Chris Williams

Welcome to another year of Green Left Weekly, a proudly independent voice committed to democratic, investigative journalism. 2010 ended on a high note as Wikileaks and Julian Assange showed what true journalism is: exposing the abuses of power that hide behind the veil of government secrecy. Assange was demonised by much of the mainstream media as a “criminal” and a “terrorist”, but the US and other governments could not defend their real crimes, which were exposed by the Wikileaks cables.
Hundreds of people attended the funeral service of Mavis Mary Moore on January 21. May, as she was known, passed away on January 17, aged 86. She lived a life dedicated to social justice and caring for friends, community and family. Unionist Paddy Gorman delivered the eulogy. He said: “May was a remarkable woman, one of a kind, who inspired many. She and husband Fred were a formidable team in the struggle for workers’ rights and social justice. “May believed in equality for all and had complete contempt for the rich and powerful who exploited working people.”
Prominent queer rights and climate activist, Paola Harvey, will stand for the Socialist Alliance in the seat of Keira in the March 2011 NSW elections. Harvey, a resident of Mount Keira and part-time student, is a founding member of Equal Love Wollongong, the organisation leading the struggle for marriage equality, and is a member of the Wollongong Climate Action Network (WCAN). Also a member of Resistance, socialist youth organisation, she is involved in campaigns for youth rights, education and employment.
About 100 people attended a “Save Gleniffer Brae” meeting on November 15 as part of a campaign to keep the historic, heritage-listed manor house in public hands. Organised by Reclaim Our City, the meeting demanded, “no action leading to the sale of public land at Gleniffer Brae and this precinct be taken by Wollongong City Council and its non-elected administrators”. The meeting welcomed a recent commitment by the council to hold off on any discussion of the matter until 2011. It demanded community consultation before any attempts to sell the land were made.
Wollongong developer Frank Vellar has been charged with four offences under the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) Act. More than two years have passed since theICAC released the third of its reports into corruption in Wollongong City Council. In October 2008, the commission recommended charges be laid against 11 people for 139 criminal offences. Most of those named were either ALP members or political donors. Vellar was among them. At the time, ICAC commissioner Jerrold Cripps QC described the corruption found to be “without precedent”.
Helensburgh is not renowned for climate activism. A coalmining town, Helensburgh was established around the Metropolitan colliery, Australia's oldest continually operating coal mine, in the 1880s. The coal transnational Peabody Energy, which owns the Metropolitan, sponsors local activities such as school sporting teams and community fairs. However, 35 people attended a climate-focused public meeting in the NSW south coast town on November 2.
In a win for community campaigners and the environment, BHP Billiton has dropped plans for a massive long-wall mine under the pristine Dharawal State Conservation Area (DSCA) on the NSW south coast. The decision came on October 26 after a review by the NSW Planning Assessment Commission that said society would be better off without the mine. Importantly, the review backed up the argument made by community groups that “remediation”, where the company would take responsibility for cleaning up the site, is a myth in these circumstances.
About 50 people attended a meeting on October 27 to stop the sell-off of Gleniffer Brae, a historic, heritage-listed manor house in Wollongong. Organised by Reclaim Our City, the meeting discussed the need for Gleniffer Brae — owned by Wollongong City Council — to stay in public hands, and questioned the right of unelected administrators to decide the future of such a valuable community asset.
On October 20, 50 people attended a forum, “Politics, the Union Movement and the Illawarra”, organised by the South Coast Labour Council (SCLC). Speakers included Darin Sullivan, president of the NSW Fire Brigade Employees Union; Naomi Arrowsmith, Illawarra organiser of the Australian Services Union; and Nicole Calnan, regional organiser of the NSW Teachers’ Federation.
WOLLONGONG — The Illawarra's peak union body, the South Coast Labour Council (SCLC), has called on the Australian government to pull troops out of Afghanistan and pursue an independent foreign policy. “In recent decades Australia has been dragged into quagmire after quagmire — blindly following the United States into military disasters that have resulted in hundreds of thousands of military and civilian casualties”, Arthur Rorris, SCLC secretary, said on October 22.
After 23 months of struggle, Tahmoor mineworkers have achieved a new enterprise agreement with their employer, Xstrata. On September 24, 142 voted for the company’s latest offer and 50 voted against. Until then, attempts by the workers to negotiate were thwarted repeatedly because Xstrata refused to budge, even during mediated talks. Workers have been locked out twice and have taken industrial action on several occasions.
Over September 28-29, Sydney was due to host the 10th Forbes Global CEO Conference. The official conference website said it would be attended by “over 400 global CEOs, tycoons, entrepreneurs, up-and-comers, capitalists and thought leaders”. The host sponsors? The New South Wales government and Australian federal government, of course.
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