“Lunchtime midweek in Campbelltown’s main street in the heart of western Sydney is a slow-moving affair”, the Australian’s Jennifer Hewett wrote on July 23. “Cars drive in and out of the one-way street at a leisurely pace. Business is not exactly booming in most of the small, tired-looking shops. There’s plenty of room on the footpath for pedestrians.”
BRISBANE — The annual Hiroshima Day rally and march took place on August 7, commemorating 65 years since the US dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city, killing about 100,000 people. The event was organised by the Rally for Peace and Nuclear Disarmament with the theme: “Join us on the road to nuclear disarmament”.
Whichever major party wins the August 21 elections, the real job of fighting for progressive change will remain. Not just because Labor and the Liberal-National Coalition have made this election campaign an ugly race to the right, but also because real change never comes simply through a vote. Even an election that registered real victory, such as the defeat of the hated John Howard Coalition government in November 2007, came on the back of sustained political action by millions of ordinary people focused primarily around the campaign against Work Choices.
As Colombia launched its new offensive against Venezuela, an emergency summit of Central American presidents on July 20 restored Honduras to “its rightful” status. That status was lost internationally when former president Manuel Zelaya was overthrown in a military coup in June 2009. Using the pretext of the relaunch of the Central American Integration System (SICA), the presidents of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala and Panama agreed to reincorporate Honduras into the regional bloc and encouraged the Organisation of American States (OAS) to do the same.
“Businesses like making profits”, said Labor leader Julia Gillard on ABC’s Q&A on August 9. She was explaining why Labor opposed the Coalition’s proposal to raise the company tax rate by 1.5%. “If they’ve got to pay more tax and that’s going to cut into their profits, then they’ll think of a way of adding a bit more profit. “What’s the best way of adding a bit more profit in? They put up prices. “It, you know, just stands to common sense reason, doesn’t it?” The Greens lead NSW senate candidate Lee Rhiannon agrees.
BRISBANE — Several hundred farmers from the Darling Downs and environmentalists rallied outside State Parliament on August 4 to protest the expansion of the coal and coal seam gas industries in rural Queensland. The rally was sponsored by Friends of the Earth, Save Our Darling Downs, Community Climate Network Queensland, Friends of Felton and the Queensland Conservation Council.
The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is the focal point of a political shift to the left that has affected most of the Latin American continent for just over a decade. For several years this has been met with denunciations of the nation and its president, Hugo Chavez, from TV personalities like Glenn Beck and Pat Robertson to establishment figures like George W. Bush and Barack Obama, all of whom liken the nation to a military dictatorship.
On August 12, members of the Unite trade union employed at six airports by the privatised British Airports Authority voted to strike by a margin of three to one, rejecting a one percent pay rise offered by BAA. The 6185 Unite members at the six affected airports — firefighters, security staff, engineers and support staff — accepted a pay freeze in 2009. BAA also withdrew a proposed £450 bonus for the airport workers and informed all staff that they would lose out on their annual airport incentive payment of £700 for 2010.
Recent scenes of roadblocks, strikes and even the dynamiting of a vice-minister’s home in the Bolivian department (administrative district) of Potosi, reminiscent of the days of previous neoliberal governments, have left many asking themselves what is really going on in the “new” Bolivia of indigenous President Evo Morales. Since July 29, the city of Potosi, which has 160,000 inhabitants, has ground to a halt. Locals are up in arms over what they perceive to be a lack of support for regional development on the part of the national government.
Thousands of people took to the streets on August 14 in support of legalising same-sex marriage and against the discriminatory policies of both major parties. In Sydney, Peter Boyle said about 3000 people rallied at Town Hall before marching to Taylor Square. Comedian and host of ABC’s Gruen Transfer Wil Anderson chaired the event.