Issue 1012

News

About 5000 people protested outside Parliament House in Hobart on June 14 to call for the protection of Tasmania’s World Heritage forests. The World Heritage Committee unanimously approved the extension of 120,000 hectares of new reserves to the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage property at a meeting in June last year. The forests were judged to have met all four natural heritage criteria.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott is a notorious climate change denier. So is his Canadian counterpart, Stephen Harper. But this is not their official position. In the face of rising global pressure for action to address catastrophic climate change, the official line of these two leaders is to “address” climate change, but not in a way that “clobbers the economy”, to use Abbott's latest three-word phrase.
Indian feminist and socialist Kavita Krishnan was the keynote speaker at the People's Power in the “Asian Century” seminar in Sydney on June 7. The seminar was held as part of the Socialist Alliance’s 10th national conference over the weekend of June 7-9. Around 250 people attended the conference to hear Krishnan speak on the anti-capitalist struggle in India, and on capitalism, misogyny and sexual violence.
Over 100 people rallied in Sydney on the anniversary of Eddie Murray’s death in police custody in a northwestern New South Wales town of Wee Waa 33 years ago. Murray's murder was one of the black deaths in custody that led to the historic Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.
Refugee Action Coalition Sydney released this statement on June 5. *** Eye-witness accounts of the riot squad attack on peaceful protests on Christmas Island on June 2 have revealed more of the brutality of the attack and disproportionate force used by the Serco Emergency Response Team. One of the asylum seekers injured remains in hospital with a broken hand/wrist after the riot squad re-broke his hand with such severity that a surgical pin from a previous operation was broken through the bone.
Seven years after Muckaty Station was nominated as a radioactive waste dump site, a Federal Court challenge has begun in Tennant Creek, 500 kilometres north of Alice Springs and 120 kilometres south of the proposed dump site. In 2007, the Northern Land Council (NLC) nominated Muckaty to the Commonwealth. The Federal Court challenge is based on the argument that the traditional owners were not properly consulted and they did not give consent.
Big business and mining giants are the acknowledged big winners of the recent federal budget, and it is Aboriginal people who will be the hardest hit. The transformation of the Australian health and education systems as well as the cuts to welfare proposed by the federal budget will have particularly bad effects on Aboriginal people: whether living in remote communities, in cities or regional centres.
“At the end of the day,” Bella Bropho of the Swan Valley Nyungah Community told Green Left Weekly, “we want that land returned to us.” She was referring to the Lockridge camp site which was home to the community until it was closed by the Western Australian government in 2003. Despite the closure, the community has maintained a continuous connection with the site and still meets there every week. At 5pm on June 10, government contractors moved in to remove fences and “desecrate” vegetation that was planted by community members.
''This move by Australia Post management to cut 900 jobs is outrageous, coming without any proper consultation with staff and unions,” Joan Doyle, Victorian state secretary of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) told Green Left Weekly on June 10. ''Australia Post CEO Ahmed Fahour is sensationalising supposed losses to attack workers' conditions.
Stop CSG Illawarra released this statement on June 3. *** The NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer, Professor Mary O'Kane, has released a new report to “specifically examine the cumulative impact of all activities which impact ground and surface water in the Sydney Water Catchment Special Areas”. The report does not investigate whether coal seam gas (CSG) mining in drinking water areas is safe.
A Brisbane court has upheld the state government's application for a permanent stay on legal action by Aboriginal elder Uncle Conrad Yeatman for retrieval of stolen wages. This was a blow to an elders group that has been campaigning for many years for payment of stolen wages, taken under the Aboriginals Preservation and Protection Act 1939. Between 1904 and 1972, the state controlled the wages and savings of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Central Melbourne was filled with union flags, political banners and home-made placards on June 12 as about 25,000 protesters marched through the streets in a “bust the budget” rally organised by the Victorian Trades Hall Council (VTHC). The rally combined the colourful and humorous placards and diversity of participants seen at recent March Australia rallies, along with a much more substantial and organised union presence.
NSW Greens MP Jamie Parker organised a “Bust the Budget” meeting for local residents on June 3 at Glebe Primary School. Speakers addressed the extreme nature of Abbott’s budget, its disingenuous rationale and the need to fight back. Parker told the crowd of about 120 people that there will be “a tsunami of funding cuts in NSW” that will have “far-reaching effects”, especially for the community’s most disadvantaged.

Analysis

World Refugee Day is dedicated each year to raising awareness about the more than 43.7 million refugees and internally displaced people around the world. The United Nations and non-government organisations usually share refugee stories and make pleas for compassion and empathy. But in Australia, refugees and asylum seekers are treated like the enemy in a war: the target of a highly resourced, military-led “deterrence” strategy complete with arbitrary detainment, detention camps, guards to terrorise them, forced deportations and the violent suppression of those who protest.
Sham contracting — when a company lists employees as contractors to avoid having to pay tax and benefits — and charging workers illegal fines are widespread practices in the sex industry.
The global financial crisis had its origins in the US when interest rates fell from 6% in January 2001 to 1% in mid-2003. This led to banks and other financial institutions awash with cheap money to conclude that lending to home buyers at obvious risk of defaulting their repayments was a safe bet.
Social services minister Kevin Andrews has defended the Coalition government's attacks on welfare — including proposals to deny jobless under-30s any payment at all for six months — on the grounds that “too much intervention” denies citizens the opportunity to achieve something for themselves.
The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has again found former Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid guilty of corruption. On June 5, he was found corrupt over the non-disclosure of the ownership of cafes at Circular Quay and attempts to renew the leases without them going to tender.
Australia is at risk of becoming a scientific backwater due to the federal government’s budget cuts to the CSIRO. The government has proposed a $111 million cut to CSIRO funding in the May budget — about 20% of its total funding — and at least 1000 full-time staff will lose their jobs over the next four years. Eight CSIRO sites around the country will close. Many are in regional country towns, which rely on the sites for employment.
There is one city in the world the indigenous people, who make up a third of the population, are officially classified by the authorities as having permanent residency, a legal status normally granted to migrants. As non-citizens, Palestinians legal status in East Jerusalem is legally inferior to that of Jewish residents. East Jerusalem, which was occupied by the Israeli army in the 1967 war and still contains refugee camps of survivors of the 1948 ethnic cleansing of large parts of Palestine, known as Al Nakba, bears the marks of an apartheid regime.

World

It was obvious from the start that the aims of Thailand's military junta, which seized power last month, were not about a sincere attempt to restore peace between the two opposing sides in Thailand’s political crisis. How could it be when the military were part of those who wanted to pull down the democratic system from the start? The military staged an earlier coup in 2006, wrote a new, less democratic constitution, and appointed half the senate and most of the members of so-called independent bodies.
“The Gezi Resistance is the biggest popular uprising in modern Turkish history,” said long-time socialist activist Nuray Sancar. “It smashed the fear we have been living with since the military coup in 1980.” It has now been a year since the Gezi Resistance started with a handful of people protecting trees in Gezi Park in Istanbul's Taksim Square in June last year. Protests spread to 79 cities across Turkey in the next few months.
In a May 19 article on US government spying for The Intercept, Ryan Devereaux, Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras publish leaked documents that show the US government may have used the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to aid National Security Agency (NSA) spying on US citizens and non-citizens in foreign countries. The leaked documents refer to “a vibrant two-way information sharing relationship” between the two intelligence agencies, implying that the DEA shares its information with the NSA to aid with non-drug-related spying.
An old truism says that in periods of crisis, politics speeds up. That is being strikingly confirmed in the Spanish state after the June 2 abdication of King Juan Carlos. So too is its corollary ― that institutions that seemed solid and long-lasting suddenly look out-of-date and fragile.
Since the Obama administration arranged for the release of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, the last US prisoner of war held by the Taliban in Afghanistan, there has been a firestorm of outrage from the right wings of both the Republican and Democratic parties. Bergdahl has been pilloried as a traitor. His father has been denounced as a Muslim. Senators called for him to be court-martialed and thrown into the military stockade. What is Bergdahl’s crime? While deployed in Afghanistan, he became disillusioned with the war and said so in emails to his family.
It is understandable that Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff has come out swinging. Given that strikes, land occupations and protests are ripping out across the country in advance of the World Cup; given that a Pew Research Poll found 67% of the country is dissatisfied with her handling of the tournament organising; and given that Rousseff faces an election later this year, she is fed up and ready to play the conspiracy card about the turmoil gripping the country.
“Courage is contagious.” When journalist Glenn Greenwald spoke via Skype to the Socialism 2013 conference in Chicago in June last year, it was just three weeks after he had begun reporting on the leaks provided by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden that revealed the massive scope of government surveillance.
As news spread of the abdication of the Spanish king Juan Carlos on June 2, a strange rustling sound could be heard across Barcelona. Hard to work out at first, it soon became clear what it was. It was the city — the capital of Catalonia — laughing. In the city’s thousands of bars, people were hooting with glee at the wave of tweets that the king’s decision to abdicate in favour of his son, Felipe, was provoking. Probably the favourite in my local bar of young and old unemployed, read: “With Mariano Rajoy [Spanish prime minister] in charge, even the king gets to lose his job.”
“On June 1, 2014, Salvador Sanchez Ceren, historic leader of the Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberacion Nacional (FMLN), was inaugurated as President of El Salvador,” CISPES.org said on June 3.
Pakistan is witnessing a rise in fanaticism. Ever since last year’s electoral victory of the right-wing Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) and Pakistan Tehreek-Insaaf (PTI), right-wing ideas have become more popular. Banned terrorists networks are able to work publicly using different names, or sometimes even under their own name. There is no state control of their activities. With this right-wing turn, the mosques are full of worshipers. More and more young men grow beards to show their identity as Muslims. Religion is used to silence arguments. Violence has become a norm.
“Riot police were on standby as tens of thousands took to the streets in Madrid, Barcelona and other cities across Spain on Monday to demand a vote on whether to rid Spain of its royal family,” Al Jazeera reported on June 3.
Willy Meyer, who was elected to European parliament in the May poll as lead candidate for United Left (IU), has demanded a binding referendum to allow the people of Spain to choose between the current model of a parliamentary monarchy or a republic. The call came after the June 2 announcement of Spain's King Juan Carlos that he would abdicate in favour of his son, Felipe.

Culture

One of the hallmarks of the neoliberal age has been the exponential expansion of commercial spectator sport — in its economic value, political role and cultural presence. All of which is thrown into high relief by the World Cup in Brazil. In recent years, the sporting industry has grown in all regions above the local GDP rate. It is estimated to have generated US$135 billion in direct revenues last year. These revenues derive from gate receipts, corporate sponsorship, media rights and merchandising.
Tender Written & directed by Lynette Wallwarth A new documentary film, Tender, screened at the recent Sydney Film Festival, follows residents of the Wollongong suburb of Port Kembla who are working to start a not-for-profit funeral service in their local community. Recognising the local need for affordable and meaningful funeral services, the Port Kembla Community Centre decided to provide them. The film follows their journey as they gather community support and explore alternatives.

Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

For more articles, visit Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal. European elections against backdrop of crisis The 2014 European elections were the first to held since the full extent of the financial and economic crisis and its consequences became apparent, Murray Smith says. Ukraine: 'Alarm bells for anti-fascist, pro-democracy forces'