A well attended “Bust the Budget” meeting on June 12 organised by Unions NSW has decided to organise a union and community rally on July 6. The meeting of more than 500 delegates and unionists came to an abrupt halt when Unions NSW Secretary Mark Lennon closed it down before two amendments strengthening the resolution could be voted on. Susan Price, a National Tertiary Education Union member and national co-convenor of Socialist Alliance, moved the amendments during the discussion, which were seconded by a delegate from the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union (CFMEU).
In the 18th and 19th century, scientists often used themselves as guinea pigs in the course of conducting experiments to determine the causes of disease and test the efficacy of new drugs. One of the earlier and more heroic examples comes from the Scottish physiologist and surgeon John Hunter (1728-93). Hunter was investigating syphilis, a disease surrounded by secrecy and shame whose origins were unlikely to be acknowledged at any level. The French called it the Italian disease and the Italians called it the French disease.
A protest against mining giant Whitehaven Coal in Sydney’s CBD on June 4 drew around 200 people to hear farmers, activists and politicians speak out against an expanding coal mine which is destroying a forest. The Maules Creek project, north of Gunnedah and east of Narrabri, is the largest coal mine currently under construction in Australia. About 1660 hectares of native woodland is under threat. A 30,000 strong petition opposing the open cut coal mine’s expansion was to be presented to Planning Minister Pru Goward and Environment Minister Rob Stokes.
There are plenty examples of sporting “droughts”, but there has never been a more harrowing athletic drought — rife with pain, pathos and perseverance — quite like that of the Palestinian national football team. This is a national team without a recognised nation to call home; a national team that has never qualified for a major international tournament; a national team that, like its people, struggles to be seen. That drought, 86 years in the making, is now over.
The first Free West Papua campaign office in Australia was opened in April in Perth, signalling the growing international campaign for West Papuan self-determination. West Papua has been occupied by Indonesia since the 1960s, despite an ongoing struggle for independence. Benny Wenda, a leader of Free West Papua living in exile, said he hoped the Australian government would withstand pressure from Indonesia over the office opening.
The US House of Representatives disregarded regional consensus on May 28 by voting to impose sanctions against Venezuela. The vote by acclamation was overwhelming, despite a last-ditch appeal by Michigan’s John Conyers and 13 other progressive Democrats who opposed sanctions and called for restoration of diplomatic relations between the two nations. They pointed out that regional bodies, including the Organisation of American States, the Caribbean Community and the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), had all rejected the case for sanctions.
There has been a minor earthquake in Irish politics in recent days. Republican party Sinn Fein has made a breakthrough into mainstream southern Irish politics. It almost doubled its vote to 17% in municipal polls for the southern state and won more than 20% in the European election. This was alongside a surge of electoral success from those further to the left and independents. Overall in the municipal elections in Ireland's south, Sinn Fein won 150 seats and those further left won about 40.
About 300 garment workers, NGO staff, civil servants and media staged a “fashion show” at the United Sisterhood Alliance-Worker’s Information Center (US-WIC) in Phnom Penh on May 25, called “Beautiful Clothes, Ugly realities”. As the Cambodian government still bans its opponents from using Freedom Park for protests, the fashion show was seen as a new, creative way of getting across our message.
In 2012, Quebec’s student movement carried out a months-long strike, managing to push back and hold off a neoliberal government’s bid to raise tuition fees. Repeatedly mobilising upwards of 200,000 people at monthly “mega-manifs”, the “Maple Spring” was an all-too rare win against the forces of austerity, and so it captured imaginations around the world.
The Venezuelan government and the commune movement are taking steps to move towards the creation of what is referred to as a “communal state”, which involves community groups assuming collective control of local production and decision making. Communes in Venezuela are formed out of groups of community councils, which are small neighbourhood groups representing 250 to 400 families. In communal councils, local residents organise to develop their local community and run community affairs. They can also receive public funds to undertake social projects in their area.
It seems to have been decided that the best response to the success of Nigel Farage, the leader of the UK Independence Party that won 27.45% of the vote in the May European elections, is to try to copy him. The Tories will soon reveal that one of their councillors declared that “the shape of a Romanian’s spine proves he’s actually a type of stinging nettle” on an election leaflet, but it was a mistake anyone could make, especially as the councillor had an earache at the time.
You know Australian politics has reached a low point when a lunatic billionaire coal magnate driving a Rolls Royce manages to appear less heartless and out-of-touch than the government. And yet Clive Palmer managed the feat, driving up to Parliament House in his luxury vehicle on May 27 and somehow twisting the act into a statement against politician privileges — pointing out money spent on government cars would be better spent raising the pension.
Lock the Gate released this statement on May 28. *** The nation’s air quality has declined dramatically in the past decade and coal mining has been identified as the biggest source of harmful respiratory particles in our air, a new federal government report finds. The National Pollutant Inventory report found Queensland is the most polluted state in terms of the levels of particulate matter with eight of the nation’s top ten particle emitting coal mines located there.
If you were to take Prime Minister Tony Abbott and the Coalition on face value, they appear to be against debt. All the pain imposed on the poorest in society by the federal budget and all the cuts to education, health and welfare are justified as being necessary “medicine” to solve a horrendous debt problem left to them by previous Labor governments. Yes, we've heard that line over and over again. Never mind the fact that the government's debt as a proportion of gross domestic product is one of the lowest among the developed countries and lower than it was in the 1950s and 1960s.
More than 250 people gathered outside the office of the Northern Land Council in Tennant Creek and marched to the local Peko Park on May 25, protesting against the proposed radioactive waste dump at Muckaty in the Northern Territory. The Muckaty site is part of a Land Trust, which is shared by five interrelated groups — Milwayi, Ngapa, Ngarra, Wintirku and Yapayapa. Traditional owners call the Muckaty Land Trust “Manuwangku”. Members of all five groups were present at the rally.
The Australian government’s review of the February violence on Manus Island leaves critical questions unanswered and does not call for the detention camp to be closed. Robert Cornall’s 107-page administrative review, released on May 26, includes a detailed account of 23-year-old Reza Berati’s death and identifies a Salvation Army employee as instigating the attack.