A Freedom of Information request by a member of the Australian parliament has revealed that the Australian government has not engaged in correspondence with the United States regarding the case of imprisoned publisher Julian Assange for at least the last six months. Independent MP Monique Ryan filed the requests with the offices of Labor Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Attorney General Mark Dreyfus and Foreign Minister Penny Wong and no documents were returned, indicating that there has been no written communication with the U.S. over the fate of Assange since at least last May, reported former Australian Senator Rex Patrick in the Australian publication Michael West Media. The absence of written correspondence does not exclude that Australian officials may have engaged in verbal communications with U.S. counterparts about Assange over the past half year, though written notes are normally made on such meetings.
In one of the more important advances in collective bargaining around the world, New Zealand recently passed an innovative sectoral bargaining policy, called Fair Pay Agreements. Labor supporters in Britain and Australia want to replicate elements of the policy in their countries, while for American audiences the most important lesson may be how New Zealand’s experiences highlight that sectoral bargaining — in conjunction with worksite bargaining — is necessary to improve working conditions in today’s economy and thus should be part of policy efforts to strengthen unions. Sectoral bargaining, sometimes called broad-based bargaining or industrywide bargaining, is a type of collective bargaining between unions and employers that sets minimum standards on issues such as wages, benefits, safety, and training for all workers in a sector or occupation.
On 15 November 2022, during the G20 summit in Bali (Indonesia), Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told journalists that his country ‘seeks a stable relationship with China’. This is because, as Albanese pointed out, China is ‘Australia’s largest trading partner. They are worth more than Japan, the United States, and the Republic of Korea… combined’. Since 2009, China has also been Australia’s largest destination for exports as well as the largest single source of Australia’s imports. For the past six years, China has largely ignored Australia’s requests for meetings due to the latter’s close military alignment with the US. Now, in Bali, China’s President Xi Jinping made it clear that the Chinese-Australian relationship is one to be ‘cherished’. When Albanese was asked if Xi raised the issue of Australia’s participation in several military pacts against China, he said that issues of strategic rivalry ‘[were] not raised, except for in general comments’.
A group of indigenous Australians hailed a "historic decision" by the country's Federal Court on Friday to delay plans for a massive gas project in the Timor Sea. Dennis Tipakalippa, a Munupi clan elder from the remote Tiwi Islands, has been fighting a legal battle against oil and gas producer, Santos, who has been drilling for gas off northern Australia. "We have fought to protect our sea country from the beginning to the end and we will never stop fighting," Tipakalippa said. Santos, one of the country's largest oil and gas producers, said it would apply for fresh approvals for the $3.6 billion (€3.41 billion) Barossa gas project.
The Queensland Land Court has ruled human rights would be unjustifiably limited by a proposal to dig the state's largest coal mine in the Galilee Basin in Central Queensland. First Nations-led activist group Youth Verdict challenged an application by mining company Waratah Coal, owned by billionaire Clive Palmer. The group of young Queensland activists challenged the mine on the basis it would impact the human rights of First Nations peoples by contributing to climate change. The coal mine would remove about 40 million tonnes of coal a year for export to South-East Asia, with a forecast life span of 30 years. It is the first time a group has successfully argued coal from a mine would impact human rights by contributing to climate change.
US President Donald Trump’s so-called “Deal of the Century” was meant to represent a finality of sorts, an event reminiscent of Francis Fukuyama’s premature declaration of the “End of History” and the uncontested supremacy of western capitalism. In effect, it was a declaration that “we” — the US, Israel, and a few allies — have won, and “you”, isolated and marginalized Palestinians, lost. In the same way, Fukuyama failed to consider the unceasing evolution of history, the US and Israeli governments also failed to understand that the Middle East, in fact, the world, is not governed by Israeli expectations and American diktats. The above is a verifiable assertion. On October 17, the Australian government announced that it is revoking its 2018 recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Robinson’s speech, which was broadcast live on the state-funded Australian Broadcasting Corporation, contained a sharp warning on Assange’s plight and the implications of the US attempt to prosecute him. Assange, she said, would not survive years’ more incarceration and “persecution by process.” And if he were extradited from Britain to the US and hauled before a kangaroo court for publishing true information, it would be a dagger blow to freedom of the press and democratic rights. The address was a rare breach in a wall of silence on the Assange case in Australia. His various court dates have been given cursory coverage, but there has scarcely been any television programming or substantive reporting on the persecution of an Australian citizen and journalist.
Thousands have marched through Melbourne's city centre calling for the release of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The 51-year-old Australian has been in London's Belmarsh prison since he was removed from the Ecuadorian embassy in 2019. Melbourne protesters marched through the city streets and formed a human chain across a Southbank bridge on Saturday morning as they called on the Australian government to intervene. "There's an expectation in the electorate that the prime minister and this government is going to get Julian out of jail," Mr Assange's brother Gabriel Shipton told AAP. "The prime minister's statements before the election - enough is enough, he doesn't see what purpose is served by Julian being kept in prison - those were seen as a commitment.
The coal industry is to Australia what the Second Amendment of the US Constitution (granting citizens the right to bear arms) is to the United States: it would be hard to imagine the country without it. With fossil fuels still accounting for 92 per cent of Australia’s energy mix, including 29 per cent for coal in 2021, the industry is still vigorously defended by lobbies, even in parliamentary circles and the corridors of ministries. Australia’s conservative former prime minister Scott Morrison famously held up a piece of coal in Parliament in 2017, when he was finance minister, admonishing his colleagues not to be afraid of it. When he became prime minister, he also directly surrounded himself with lobbyists like John Kunkel, former vice-chairman of the Minerals Council of Australia, who he appointed chief of staff in 2018.
The difficulty for the Australian Labor government in deciding how to respond to the Julian Assange case is that once a prosecution is characterised as a political prosecution then, by its nature, there can be no expectation of due process. The U.S.-U.K. Extradition Treaty forbids extradition in the case of “political offences.” Former Australian High Commissioner to the U.K. George Brandis — who was commissioner for almost the entirety of Assange’s Belmarsh imprisonment since 2019 — doesn’t agree that Assange is a political prisoner. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and its new Minister Penny Wong have consistently stated a view that the case is not political but purely a legal matter:
In September 2021 Australia, the UK and the U.S. announced AUKUS, a new alliance under which Australia would buy nuclear submarines from either the U.S. or UK and ditch its contract for French diesel driven u-boats. I spelled out the details and the negative consequence of the deal: To Protect Itself From U.S. Hostility Australia Decides To Buy U.S. Submarines This is a huge but short term win for the U.S. with an also-ran booby price for Britain and a strategic loss of sovereignty and budget control for Australia. It is another U.S. slap into the face of France and the European Union. The deal will piss off New Zealand, Indonesia and of course China. It will upset the international nuclear non proliferation regime and may lead to the further military nuclearization of South Korea and Japan. It was easy to predict that the deal would screw up the development schedule of the Australian navy. It would obviously also cost much more money than its budget can provide.
Two years ago, at my local Australian Labor Party branch, I moved a motion urging the ALP to support dropping extradition proceedings against Julian Assange. Maroubra ALP is not inner city. It might be regarded as a bastion of the right. The motion was carried, near unanimously. After the debate, one member came up and said: “I think Assange is probably a narcissistic bastard but he’s ours.” That is, he’s an Australian. It was the Trump administration — probably at the insistence of then-C.I.A. chief Mike Pompeo — that pursued Assange’s extradition. The Morrison government declined even the faintest whinny of protest. It was as if we were not a sovereign government but some category of U.S. territory like Puerto Rico and an Australian passport holder didn’t rate protection from the vengeful anger of one corner of the American security apparatus.
The federal election saw voters’ growing concern about Australia’s laggardly response to climate change finally addressed, with teal independents garnering seats in Liberal heartland and record votes for Greens candidates. But what caused this seismic shift in Australia’s political landscape? And why now? We believe the rapid growth and diversification of Australia’s environmental movement since 2015 played an important role. For example, almost a million Australians volunteered for an environmental charity in 2019, whether by planting trees, organizing candidate forums or joining a climate strike. The environmental movement is also increasingly crossing into traditionally conservative areas, with the emergence of groups such as the Coalition for Conservation and Farmers for Climate Action, which has united 7,000 farmers and 1,200 agriculture industry supporters.
As China and South Pacific island countries are going to strengthen their cooperation to better serve local people’s demand for development, some voices from the West or Western media have started to distort the cooperation and hype the fear of a new “Cold War.” Chinese experts said the US and Australia always see the island countries as their puppets. So when China help them to become independent and prosperous, the West will definitely feel anxious. Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi will pay an official visit to the Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and East Timor upon invitation from May 26 to June 4, and will also visit Micronesia via video and have a virtual meeting with leaders of Cook Islands and Niue.
The United States and its Pacific allies have sounded alarm bells over a security cooperation deal signed between Solomon Islands and China, with threats directed at China. On Sunday, April 24, the Chinese embassy in Solomon Islands hit back at the comments made by the US delegation that visited the Pacific nation last week, calling it a “blatant threat.” The Chinese embassy’s spokesperson stated that the comments “again exposed the hegemony mindset and bullying behavior,” reported Global Times. The spokesperson also added that “any attempt to stir up trouble, tension and opposition in Pacific island countries doesn’t conform to the common interest of regional states and won’t work.”