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A peaceful community assembly was held on Friday September 21 outside the Melbourne headquarters of Incitec Pivot Limited. Of the three Australian companies importing phosphate from Morocco sourced in Western Sahara, IPL has the largest share of the superphosphate market.
Around 200 people, including a dozen parliamentarians, rallied in front of the Western Australian parliament on September 18 to demand a closing of the mortality gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. At present, Aboriginal Australians die 17 years earlier than non-Aboriginal Australians.
The inaugural Tropical Pride Festival was held at Cairns’ Tanks Art Centre on September 16. The night before the festival, for the first time a gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) contingent — consisting of 50 people — marched in the festival’s Cairns Parade of Lights, watched by some 10,000 people.
A damning report on the impact of Work Choices on workers in the retail and hospitality industries in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria — Lowering the Standards, released on September 13 — documents how quickly employers have acted to legally strip wages and conditions of workers in these sectors, even though the government claims many of these conditions are “protected by law”.
In an interview with the Australian Financial Review on September 17, Jeff Lawrence, the new secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), said that under a Rudd Labor government, unions would seek to engage constructively with businesses and employer groups. “There won’t be any targeting of employers who have used AWAs [individual contracts] … I specifically rule that out”, he said.
As fears of violence and talk of secession and civil war fade, and a fragile calm descends over this Andean country, Bolivia’s first indigenous president, Evo Morales, celebrated an important milestone. Completing 19 months and three weeks in office, Morales has surpassed the length of time in power of his four predecessors — not including the two who were forced to step down even before being sworn in.
Labor has retained the seats vacated by former Victorian premier Steve Bracks and deputy premier John Thwaites. The results of the recent Williamstown and Albert Park by-elections confirmed the ALP’s Wade Noonan (a former Transport Workers’ Union assistant secretary) and Martin Foley (former state secretary of the Australian Services Union, who is chief of staff to Victorian police minister Bob Cameron) as respective successful candidates.
More than 500 people rallied in Darwin on September 15 to support the rights of Indigenous people in the Northern Territory and to oppose the federal government’s intervention into NT Indigenous communities.
Alex Bainbridge, a prominent organiser of the “Stop Bush” protest during the September APEC summit, will head the Socialist Alliance’s NSW Senate team. Others on the ticket are Susan Price, a National Tertiary Education Union branch activist at the University of New South Wales; environmentalist and feminist doctor Kamala Emanuel; and Wollongong University student and anti-war activist Tim Dobson.
The Socialist Alliance has launched a “climate change roadshow” to promote its radical policy of a 60% reduction in greenhouse emissions by 2020 and a 90% reduction by 2030.
Having previously written a critique of the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict which examined it’s “democratic” associations (GLW #722), I was amazed to discover that Professor Stephen Zunes presently serves as the chair of their board of academic advisors. Amazed because this information was news to me as the ICNC’s academic advisors are not available on its website, and also that a progressive academic like Zunes would become associated with the ICNC.
On September 8, Tim Gooden spoke to Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) Sydney branch secretary Warren Smith for the Geelong Trades Hall’s Union Air community radio program. The interview took place at the protest that day against the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit and US President George Bush.
On August 15, the cities of Ica and Pisco located in the southern region of Peru were hit by a massive earthquake registering 7.9 on the Richter scale. This was the first quake recorded in living history in this area. It resulted in the loss of 540 lives, and immense physical destruction; 80% of buildings within the heart of Pisco collapsed, and more than 16000 people were left without housing and basic services.
The images on the television screen are now so familiar we become immune. Unimaginable numbers of people suffering and dying in a part of the world we know little about for reasons we know even less. What is it that we feel? Sadness, pity, a sense of anger, a sense of hopelessness? So we make the right noises, perhaps make a donation to the relevant charity and move on to the next news item. Yet the people suffering are just like us; the only difference is that we are lucky enough to have been born here.
Communism and Football — Throughout the 20th century, the football grounds of Eastern Europe became political battlegrounds. SBS, Friday, September 28, 8.30pm. Message Stick: Cape Expectations — The small Cape York Indigenous community of
Independent journalist and film-maker John Pilger has just released a new film, The War on Democracy. Set in Latin America and the US, the film outlines the US-led destruction of democracy in successive Latin American countries since the 1950s and the significant reversal of that tide today. The film includes an exclusive interview with Venezuela’s socialist President Hugo Chavez. Green Left Weekly’s Emma Murphy spoke to Pilger about the issues raised in the film.

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