I asked Simon, a homeless man in Melbourne who has organised protests around housing, “If you had three wishes what would they be?” “A roof over my head, a feed every day and someone to love me who I can love back. As simple as that”, he said. “There's not much more to life when you break it down. There are too many people who get carried away with money, worrying about their next dollar. I live with nothing and supposedly I haven't got a long time left to live, so there's not much more you need.”
To meet our $300,000 Green Left Weekly fighting fund target this year, we need less than half of what Commonwealth Bank CEO Ralph Norris gets paid in just week. GLW supporters have raised $165,406 so far this year. To make the target, we need to raise a further $134,594. Every fundraising dinner, harbour cruise, jumble sale or fundraising barbeque will count in the dash to the finish. Week after week, we will ask our supporters for donations. It will be a struggle to raise $134,594.
Almost 600 people poured into the town hall in Melbourne’s north-eastern suburb of Ivanhoe on October 6 to discuss the Victorian Labor government’s proposal to build a freeway across the Banyule Flats and the Yarra Corridor. The government intends to build the North-East Link to join the Western Ring Road to the Eastlink tollway. The lack of public transport in the area was shown by the fact that the only way most people could get to the meeting was by driving, causing a small traffic jam outside.
Three hundred people attended a launch of author and activist Tariq Ali's new book, From Bush to Obama — Change We Can Believe In? on October 6. Ali said Obama’s election campaign had raised people's hopes and mobilised US youth, but people were now disillusioned and angry. He said Obama was a “master of bullshit”. Obama’s rhetoric sounded different, but fundamentally continued the policies of the Bush regime.
On September 23, the Daily Telegraph reported on a wall mural in the Sydney inner-west suburb of Newtown by artist Sergio Redegalli with the slogan “Say no to burqas”. Redegalli’s mural has sparked protests by local residents who have condemned it as racist. Sydney Socialist Alliance activist Kiraz Janicke says Redegalli’s piece “has no other value than to promote racism”. She has responded with an artwork of her own — a submission to the Live Red Art Awards, titled “Burqa revolution”.
Police violence has come under the spotlight once again, as it tends to do every six months or so. Sometimes it is when two or more incidents occur together, or it is when the media have decided that the last story about misbehaving police has been forgotten, and now is the time for a new one. Less newsworthy is the brutal and often illegal violence performed daily. Favourite targets are Aboriginals, young people and the mentally ill.
One hundred activists protested on the steps of the Victorian parliament on October 6 to demand the Victorian desalination plant at Wonthaggi be scrapped. Stephen Cannon of Watershed Victoria, which organised the protest, said the Brumby government had provided no reliable costing of the project. Cannon said users could be paying six times the cost of ordinary water if the project went ahead. The project would line the pockets of corporations for generations at the expense of the people of Melbourne.
The October 3-14 Commonwealth Games being held in Delhi have proven a disaster for India’s poor — economically and socially. Even before the games opened, 47 workers had died working on sites linked to the games, MSNBC.com said on September 23. The September 23 Financial Times said working conditions were so bad that the People’s Union for Democratic Rights and other labour rights’ activists “filed a lawsuit in Delhi high court this year, claiming that workers on games sites faced unsafe conditions and rampant violation of a wide range of labour laws and standards.
In September, I spent two weeks on a solidarity brigade in Venezuela. The brigade participants were able to witness the September 26 National Assembly elections and get a first hand view of the revolutionary changes taking place across the country. The brigade was organised by the Australian Venezuelan Solidarity Network (AVSN), and included political activists and enthusiasts from Ausstralia, New Zealand, Bulgaria, Britan, Canada and the United States. I would thoroughly suggest this experience to anyone interested in the Venezuelan revolution.
There is something rotten in the state of Victoria. The legacy of secrecy in government reached a high point under Jeff Kennett’s Coalition state government in the 1990s. It continued under the Bracks Labor government and the current John Brumby Labor government. The main reason for this was widespread privatisation and the policy of funding infrastructure projects through public-private partnerships (PPPs) — a policy begun by the Kennett government and continued by Labor.