Issue 1047

News

Adelaide. Photo: Welcome to Australia via Facebook. About 2000 people joined a rally against racism in Federation Square on April 4. The Melbourne rally was the largest counter-mobilisation against the racist, “Reclaim Australia” protests organised across Australia. The Melbourne “Reclaim Australia” event was attended by about 500 people.
Up to 15,000 people joined the Palm Sunday Walk for Refugees in Melbourne on March 29, more than double the numbers from last year refugee advocates said. Large rallies and marches were also held in 12 other Australian cities, and 19 cities overseas, demanding refugees be released from detention. Photo: Ali Bakhtiarvandi About 300 people in detention on Nauru also joined the protest and called for an end to offshore detention centres.
BRISBANE Join the protest against Wicked Campers’ abusive tourist slogans. Saturday April 11 at 12pm. Reddacliff Place, Brisbane. MELBOURNE Come to a rally to stop the forced closures of Aboriginal communities. Voice your outrage at Colin Barnett’s forced closure of First Nations communities in WA. Friday April 10 at 5.30pm. Parliament steps, Spring St, city. PERTH Join the counter-protest to the xenophobic “Reclaim Australia” rally. No Pasaran! Saturday April 4 at 11.30am. Solidarity Park, Harvest Tce, Perth.
Rallies calling for the closure of refugee detention centres were held across the country on March 29. The Refugee Action Committee Canberra released this statement on March 25 in the lead-up to the rally. *** Activists from Canberra’s Refugee Action Committee (RAC) took to a boat on March 25 to highlight the plight of asylum seekers and refugees. The RAC activists held up banners advertising the upcoming Palm Sunday Rally for Refugees.
Activists dropped a banner on cliffs off Sydney’s North Head on March 22 calling for halt to coal and gas mining. Photos: Kate Ausburn.
Representatives of the Wangan and Jagalingou people made this announcement on March 27. * * * The Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) people announced today that they have rejected an Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) with Indian giant Adani to build the huge Carmichael coalmine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin. The W&J are the Indigenous traditional owners of the lands earmarked for the mine and of much of the Galilee Basin.
VICTORIAN GOVERNMENT REPEALS ANTI-WIND FARM LAWS The Victorian Labor government has repealed the worst aspects of the Coalition's anti-wind farm laws. After a strong community campaign led by Friends of the Earth, the Andrews government announced it will remove the 2km right of veto that allowed householders to block wind farms. This measure will be replaced by a 1km buffer zone.
No McDonald’s in Tecoma campaigner Richard Pearson was cleared of the charge of “defacing a public footpath” by a Melbourne Magistrates Court.
Rally and march in Melbourne in solidarity with the Kurdish struggle. Australians for Kurdistan (AFK) committee has launched a campaign for the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) to be removed from the Australian government’s list of terrorist organisations. The PKK was first listed in 2005; its listing comes up for review this August.

Analysis

“The swing against the Coalition and vote for three, perhaps four Greens MPs, in the NSW elections represents an important political gain for the left in NSW. This is welcome news for those fighting for community need not corporate greed”, Susan Price told Green Left Weekly. Price, a long-time unionist and co-convenor of Socialist Alliance, ran for the Socialist Alliance in the inner-west seat of Summer Hill.
It was always a big ask for the NSW Labor Party to follow their counterparts in Victoria and Queensland and win the election on March 29. The corruption scandals involving former Labor ministers was a big handicap for the ALP at the previous election in 2011. As a result, Labor lost 32 lower house seats and the Coalition won 34 seats. The ALP was reduced to a rump of just 20 lower house members — the worst result for the party in more than 100 years.
The motto of the University of Wollongong (UOW) promises “Personalised Experiences: World Class Results”. It would do well to tell the public which persons in the institution availed themselves of the experience of authorising political donations of $26,175 in the last four years, and what world class results they expected. The signature on contribution donations in 2009 was the university’s director of government relations, Canio Fierravanti, brother of Liberal Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells. Coincidentally, 82% of the donations since late-2010 have gone to the Liberal Party.
When neoliberal economics was being established as a hegemonic position in Australia in the late 1980s, 1.2 million workers were employed in the manufacturing industry — 15% of the workforce. The Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) latest employment analysis shows that 25,000 jobs were lost in manufacturing last year, bringing the total employed down to 920,000 — 7.8% of the workforce. It is a trend that will only continue with the winding-down of the vehicle production industry and its related vehicle components sector.
When then-immigration minister Scott Morrison made a video in September last year callously informing refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru that they would never be allowed to settle in Australia, he hoped at least some would ask to be returned to their home country. But the video failed spectacularly. Not a single refugee or asylum seeker asked to be returned. Instead, angered by the video, they started a series of protests, hunger strikes, attempted suicides and instances of self-harm.
Mesothelioma is a particularly virulent form of lung cancer. From the date of diagnosis the average life expectancy of a person with the disease is just 155 days. There is only one way a person can contact mesothelioma: by exposure to the fine particles of asbestos dust that cannot be seen by the naked eye. The latent period from exposure to diagnosis can be many decades. So the first battle for sufferers seeking compensation was overcoming the legal hurdle in Commonwealth and state jurisdictions known as the statute of limitations.
The Victoria Marine Animal Defenders (VMAD) collective organised a rally at Eastern Beach in Geelong on March 22 to protest the imminent arrival of a super trawler in Australian waters. While the numbers at the rally were relatively few — about 60 to 70 people — it was a diverse crowd that included recreational fishers, various political parties, independent activists and members of VMAD, which is itself a collective of activists from numerous other groups.
Thirty environmental, scientific and recreation groups have called on the new Victorian government to create the Great Forest National Park. The proposed park would add 355,000 hectares of protected forests to the existing 170,000 hectares of parks and protected areas in the Central Highlands of Victoria by amalgamating a group of smaller parks. The park would stretch from Healesville to Kinglake in the west, through to Baw-Baw plateau in the east and north to Eildon.
More than 100 people gathered in a park in Katherine on March 24 to launch the Frack-Free NT Roadshow, a group of pastoralists, traditional owners and environmentalists doing community education and outreach in the Roper and gulf country.
Australian NGO Australia for Dolphins (AFD) has launched legal action in Switzerland against the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA), based in Geneva.
The Australian Conservation Foundation has released a report titled Australia’s top 10 climate polluters. It reveals that these 10 polluters — and it’s no surprise that most are electricity suppliers - are responsible for generating nearly one-third of greenhouse gases through their production and use of energy.
Workers in the South Australian retail sector — particularly young, casual workers — could lose their penalty rates thanks to a deal between retail employers and the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA).
International Women’s Day (IWD) — originally called International Working Women’s Day — was first proposed in 1910 as an initiative of the socialist women’s movement. The following year, on March 19, 1911, IWD was marked for the first time, by over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland.
Pat Eatock truly deserved the title “elder”. An elder passes on the lessons of the past to the next generation. This was her biggest activist contribution in the last years of her life.
The Abbott government's metadata retention bill passed the Senate on March 26 with Labor support — deepening the mass surveillance of the public and further undermining the ability of investigative journalists to do their jobs. And just to really rub this attack on civil liberties in, the government is headed by an idiot who has less of a clue about the huge technology powers his law grants the state, than the Catholic Church has historically had of “duty of care when working with children”.
The Tony Abbott government’s moves to introduce the Healthy Welfare Card – income management on steroids – indicate that it remains committed to a welfare system based on deterrence and punishment. Once again, the government refuses to acknowledge years of negative data about the policy and its consistent failure to benefit those it will be forced upon.

World

The Venezuelan government-initiated campaign calling for US President Barack Obama to repeal his executive order that arbitrarily declares Venezuela an "extraordinary threat" to US "national security" had more than 6 million signatures as March 31. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced on his weekly television program that the campaign has collected 6.2 million signatures so far. “I believe that Obama's threat has awoken a great amount of love for what we are going for in our country,” said Maduro.
The following statement was released by Aasim Sajjad Akhtar, Punjab president of the Awami Workers Party, in response to the Pakistani government stating it intended to join the US-backed Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen. * * *
Spain: Education sector strikes against privatisation Professors and students in more than 40 Spanish cities went on strike on March 24 against the government’s education reform aimed at privatising the public sector. According to the unions who organised the strike, there was an 85% participation rate. High schools reached 90% participation around the country, according to a statement by Workers Commissions, FETE-UGT, the Independent Central of State Officials and Students of Spain in Movement.
Since US President Barack Obama's administration decided to impose new sanctions on Venezuela on March 9, many people, including journalists, have asked what motivated them to do this. Some are curious over the apparent inconsistency between this move and the White House decision in December to begin normalising relations with Cuba. Others are wondering why the Obama administration would do something that so obviously hurts the United States-backed opposition in Venezuela, at least in the short run.
In the more than four years since mass uprisings ousted dictatorial regimes in Tunisia and Egypt, it can seem that the initial hopes represented by these mass movements lie in tatters. Libya, Syria, Yemen and Iraq remain mired in bloody armed conflicts that have led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands and displaced millions more within and across borders. In the pivotal case of Egypt, military rule has returned through the violent crushing of protests, the arrests of an estimated 40,000 people and the rebuilding of the repressive structures of the Hosni Mubarak era.
An unprecedented climate change-fueled drought contributed to the political unrest in Syria, says a new paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the Huffington Post reported on February 3. The article said the Syrian drought, which began in late 2006, dragged on for three years and was the worst on record.
The small, majority-Black town of Ferguson, Missouri has once again become the flash point of a new movement against the oppression of African Americans and the racist response. US Attorney-General Eric Holder recently released a Department of Justice (DOJ) report detailing the systematic oppression of the Black community in Ferguson by city authorities, the police department and the courts.
The London School of Economics (LSE) was occupied by students on March 17. The occupation, still going as of March 28, has since spread to King's College London, University of Arts London and Goldsmiths University of London. More than 100 students took over the school, which has been associated with neoliberal economic theory for decades, and declared that the central university administration building has been transformed into the Free University of London.
Thousands of demonstrators from across Spain gathered in Madrid’s main Colon Square on March 21 to protest against continuing harsh government austerity measures. Nine columns of demonstrators, who had been on the march for several days, converged on the plaza. Labelled Marches for Dignity, at least 20,000 people packed Colon Square, carrying republican flags and banners calling for a general strike.
Nearly 90,000 people took to the streets of Dublin on March 21, in an unprecedented fifth mass protest in six months against the introduction of water charges by the Irish government. The sea of flags, banners and placards was addressed by a range of politicians, community activists and union leaders. The protest was organised by the Right2Water campaign — a broad coalition of community groups, NGOs and political parties, led by some of Ireland’s largest unions.
More than 4000 local and global groups from 120 countries took part in the 14th World Social Forum in Tunisia from March 24 to 28. The WSF was created as a popular alternative to the corporate-dominated, elite World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos. The first WSF was held in Brazil in 2001 and was organised as an alternative to the WEF, the yearly meeting of the global ultra-rich.
The Argentine government urged the British government to return to the negotiating table over the Malvinas Islands on March 25, TeleSUR English said. It comes in response to a planned “beef up” of British military presence on the disputed islands off the coast of South America that Britain occupies. In a statement, Argentina's foreign ministry described Britain's “growing militarisation” of the disputed islands as “absolutely unjustifiable”.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced the creation of the Ministry of Ecosocialism and Water, which will be tasked with protecting the environment in the context of Venezuela's bid to build “21st century socialism”. The new body will supervise the National Water Plan, designed to ensure public access to water, as well as the Tree Mission, which involves the community in reforestation efforts.
Greece demands Germany pay war reparations Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias has proposed creating a joint commission of Greek and German experts to address the issue of World War II reparations, TeleSUR English said on March 23. “Athens wants to come to an agreement regarding the issue of reparations, we need to find a common denominator,” Kotzias said. The foreign minister added that he prefers a political solution to the issue, rather than a legal one.
Israelis voted for the status quo in elections on March 17. The ruling Likud party and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were re-elected, as voters endorsed ongoing apartheid and military rule for the Palestinian population. Israeli Jewish society is itself wracked by economic and social crisis. It is also conflicted by class, gender, religious and ethnic divides. But like all Israeli elections, the campaign was fought over how Israel should relate to its subject Palestinian population.
An international campaign for the release of jailed Basque pro-independence leader Arnaldo Otegi was launched at a conference in the European Parliament in Brussels on March 24. A statement calling for Otegi’s release was announced at the conference, which has been endorsed by international figures including former Latin American presidents, Nobel Prize winners, political representatives and former political prisoners.
Julian Assange will stay in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London as long as the United States government continues its case against him for his work on whistleblowing website Wikileaks, his lawyers said on March 19. The recent development of the Swedish prosecutors agreeing to question Assange over two cases of sexual assault in 2010 within the embassy has led to speculation that he could leave the building, where he has taken refuge for over 1000 days, if the Swedish charges are dropped. Assange, who has never been charged, has always denied the sexual assault allegations.
Western Sahara is the last territory in Africa recognised by the United Nations as non-self-governing. Spanish colonial occupation was ended in 1975 by the struggle of the Polisario Front. However, independence was denied by a secret agreement between Spain and Morocco for a Moroccan invasion. Since the invasion about half the Saharawi population have lived in refugee camps on the border with Algeria while the remainder living under Moroccan occupation are becoming outnumbered by Moroccan settlers.
The March 22 regional elections in Andalusia, Spain’s most populous and second-poorest region, opened this year's critical election calendar. This election cycle includes local government and 13 regional elections on May 24 and a September 27 poll in Catalonia that will double as an independence referendum. It will culminate in national Spanish elections in November. The future course of politics in the Spanish state and Europe will greatly depend on the results of these contests.
This statement was released by Benny Wenda, Spokesperson for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, on March 21. *** It brings me much sadness and grief to report that 2 days ago on March 19, 4 more of my people were shot by the Indonesian police. One was killed and at least 3 more were arrested, all simply for attending a peaceful fundraiser in Yahukimo, West Papua.
As Palestinians continue to face economic hardships and services and housing shortages after the Israeli bombardments last year, dozens of Gazans joined a rally on March 21 in solidarity with Venezuela. TeleSUR’s correspondent in Gaza, Noor Harazeen, reported from the rally that attendees were calling for the US to keep its hands off Venezuela. The event was organised by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and several Palestinian officials attended, including Sami Abu Zuhri from Hamas.
Update: All the Malaysian anti-GST protesters who were detained on Monday have now been released on RM3,000 bail. They are to appear in court again on May 14. Thanks for all the protest letters! Police used excessive force in the recent crackdown on protesters against the Goods and Services Tax (GST), which is scheduled to be implemented on April 1.

Culture

Hell-Bent: Australia’s Leap Into The Great War Douglas Newton Scribe, 2014 344 pages, $32.99 (pb) Behind all the froth, then and now, about the noble cause of World War I — defence of freedom against German aggression — lay a far less exalted reality, writes retired University of Western Sydney historian Douglas Newton. The war’s “grand plan” for Britain, candidly called “The Spoils” by the British Colonial Secretary, was to divvy the world up among the victors.
Melbourne punk band The Duvtons have come out of a five-year hiatus to record a catchy new anti-Abbott song to hasten the fall of “our very own idiot”.
“Down The Abbott Hole” By Zelda Grimshaw Download free A group of musicians in Cairns, Queensland, have released a song controversially calling for the head of Tony Abbott. “Down the Abbott Hole” refers to Abbott’s Australia as a bleak and sterile environment, in which fear reigns over logic, and the atmosphere is “cold as ice, black as coal”. The song can be streamed online and was being played by radio stations all over the country just hours after its release.
Gallipoli, Lest We Forget … The Facts By John Rainford & Peter Ewer Available at NoGlory.org In their short documentary released just ahead of the 100th anniversary of the ANZAC's ill-fated Gallipoli campaign, John Rainford and Peter Ewer have captured the strategic and tactical blunders that led to the deaths of so many in the 1915 Dardanelles Campaign, and the social and economic context in which it was fought.
Here's this month's radical record round-up, with an emphasis on International Women's Day. What album, or albums, would you suggest? Comment below, on Twitter or Facebook.

1. VARIOUS ARTISTS - THE F SPOT FEMMES FATALES

Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous Gabriella Coleman 464 pages Published November 2014 Verso www.versobooks.com In the early days of hacker collective Anonymous, political activism seemed to be the last thing on its members' minds. Seeking only laughs, usually at the expense of others, members would dismiss anyone they disapproved of as "fags". They held particular disdain for anyone hinting at political activism, who they slammed as "moralfags".

Fighting Fund

It seems you can’t turn around these days without having at least one of your senses assaulted by some form of advertising. It seems that is not about to change any time soon. In fact, judging by the amount of money that will be spent on advertising this year, things are about to get a lot worse.

Resistance!

On March 25 university students and supporters of accessible education participated in National Day of Action rallies against the ongoing attacks on education. There were rallies in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney, Tasmania and Wollongong.