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The Pacific Solution By Susan Metcalfe Australian Scholarly Publishing, North Melbourne, 2010 Review by Julian Gormly
In early September, two transsexual men lost an appeal in Western Australia’s Supreme Court to be legally recognised as men. The negative ruling has consequences for other transsexual and transgender cases. The men are considering appealing to a higher body. Gina Wilson, spokesperson for Organisation Intersex Internationale (OIS), told Green Left Weekly: “The two appellants underwent top surgery [mastectomies] and were on hormone replacement therapy — testosterone. They were living as men and accepted as men by society and friends.
This year is the 15th anniversary of the Nargar Kovil school massacre in Tamil Eelam, the Tamil area of Sri Lanka. On September 22, 1995, the Sri Lankan Air Force (SLAF) bombed Nargar Kovil Maha Vidyalayam schoolyard, which was crammed with 750 children on their lunch break. Reports of the number of children killed vary from 26 to 70. Twelve of the children killed were six or seven years old. One hundred and fifty were injured, including 40 seriously. Twenty-two children had their limbs amputated. Ten of the amputees were under 12.
Gippsland unions and community organisations took part in the fourth in a series of “transition jobs seminars”. The seminar took place on October 13 under the auspices of the Gippsland Trades and Labour Council (GTLC) and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT). It dealt with the region’s current skills base in brown-coal mining, dairy and other industries, and the sort of training needed to skill workers for environmentally sustainable production.
The campaign against South Australian Labor treasurer Kevin Foley's latest budget is gathering strength. The second rally protesting against the wide-ranging budget cuts — particularly to the public sector — organised by SA Unions, attracted up to 10,000 people on 14 October. Members of the Legislative Assembly were invited to speak, including independents, the Liberal Party and Family First. The campaign has called on the Upper House MPs to block the legislation.
The “Switch off Hazelwood, Switch on Renewable Energy” protest targeted Australia’s dirtiest coal-fired power station, in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley, on October 10. It was successful but muted in contrast to its predecessor in 2009. The mood was no less festive, but this year, there was no climate camp, no mass actions and no arrests.
Sydney’s Redfern Block is a colourful place. It’s houses and flats are covered by political posters and banners, graffiti and dot paintings. But new colours now appear on the doors of residents — eviction notices. The Redfern Block is set to be demolished and replaced by the $60 million Pemulwuy housing project. The last 75 residents have until November 19 to leave but will be able to reapply to return in 2013 when the new project is set to be complete. But those accused of selling drugs will be denied housing.
About 50 people attended politics in the pub at the Queensberry hotel on October 12, to discuss the upcoming November 27 Victorian elections. Greens candidate for Melbourne, Brian Walters, spoke about the Victorian ALP government’s record. He said the contract for the proposed desalination plant is secret, but the cost is likely to be about $18 billion. The plant will use huge amounts of electricity and add to greenhouse pollution.
The outcome of a trial against a Cairns couple for procuring an abortion has turned the tables on the Department of Public Prosecutions and the Queensland government. The Cairns jury swiftly returned a “not guilty” verdict on October 14 and the question now being asked is “what real crimes are exposed by this case?” For many, the real crime is the fact that the anti-abortion laws from 1899 have not been repealed.
Beginning in April, so-called peace talks have taken place between some conservation groups and timber industry stakeholders about the future of the Tasmanian timber industry. Both sides have painted the talks as a once in a lifetime opportunity to “end the forest wars”. Environment Tasmania (ET) director Phill Pullinger told the May 13 Australian: “We've had 30 years of worsening trench warfare in Tassie over forests and now is the time and the opportunity to essentially solve the forest conflict — and solve it properly.”
In the following article Margarita Windisch explains why she is running as Socialist Alliance candidate for Footscray in the November 27 Victorian election. Socialist Alliance’s other candidates are Mitch Cherry for Bellarine, Trent Hawkins for Brunswick and Ron Guy for Melton. * * * I moved to Australia from Austria in the late ’80s and currently teach welfare work at Victoria University TAFE in Footscray. There I have had firsthand experience of the Brumby government’s misguided “skills reform” agenda for the sector.
I welcome the discussion in Green Left Weekly about the burqa and the question of its banning. I agree wholeheartedly that banning the burqa is not the answer for women. As in all aspects of oppression, the oppressed are the ones who must liberate themselves, with the support and solidarity of others. It is not up to the state or religious institutions to impose “liberation” on them. While the burqa remains worn by women, I support their right to wear it if they choose, for a variety of different reasons.
A crude and jingoistic appeal to Australian patriotism is the last refuge of the pro-war scoundrels as we approach the Australian parliamentary debate on Afghanistan. Australia sent troops to Afghanistan in October 2001, but it has taken nine years for parliament to discuss this act of war. Is this how Australia’s celebrated democracy works? Australian troops were sent to wage wars on an impoverished, already war-devastated and traumatised country without even a discussion in parliament, let alone a vote.
Pip Hinman has been pre-selected to run for the Socialist Alliance in the NSW seat of Marrickville in the March state elections. She is an activist journalist and stood in the seat in 2007. Hinman was active in the pro-choice movement in Sydney and Brisbane in the 1980s and 1990s. Below, she responds to the October 14 not guilty verdict in the trial of the Cairns couple charged under Queensland’s abortion laws. * * * The not guilty finding of the young Cairns couple should be the impetus for the NSW government to remove abortion from the NSW Crimes Act of 1900.

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