ALP launches dirty tricks campaign

Marrickville Mayor Fiona Byrne.
Saturday, March 5, 2011

With the betting agencies putting the Greens candidate ahead of Labor in Sydney's inner west seat of Marrickville, Labor is running scared.

But rather than debate the issues, the ALP machine is doing its best to smear the Greens.

At a 120-strong candidates' meeting hosted by the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre on February 23, Greens candidate and Marrickville Mayor Fiona Byrne was asked if she would agree to council “boycotting China” if asked to do so by a Tibetan constituent.

The questioner made it clear he didn't agree with Byrne's support for Marrickville council's decision to sign up to the Palestinian call for a global boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against apartheid Israel last year.

Byrne replied that she was proud of the council's stand in support of Palestinian rights and added that the council had not been approached by Tibetan community for council to do anything other than fly the Tibetan flag on their national day as a gesture of support for their struggle for self-determination

Yet, a February 26 Daily Telegraph article was headlined: “Greens threaten China boycott.”

Luke Foley, Labor's campaign spokesperson, told the Telegraph: “This is one of the most destructive policies announced by any mayor in Australia's history."

What nonsense.

Byrne described Labor as “increasingly desperate”.

“There is absolutely no plan or intention to boycott China,” she said that day.

It was clearly a set-up by the ALP machine to try to smear the Green mayor.

The real story here is that the Labor party has been under pressure from supporters of Israel to reverse the council's decision on the BDS.

Yet, all five Green councillors, all four Labor councillors and one independent councilor supported the motion.

Carmel Tebbutt, deputy Premier and Labor MP for Marrickville, made a point of stating at the candidates' meeting that she did not agree with the council's support for BDS.

She also tried to stop the chairperson — Eva Cox — from asking an anti-BDS speaker to finish up and ask a question. Tebbutt defended the person, arguing that her “question” (it was a speech) had been “placed on notice”.

It is understood that some of the Labor councillors and rank-and-file members are furious with the Labor machine for its attacks over BDS.

As the countdown to March 26 begins, we can expect a lot more dirty tricks from Labor as the party faces an electoral wipeout, including possibly in a seat it has held since 1910.

Issue 

Comments

What is it with those loony local councillors always wanting to make a show and tell in foreign policy play school? Boycott Israel! Boycott China! Celebrate some non-existant country in Africa! HOW ABOUT THEY FIX THE BLOODY POT HOLES AND HOMELESS PROBLEMS IN THEIR MUNICIPALITY - IF THEY HAVE SO MUCH TIME ON THEIR HANDS??? Can't they get it in their over-inflated egos they had been elected and are paid to look after LOCAL issues and not be partisan on foreign affairs or national issues that will only divide their communities? Is this really so hard to understand? Raoul

Good artical Pip, just one thing that you have left out, a very important thing.
The Council does not represent the local people on this issue, it is not just the so called Labor members of the the local community that dislike the DBS it is a growing number of X-greens, and "never greens" that are standing up to the the 10 people on Council that have gone rouge.
The 26th March is going to be a very important date, lets see what the local people think, people power at its best.

Of course the council's action begs the question - why not boycott China, and/or many other countries? I wrote to them asking for a boycott of Iran on account of its appalling human rights record, and particularly the alarming increase in the rate of executions this year. Not a single response from any councillor. It is no wonder some in the Jewish community see the boycott of Israel as anti-semitic. It appears they are the only country singled out for this treatment. That they are the only Jewish state I guess is neither here nor there?

Fancy being criticised for going red in this journal!

Good on the Marrickville Councillors who supported the BDS motion. What Israel is implementing in occupied Palestine today is apartheid. Lots of people like to applaud the end of apartheid in South Africa but I remember a time when it felt like a few people of conscience were prepared to make a stand against that apartheid regime. South Africa's liberation movements asked us to support a boycott campaign and we did, Today the Palestinians are asking the same. I applaud those (among them many Jewish people) with the conscience and the stomach to take up this call.

Apartheid? Is that similar to the way blacks in yemen are treated as slaves, guest workers in the gulf states abused and women sexually enslaved, the Bahai in Iran systematically imprisoned and executed, entire Kurdish towns razed by the Iranian military, and their ongoing persecution in Turkey and Syria, the ethnic cleansing of blacks and Christians in Sudan, beatings and executions of gays, the routine use of torture and the discrimination against non-Muslims just about everywhere in the region.

Why won't the Greens take a stand on these human rights issues?

" [Carmel Tebbutt] also tried to stop the chairperson — Eva Cox — from asking an anti-BDS speaker to finish up and ask a question. Tebbutt defended the person arguing that her “question” (it was a speech) had been “placed on notice”."

As the asker of the question referred to above, I can tell you that Carmel was correct, it was placed on notice--weeks before the meeting. I checked beforehand with the NNC staff organising the event and was assured that yes it was on notice and I would get to ask it. They apologised for the breakdown afterwards, as they'd been led to believe there would be plenty of similar questions. (There were none.) So I wonder who was up to dirty tricks!

Also, for the record, since I am referred to in Pip's Inner West Courier letter as an ALP member, in fact I have long been a Greens voter and even an occasional Socialist Alliance voter. I had not been an ALP voter or member for around 20 years. Carmel's got my vote this time, though. Quite apart from the boycott issue, all you had to do was compare her awareness and intelligence with Fiona's weak and slogan-dependent answers, and there was no question . . .

By the way, I agree that the "Greens Threaten China Boycott" was totally mischievous. That's what the Telegraph does.
As for Pip, she had some great things to say. Pity she's so one-eyed, simplistic and sure of herself about how to solve the world's problems.

Peter, it's great seeing warm hearted people like yourself, however your so last century, Boycotts don't work.
You need to get on a plane an go to the Middle East, try both sides of the debate, then come back and make a informed statement.
Good luck to you Peter.

It is often suggested that boycotting Palestine is a 'foreign policy issue' that is clearly outside of the scope of the mandate of a local council. But can't it be argued that there is not an ethical question surrounding a council's dealings with businesses, delegations, products or programs that actively benefit from an illegal military occupation, from the continued dispossession and terrorisation of Palestinian civilians. What is happening in Israel and Palestine is a kind of facistic imperialism, racism and nationalism that should disgust anyone with a sense of justice and it is something that should be stood up to.

During the boycott of Apartheid South Africa, there would have been little to no opposition to the international boycott by civil society, business and governments, a move that economically isolated and drowned Apartheid like an ant in a puddle. Boycotting Israel, however, is highly contested because Israel is almost unequivocally supported by Anglo Governments (especially our own) despite its war crimes, military occupation, rapacious invasions and institutional racism. Such governments support Israel in part because of the power of Zionist lobby groups - the very same groups behind this concerted attack on Marrickville Council.

Indeed, what has happened in Marrickville Council is only the first pebble in the pond, and it will hopefully see the beginning of a wave of boycotts throughout Australian civil society, businesses and governments, one that already began mid 2010 with the 23 Australian unions (or union branches) that passed BDS since then! See: http://auspalestine.org/2011/03/15/boycott-call-doing-a-good-job/