About 6000 Queensland health workers walked off the job from October 1 across the state demanding better wages and conditions. "The Queensland Public Sector Union [QPSU] said the Government was unfairly targeting its own workers to cut costs to make up for the nurses' payroll debacle”, the September 30 Courier-Mail said. The workers are demanding an increase of 4.5%, 4% and 4% over three years, with allowances and extra leave protected. The government has refused to increase its offer of 2.5% a year over three years.
On September 28, a British Guardian reporter who interviewed me by phone published an article on the September 26 Venezuelan National Assembly elections titled “Opposition Gains Loosen Chavez’s Grip on Power.” According to the article, I said the electoral results “suggested the government should try to modify its radical discourse and accommodate the opposition, as long as it accepted the government’s legitimacy”.
Britain is said to be approaching its Berlusconi Moment. That is to say, if Rupert Murdoch wins control of Sky, he will command half Britain’s television and newspaper market and threaten what is known as public service broadcasting. Although the alarm is ringing, it is unlikely that any government will stop him while his court is packed with politicians of all parties. The problem with this and other Murdoch scares is that, while one cannot doubt their gravity, they deflect from an unrecognised and more insidious threat to honest information.
Amnesty International’s Demand Dignity and Eora College art exhibition opened at the Boomalli Aboriginal Arts Gallery on September 22 to a crowd of 50 people. The exhibition was based on the theme of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The artworks were produced by talented students from the Eora TAFE College. The Demand Dignity campaign aims to eradicate poverty by making human rights law. As part of the campaign, Amnesty International has criticised Australia’s NT intervention policy, which was launched by the Coalition government of John Howard in 2007.
Twenty people attended a September 28 Indigenous Social Justice Association (ISJA) meeting to hear Bruce Campbell, from the WA Deaths in Custody Watch Committe, discuss the campaign for justice for Mr Ward. On Invasion Day (January 26) 2008, Mr Ward, a respected Aboriginal elder, was arrested and died of heat stroke in the back of a prison van the next day while being taken 360km in 42°C heat.
More deaths Deaths in custody in Australia continue and are also not limited to prison and police custodial jurisdictions. There were 2043 Australian deaths in custody from 1980 to 2007; 72 deaths in custody per year from 1980 to 2000; 75 deaths per year from 2000 to 2007. Eighteen percent are Aboriginal. We have one of the world's worst deaths in custody records.
On October 8, the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA), Queensland branch of the Electrical Trades Union and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union will sign a “social compact” with the North Queensland Lands Council (NQLC). The compact will mark a new stage in collaboration between trade unions and Indigenous organisations, especially in those regions targeted in the mining and resources boom.
Venezuela’s September 26 National Assembly elections gave an interesting insight into the state of class struggle in a country sharply polarised by the revolutionary changes led by the government of President Hugo Chavez. The significance lies in the vote occurring after 11 years of the Chavez-led Bolivarian revolution, which has resulted in big improvements in the living standards of the poor majority.
Green Left Weekly’s Angela Walker spoke to Carole Ford, a founding member of Pro Choice Cairns, about the upcoming trial of a young Cairns couple. The couple have been charged under Queensland’s 19th century abortion-procurement laws. How has the Cairns community responded to this case? With overwhelming disbelief. I'm sure when most Queenslanders first heard of the charges, they felt as if they had regressed in time.
Efforts to pass laws banning full veils, burqa or chador, in some European countries — particularly France — have put the issue firmly on the agenda in many other Western countries. Left and feminist positions are being challenged. The dilemma is whether to defend the right for Muslim women to choose to dress as they like (for whatever reason) or to impose the Western perspective that, due to its oppressive nature, such dress should be suppressed.
We’re told that Australia is an egalitarian country. Our prime minister is a working-class migrant girl made good, while her predecessor was raised in regional Queensland by a single mother after the early death of his father. Anything is possible; our origins need not hold us back. A new report, linking health outcomes with social status, casts doubt on this. It concludes that those born poor are more likely to live in poor health during adulthood, and to die younger.
We have just three months left to raise $135,228 if we are to make our 2010 fighting fund target of $300,000. This may seem like an impossible task but it isn't. Our supporters have raised $164,772 this year. We know we have the support out there to raise the rest. Of course, these amounts are just spare change to the corporate fat cats who were partying at the Forbes Global CEO Conference in Sydney last week, but Green Left Weekly readers and supporters have had to work hard to raise that amount for the fighting fund.
On the surface, Labor PM Julia Gillard appears to have done an about-face on climate change in the weeks since Labor scraped back into government. Immediate action on climate change — especially setting a carbon price — is back on the agenda, she says. The Labor minority government has given in to a Greens demand for a new parliamentary committee on climate change. In doing so, Labor appears to be backing away from its pre-election promise to delay new climate legislation until 2013.
“I believe in capitalism. Capitalism to me is a spiritual concept. Democracy just gets in the way. Democracy is annoying. Let them buy stuff and eat cake. Where I come from, if you don't believe in capitalism you're going to hell.” A “Yes Men” parody? No, these serious words of US billionaire investor Ken Fisher give an insight into the Forbes Global CEO Conference held in Sydney on September 28 and 29.
During recent protests in Villawood Detention Centre that followed the September 20 suicide of detained Fijian exile Josefa Rauluni, detainees who tried to help rooftop protesters with water and blankets were stopped by security. One man was bashed.
On September 15, France’s Senate passed a bill banning women from wearing full Islamic face veils such as the burqa and niqab. Similar laws are being considered in other European countries. In the New South Wales Legislative Council, Christian fundamentalist MLC Fred Nile has introduced a private member’s bill seeking to ban wearing the burqa. Neither major party supporta the bill, so it is expected to fail.