The two-year negotiations between loggers and environmentalists, which many hoped would end the conflict over Tasmania’s forests, collapsed on October 27. The Wilderness Society, a key negotiator in the talks, blamed the collapse on the Forest Industries Association of Tasmania (FIAT), which represents logging companies such as Malaysian logging firm Ta Ann and, previously, Gunns Ltd.
“Now there’s two of us,” declared Alex Greenwich, after he won the NSW seat of Sydney in the October 27 by-election. Greenwich received just under 65% of the two-party preferred vote: a 12% swing to Clover Moore's independents. The by-election was held because of the NSW government’s “Get Clover Bill,” which banned MPs from sitting on local council. Sydney mayor Clover Moore then had to resign from her seat in state parliament. In his victory speech, Greenwich stood with Moore and spoke of how the attempt to rob Sydney of its independent voice had backfired on the government.
More than 100 students from the University of Tasmania attended a forum on October 16 to question university administrators over plans to restructure the Faculty of Arts. It was organised by students of the university in response to disquiet over potential changes to degree structures and curricula. This came just a week after the faculty dean, Professor Susan Dodds, announced that the existing 10 departments would be amalgamated into three bigger entities.
Feminists from various organisations and groups gathered outside NSW Parliament House on October 23 to protest the severe cuts the Barry O’Farrell government has proposed for several community organisations. Some of the centres and services that face an uncertain future include the Liverpool Women’s Resource Centre, which provides information and support to disadvantaged and abused women, and the Margaret Jurd Learning Centre, a non-government school that caters for children with disabilities.
Last week, Green Left’s fledgling video project, Green Left TV, was forced to take down a video about protests by asylum seekers jailed on Nauru by the Australian government, because it was threatened with imminent legal action. But we have persisted in getting out the desperate messages from these victims of a brutal and ultimately racist policy, as you can see in this week's issue and in a Green Left TV interview with a refugee from Nauru: “Nauru hunger striker calls for freedom.”
So if the government's bill excising the entire Australian mainland from the migration zone is passed in parliament, I guess we will all be unAustralian. That is one insult used by politicians to describe anything they don't like will now lose its force. Forget Aboriginal people protesting on Australia Day, logically there can surely be no more unAustralian act than legally declaring Australia unAustralia.
Since being elected to the Moreland council in Melbourne, I have been asked by several people whether I can make a difference since I will have only one vote on council. My reply is that socialists on local council or in federal or state parliaments can achieve change only if they use the position to build and support local community and broader campaigns for people’s rights. At the end of the day, an elected socialist won’t achieve much if they just rely on negotiations with other councillors or politicians.
The Melbourne media have ignored the raised vote for socialists in the October 27 local government elections. The Socialist Party’s sitting councillor Steve Jolly increased his vote from 29.2% in 2008 to 34.24% in the inner-city City of Yarra council. In other wards of Yarra Council, the Socialist Party increased its vote but did not retain its other sitting councilor, Anthony Main. Since Jolly was elected, his vote has continued to rise. This is because he and the Socialist Party have used the council position to build campaigns in the local area.
The Sydney Stop the War Coalition released the statement below on November 2. *** Prime Minister Julia Gillard made her annual report on the war in Afghanistan to an almost empty Parliament House on October 31. After 11 years, she insists that the International Security Assistance Force counter-insurgency strategy against the Taliban is “working” and the Afghan National Army is on track to take over security in 2014 — when the Western forces “leave”.
Socialist Alliance candidate Sue Bolton was elected to Moreland City Council in Melbourne’s northern suburbs in the October 27 elections. The election provided a shake-up with the ALP losing three councillors and its outright majority on council. The Greens retained two councillors although their vote dropped in all three wards. The Socialist Alliance gained its first councillor position in Victoria and a Liberal Party member was elected to Moreland Council for the first time. The Democratic Labor Party retained its councillor.