Friday, October 28, 2005

The Western Sydney Peace and Community Group invite you to a public forum:

Your Rights At Work
Going, Going, Gone...

John Howard's workplace laws have been met by unprecedented opposition from churches, community groups and unions, who have all raised fears about the impact on families, young people and those on the minimum wage.

These laws remove most protections for Australian workers, leaving millions with only 5 basic conditions and the prospects of individual contracts that sign away annual leave, public holidays, overtime and dozens of other rights.

Come along to a public forum of local people talking about what these laws mean for them and their families, as well as ideas about what you can do to fight for your rights at work.

Date: Monday 7th November
Time: 7PM
Venue: Rooty Hill Uniting Church (86 Rooty Hill Rd Nth, Rooty Hill)
Speakers include:

  • Adam Kerslake (Unions NSW - "Your Rights At Work" coordinator)
    Adam is currently coordinating the Unions NSW "Your Rights At Work" campaign. He is actively involved in educating the community about the potential impact of these laws, and the need for individuals to get involved and fight for their rights at work.
  • Barry Walker (Penrith Panthers '91 Premiership / owner driver)
    Barry is a former Rugby League player with the Penrith Panthers, and was a member of the '91 Premiership winning team. He is now an owner truck driver who distributes beer for Toohey's. New work laws mean his union, the Transport Workers Union, will no longer be able to negotiate on his behalf.
  • Brett Gay (Crane driver)
    Brett is a crane driver and Glenmore Park local. He is concerned about the Australian Building and Construction Commission which the Howard Government recently created. It can impose $22,000 fines on workers who attend union meetings. It can also jail people for refusing to answer questions.
  • Mark Tough (Minister - St Johns Anglican Church, Minchinbury)
    Mark is a local minister in Minchinbury. He is concerned that new workplace laws will lower the wages of poorer workers and those will less skills. He is fearful that without unfair dismissal laws job security will be lessened. He is also concerned about the impact on families of increased hours of work.
  • Michael De Wall (Local public school teacher - Mt Druitt)
    Michael is worried that IR changes will impact on quality public education and harm local kids. Local TAFE's will be forced to offer individual contracts, and funding will be linked to workplace changes, rather than to serving the best interests of local people.
  • Lee Healey (Community worker - Mt Druitt)
    Lee is the Animation Coordinator with the Mt Druitt Community Ministry. She is worried that people from non-English speaking backgrounds will be taken advantage of. She also worries that people with less education and skills will have many of their conditions slashed.
  • Natalie Lang (Young retail worker)
    Natalie works for a local video store in Western Sydney. When she started work as a 17 year old she was given an AWA (individual contract) to sign that slashed her conditions. As a result of not receiving rest breaks she was hospitalised with a serious medical condition caused by her work.

    More Info? Contact Tim Vollmer ( vollmer@optusnet.com.au / 0404 273 313 )

  • Monday, October 10, 2005

    ASIO and You: Civil Liberties Under Attack 

    Electronic tracking of citizens, people detained for 14 days without charge, random bag searches: not the worst nightmare of science fiction writers, but the reality of Australia in the 21st century.

    The Australian Government has passed more than 20 new laws in response to international terrorism. This public forum exposes what these new laws mean for ordinary Australians.

    Lee Rhiannon (Greens MLC - NSW)

    Cameron Murphy (President of NSW Council for Civil Liberties)

    TIME: 7PM
    DATE: Monday 17th October
    VENUE: Rooty Hill Uniting Church, 86 Rooty Hill Rd Nth, Rooty Hill

    Around the world a network of anti-terrorism and security measures is quietly being constructed. Governments are taking measures to track the movement, communication and profiles of individual citizens.

    In Australia, new terrorism laws severely restrict privacy, freedom of speech, movement and religion. These laws reduce civil liberties by increasing federal police powers to electronically track citizens, detain citizens for 14 days without charge, order journalists and others to hand over documents without a court order and to undertake random searches.

    These laws allow ASIO to spy on citizens for longer and to remove and retain items from citizen's homes - making ASIO more closely resemble a secret police force than ever before.

    Making the situation worse, all State Governments have supported a Federal Government agreement to introduce even more draconian security powers. The Howard Government required the States to agree because these latest changes breach the Constitution, and the Government was unable to implement some sections of the laws.

    Australia has modelled many parts of these laws on the UK. Recent English experiences have already shown serious abuses, including an elderly Labour Party member being banned from a party conference for yelling out his opposition to a certain policy. He is now a regarded as a terror risk.

    Last month a British journalist waiting at a railway station was arrested by anti-terrorism police, had his unit ransacked, as detained overnight, and had his mobile phone confiscated because he was 'acting suspiciously' while waiting for a train, and had a black backpack on which contained a laptop.

    He had committed no crime, yet the police have refused to remove references to his arrest from his record, which is available to the law enforcement agencies of all other nations that he travels to in future.

    Come along and defend your civil liberties!

    Contact: Tim on tvollmer@nsw.cfmeu.asn.au / 0404 273 313

    Tuesday, July 13, 2004

    The Western Sydney Peace Group invites you to attend a public forum on:

    "Refugees and Indigenous People in John Howard's Australia"

    with guest speakers:

    Senator Aden Ridgeway - (Democrats Senator for NSW)
    Merlin Luck - (Big Brother Evictee and Refugee Activist)
    Farshid Kerohallpour - (Iranian refugee)
    Phil Glendenning - (Director of the Edmund Rice Centre)

    Monday August 23rd – 7pm
    St Marys Memorial Hall
    Cnr Great Western Hwy and Mamre Rd, St Marys

    The Indigenous and refugee rights movements in Australia have different histories and current realities. But the root cause of the problems is the same – expedient racist policy which ignores human consequences. Come along and get the latest information on these important issues.

    About the speakers

    Politician - Senator Aden Ridgeway, the only Indigenous Federal parliamentarian, visits Villawood immigration detention centre and is a vocal critic of current refugee and Indigenous policy. Senator Ridgeway will discuss the proposed abolition of ATSIC as well as current refugee and Indigenous policy changes being fought for by the Australian Democrats.

    Advocate – Phil Glendenning is the director of the Edmund Rice Centre for Justice and Community Education He is also the National President of Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation (ANTaR) and has extensive experience in both Indigenous and refugee advocacy.

    Refugee – Farshid Kerohallpour is an Iranian refugee who was detained in Curtin detention centre. Farshid uses his experiences to speak out against human rights abuses in current refugee policy.

    Activist - Merlin Luck is travelling around the country talking at public events to raise awareness of the plight of refugees and Indigenous peoples in Australia. Merlin used his airtime on the Big Brother TV show to make a stand about refugee detention and Indigenous policy.

    Details: 0404 273 313 – timothy.k.vollmer@uts.edu.au

    Tuesday, May 25, 2004

    Public Forum: "JUSTICE FOR HICKS & HABIB" 

    6pm, Saturday 29 May
    Granville Youth & Community Recreation Centre
    3a Memorial Drive, Granville


    - Maha Habib
    - Terry Hicks
    - Stephen Hopper
    - Jeremy Styles (NSW CCL)
    - SENATOR Kerry Nettle (THE GREENS)

    CHAIRED BY: Donna Mulhearn (HUMAN SHIELD)

    INFO: Tim Vollmer – 0404 273 313 / Marlene Obeid – 0401 758 871
    www.nswccl.org / www.fairgofordavid.org / wspg.blogspot.com

    "Free Hicks and Habib!"

    David Hicks, an Australian citizen from Adelaide, was captured by rebel forces of the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan in November 2001, prior to the arrival of U.S. ground forces. Mamdouh Habib, an Australian citizen from Sydney, was detained by Pakistani Intelligence operatives in Pakistan on 5 October 2001. These two Australians, like most of the more than 600 Guantanamo prisoners, have been held for over two and half years. They have not been charged with any offence against any law of any country or any international convention. They have never engaged in hostile military acts against U.S. forces in the theatre of war in Afghanistan, a fact acknowledged by U.S. authorities.

    Stephen Hopper, the lawyer representing Mr Habib, is concerned about Mr Habib’s mental health. According to Mr Hopper, Mr Habib was already on medication for chronic depression before his arrest in Pakistan. Mr Hopper has addressed these concerns to the Australian authorities, yet there has been no answer.

    Major Michael Mori, the U.S. Marine Corps lawyer, appointed by the U.S. Military to represent David Hicks, has openly declared that a Military trial would be biased and unfair and only concerned with the conviction of the defendant. Under a Military Commission, the rules of evidence will not apply, and there is no guarantee that they will be freed, even if they are found not guilty.

    The NSW Council for Civil Liberties has strongly condemned the decision by the Howard Government to ignore violations of the basic rights of these two Australians, stating that this is “…unprecedented and it leaves serious doubts about the prospects of government assistance for any citizen who is illegally detained while abroad”. The British Government has successfully obtained the repatriation and release of five of their nationals, whilst the Australian Government has not sought the repatriation of Messrs Hicks and Habib.

    On Thursday 22 April 2004 2004, American lawyers representing David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib, two British and 12 Kuwaiti detainees presented their case to the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that U.S. courts have jurisdiction over the Guantanamo Bay. The Bush Administration has thus far successfully argued in the lower courts that foreign ‘enemy combatants’ have no rights under U.S. law.

    About 175 British MPs, former U.S. prisoners of war, retired military officers and international bar associations filed briefs in support of the detainees’ case (SMH 22/4/04) and the Court’s ruling is expected to be handed down in June. A number of international institutions and eminent jurists believe that the detention of David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib and in fact all the ‘detainees’ at Guantanamo Bay, is illegal and that therefore their rights under international law and U.S. law have been and continue to be denied. This includes their human and legal rights under the Geneva Convention, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Torture Convention and the international Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the U.S. and Australia are signatories.

    Saturday, May 01, 2004



    As many regulars know, on top of several weeks of great media coverage on the ADI site the ADI Residents Action Group is holding a public meeting on “Can the ADI site be saved? If so, how, if not, why not?” This meeting will clash directly with the WSPG meeting on next Wednesday night. After consultation with Kerry Nettle’s office, it has been decided that she will attend the ADI RAG’s meeting, and the WSPG forum on “Iraq Under Occupation” will occur briefly at the conclusion of the ADI meeting at around 8:15.

    So here are the new details:

    “Can the ADI site be saved? If so, how, if not, why not?”


    - Senator Kerry Nettle (Greens)
    - David Bradbury (Penrith Mayor and ALP candidate for Lindsay)
    - Jackie Kelly (Federal Member for Lindsay, Liberal)
    - Roger Price (Federal Member for Chifley)

    When: 7pm, Wednesday May 5
    Where: St Marys Memorial Hall, corner of Mamre Rd and Gt Western H'wy, St Marys

    For further details contact Geoff Brown (Convener ADI RAG) on 0431 222602

    The forum will be very interesting and we look forward to hearing the views of our local politicians. This public forum is the first opportunity for Jackie Kelly and David Bradbury, who are contesting the marginal federal seat of Lindsay, to square off against one another. We are expecting some fireworks from this event with all speakers previously supporting Lend Leases development and being at odds with current public sentiment.

    There has been some great media coverage of the ADI site in the last few weeks, especially from the Daily Telegraph. During this time Jackie Kelly has admitted that “people power can still save the ADI site”, and NSW Premier Bob Carr has indicated that he would be willing to protect the entire site if it was handed over to NSW in the same manner as the Sydney harbour foreshore land.

    Saving the ADI site is Sydney's most important environmental issue. Many thousands of Sydneysiders, especially those from the west, are now calling on Bob Carr to scuttle Lend Leases plans to buy and develop the ADI site by scrapping existing development plans and rezoning the site for conservation purposes.

    At the conclusion of the meeting, the Western Sydney Peace Group will continue by holding a brief forum with Senator KERRY NETTLE entitled “IRAQ UNDER OCCUPATION”.

    Sunday, April 18, 2004

    Western Sydney Peace Group public forum:


    With guest speaker

    Senator KERRY NETTLE

    Wednesday 5th May, 2004
    7pm – 9pm
    Rooty Hill Uniting Church
    86 Rooty Hill Rd North, Rooty Hill

    On June 30, the United States and the coalition forces hope to announce the end of the occupation of Iraq by claiming to cede sovereignty to a transitional Iraqi government. There is concern that the transitional government will be effectively be handpicked by the United States.
    This process runs counter to the democratic aspirations of the Iraqis. On January 19, 100,000 Iraqis demanded free and direct elections in the biggest demonstrations Iraq has seen since start of the occupation.
    Through the transitional government that it will put in place, the US hopes to secure the interests for which it went to war but has been unable to secure as direct occupying powers. Even before the transition can occur, a security agreement which will allow for the continued stay of the Occupation Forces and possibly the installation of US military bases will be made with the Interim Governing Council. By installing a friendly regime, the US hopes to obtain for more international support its effective ongoing occupation in the form of troops or reconstruction grants and loans. Through this regime, the US hopes to implement the privatisation plans which had been stalled because of investors' and insurance companies' reluctance to deal with anyone other than a regime internationally perceived as legitimate and sovereign.

    Thursday, March 18, 2004

    The Western Sydney Peace Group wishes to invite you to attend a forum on:

    Refugees… and the Politics of Fear

    Guest Speakers:

    Tanya Plibersek MP (Federal Member for Sydney)
    Mark Goudkamp (Refugee Action Coalition NSW)
    Sally McManus (Executive President: Australian Services Union)

    Monday April 5 – 7:15pm
    Rooty Hill Uniting Church
    86 Rooty Hill Rd North, Rooty Hill

    During the 2001 election, the Howard government demonised and criminalised refugees fleeing from oppressive regimes. Ironically, many of them were fleeing the Taliban in Afghanistan and Saddam in Iraq.

    Fears of massive hoards of foreign invaders at our borders were conjured up, despite the small numbers. The alleged terrorist threat was discussed, although no known terrorist has ever entered Australia this way. Attempts were made to dehumanise those who arrived with the sensationalist ‘Children Overboard’ allegation (later shown to be a lie), and the politics of fear successfully swept Howard back into office.

    With him came the incredibly expensive pacific solution, costing hundreds of millions of dollars. Along with the financial cost came the physical and mental suffering of people detained for four years without having committed any crime, the cost of children becoming withdrawn and suffering mental illness, the cost of desperate people without hope and without a future.

    Mandatory Detention, an integral part of the Howard Governments response to refugees not only costs taxpayers, as well as those that undergo it, but it is excessive by international standards. No other developed nation on earth has a system that results in asylum seekers remaining in detention centres for years. Most nations set a short limit, of several weeks, to conduct identity and health checks before allowing refugees to live in the community while their refugee status is confirmed.

    It is time we reclaimed the compassion, the generosity and the mateship that once marked Australian’s, and seek a better future for refugees.

    Tuesday, February 10, 2004

    The Western Sydney Peace Group would like to invite you to spend an evening with:


    Reflections on a year since his controversial resignation from the Office of National Assessment over Iraqi WMD’s

    Monday March 8 – 7:15pm
    Rooty Hill Uniting Church
    86 Rooty Hill Rd North, Rooty Hill

    Andrew Wilkie, a senior intelligence officer with the Office of Nation Assessment, resigned only weeks before the beginning of the war in Iraq in protest over the line the Howard government was taking. He openly criticised their selective use of intelligence to justify war based on Weapons of Mass Destruction.
    While the conflict continues, and increasing numbers of civilians and troops are being killed, there are many important questions that need to be addressed:
    Why have no weapons of mass destruction been found in Iraq? What was the pre-war intelligence? Why did the government ignore it? Was Saddam an imminent threat? Why was Wilkie punished and personally attacked for speaking out? Has he been vindicated?
    Come along and listen to Andrew’s recollections of the past year, and feel free to ask any questions in the public forum.

    For more information contact Tim Vollmer on 0404 273 313 or at timothy.k.vollmer@uts.edu.au

    Thursday, February 05, 2004

    Son of Star Wars 

    Come and find out what the “Son of Star Wars” is, what it will do to Australia’s security and what the implications are of increasingly close ties between our military and that of America.

    How will it affect our long-term security?
    Will it make us a target in a large-scale war?
    Will it cause an arms race?
    How will the government find the billions of dollars to pay for it, and will our schools and hospitals suffer?
    What can you do about it?

    Guest speakers: Hannah Middleton and Denis Doherty from the Australian Anti-Bases Coalition

    Monday February 9
    7:15pm – 9:30
    Rooty Hill Uniting Church – 86 Rooty Hill Rd Nth, Rooty Hill
    Coffee and tea provided.

    There will also be a brief discussion about future actions and campaigns of the WSPG. We will also be planning how to best publicise the visit of Intelligence Expert Andrew Wilkie to the group on March 8th to remember one year on from his resignation and the beginning of the war.

    Please contact me with any enquiries - timothy.k.vollmer@uts.edu.au or call on 0404 273313.

    Sunday, November 02, 2003

    Western Sydney Peace Group forum 

    "What do Medicare reforms mean for me?"

    Monday November 10
    Rooty Hill Uniting Church, 84 Rooty Hill Rd Nth, Rooty Hill

    Guest Speaker is the President of the Combined Pensioners and Superannuates Association, Morrie Mifsud.

    Morrie is heavily involved in the fight to protect Medicare, and was on Blacktown Council for eight years.

    He will cover the federal governments plans to change medicare, what those changes will mean for ordinary Australians, and how you can get involved to protect our health care system for the future.

    For more details contact Tim Vollmer on 0404 273313 or email timothy.k.vollmer@uts.edu.au

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