Issue 1046

News

More than 40 people attended a rally in solidarity with the Bolivarian revolution, under the title "Hands off Venezuela", outside the US consulate in Sydney's Martin Place on March 21. The Communist Party of Australia organised the rally and it was endorsed by the Australia Cuba Friendship Society (Sydney), Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network, Bolivarian Circle, Committee in Defence of Human Rights in Guatemala, Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), Grupo Ibiray-Fondo Raul Sendic, Latin America Social Forum, Salvador Allende Monument Inc and the Socialist Alliance.
About 2500 people took part in the Sydney March in March, according to organisers. Many issues were raised but the issue that seem to anger most people is the attack by federal and state Coalition governments attacks on remote Aboriginal communities. Photos by Peter Boyle.
On March 11 around 90, mainly young people gathered outside parliament house to raise awareness about housing affordability in Sydney. Many carried furniture, signs and banners about youth homelessness directed at NSW Premier Mike Baird. Signs asked if protesters could move into parliament house with Mike Baird, as there are no affordable housing options in Sydney.
After nearly four months of protesting, students have helped defeat the Higher Education Reform Bill for the second time. However, Education Minister Christopher Pyne has promised that he “won’t give up”, indicating that the bill will be put before the Senate once again, with further concessions to crossbenchers. Members of the NSW Education Action Network (EAN), locked themselves onto the door of the office of the Vice Chancellor of the University of Sydney, Micheal Spence, on March 16 to pressure him to come out against the bill. As it stands, Spence still supports the bill.
Socialist Alliance has welcomed support from the NSW CFMEU Construction Division for its state election campaign. The union recently voted to donate $5000 to the campaign and profiled a Socialist Alliance Upper House candidate, CFMEU member and mobile crane operator Howard Byrnes, in its latest union journal Unity.
Victorian rally against factory trawlers A rally was held in Geelong on March 22 calling for a permanent ban on large freezer factory trawlers berthing in the town. Coordinator of the Stop the Trawler Alliance Rebecca Hubbard said: “The new factory trawler proposing to fish will be the largest freezer factory trawler to ever operate in Australia’s Small Pelagic Fishery, and poses significant threats to protected dolphins, seals and seabirds.” Richest companies avoid tax scrutiny
Stop CSG Illawarra released this statement on March 16. *** Today the Minister for Resources and Energy Anthony Roberts announced the buy-back of three coal seam gas (CSG) exploration licences that encroach on the Sydney Water Catchment.
The Western Australian government has introduced new legislation aimed at criminalising protesters. Police minister Lisa Harvey said the proposed amendments to the Criminal Code are specifically aimed at protesters who use devices like thumb locks. However, the bill criminalises “presumed” intent to commit a crime and “possessing a thing for the purpose of preventing lawful activity” during peaceful protests.
Two groups of Tamils walked from Glen Waverley and Sunshine to the Melbourne CBD on March 15 to “alert Australians to war crimes and genocide in Sri Lanka”. The walkers converged in front of the State Library, where a rally was held. The Campaign for Tamil Justice organised the walk to coincide with a meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council. The UNHRC meeting had been expected to hear a report on Sri Lanka by the UN human rights commissioner, but this has been delayed for at least six months.
Associate Professor Jake Lynch, a member of Sydney Staff for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), was assaulted by an elderly Zionist woman during a demonstration in support of Palestine on March 11. The assault occurred at Sydney University, during a pro-Israel talk given by Colonel Richard Kemp, a former commander of the British forces in Afghanistan and supporter of Israel. Demonstrators interrupted Kemp’s talk, targeting his support for the Israeli occupation in Palestine, chanting “Richard Kemp, you can’t hide, you support genocide.”
The Queensland Labor government has paved the way for the huge expansion of coalmines in the Galilee Basin. New Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced on March 11 that a deal had been made with Adani and GVK-Hancock to allow the dumping of dredge spoil from the expansion of the coal port at Abbot Point in unused industrial land adjacent to the port. Palaszczuk said the deal met her election campaign commitment to ban dumping of dredge spoil in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park or in the Caley Valley Wetlands.
INDIGENOUS PERUVIANS WIN PAYOUT FROM US OIL GIANT
Friends of the Earth released this statement on March 13. * * * A judge has ruled that the environmental group Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND) has a right to voice concerns over potential harm to bees from a neonicotinoid pesticide, Thiacloprid. The judge in the Duesseldorf Regional Court revoked a previous injunction in favour of BAYER CropScience. Thiacloprid is used on crops such as oilseed rape and apples and is sold to the public in garden bug-killing products.
"The Greek Elections: What Next? SYRIZA and the fight against austerity," was the theme of a forum, presented by the Department of Political Economy, Sydney University, and the Australia-Greece Solidarity Campaign, on March 10 at the New Law School. Up to 150 people packed into a lecture theatre to hear a panel of speakers, followed by a lively discussion period on the key issues.
GREEK ELECTIONS REPORT BACK GLW correspondent Dick Nichols reported from Athens during the Greek elections and will speak on SYRIZA and the fight against austerity. Brisbane: Thursday March 26, 6pm Electrical Trades Union, 41 Peel St South Brisbane Armidale: Saturday March 28, 6pm. Followed by a Mediterranean feast and the launch of the Socialist Alliance New England statement. Kent House, 142 Faulkner Street, Armidale. Phone: Bea 0458 752 680 MARCH ON PALM SUNDAY MARCH 29 Walk for justice for refugees. Adelaide: 1.30pm @ Parliament House
"No West Connex: Public transport is the answer," was the theme of a public forum sponsored by Green Left Weekly on March 17 at the Sydney CBD Resistance Centre. Up to 30 people gathered to hear Sue Bolton, Socialist Alliance councillor from Moreland, Melbourne, and Chris Elenor, No WestCONnex activist, discuss issues surrounding the huge toll road projects being pushed in Australia's major cities.
Residents and activists from the Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy will be protesting against the developer threatening to instigate a new development on the land known as the “The Block”. The protest will take place on Saturday, March 21, starting at 11am at the Tent Embassy opposite the Redfern Community Centre. Developer DeiCorp recently advertised its Redfern developments by saying: “The Aboriginals have already moved out, now Redfern is the last virgin suburb close to city.”
Land rights activists gathered outside the New South Wales Parliament — on the land of the Gaddigal people — today to protest against the closure and removal of services of remote Western Australian Aboriginal communities. Redfern Tent Embassy residents and activists, Greens MLC David Shoebridge and members of the Socialist Alliance came to show solidarity with communities which are facing permanent closure of their communities on which they have lived for many thousands of years.

Analysis

A report has found that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement would be likely to adversely affect the health of the Australian population. The TPP is a free trade deal being negotiated by countries on the Pacific rim: the US, Australia, Singapore, New Zealand, Chile, Brunei, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Vietnam and Japan. These countries represent about 40% of global GDP.
Imagine visiting your mum or dad, in an aged care facility, and finding that they had been left to deal with severe pain because there was no registered nurse on duty who could give them morphine. This is a real prospect facing thousands of families in NSW if the state government changes the law requiring at least one registered nurse (RN) to be employed at nursing homes at all times. It would leave up to 48,500 vulnerable, high-needs nursing home residents, at risk in an already stretched healthcare system.
The power to “play God” with the lives of asylum seekers was granted to Australia’s immigration minister by the passage of the most punitive refugee laws ever seen last December. Former immigration minister Scott Morrison, who held refugee children to ransom to pressure recalcitrant senators to concede their votes, pushed through the laws.
Thousands of people rallied in cities and towns around Australia on March 19 in opposition to the planned closure of around 150 remote Aboriginal communities in Western Australia. The issue was thrust into the spotlight in September when the federal government — without consultation — announced that it would stop providing funding to these homeland communities from July 1 this year.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s recent comments on the “lifestyle choice” of Aboriginal Australians living in remote areas are troubling, especially given his self-anointed role of “Prime Minister for Aboriginal Affairs”. I have been privileged to work in Aboriginal health, in a rural centre of South Australia, for a number of years. The simplistic notion that people live in remote regions purely due to a lifestyle choice is far from reality.
The silence around jobs in the NSW election is deafening. Newcastle has been losing 200 jobs a year from the sale of state assets and the casualisation and retrenchment of state employees. Up to 8000 workers in jobs such as fitters, boilermakers, welders, riggers and trades assistants in ship building and rail manufacture are also under threat. Both major parties are focusing on other issues instead of the Hunter region’s jobs.
This NSW election, like the Victorian and Queensland polls before it, hinges on growing public opposition to Tony Abbott’s federal government and the neoliberal policies implemented by Labor and Coalition state governments. The sell-off of public assets and services, cuts to the public sector, unsustainable development, mining and unprecedented handouts and tax cuts to corporate interests and the super rich are now standard practice, and people have had enough.
Amid so much bad news about so many species of wildlife in danger of extinction, it is encouraging that there are finally some good stories about endangered wild animals. There has been good news regarding rhinoceros conservation in India. The Indian state of Assam’s environmental ministry recently revealed that the population of Indian one-horned rhinoceros in the state had grown by 27% since 2006, hitting a high of 2544 animals. The Indian government has a goal of 3000 rhinos by 2020. There were only about 200 Indian rhinos in the early 1990s.
The latest buzzword the government is tossing around to try to scare people into supporting its grossly unfair budget is “intergenerational theft”. It recently released an Intergenerational Report, which looks at the budget over the next 40 years to back up this campaign. The report says that in the future we will all live much longer and spend more of our lives in retirement. There will be a lower proportion of working people whose taxes pay for pensions and health care, so “we” have to start paying for it now.
The Senate has voted down Christopher Pyne’s Higher Education Reform Bill, which would uncap university fees. This is the second time that the legislation has been struck down. It puts Tony Abbott’s government on aan uneasy footing. The defeat of the bill comes after Pyne spent weeks on a campaign to bully and threaten crossbenchers in parliament. This strategy included threatening to cut $150 million of research funding to the National Collaborative Research and Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) if the bill was not passed.
My name is Stephanie O’Donnell, but I also go by “the girl from the plane”. On December 19, my partner and I were at Sydney Airport on our way to Heathrow via Beijing. We had booked the cheapest flight available and were waiting to check in for flight CA174, when a plucky activist approached us.

World

The statement below was released on the Facebook page of the Free West Papua Campaign. *** We are filled with grief today to learn that a 17-year-old West Papuan youth has been found murdered by suspected members of the Australian-trained Indonesian special forces group Kopassus.
Chilean President Michelle Bachelet signed into law last month the most significant educational reform the country has seen in 30 years. Enacted after an eight-month legislative battle, the new law will gradually ban profits, tuition fees, and selective admissions practices in privately-owned primary and secondary schools that receive state subsidies.
Right-wing protesters swarmed ministerial buildings in the Brazilian capital Brasilia and along Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro on March 15. The protests were part of nationwide demonstrations calling for the impeachment of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. Huge protests took place in 65 cities across the country, involving hundreds of thousands of people. Protesters claim that the recently elected president should be impeached due to a corruption scandal in the state-owned oil company Petrobras.
Sinn Fein MLA and Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness indicated on March 9 that his party would oppose the new welfare reform bill in the northern Irish Assembly in the six Irish counties still occupied by Britain. McGuinness accused government partners the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) of acting in bad faith. Sinn Fein is in a power-sharing arrangement as part of the Good Friday peace agreement signed in 1998, which sought to end the violence that had wracked Ireland's north since the 1ate 1960s, known as The Troubles.
Anti-riot police attacked protesters gathering against the inauguration of the European Central Bank’s (ECB) new headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany, on March 18. Reuters said more than 550 people were arrested. Police used pepper gas and water cannons to open a path to the entrance of the building, which was being blocked by demonstrations. A minority of protesters threw stones or other projectiles and set fire to at least seven police cars. More than 100 protesters were reported to be injured.
A great companero, colleague and friend, Roger Burbach, passed away on March 5 at the age of 70. I had the privilege of working with Roger on a book we co-authored, together with Michael Fox, titled Latin America’s Turbulent Transitions: The Future of Twenty-First-Century Socialism. Despite being almost double our age, Roger was without a doubt the driving force behind this project, which turned out to be his last book published while still alive.
Indonesia is supposed to have a new liberal leadership with the election of new president Jodo Widodo, the first president since the Suharto dictatorship was overthrown in 198 to be elected from outside the Javanese military/political elite. But the Australian public, in the furore over the fate of two the Australians and others facing execution, are getting a glimpse of the stance of Widodo — and other influential Indonesian leaders — towards human rights, justice and compassion.
The parliamentary speaker in Greece's Chamber of Deputies Zoe Constantopoulou announced on March 17 the formation of a committee to audit the country’s public debt, Ekathimerini.com said that day. Greek Member of the European Parliament Sofia Sakorafa and Belgian political scientist, public debt expert and spokesperson for the Committee to Abolish Third World Debt (CADTM) Eric Toussaint will be on the new committee.
On March 9, US President Barack Obama issued an excutive order imposing more sanctions of Venezuelan officals and declaring the oil-rich nation a “national security threat”. It came after a long period of often violent right-wing protests and economic shortages facing the left-wing Chavista governmetn of President Nicolas Maduro.
Once again the world's poorest people are suffering the effects of climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions which they played no role in producing. On March 13, Cyclone Pam ripped through the South Pacific nation of Vanuatu, an archipelago of 82 islands, 65 of which are inhabited. Cyclone Pam recorded wind speeds of 270 km/h, making it the strongest ever recorded in Vanuatu. Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), which devastated the Filipino islands of Samar and Leyte in 2013, holds the record for the strongest storm anywhere, with wind speeds of 315 km/h.
Let me be clear: I am not happy, as such, that Likud Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won Israel's March 17 elections. Netanyahu is a blood-soaked killer. He should be put on trial for his many crimes, from the relentless theft of Palestinian land to last summer’s massacre in Gaza — and I yearn to see that day.
In his latest article “New threats of war and fascism” (GLW #1045), John Pilger gives a distorted account of the wars in the former Yugoslavia. He condemns the “criminal record” of the Kosova Liberation Army (KLA), but seems to absolve the Serbian government of any wrongdoing. In reality Serbian chauvinism, promoted by the Slobodan Milosevic's government, was central to the breakup of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s amid the collapse of the Soviet bloc. The formation of the KLA was a response to the chauvinist politics of the Serbian regime.
Emergency summits of the Organisation of American States (OAS), the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and the Bolivarian Alliance of Our Americas (ALBA) have rejected US attacks on Venezuela and offered the South American nation support. TeleSUR English reported that a large majority of delegates at an emergency OAS meeting expressed concern about US President Barack Obama's March 9 “executive order” declaring Venezuela a threat and “national emergency”.
Venezuela has proposed trade and economic agreements that would make Athens one of Caracas' main trading partners, TeleSUR English said on March 7. The proposal came as Venezuela and Greece solidified their partnership when Venezuelan officials visited the European country to meet the new SYRIZA government. Venezuela's foreign minister Delcy Rodriguez met new Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on March 6. The two parties discussed furthering cooperation agreements, particularly in technology, industry, trade, shipping, energy, commerce and tourism.
The Awami Workers Party held a protest in Islamabad on March 17 against the Pakistani establishment's response to recent terrorist attacks. The establishment's response has been a mixture of inaction, misdirected repression, collusion with terrorists and promotion of their communalist and religious fundamentalist ideology.
I visited Athens recently as part of a solidarity delegation from the British party Left Unity. On January 25, the day before radical left party SYRIZA’s election victory, two of us were fortunate enough to take part in a tour of some of the self-organising structures in Athens supported by the Solidarity for All network.
Greece’s parliament passed what it called a “humanitarian crisis” bill on March 18 in order to help the poorest sectors of its population. In a move opposed by representatives from the European Union, the government of left-wing Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras pushed for housing allowances and emergency food aid to people in need.
Thousands of workers from public companies took part in an anti-imperialist march in Caracas on March 18, TeleSUR English said that day. They demanded the US government retract its labelling of Venezuela as a “threat”. Four days earlier, more than 100,000 Venezuelans mobilised throughout the country for a series of national military exercises in defence of their national sovereignty, Venezuelanalysis said on March 16.
West Papua independence leader Benny Wenda has launched an urgent appeal to help those affected by Cyclone Pam which has caused much loss of life and destruction throughout many Pacific nations. “I urgently need help for my Brothers and Sisters in the Pacific particularly in Vanuatu and other islands who have lost everything due to the cyclone disaster we have all seen on the TV news," Wenda, the Spokesperson for the United Liberation Movement of West Papua, said.

Culture

Only Built For Koori Linx Provocalz Featuring Felon and 18 other Indigenous emcees Mastered by Felon Coming soon www.facebook.com/Felon167Inc The mainstream media are swarming all over the Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy and Felon Mason is stripped to the waist.
It is difficult to imagine two more different university towns in the United States than Madison, Wisconsin, and Norman, Oklahoma. Madison has a reputation stretching back decades as liberal ― even radical ― territory. That ain’t Norman. In recent days, however, both communities were connected by the resistance of Black students ― and supporters ― against racism. Madison and Norman are bringing together different aspects of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. It demonstrates how this struggle is firmly implanted among the young ― including young athletes.
Blood & Guts: Dispatches From The Whale Wars Sam Vincent Black Inc., 2014, 274 pages, $29.99 (pb) Industrial-scale whaling, writes Sam Vincent in Blood & Guts, had picked clean the world’s oceans until only the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary remained, protected by the icy remoteness of Antarctica and a worldwide ban on commercial whaling.
Radical Aboriginal rapper Provocalz uploaded the new track "Closure" to YouTube on March 20, in his words to "get out the anger n frustrations of the last few days". It responds to the proposal to forcibly close up to 150 rural Aboriginal communities.