Venezuelan trade unionist and community educator Alexis Adarfio Marin visited Australia last month, informing many audiences of the radical changes being carried out by Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution. Adarfio was a guest of the Search Foundation, which hosted a range of international guest speakers at its Australian Left Renewal Conference in Sydney over May 29-30.
BRISBANE — On June 4, a picket of Rio Tinto Coal offices highlighted opposition to the big mining companies' scare campaign about the federal government's proposed tax on mining "super-profits”. Socialist Alliance federal election candidates condemned corporate greed and said mining tax revenue should be used to fund renewable energy programs.
Workers at the BHP Billiton Mt Arthur coalmine went on strike for about 26 hours on May 26 and 27. It was the first strike at the mine (formerly known as the Bayswater pit) in its 23-year operational history. A striking worker from the mine said the reliability of coal supplied by the mine was a big selling point and the strike would damage the mine’s reputation. The worker, who did not want his name used for fear of retribution, told Green Left Weekly the dispute started when another worker arrived on the afternoon of May 26 and was told she had been sacked.
On May 28, it was reported that the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists was considering allowing a certain form of female circumcision, involving “ritual nicks”. RANZCOG later said it was a misrepresentation, and that “anyone suspected of performing such genital mutilation should be reported to authorities”, the Sydney Morning Herald said the same day. But if we reject all forms of female circumcision, why is it that male circumcision remains so acceptable?
If elected, Liberal opposition leader Tony Abbott would not only bring back the punitive measures carried out under the previous Howard government's “Pacific Solution” — including temporary protection visas (TPVs) and offshore processing — but introduce extra cruel measures against refugees that arrive in Australia by boat. Abbott and opposition immigration spokesperson Scott Morrison released the Liberal/National Coalition policy for so-called border protection on May 27.
In 2006, as Labor opposition leader, Kevin Rudd, made much of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German theologian, pastor and pacifist. Bonhoeffer took part in the German resistance to the Nazi regime and helped German Jews escape the country. Bonhoeffer was murdered by the Nazis in 1945. For Rudd in 2006: “Bonhoeffer is, without doubt, the man I admire most in the history of the twentieth century. He was a man of faith. He was a man of reason. He was a man of letters … He was never a nationalist, always an internationalist. And above all, he was a man of action …”
Forty years after the first equal pay test case, the gap between male and female wages continues to widen. Australian Bureau of Statistics figures released on May 20 put the pay gap (as of February 2010) at 18%. Women on average now earn $239.30 a week less than men. The pay gap has increased 0.5% over the quarter (from 17.5%) and 1.5% over the year (from 16.5%). The gap is now at its highest level since August 1994.
One sentence in the final declaration of the Search Foundation’s Left Renewal Conference (From Global Crisis to Green Future) captured the key issue: “Capitalism has been unable to address inequality, war and ecological degradation, and must be replaced by a democratic system that puts human need before greed, and socialises wealth instead of debt.”
Sanna Andrew is the Socialist Alliance candidate for Fremantle, Western Australia, in the coming federal elections. She joined the Socialist Alliance in 2007. She is a qualified social worker and has worked in community-based mental health service provision for more than a decade. Andrew is also an active member of the Australian Services Union (ASU) and sits on the executive council as a representative of the Social and Community Services Sector division. * * *