wave and the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) has been forced to add colors to its forecast charts to take account of temperatures of 50-54 degrees Celsius.

Australia’s all-time record of 50.7 degrees; set in January 1960 at Oodnadatta in South Australia is likely to be smashed over the coming days. On Tuesday, in some places temperatures of 45 degrees Celsius were recorded.

“The scale has just been increased today and I would anticipate it is because the forecast coming from the bureau’s model is showing temperatures in excess of 50 degrees,” David Jones , the BoM’s head of climate monitoring, told Fairfax newspapers.

Australia as a whole experienced its hottest day on record on Monday, with average maximum temperatures across the entire country reaching 40.33 degrees breaking the previous record of 40.17 degrees set in 1972.

More than 130 fires are already blazing away in New South Wales (NSW), where fire officials said conditions were among the worst they had ever seen for wildfires. Fires had already burnt more than 30,000 hectares of land across NSW.

There are also wildfires burning in Victoria with 20 homes evacuates in Chepstowe, west of Australia’s second city Melbourne.

Houses destroyed by a bushfire are seen in ruins in Dunalley, about 40 kilometres (25 miles) east of Hobart, January 5, 2013. (Reuters/Chris Kidd/Pool)
Houses destroyed by a bushfire are seen in ruins in Dunalley, about 40 kilometres (25 miles) east of Hobart, January 5, 2013. (Reuters/Chris Kidd/Pool)

­

Land continues to burn in Tasmania where blazes last weekend destroyed 90 homes and 20,000 hectares of farm land and forest.
Officials on the island are still unsure of the fate of 100 people who went missing since last week, after fires destroyed the town of Dunalley.

In the current terrifying conditions, fires can become so hot that they create their own lightning storms, which can in turn ignite more fires, and ember showers can fly up to 15 miles ahead of a fire, igniting new fires in areas not yet alight. Experts warn that the intense heat being generated by the fires can kill people before the flames even reach them.

The conditions hark back to Black Saturday in the state of Victoria in 2009, when 172 people were killed by fires. This time emergency services are not taking any risks and have already closed national parks, ordered tourists out of campsites and are following the movements of known arsonists.

“We are at a catastrophic level and clearly in those areas leaving early is your safest option,” New South Wales Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said.

The Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, said that it is important for people to keep themselves safe and listen to local authorities and their warnings.  She also stressed that the fires were being called catastrophic for a reason.

The Bega Valley is one of the areas authorities are most worried about, where fast moving scrub and grass fires are threatening homes.
Properties were under threat in the city of Wagga Wagga where the local highway has been closed. The Southern Ranges, the Riverina and Shoalhaven have also been given a catastrophic rating.

The heat, wind and dryness – ideal conditions for wildfires – follow a record four months of dry weather, allowing mere smoldering stumps and embers from areas already burned to blow into unburnt country.

However, the BoM is predicting cooler conditions to arrive across NSW by Wednesday morning.

This undated handout picture provided by New South Wales Rural Fire Service (NSW Rural Fire Service) on January 8, 2013 shows smoke billowing as a bushfire burns near Green Point in New South Wales. (AFP Photo/ NSW Rural Fire Service)
This undated handout picture provided by New South Wales Rural Fire Service (NSW Rural Fire Service) on January 8, 2013 shows smoke billowing as a bushfire burns near Green Point in New South Wales. (AFP Photo/ NSW Rural Fire Service)

This undated handout aerial picture provided by New South Wales Rural Fire Service (NSW Rural Fire Service) on January 8, 2013 shows a bushfire burning 8km south west of Naradhan, north of Griffith in New South Wales. (AFP Photo/ NSW Rural Fire Service)
This undated handout aerial picture provided by New South Wales Rural Fire Service (NSW Rural Fire Service) on January 8, 2013 shows a bushfire burning 8km south west of Naradhan, north of Griffith in New South Wales. (AFP Photo/ NSW Rural Fire Service)

Smoke rises from the Yarrabin bushfire, burning out of control near Cooma, about 100km (62 miles) south of Canberra January 8, 2013. (Reuters/Tim Wimborne)
Smoke rises from the Yarrabin bushfire, burning out of control near Cooma, about 100km (62 miles) south of Canberra January 8, 2013. (Reuters/Tim Wimborne)

This aerial photograph taken on January 5, 2013 shows the devastation to property between Dunalley and Boomer Bay after bush fires swept through the area. (AFP Photo/Pool/Chris Kidd)
This aerial photograph taken on January 5, 2013 shows the devastation to property between Dunalley and Boomer Bay after bush fires swept through the area. (AFP Photo/Pool/Chris Kidd)

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Why Germany Leads in Renewables: It Has Its Own Green Bank

The Green New Deal endorsed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and more than 40 other US Representatives has been criticized as imposing a too-heavy burden on...

‘The Indigenous Narrative Holds the Power to Really Shift People’s Societal Views’ – CounterSpin...

Janine Jackson interviewed Jenni Monet about indigenous journalism for the January 25, 2019, episode of CounterSpin. This is a lightly edited transcript. ...

If The World Understood Sovereignty

‘Come back, global waming!’ Trump tweet on cold snap causes Twitter meltdown — RT...

US President Donald Trump has caused a meltdown on Twitter with a post asking where "global...

Southeast Asia Terribly Damaged but Lauded by West

Come to Southeast Asia and enjoy beaches, cheap sex and raunchy massage parlors. Hang around this part of the world in whichever way you...

Rep. Ro Khanna Speaks Out Against US-Backed Coup in Venezuela

More information has come to light about the direct US role in an attempted coup in Venezuela. The Wall Street Journal reports Vice President...

Stop Interfering in Venezuela’s Internal Politics

The following open letter—signed by 70 scholars on Latin America, political science, and history as well as filmmakers, civil society leaders, and other experts—was...

Open Letter by Over 70 Scholars and Experts Condemns US-Backed Coup Attempt in Venezuela

As many American lawmakers, pundits, and advocacy groups remain conspicuously silent in response to U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to formally recognize Venezuela's opposition...

New Study Shows Climate Crisis Could Mean ‘Time Bomb” for World’s Groundwater

A new study sheds light on another impact of the climate crisis—a "time bomb" for the world's groundwater reserves. It's a key issue, as roughly...

CN to Broadcast 13th Vigil for Assange Today at 4 pm EST – Consortiumnews

Join us for the live broadcast here on Consortium News this afternoon starting at 4 pm EST until 7 pm...

Five Forces Driving the Rise of Fascism in 2019

The New Year’s Day inauguration of avowed authoritarian strongman Jair Bolsonaro as president of Brazil signaled an ominous start to 2019. Brazil, as the...

Watch the 12th Vigil for Julian Assange Here – Consortiumnews

Consortium News broadcast the 12th Unity4J online vigil for WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange on Friday, hosted by Consortium News Editor...
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Video: Topless women demonstrate in support of Saudi teen who fled her family

Australia #SaudiArabia #protest A group of protesters demonstrated topless outside the Saudi Arabian consulate in Sydney on Thursday in solidarity with a ... Via Youtube
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Video: Multiple ‘hazardous material’ events reported in Melbourne, consulates evacuated

Australia #Melbourne Note: Video is mute at source Several foreign consulates in Melbourne were evacuated on Wednesday as Australian officials noted they ... Via Youtube

Mass-Murder Suspect Vetoes Verdict

Eric Zuesse The shoot-down of the MH17 Malaysian airliner over the conflict-zone in Ukraine’s civil war, on 17 July 2014, was finally judged, by a...

a Sorry Tale About a Country that Wanted to ‘Take Back Control’

The closure of Gatwick, the second largest airport in Britain, just before Christmas after the sighting of a mysterious drone near the runway, received wall-to-wall coverage...