The following speech was delivered by Jeff McMullen to a September 8 meeting in Parramatta, organised by Reconciliation for Western Sydney. * * * If you are out under the stars tonight, look up. We live in a world of wonder and this is our shimmering moment in the greater scheme of things. The Aboriginal ancestors who walked this land before us developed in their sophisticated knowledge system the concept of custodianship to keep life in balance. It is one of the keys to the strength and resilience of the world’s oldest continuous cultures.
The Socialist Alliance national council meeting on September 5, involving 72 members from around the country, grappled with the new and intriguing political situation opened up by the August 21 federal election result. At the time, it was unknown who would form a minority government. But it was already clear that the result presented a challenge and opportunity for the progressive social movements to mobilise to demand a just, equitable and sustainable response to the big problems facing society.
A special film screening will take place in Petersham, Sydney on September 28 to celebrate the graduation of the first 18 East Timorese students through Cuba's medical training aid program, which began in East Timor in 2003. The event will be presented by Dr Tim Anderson of the University of Sydney, who has followed the journeys of these doctors from the start. He will present his films The Doctors of Tomorrow and The Pacific School of Medicine, as well as footage from the recent graduation ceremony.
Barangaroo is one of the last waterfront development sites in the City of Sydney. Its controversial redevelopment is starting a brushfire of protests because of the way it is being handled. Once the heart of the docklands, was the birthplace of the bubonic plague in the early 20th century Barangaroo, which led to the takeover of much of the area and its wharves by the government-appointed Sydney Harbour Trust.
Hazara asylum seekers, who broke out of the Northern Immigration Detention Centre in Darwin on September 1 to hold a peaceful seven-hour protest, have been transferred to the WA Curtin detention centre. On September 3, Australian Association of Hazaras spokesperson Arif Fayazi told ABC radio he was concerned for their welfare. Fayazi said that when he was in detention in similar circumstances in 2000, many of his fellow detainees became so distressed they harmed themselves.
Free Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani I write to express my disgust at the appalling treatment of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani by the Iranian government. I am a longtime friend and supporter of the Iranian people and their struggle. In the time of the Shah, I wrote letters and articles, spoke at meetings and joined many protests against his repressive regime and supported the resistance. Later, I defended the Iranian Revolution against the attacks of the US, Britain, Israel and other Western powers.
September 5-11 was National Body Image and Eating Disorders Awareness Week. “Awareness” about these serious and widespread issues is reasonably high these days. No young person can get through high school without being acutely aware of the pressures on physical appearance and personal image. The Mission Australia 2009 National Survey of Young Australians found that body image was the third-ranked issue of concern. A quarter of respondents (25.5%) said it was a major concern.
Workers at Megabolt in Melbourne’s northern suburb of Campbelfield have not had a pay rise for 10 years. This is despite working for a company that makes bolts for the rapidly expanding mining industry. The company’s production has increased by 25% in the past two years, but this hasn’t been reflected in wages. Australian Manufacturing Workers Union delegate Zelko Cimboro told Green Left Weekly that 75% of the workforce survives on the minimum wage of $15.04 an hour or $15.63 an hour.
One of Australia’s biggest carbon emitters, Bayswater coal-fired power station in the Hunter Valley of NSW, will be the target of this year’s Camp for Climate Action. Over December 1-5, the camp will bring people from around the country to a site near Bayswater, and will culminate in a mass protest against the proposed expansion of the power station.
Veterans peace group Stand Fast and the Peace Bus held a protest against the war in Afghanistan on September 9 at the gates of Enoggera Barracks. Enoggera is the home of the 7th Brigade and one of Australia's largest military bases. Also present were members of a local anti-war group who hold a vigil every Thursday against the war on the main road near the entrance to the barracks. Speakers at the protest included military veterans Hamish Chitts and Graeme Dunstan. Many motorists passing by, including some military personnel, waved their support or "honked for peace".