The real sordid scandal in New South Wales Labor politics is not transport minister David Campbell’s visit to a gay Kensington bathhouse or Channel 7’s secret videoing of it — it’s the homophobic bigotry that continues in Premier Kristina Keneally’s government. If Campbell had left his ministerial position because of Sydney’s public transport mess, rather than being caught at Ken’s of Kensington, it would have been justified.
Ten activists from Thai Red Australia, plus Guatemalan and El Salvadoran activists from the Latin American Social Forum, were part of the 80-strong Socialist Alliance NSW state conference on May 22 in Sydney. The conference launched Socialist Alliance’s federal election campaign. In the opening session, Senate candidate Rachel Evans outlined a “people’s budget” that puts the environment and people’s wellbeing over militarism and profiteering.
“Break the war alliance” is one of the key messages anti-war groups will send to US President Barack Obama when he visits Australia in June. Protesters plan to focus on the stepped-up US war drive in Afghanistan and Pakistan. They will also demand of Obama and Prime Minister Kevin Rudd that the occupying troops leave. Compared to the Bush administration, total US defence spending is projected to rise from US$534.5 billion in 2006 to $663.7 billion in 2010 according to Congressional budget papers.
More than 200 people rallied to call for an end to the Northern Territory intervention at Sydney Town Hall on May 28. Monica Morgan, from Amnesty International, told the crowd the intervention was forcing Aboriginal people off their lands and taking away their culture. Morgan said this was the outcome of an ongoing process of assimilation that began in Sydney in 1788 and spread across the country. She said ongoing solidarity was necessary for Aboriginal people to survive as a culture.
In the seemingly endless wave of disgusting prejudice that flows out of the sewer pipe that is the mainstream media, sometimes it can be pleasantly surprising how things turn out. On May 20, Australian Football League (AFL) star Jason Akermanis said in a Herald Sun column that the football world was not ready for openly gay players, and that those thinking about outing themselves should stay in the closet. On the same day, David Campbell resigned as NSW minister for transport after being outed by Channel 7 News, who filmed him exiting an all-male sex club.
BRISBANE — Fifty people, Iranians and supporters, rallied in Queens Park on May 22 to protest against the execution in early May of five Kurdish nationalists by the Iranian regime. The protesters held photos of people disappeared and killed during the movement for democratic rights over the past year. Community representative Fazil Rostam said: "Kurds are 10% of the Iranian population, but make up 50% of the prison population. Fifty percent of executions are of Kurdish people."
It took nearly six months to organise, but on May 21, representatives from seven anti-war groups finally met defence minister Senator John Faulkner to request he re-consider a Greens’ initiative to amend the Defence Act. The amendment would require that MPs vote on whether or not Australian troops are sent to war. While the lobby, spearheaded by Nick Deane from the Marrickville Peace Group, did not change the senator’s mind, Deane told Green Left Weekly that he felt the exercise was still worthwhile because Faulkner heard a range of views.
On May 18, the Queensland Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC) announced it would take over primary responsibility for investigating all deaths in police custody in the state. This followed the recommendation made by deputy chief magistrate Brian Hine when he delivered his findings on May 14 to the third coronial inquest into the 2004 death of Aboriginal man Mulrunji Doomadgee in the Palm Island watch house. On November 19, 2004, Mulrunji was walking home when sergeant Chris Hurley, driving by in his police vehicle, arrested him on a drunk and disorderly charge.
At the G20 Economic Forum in Pittsburgh in September, President Barack Obama said his administration would combat climate change by phasing out the US government’s grandiose subsidies to the fossil fuel industry. But a report released on April 13 by Synapse Energy Economics (SEE) said Obama hadn’t followed through on his promise to cut dirty energy handouts.
MELBOURNE — On May 25, about 50 people attended a forum on Burma's election, which is due to occur this year. The forum was addressed by Debbie Stothard, coordinator of Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma, who noted the many undemocratic structures set up by the military junta. She said: “The 2008 constitution will guarantee military control over the election and resulting parliament. Election commissioners are handpicked by the regime, political parties must exclude ‘convicted persons’ such as Aung San Suu Kyi and there is severe censorship and restrictions on campaigning.