Dick Nichols

Redfern’s historic “Block” will be the site of the Aboriginal Rights Coalition’s (ARC) first national conference, to be held on May 23-25. The Socialist Alliance gives full support to this initiative, a valuable occasion for Aboriginal people and their supporters from around Australia to share experiences and chart the way forward for Indigenous rights.
“What the hell is happening in NSW”, interstate callers have been asking the Socialist Alliance national office in recent days. Many are former activists in NSW left politics, and remember with bitterness the days when “Sussex Street” (headquarters of Unions NSW and the ALP administration) could be relied upon to stifle any protest movement threatening the stability of NSW Labor in government.
The vote against the planned sell-off of electricity by the NSW government of Premier Morris Iemma at the May 3 NSW ALP conference exceeded the expectations of ALP and union anti-privatisation campaigners.
The April 11-13 Climate Change-Social Change conference ended with the production of a statement that tries to specify the elements of a strategy against global warming that would actually have a chance of success.
The protests and arrests in Lhasa and the demonstrations and counter-demonstrations around the Olympic torch relay has re-focused the world on the plight of Tibetans. This has, in turn, sparked a debate on the left about whether the Tibetan struggle is a just one, or not what it seems.
It’s time to apply our pressure against theirs. All the forces in favour of the electricity privatisation, proposed by NSW premier Morris Iemma and treasurer Michael Costa, have been heavying the delegates to the NSW ALP conference as well as state Labor MPs.
Overwhelmed by the greenhouse debate? Bamboozled by all the competing claims that renewable energy sources cannot supply 24-hours-a-day power (“base load”)? Depressed by the unending vastness of “the literature” on global warming and renewables?
Events such as the April 11-13 Climate Change — Social Change conference occur very rarely in the intellectual and political life of an Australian city. This gathering in Sydney will bring together an extraordinary range of speakers to tackle the theme of social action to stop climate change.
Any day now the findings of the special Consultative Reference Committee (CRC), set up by the NSW government to “test the impacts” of its plans to privatise its electricity generation and retailing assets, will become public.
The campaign against the privatisation of NSW electricity took an important step forward with a February 26 protest outside parliament. Power workers in Bega and Port Macquarie struck in support.

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