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Federal education minister Julie Bishop has announced a tender process to trial performance-based pay in schools. Australian Education Union (AEU) federal president Pat Byrne described the scheme as “cash-for-grades”, and called for more federal funding for state education.
Since the Australian government’s decision to declare a “war on terror” in the wake of the terrorist attacks on the US cities of New York and Washington on September 11, 2001, federal parliament has enacted no less than 26 pieces of legislation that form so-called anti-terror laws. The justifications for the laws ignore that acts such as murder, hijacking and blowing things up have never been legal. The laws’ real purpose is to criminalise political dissent and to create the impression of a “terrorist threat” to justify military aggression overseas.
In an effort to be reelected for a fifth term PM John Howard is trying to convince workers that this is as good as it gets. Looking at his favorite figures, we might be forgiven for thinking he’s right. In May, unemployment was at a historic low of 4.2% and the economy was growing at an annual rate of 3.8%. Employment grew by 39,400 that month while unemployment fell by 5500. However, these figures hide the reality that the benefits of the boom have been very unevenly shared.
On June 20, 30 people attended a public forum to launch a campaign for an August 12 national day of action for same-sex marriage rights. The NDA is being built around three slogans: “Repeal the ban on same-sex marriage”, “Give us civil unions” and “Hands off same-sex adoption”, and so far, rallies are being planned in Sydney, Melbourne, Lismore and Perth.
The right to strike is always agreed in principle. “We won’t remove the right to strike”, the Work Choices ads said. Employers agree — subject to restrictions to protect their class interests. The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) policy is for the workers’ right to withdraw labour without sanctions.
Close the Gap
Photo exhibition by Oxfam Australia
Waterfront Place foyer
Eagle Street, Brisbane
Until June 29
On June 3, an elderly flower seller in the municipality of Chongqing was critically injured when council rangers violently cleared the area of street hawkers. In response, a thousand-strong riot erupted. Three days later, a similar incident occurred in the Henan provincial capital of Zhengzhou, when a riot of thousands of people forced a backdown from the authorities.
The enormity of China’s environmental nightmare is well-known. However, its root causes — especially the part played by First World capital — is less widely understood. One example is the massive dumping in China of First World “e-waste” — electronic and electrical waste.
The Vote Against Discrimination
Kirrit Barreet Aboriginal Art and Cultural Centre, 407 Main Road, Ballarat
Free entry, until August 30
As the national strike by more than 700,000 South African teachers, nurses, health workers and other public servants entered its fourth week on June 22, the African National Congress (ANC) government steadfastly refused to seriously revise its miserly pay offer. President Thabo Mbeki knows that if his neoliberal, pro-big business regime relents and grants the public-sector workers a much-needed above-inflation pay increase, it will embolden the country’s private-sector workers to fight for a similar rise.
On June 13, explosions destroyed the two 100-year-old minarets of the highly revered Shiite Askariya mosque in the largely Sunni inhabited city of Samarra, 100 kilometres north of Baghdad. “The Askariya shrine means a lot to us, the people of Samarra”, Abu Abdullah, a Sunni who lives next to the shrine, told the June 13 Washington Post, adding: “To lose the shrine hurt us a lot, and made us afraid about what will happen next. Someone wants to create sectarian strife by doing this act.”
On June 18, Vilma Espin Guillois, legendary guerrilla fighter and leader of the Federation of Cuban Women, passed Away in Havana. An official note issued by the Cuban government is abridged below.