Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Police attack student protest | REDFLAG

Police attack student protest | REDFLAG

Students protesting against education cuts were attacked by police in Melbourne on Wednesday. Seven were arrested during the demonstration. Sarah Garnham, spokesperson for the Victorian Education Action Network which organised the rally, told Red Flag:
“Victoria Police clearly had a premeditated agenda of attacking our peaceful protest. They came out of nowhere. Riot cops moved in on the crowd and pulled people out. One of the first people they arrested, Lauren Stevenson, was unconscious as they pulled her towards the paddy wagon. We attempted to get an ambulance to her, but police said an ambulance would not be allowed to attend because she was under arrest. So they put her in the paddy wagon unconscious and drove away.”
Among those arrested was Jay Wymarra, the 2014 First Nations Officer at the La Trobe student union. Garnham says that his arrest was no coincidence: “Organisers of the protest believe this is in accordance with the racial discrimination that is well known in Victoria Police; they regularly harass and arrest indigenous people.”
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  1. Reef guardians dredge up a new enemy

    by: Graham Lloyd and Andrew Fraser

    From: The Australian October 31, 2013

    PROTECTION of the Great Barrier Reef has become a major test for the federal government with Environment Minister Greg Hunt forced to decide between mining interests and the Whitsundays. Environment groups backed by a multi-million-dollar war chest have joined forces as the resources industry said port dredging had become "the new bogeyman for anti-industry activists".

    But Whitsunday Tourism operators said the science on dumping dredge spoil was still evolving, with the latest evidence that dumped material travelled further and for longer than previously thought.

    Mr Hunt yesterday visited sites along the Queensland coast amid calls for board members of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to be investigated for conflicts of interest.

    The flashpoint has been the pending decision to approve dredging to expand the Abbot Point coal terminal.

    He was also waiting for the release of the joint federal-state strategic assessment for the Great Barrier Reef, which was due to be released any day.

    "This is a double test for Mr Hunt and Prime Minister Tony Abbott," Australian Conservation Foundation chief executive Don Henry said. "Everyone loves the Great Barrier Reef."I don't think everyone is aware of the major impacts or how at risk the reef really is.


    "We do not have the data to make the hard decisions about such a complex system. What was best practice a few years ago may not be given new understanding. Best practice is not necessarily best science today.

    "A Sinclair Knight Merz report commissioned by GBRMPA found that dumped material moved further and for longer than thought.

    The report found onshore dumping was prohibitively expensive and made no practical difference if dredge spoil was dumped near to the coast or further away.

    Queensland Resources Council acting chief executive Greg Lane said port expansions had become swept up in a bigger campaign against the future of coal.

    "Every scientific report on Great Barrier Reef health has named Crown of Thorns starfish outbreaks, water quality and extreme weather events as the greatest dangers to its long-term health," he said. "At no time has an increase in shipping traffic or port dredging been recorded as contributing to coral cover loss or a historical decline in the environmental health of the reef.


    "North Queensland Bulk Ports chief executive Brad Fish said dredging was necessary to allow extra berths at Abbot Point.

    He said the proposed dredging would cost about $38 million, but dumping the material on land would cost somewhere between $200m and $400m."People think coalmines are goldmines. They're not. Coalminers are very conscious of costs these days and all of them want to keep their costs to a minimum.


    "Mr Fish said there were also environmental problems with putting the dredged material on land and that some of the silt was acid sulphate.

    A roundtable of the chief executives of the nation's peak environment groups met on Monday to discuss a strategy.The reef dredging campaign has united grassroots environment groups and the larger environment organisations concerned about the federal government's intention to hand its decision making powers on environmental impacts to the states.

    Spokeswoman for the Fight For The Reef Campaign, Felicity Wishhart, said it was "crunch point . . . Abbot Point potentially is going to be the biggest coal port in the world and it is located on the doorstep of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area," she said. She called on Mr Hunt to "pull back".

    Mr Hunt has already deferred a decision until December 13, but he can make an announcement at any time.

    Ms Wishhart said the fight for the reef campaign had received significant funding support from donors who wanted to raise the alarm about what they saw as a massive new threat to the reef.