Reza, an asylum seeker who had been living in the community on a bridging visa, took his life at the Brisbane airport on October 29. According to friends, he feared being deported back to Iran. “He was scared to stay here”, a friend of the 26-year-old Iranian told the Guardian Australia. He had grown worried that he was being followed and that he would be taken into detention, the friend added. The friend said Reza called him early on October 25 and said: “I am tired. Always police and people follow me. I want to kill myself. Tell my family.”
Paediatricians and health workers and researchers in Darwin gathered at the Royal Darwin Hospital campus on October 29 to make a public statement that "Detention Harms Children". The protest followed the weekly Paediatric Grand Round meeting that focused on the impact of trauma on refugee and asylum seeker children. Staff from Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne and Lady Cilento Children's Hospital in Brisbane have held similar protests in recent weeks.
The long-running dispute between the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and Hutchison Ports is edging closer to settlement. An MUA member at the Port Botany community assembly told Green Left Weekly on October 30 that letters offering voluntary redundancies were being issued by the company that day. MUA members have a week to reply. They said that substantially improved redundancy entitlements, “roughly equivalent to 26 weeks' pay,” are being offered — a big gain on the previous offer of nine weeks' pay for three years of service.
Jeremy Corbyn's success is one sign, and perhaps the most dramatic, of a wider movement challenging the British establishment. Jeremy Corbyn's election as Labour Party leader has already had a dramatic effect on British politics. All of us on the left in Britain need to ask how we can support him — and consider what the long term implications of his success may be. Those outside Britain, especially on the green left, need to ask whether there are lessons that can be learned.
The Western Sydney University (WSU) Resistance club has been successful in electing one of its members onto the editorial board of the university's student magazine, Cruwsible. WSU students had the chance to vote from October 12 to 23 for six editor positions for 2016 as part of the student elections held on campus. Resistance members Philip Craig and myself nominated for the editor roles. While Philip unfortunately missed out by a small margin, I was voted in as the sixth editor.
Moreland councilors voted on October 26 to elect Sam Ratnam as the first Green mayor. Left Labor councilor Lita Gillies was voted in as her deputy. I voted for the Green mayor to break the stranglehold of the two big-business parties, Liberal and Labor. The Labor Party has controlled the Moreland council for many years. However I was surprised that, immediately after electing the mayor, the Greens councillors voted for Liberal Party councillor Rob Thompson to be her deputy.
BlueScope's October 26 announcement that the Port Kembla steelworks would be saved from closure came as an obvious relief for the workforce, who had agreed to 500 job losses to save 4500 jobs, together with a three-year pay freeze and foregone bonuses for the next 12 months. These union concessions are reportedly worth $40 million to BlueScope. The New South Wales government agreed to defer $60 million in payroll tax payments over the next three years, and the company will save a further $100 million through “worker flexibility”.
Norrie has spent a lot of time in the offices of the NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages (BDM). When Norrie went on October 28, it was for love and equality. Norrie is sex non-specific — neither man nor woman. Five years ago, Norrie went to the office to get them to change zie's (the pronoun for a person of non-specific sex) birth certificate to read “sex: non-specific”. BDM complied, but the New South Wales state government appealed. It took four years and an April 2014 High Court ruling for Norrie to be formally recognised as sex non-specific.
Thirteen years after launching their land claim, the Mithaka people of south-west Queensland were granted native title over more than 33,800 square kilometres of their land and waters on October 27. This is one of the largest successful native title determinations in Queensland history: the claim area covers land and waters in the Diamantina and Barcoo shires, and in the expansive Channel Country of outback Queensland.
Under pressure from an industrial campaign by the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU), the Turnbull government has announced it will lift its cap on wage rises for federal public sector workers from 1.5% to 2%. The government is maintaining its hard line on stripping existing workplace rights and conditions. Only a handful of government agencies have so far this year reached EBA settlements with their workers.
Protesters occupied environment minister Greg Hunt's office in Melbourne on October 30, in protest at his re-approval of Australia's largest new mega coalmine — the Adani-Carmichael mine in Queensland. Protesters hung a banner from the roof with “Greg Hunt: Minister for Coal” emblazoned across it. “It is clear that our Minister for the Environment doesn't stand for the environment at all”, said student activist Sam Dariol.
Faction Man: Bill Shorten's Path to Power David Marr Quarterly Essay No. 59 Black Inc., 2015 Even the usually perceptive journalist David Marr, in his latest political profile for Quarterly Essay, is defeated by the indistinct and bland Shorten who, in public opinion polls, trails behind “Someone Else” as preferred leader of the Labor Opposition.
The National Union of Workers released this statement on October 23. * * * Recently the Victorian Trades Hall Council passed a resolution that included this statement: “That VTHC celebrates the contribution to our community from Victorians of many cultures and many faiths. There is no place in Victoria for discrimination or racism and we deplore those who would demonise any group by reason of their faith, race or culture.
Khalid Ismath, a member of the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM), was arrested on October 7 and later charged under Malaysia's sedition and communication acts for posting allegedly offensive comments on social media. He was initially denied bail over posts relating to the arrest of lawyer Kamal Hisham Jaafar, a former legal advisor to the Johor royal family. As of October 27, Khalid had been held in solitary confinement for 18 days. His lawyer had not been permitted to visit him.
The National Tertiary Education Union, which covers university staff across Australia, is backing the November 27-29 People's Climate March. In a letter to members, NTEU NSW secretary Genevieve Kelly wrote: “NTEU is proud to be part of a broad and diverse coalition organising the People's Climate March, with members involved in planning and promoting Sydney's rally. “We are marching because we know we can change the world when we work together. It is time for action.”
Reversing earlier promises to end US military involvement in Afghanistan, President Barack Obama has announced that US troops will remain indefinitely. He said they will not be ground combat forces, but trainers and advisers to the forces of the US-imposed warlord-dominated regime. US air strikes in support of the regime, by both piloted aircraft and drones, will continue. One such strike was the deliberate bombing of the Doctors Without Borders (MSF) hospital in Kunduz.