Issue 1026

News

More than 40 renewable energy suppliers have written an open letter to the federal government urging it to save jobs by not scrapping the renewable energy target (RET). They say the renewable energy industry employs tens of thousands of Australian workers, both directly and indirectly. This open letter to federal and state politicians from businesses supplying the sector highlights the importance of the RET in generating jobs and investment. ***
Yet again, the Fair Work Building Industry Inspectorate (a federal government body set up to attack unions in the building industry) has launched legal action in the Federal Court against the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union (CFMEU). The inspectorate said on September 12 that CFMEU organiser Theo Theodorou was alleged to have told the director of a demolition company wishing to work at a Carlton building site that: “as [the demolition company] is working in the city, it needs to obtain an enterprise agreement with the CFMEU for its employees”.
A meeting of about 200 union delegates and activists, organised by Unions NSW on September 17, unanimously supported a call for statewide action against the federal budget to defend jobs, workers’ rights and services. Unionists concerned that Unions NSW was failing to lead a campaign against the budget attacks drafted the motion, which was moved from the floor. Initially, Unions NSW Secretary Mark Lennon told the group there would not be time to move the motion. However, just before the meeting closed the motion was put to the vote and unanimously supported.
The Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance club on University of Western Sydney (UWS) Bankstown campus organised a free barbecue for students and staff on September 10. The BBQ raised $100 in donations for Gaza recovery charities. A week later, on September 16, it held a campus film screening of Hope in a Slingshot, a film about Palestinian resistance. Resistance is taking a proactive stand for support of Palestine with weekly petitioning and distributing information and organising contingents for upcoming rallies and events.
The NSW Nurses and Midwives Association (NMWA) has commissioned a billboard on Sydney's northside to send a message to Premier Mike Baird to stop the privatisation of the new hospital planned for the city's Northern Beaches. The billboard, featuring nurses from the area, displays the slogan: "Stop the privatisation of our Northern Beaches Hospital”.
The Save Millers Point spring picnic, held at Argyle Place in the heart of the historic inner suburb on September 14, drew thousands of people to support the campaign to stop the sale of public housing by the NSW Coalition government. Live music, market stalls, a free BBQ and information about the campaign were features of the day. An art exhibition and film screening was held. In addition, a history walk took attendees on a tour of the unique architectural sites of the area.
Following a mass campaign that mobilised thousands of people across the country and beyond, it appears the Western Australian government's shark cull has been dropped. The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has advised against continuing the cull this summer. Premier Colin Barnett said he was “disappointed” by the decision but is unlikely to challenge it and is also unlikely to reinstate the cull in future.
The People’s Bill, an initiative of the Lock the Gate Alliance to oppose the growing coal seam gas and coal industries, was launched in Brisbane on September 4. The People’s Common Rights and Provisions Bill 2014 would amend the Mineral Resources Act to give land holders, local governments, Aboriginal communities and others the power to deny mining companies access to their land.
A Jewish academic will walk from Sydney to Canberra in September to promote the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign (BDS) against Israel for its continuing subjugation of the Palestinians. Marcelo Svirsky is a lecturer in politics at the University of Wollongong and an Australian-Israeli Palestine activist. He is the author of several academic works on Israel-Palestine, activism and colonialism, and is an active member of the National Tertiary Education Union.
A solidarity conference called, "Venezuela: The Revolution Continues" will be held in Sydney on October 6. It is sponsored by the Venezuelan Embassy in Australia and supported by the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network, the Bolivarian Circle and other organisations, including the Socialist Alliance.
Activists demonstrated outside global big brand fashion outlets in the centre of Sydney's central shopping district on September 17 to demand that these companies pay the workers who make their products (in countries like Cambodia) living wages and respect their right to organise. Other solidarity actions in Australia were held in Canberra and Melbourne.
According to Tailored Wages Report — Are the Big Brands Paying the People Who Make Our Clothes Enough to Live On? published by the Clean Clothes Campaign and the Asia Floor Wage Alliance on March 2014, only four of 50 big brand multinational clothing and footwear companies contacted were able to demonstrate they had taken any steps that might lead to improved wages for the Cambodian workers who make many of their expensive fashion products.

Analysis

The High Court ruled on September 11 that an asylum seeker given a temporary visa should be allowed to apply for permanent protection. It said that immigration minister Scott Morrison's issuing of a form of temporary protection visa to a Rohingya man was "invalid". The court said an asylum seeker can only be detained for the purpose of removing them from the country, assessing whether to grant them a permanent visa, or assessing whether to allow them to apply for a visa to live in Australia.
The Disability Services Commission (DSC) in Western Australia announced last October that it planned to privatise 60% of its accommodation and early childhood intervention services, relinquish its status as a registered training organisation and dismantle its learning and development arm. At the same time it abolished its Community Development Directorate, dissolved its Post School Options section and made its staff in the Community and Family Living team redundant.
It appears that the much-talked up budget crisis has disappeared because Tony Abbott’s government is spending big on war. The Coalition government has quickly allocated half a billion dollars a year to join the new war on Iraq by another US-led “coalition of the willing”, or — if we call it what it is — a “coalition for the killing”. The ABC's 7.30 program said on September 15 that the Australian government has "invested a billion dollars buying into a state-of-the-art military satellite system".
More than 800 police carried out simultaneous raids on houses in Sydney and Brisbane on September 18. Fifteen people were detained as a result, but only two were charged. The high profile police raid – coordinated with the media – has been described as the “nation’s biggest counter terrorism operation in history”. It comes one week before the government plans to bring anti-democratic “terror laws” to a vote in parliament and as troops are deployed for a new Iraq war.
Refugee Council of Australia President Phil Glendenning told a forum on September 15 that refugees sent from Australia back to Afghanistan by the John Howard government have been killed. The Refugee Action Coalition organised the forum called “Stop Deportations — Why Afghanistan is not safe”, which also heard from Hazara Youth Perspectives Organisation organiser Sabira Naseri.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has committed Australia to join the US’s latest military intervention in the Middle East. About 600 Australian military personnel and aircraft operating from a base in the United Arab Emirates will join US forces in bombing Islamic State forces in Iraq and assisting the Kurdistan Regional Government with weapons and training. ‘HUMANITARIAN’ WARMAKING
In the past five years the global bee population has been devastated. This matters because they are critical to the food chain, pollinating 70% of our food either directly or indirectly. Besides pollinating vegetables, fruits and nuts, they also pollinate the lucerne that feeds our cattle and cotton that makes our clothes. The US lost 60% of its bee population in 2012 and then another 40% last year. The European wild honey bees have all but disappeared.

World

A fortnight out from Brazil’s October 5 national elections, the big news is the significant surge in support for Marina Silva, with some polls predicting the former Workers’ Party (PT) government minister and environmental activist could end up winning the presidential race. Incumbent president and PT candidate Dilma Rousseff maintains a narrow lead over Silva, but the election will almost certainly go to a second round run-off on October 26.
Since September 15, the city of Kobane in the Kurdish-majority liberated area of Rojava in northern Syria has been under intense attack by the murderous forces of the self-styled "Islamic State (IS)". In July, Kobane (Arabic name: Ayn al-Arab) was besieged by 5000 IS thugs armed with US heavy weapons seized from the disintegrating Iraqi army. The defenders managed to hold out and inflict a heavy defeat on the IS gangs. But this time the attack appears far more serious.
After two years of campaigning, Scotland’s independence referendum has ended. It saw victory for the No side, the opponents of independence with 55% backing compared to 45% who backed a Yes to independence. The referendum saw an unprecedented level of engagement and debate throughout Scotland. This was reflected in the huge and unprecedented turnout of 84.59%, reversing the trend of recent decades of dwindling poll turnouts. Some rural areas even recorded 100% turnout.
United States President Barack Obama pledged on June 30 that in the face of Republican intransigence on immigration, he would take executive action to ease the plight of undocumented immigrants facing deportation. On September 6, the White House announced that it would delay any action until after the November midterm election. Cristina Jimenez, managing director for United We Dream, an advocacy coalition for immigrants largely made up of young Latinos, said: “The President’s latest broken promise is a slap in the face of the Latino and immigrant communities.”
This year’s September 11 Catalan national day (Diada) demonstration, in support of the Catalan parliament’s planned November 9 popular consultation on Catalan statehood, was the biggest since the present cycle of mobilisations for Catalonia’s right to self-determination began four years ago.
Cables sent from the US Embassy in Quito during Rafael Correa’s first three years as president document rising tensions between Ecuador and the US. Correa’s government, first elected in 2006, increasingly rejected US hegemony and asserted control over Ecuador’s economic and political development. The cables highlight the embassy’s preoccupation with Ecuador’s “difficult investment climate”, with many reports attempting to assess and predict Correa’s economic policies.
Laila Harre, the leader of the newly formed Internet Party, told a September 16 stop-work meeting in west Auckland organised by the FIRST and Unite unions, that state spying was not due to concerns about terrorism, but to target people who “organise for change”.
John Minto is a veteran New Zealand activist who became known as a leader of a powerful anti-apartheid campaign in the 1970s. More recently, he was part of organising some of the largest pro-Palestine demonstrations ever in New Zealand.
It is a story that will be familiar to many residents of the Sydney suburb Millers Point: a suburb with long-standing public housing that provides affordable accommodation to low-income residents is at the centre government attempts, at the behest of property developers, to remove public housing tenants and free up land that just happens to feature prime water-side views.
Immediately after the September 15 “Moment of Truth” public meeting — in which NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden exposed John Key’s National Party government complicity in the wholesale, and illegal, surveillance of New Zealanders — Internet MANA candidate in the September 20 elections, Joe Carolan, spoke to Green Left on the meeting’s significance.
Auckland Town Hall was packed to overflowing on September 15, with almost 2000 people. They heard US National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden present new evidence that the New Zealand government has been collaborating with US authorities to carry out wholesale surveillance and data collection on NZ citizens.
About 200 activists from France’s Left Front gathered in Paris on Saturday 6 to discuss the group’s future. The Left Front has been in limbo for the past few months after disagreements about strategy led to a weak performance in the European and local council elections in May. The meeting took place at a time of controversy in French politics. Socialist Party (PS) President Francois Hollande had sacked the cabinet and appointed a new one — for the second time since the start of the year — and the far-right National Front (FN) topped the presidential polls for the first time.
“There is a taboo,” said the visionary Edward Said, “on telling the truth about Palestine and the great destructive force behind Israel. Only when this truth is out can any of us be free.” For many people, the truth is out now. At last, they know. Those once intimidated into silence can't look away now. Staring at them from their TV, laptop and phone is proof of the barbarism of the Israeli state and the great destructive force of its mentor and provider, the US, the cowardice of European governments, and the collusion of others, such as Canada and Australia, in this epic crime.

Culture

Christianity, Islam and Atheism: reflections on Religion, Society and Politics By Micheal Cooke Resistance Books 2014 124 pages, paperback, $15 For a time I stopped referring to myself as an atheist in public. I was intensely embarrassed by seeing ads on buses promoting atheism around the time of the World Atheist Conference in Melbourne. For a while I simply became “not religious” for public purposes. I found it embarrassing because public evangelism is the one thing that particularly galls me about religion.