Green Left Weekly is taking a short break. The next issue will be dated April 18.
The CFMEU ACT Rank and File Action Group met on March 14 to discuss the state of the ACT branch of the union. Reports were presented about the CFMEU federal office investigation of the branch, the groups campaign for a clean and strong union that is accountable to its members and the state of industrial organising in the ACT.
According to Prensa Latina on March 24, Venezuela has replaced some 45 million incandescent light bulbs with white light thrifty bulbs, benefiting more than 4 million households. The move is part of an energy saving program, the Energy Revolution Mission. More than 3000 activists have been involved in carrying out the bub changes, and are aiming to replace about 54 million in total. The mission is also expanding renewable energy sources such as solar and wind and beginning to replace petrol with gas to supply cars. Prensa Latina points out that while Venezuela is the fifth-largest exporter of hydrocarbons, it is encouraging the use of less contaminating energy sources.
Following a decision by Fijis interim government to cut public servants pay by 5% and reduce the retirement age from 60 to 55 years, a range of unions have conducted ballots for strike action. The Fiji Public Service Association and the Fiji Nursing Association voted in favour of the strike and the Fiji Teachers Association will soon conclude its ballot. On March 30, more than 90% of Fiji Post and Telecommunication Employees Association members voted in favour of a strike. Public Service secretary Taina Tagicakibau claims the governments decision is non-negotiable and that any strike action would be illegal and result in job losses. The military has also threatened to intervene if the strike goes ahead.
SYDNEY — On March 31, the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network’s Sydney committee annual general meeting forged plans for expanding the campaign to invite Venezuela’s socialist president Hugo Chavez to tour Australia this year — an antidote to US President George Bush’s scheduled September visit. Guest speaker Venezuelan charge d’affaires Nelson Davila underscored the popular changes transforming Venezuela out of poverty and towards socialism. The meeting also decided to embark on monthly films, forums or street actions in support of Venezuela to build momentum towards the Latin American and Asia Pacific International Solidarity Forum being held in Melbourne this October. To get involved phone Kiraz on (02) 9690 1977.
The following is abridged from a statement received by the socialist youth organisation Resistance from the Frente Francisco de Miranda (FFM), an organisation of revolutionary youth at the forefront of Venezuelas socialist revolution.
Munya Gwisai, a member of the national coordinating committee of the International Socialist Organisation (Zimbabwe) as well as the deputy chairperson of the Zimbabwe Social Forum considers issues facing the democratic movement. He writes in a personal capacity.
After five years imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay without trial, David Hicks has agreed to a plea-bargain deal at his military commission trial to hasten his return to Australia. “I think most of you would be pleading guilty to something to get out of the place”, Hicks’s father Terry told the assembled media after returning to Adelaide from Guantanamo Bay on March 29.
Esperance Port Authority workers and residents angry at the heavy metal contamination scandal affecting the town and Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) workers have banned handling lead through the port. More than 700 residents packed the Esperance Civic Centre on March 26 to hear reports of a pattern of bureaucratic buck-passing on the lead and nickel pollution.
After the NSW elections it looks very much like your times up, John Howard.
HOBART The Howard government has promised to spend $200 million on an international fund to halve the rate of deforestation in Indonesia and the Asia Pacific as part of Australias contribution to stopping climate change. However the government hasnt mentioned putting an end to the 20,000 hectares of native forest that are clear-felled and burned each year in Tasmania. Greens leader Bob Brown highlighted this hypocrisy on March 30.
Greenpeace has revealed that an independent report into safety testing by genetic engineering giant Monsanto was ignored in the lead-up to a vote on whether the company’s new genetically engineered maize would be approved for consumption in the European Union.
Workers and concerned community members are continuing to hold rolling protests outside Preston Motors sites across Melbourne after the company’s refusal to negotiate a wage increase for its warehouse employees.
The NSW Minerals Council has backed away from legal action against Rising Tide, a community group campaigning against the expansion of the coal export industry in the Hunter region.
On the National Day of Shame March 26 more than 100 supporters of voluntary euthanasia from across Australia came together at Parliament House, chanting Not the church, not the state, let the people decide their fate. A Freedom Ride from Sydney to Canberra marked the 10th anniversary of the federal governments overturning of the Northern Territorys Rights of the Terminally Ill Act.
The major parties green credentials were again put to the test on March 22 when Greens Senator Christine Milne introduced Australias first climate change bill. Despite some high profile backing for the bill which attempted to set legally binding targets for cuts to greenhouse gases the major parties refused to support it, giving the lie to their concern about climate change.