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Two years on, the full impact of “voluntary student unionism” (VSU) is now being felt at Australian universities. Legislation to implement VSU was introduced in 2005 by the Howard government, despite the opposition of much of the student population. Its intention was to defund student organisations and cripple their ability to take effective political action in support of their members’ interests.
On November 21, up to 10,000 Victorian teachers went on strike, travelling from around the state to fill the Vodafone Arena in Melbourne. Around 150 schools were closed as a result of the industrial action. The teachers are calling for a 10% per annum pay rise over the next three years.
Two conferences of the English anti-war party, Respect — The Unity Coalition, were convened on November 17 in London. Both were attended by around 350 people. The “Respect Renewal” forces were led by MP George Galloway and 19 other non-Socialist Workers Party members of Respect’s national council. The SWP convened its own conference across town.
“A US military convoy opened fire on a column of cars Sunday morning, killing at least two Iraqi civilians in southern Iraq and igniting a new round of anger over the apparent loss of innocent life”, the US McClatchy Newspapers chain reported on November 18. “Police charged that the shootings were unprovoked and said six people, including two Iraqi policemen, died in a barrage of bullets.”
Indonesian activists in the National Liberation Party of Unity (PAPERNAS) continue to face government-sponsored thuggery and have appealed for support from Australian activists to help them defend their democratic rights.
More than 200 prominent individuals from the arts and showbusiness in the United States have signed a letter addressed to President George Bush expressing their support for cultural relations between the US and Cuba.
For over a decade now, Australian universities have been under attack. PM John Howard’s whittling away at the public funding of tertiary education came to a head in 2005, with the implementation of the Nelson Review. The review promoted a shift away from government funding of universities, which meant that they had to seek funding elsewhere — fee-paying students and big business.
Chickenhawk-in-chief "I would say that we would always try diplomacy first. In other words, I've committed our troops into harm's way twice, and it's not a pleasant experience because I understand the consequences firsthand." — Emperor George
Brian Senewiratne: “I have been a strong supporter of the left in my native Sri Lanka since I was 16 years old. I am now 76, and remain convinced, even more so, that it is the capitalist policies, first under the colonial British and later the Brown Sahibs of my ethnic group, the Sinhalese, that have taken that country to its condition of failing state.
The International Labor Organization (ILO) denounced the Venezuelan government on Thursday, accusing it of abusing the rights of business owners to freely organise. At the same time, Colombia was praised for its progress in the protection of labour leaders. Venezuelan authorities rejected the statements, accusing the ILO of manipulating the truth for political reasons.
Rail workers from the German train drivers union, the Gewerkschaft Deutscher Lokomotivführer (GDL), have repeatedly brought the country to a standstill in recent weeks, with rolling strikes against the state-owned rail company Deutsche Bahn AG.
The following article is excerpted from a speech to a November 5 Council on the Aging (COTA) forum in Hobart by Susan Austin, who was the Socialist Alliance’s candidate for Denison.
Protesting journalists in Pakistan were beaten by police on November 21. I travelled to Pakistan earlier this year, and I wish to show my solidarity with the brave struggle for justice being waged against General Pervez Musharraf’s dictatorship.
Building support in Aboriginal Australia (1) One Indigenous community to organise a meet-the-candidates forum during the election campaign was the Illawarra Aboriginal Community (NSW south coast). It drew more than 60 people, including prominent
student protests two weeks ago against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s proposed constitutional reforms, more than 50,000 students marched in favour of the reforms in Caracas on November 22. The reforms aim to facilitate the massive deepening of the revolutionary process lead by the Chavez government that has already made significant inroads into reducing poverty, in order to open the transition to a ‘socialism of the 21st Century”. The reforms, which have been widely debated throughout society and have been adopted by the National Assembly, will be put to a referendum on December 2.
The media memorialised Norman Mailer after his death on November 10 with accolades about his stature as a literary giant, two Pulitzer Prizes, larger-than-life celebrity persona and reputation as an egotistical curmudgeon. But the substance of his ideas and his life beyond the image and the awards got little attention.

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