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The Victorian Labor Party has gone on a propaganda offensive against the Greens, accusing them of selling out on nuclear issues and taking away Victorians’ right to protest against nuclear reactors. Large posters have been put up and pamphlets will be sent to households in the four lower-house seats where the Greens pose the most direct challenge to the ALP.
Australia’s highest-paid boss, Macquarie Bank chief executive officer Allan Moss, has pocketed a 57% pay rise, now taking home more than double an average worker’s yearly wage for one day at the office. In a day, he earns more than most workers get in a year.
On May 17, a candlelight vigil was held in in Taylor Square to mark International Day Against Homophobia. The vigil was organised by the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ) Network of Amnesty International and Community Action Against Homophobia (CAAH) and called for the immediate release of Ali Humayun, a gay refugee from Pakistan who has been held in the Villawood immigration detention centre for more than two years.
May 27 marks the 40th anniversary of the overwhelming victory of the 1967 referendum, in which almost 91% of the Australian people voted to give the federal government the constitutional power to override the brutal, degrading racist laws of the states under which Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders were tormented. The federal government now had the power to make specific laws in respect to the Indigenous people. The Australian people had sent a clear signal that it was time for Canberra to make laws, introduce programs and provide the necessary resources to end the racial oppression of Indigenous Australians.
The 1967 referendum on Aboriginal rights — in which more than 90% voted in favour of including Aboriginal people in the census and giving the federal government the power to override racist state laws and legislate for Aboriginal people — has “enormous importance for Aboriginal people and our struggle”, Queensland Indigenous leader Sam Watson told Green Left Weekly.
Some 250 people heard from Terry Hicks, father of former Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks, at a May 19 public meeting organised by the Stop the War Coalition. The meeting was also addressed by academic Tim Anderson, Omar Merhi (brother of one of the Muslim men being held in Barwon Prison accused of being terrorists) and STWC’s Anna Samson. Responding to a suggestion at a media conference before the meeting that one of Australia’s ‘most notorious criminals’ would soon be coming home from Guantanamo, Terry Hicks commented that one of Australia’s most notorious criminals would soon be ‘dis-elected’.
Survival International reported on May 15 that Brazilian Indians were angered when Pope Benedict XVI, during his recent visit to Brazil, claimed that their ancestors had been “silently longing” to become Christians when Brazil was colonised five centuries ago. According to the BBC, the Pope also claimed that the imposition of Christianity on the region “had not involved an alienation of the pre-Colombian cultures”. Jecinaldo Satere Mawe, from the Amazonian Satere Mawe tribe, said the Pope’s comments were “arrogant and disrespectful”. The Catholic Church’s Indian advocacy group in Brazil called the Pope’s statement “wrong and indefensible”. Brazil’s indigenous population is today less than 7% of what it was in 1500, and of 1000 distinct tribes, only around 220 remain. For more information visit <international.org>.
On May 7, New Matilda published an article by Antony Loewenstein, titled “Cuba: Paradise Left” in which he reports on his impressions of Cuba. Loewenstein describes Cuba as a “police state” with “no freedom of speech”. (See .) He takes issue with Australian left academic, Tim Anderson whom, he said, “ought to know better” for arguing that Cuba has more democracy than the US, (see ), where the media is dominated by a handful of corporations. Below is Anderson’s reply to Lowenstein’s article.
Holding placards stating “Save the pool” and “Uniting Care doesn’t care”, hydrotherapy patients, many of them elderly people and in wheelchairs, gathered outside Uniting Care Health in Rosalie on May 17 to oppose the proposed closure of the Wesley Hydrotherapy Centre.
On May 2, at the Barrick Gold shareholder meeting in Toronto, Protest Barrick — which includes aboriginal communities from Australia, the US, Latin America and Asia — served the company an eviction notice. The previous day, writer and film-maker Naomi Klein opened a film night in Toronto, at which films from Chile, Nevada, the US and Australia were screened. Shareholders at the meeting were given leaflets by representatives of Australia’s Wiradjuri people and Nevada’s Western Shoshone explaining the cyanide contamination of their land and depletion of water supplies as a result of Barrick’s operations. Some protesters used proxy ballots to argue their case inside the meeting. Lake Cowal, the sacred heartland of the Wiradjuri, is being desecrated by Barrick’s cyanide leaching gold mine. Access to the lake for traditional ceremonies has been restricted because of the mine. Wiradjuri traditional owner Neville “Chappy” Williams, who announced the serving of the eviction notice to the meeting, was later approached by some shareholders who said they were now considering selling their shares.
A report released on May 14 by the Federation of Community Legal Centres of Victoria, accused police of using excessive and unwarranted force against protesters and bystanders during the November 17-19 G20 summit in Melbourne of international finance ministers.
On May 12, 60 people marked the anniversary of the deaths in 1981 of 10 Irish republican hunger strikers in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh prison in Northern Ireland, who were fighting for their right to be recognised and treated as political prisoners. The commemoration, held at the Gaelic Club, was organised by the Sydney Cairde (Friends of) Sinn Fein group.
In 2001, more than 30 workers over 50 years of age were suddenly given 24-hour termination notices by their employer, Guppy Plastic Industries Sdn Bhd. The workers were then told they could return later when they would be offered contract jobs. The chairperson of the workers’ union described the move as a dirty tactic to make the women contract workers, to further maximise the company’s profits at the expense of the workers. The 50-year retirement age for women workers is below the normal standard and is different to the company’s retirement policy for male workers. On May 15, nine of the sacked workers took the case to the industrial court, seeking back pay, compensation for loss of income and redundancy payments.
The presence of heavily armed SAS troops could complement extraordinary powers for NSW police during the September 7-9 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Sydney, which will be attended by 21 international leaders including US President George Bush.
Less than two days after its launch, more than 100 people had signed an “online pledge” to take part in peaceful direct action against the construction of a third coal export terminal at Newcastle’s port. The pledge notes that the terminal would increase Newcastle’s coal exports by “66 million tonnes per annum, producing 160 million tonnes of greenhouse pollution”.
Thousands of Palestinians joined rallies on May 15 throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territories to mark the 59th anniversary of al Nakba (“The Catastrophe”) — the establishment of the State of Israel and the consequent expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes — as renewed fighting took place between Fatah and Hamas.

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