Issue 1056

Australia

Cleaners held rallies around Australia on June 15 to celebrate International Justice for Cleaners Day.

In Canberra, angry Parliament House cleaners went on strike for the day. At a rally outside Parliament House, they awarded federal treasurer Joe Hockey a giant golden toilet brush.

Yahoo news reported: "The cleaners have walked off the job for 24 hours from 6.30am on Monday, protesting a federal government decision to abolish Commonwealth Cleaning Services guidelines.

Platypus numbers recovering in Melbourne

Platypus populations in Melbourne's suburbs and urban fringe are showing signs of recovery, five years after being devastated by drought, the ABC said on June 2.

About 200 people attended a meeting on Islamophobia on May 31. The meeting was co-chaired by Steve Jolly, a Socialist Party member and Yarra city councillor, and Monique Toohey, a board member of the Islamic Council of Victoria (ICV).

Toohey told the meeting that the harassment of Muslims had made many of them fearful of going out in public.

Ghaith Krayem, the president of the ICV, said that under proposed new laws people could be deported by the decision of a minister, based on suspicion, with no right to challenge claims made by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation.

About 300 people gathered outside Newtown’s Town Hall Hotel on June 8 to protest against the bashing of trans-woman Stephanie McCarthy as she was preparing to perform with her band at the hotel.

The crowd were there to stand by McCarthy, condemn the hotel’s actions in not calling police or offering McCarthy support and protest against violence against women and transphobia.

Speakers demanded that the community boycott the hotel until it apologises and offers McCarthy compensation.

McCarthy gave this speech at the protest.

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Australia’s most popular children’s author, Mem Fox, has criticised the federal government’s unfair funding of private schools.

Fox was addressing an audience of public school educators at the National Press Club. She said the "confidence trick" of private schools marketing was being revealed, but governments persisted with unfair funding models.

"The federal government spends two-thirds of its school education dollars on the one-third of students in Australia who go to private schools,” she said. “Where is our national sense of shame at that statistic?

On June 4 the silhouettes of 231 children were placed outside Parliament House in Canberra as a representation of the children still held in Australia’s detention centres.

On May 31, about 400 anti- racist protestors confronted a far-right protest of racists outside Richmond Town Hall in Melbourne.

There were about 70 far-right protesters, carrying Australian flags and wearing swastika t-shirts and green and gold. The action was called by a splinter group of Reclaim Australia that calls itself United Patriots Front (UPF).

They attempted to storm the town hall but were thwarted by the hundreds of anti-racists present.

BRISBANE
Join us at a rally to welcome refugees on Saturday June 20 at 11am. King George Square. Ph Paul 3392 3843. Email.

DARWIN
Watch a film: A Fierce Green Fire - the battle for a living planet on Thursday July 2 at 6pm, refreshments available from 5.30pm. Darwin Museum and Art Gallery Theatrette: Conacher St, Fannie Bay. $10/$5 Phone Peter: 0429 694 083 Hosted by Green Left Weekly and the Socialist Alliance.

GEELONG

Members of the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) covering more than half the public service are planning a series of half-day strikes to attend mass meetings around the country between June 18 and 26. The industrial action is to protect their rights, conditions and pay from federal government attacks.

Community still opposes pulp mill

Friends of the Tamar Valley and Pulp the Mill have responded to news that “at least one binding offer for the [Gunns pulp mill] licence from overseas” has been received, saying community opposition to the pulp mill is just as strong now as when the project was first proposed more than ten years ago.

[The following statement was released June 11, 2015 by the Repower Port Augusta campaign.]

The Repower Port Augusta Alliance has called for immediate action by the State Government to invest in building solar thermal in Port Augusta following Alinta’s surprise announcement that it will close its Port Augusta coal stations and the associated Leigh Creek mine by 2018.

World

As opponents of Ecuador's President Rafael Correa made calls on social media for a military coup, a caravan of vehicles by right-wing protestors descended on the highway leading to Quito's international airport on June 14 in a bid to block Correa from being able to safely return to the country.

Social media posts called on those opposed to Correa's democratically-elected government to flood the highway and try to take the airport. Pro-opposition newspaper El Comercio said more than 200 cars participated in the convoy.

In the June 7 Turkish elections, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has ruled Turkey since 2002, won the largest vote and share of the new parliament – 258 of the 550 seats. But in a dramatic rise in its vote, the left-wing People's Democratic Party (HDP) came equal third, winning 80 seats.

Kenia Serrano, president of the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP) and a member of Cuba's National Assembly, attended the recent national consultation of the Australia-Cuba Friendship Society. Green Left Weekly's Denis Rogatyuk spoke with her about recent developments of the Cuban Revolution.

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Cuba has just been removed from the list of state-sponsors of terrorism. How do you think this will affect Cuba’s relations with the United States?

British submariner William McNeilly went on the run after he released confidential information about Britain's Trident nuclear weapons program on May 12. He was detained by police after returning to Scotland on May 18.

McNeilly had been in hiding after he wrote and released an 18 page document highlighting a “disaster waiting to happen”. The British defence ministry said he was being held in a secure military base.

WikiLeaks released 17 secret documents from the Trade In Service Agreement (TISA) negotiations on June 3. The documents have confirmed the fears of campaigners around the world that TISA is designed to benefit corporations at the expense of workers and the general public.


Rally against police brutality in McKinney, Texas, June 8, 2015.

The head of the US's largest organisation of Black lawyers and judges joined activists and community leaders on June 10 to call for national police reform to address racial bias. She also backed calls for an independent investigation into a white police officer's recent assault of a young Black girl in her bathing suit at a pool party in McKinney, Texas.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) being negotiated between the US and 11 other Pacific Rim nations — including Australia — is a treaty covering regulations and investments.

It is being negotiated in secret from the peoples of the affected nations, but not from the corporations that are set to benefit from the deal — as chapters leaked by WikiLeaks reveal. For the US side alone, about 600 corporate representatives are neck deep in the negotiations.

The US government issued a congratulatory statement on June 9, praising the Mexican people after June 7 elections, despite large protests and boycotts held by activists and teacher unions across the nation.

The elections were marked by violence, but the US Department of State considered the process democratic, saying: “We congratulate the people of Mexico for exercising its democratic right to vote and choosing its leaders.”

The leftist political party led by two-time former presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador will govern in areas representing more than 8 million people after Mexico's June 7 elections.

Lopez Obrador's National Regeneration Movement (Morena) took part for the first time in the mid-term elections. It won in six of the 16 districts of Mexico City, breaking the long-time hegemonic rule of the once popular Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) in the country's capital, which won five.

The BBC’s Panorama program on May 28 made explosive revelations about British state collusion with paramilitaries in the north of Ireland occupied by Britain. It implicates British authorities in the murder of hundreds of people, and in subsequent cover-ups.

The documentary, titled “Britain’s Secret Terror Deals”, detailed the vast scale of British security forces' involvement with illegal paramilitary groups, running thousands of informants and agents.

Serial killers

Tens of thousands of anti-capitalist, environmental and social justice activists took to the streets and country roads of Bavaria in Germany to protest the Group of Seven (G7) nations summit, which took place on June 7 and 8 in a secluded castle in the German Alps.

More than 35,000 demonstrators marched peacefully in the Bavarian capital Munich on June 4. They protested the destructive policies of the G7 industrialised nations — climate change, militarisation and NATO expansion in Europe, economic austerity and poverty, democracy-destroying free trade deals and more.


CR gas was used to quell rioting in Long Kesh jail in October, 1974.

Papers from 1976 obtained by the Observer under freedom of information laws show that the use of ‘CR’ or Dibenzoxazepine — a skin irritant 10 times more powerful than other tear gases — was permitted from 1973 to be used on Irish republican prisoners.

For a while in late May, it looked as if negotiations over terms for releasing the last €7.2 billion owed to Greece under its second bailout package with the “Troika” of the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund might have some chance of success.

The commentary from the SYRIZA-led Greek government's negotiators and from its creditors was of “fruitful discussions” and “meaningful progress”. Greek government spokespeople even spoke of reaching an agreement “within a week or two”, at the latest by the June 18 meeting of the eurozone finance ministers.


One of those injured in June 5 bombing of HDP election rally casts their vote.

Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa announced radical plans to support asylum-seekers and stateless people. Ecuador’s socialist government is proposing a new law to make all migrants legal in the country.

Correa said during his weekly address: “The right to migrate is guaranteed in the rules. No human being will be considered illegal.”

Analysis

Legislation allowing the 99-year lease — effectively privatisation — of the majority of the NSW electricity network passed through state parliament on June 3. The bill was passed through the Legislative Council, after more than 60 amendments were debated, with the support of Rev Fred Nile's Christian Democrats.

Labor and the Greens opposed the bill. Labor leader in the Legislative Council Adam Searle said on June 3 that the outcome showed a debasing of parliamentary process:

In November 2011, US president Barack Obama announced that the military focus of the US was “pivoting” to the Asia-Pacific region. At the same time, as part of this “pivot”, he announced that US marines were to be stationed in Darwin.

Following those announcements, a ripple of discontent spread around the nation. Numerous peace groups, academics, faith-based groups and unions began talking to one another about this “pivot” and the threat it represents.

I am not sure federal Treasurer Joe Hockey really thought through his “get a good job that pays well” solution to the Sydney housing crisis. After all, as our treasurer teaches us in his Book of Joe, the poor don't drive, so how are they going to get to the job interviews?

We are experiencing a crisis of domestic violence in Australia, but not in the sense that it has unexpectedly arrived. In fact, there has always been a domestic violence crisis in Australia.

It is a preventable epidemic that has been allowed to flourish in our communities through silence, neglect, a culture that promotes male power and violence and a failure by those in power to act.

In a David and Goliath struggle that became known as the “Jobs for Women” campaign, 34 mostly migrant, unemployed, working-class women took on Australia’s largest company, Broken Hill Propriety Limited (BHP).

In a landmark legal and industrial struggle, they sued BHP’s subsidiary, Australian Iron and Steel (AIS) in Port Kembla for sex discrimination because they refused to employ women. After a long, hard struggle over 14 years, the campaign eventually won damages estimated at up to $9 million for more than 700 women who had applied to work at the steelworks.

Reports of physical and sexual violence, including against children, continue to emerge from Australian refugee detention centres in Papua New Guinea and Nauru. Allegations have also emerged that Australian authorities had paid people smugglers to take a boat of asylum seekers away from Australian waters.

But the government has continued to respond with secrecy, vilification of critics and increasingly draconian government measures to prevent information coming out.

The campaign against racism and the far right needs a clear understanding of racism and fascism and how to fight these threats.

Racism is not inherent in human beings. It is a product of capitalism. Racist scapegoating is used by the corporate rich because it undermines solidarity among workers, opening the way for conservative policies such as privatisation and cuts to social spending.

For young people today, the international situation can seem hopeless. The world seems increasingly filled with chaos and crisis, as austerity and war impoverish and immiserate increasing numbers of people around the globe.

The situation facing young people today, in Australia and around the world, is difficult to say the least, and it is important to confront such a situation seriously and with determination.

So a member of the Coalition government said something tone-deaf and out of touch again. It must have been on a day ending with “y”.

When asked last week about housing affordability, federal Treasurer Joe Hockey came out with this cracker: "The starting point for a first homebuyer is to get a good job that pays good money." Oh, of course, Joe! Why hasn't anyone thought of that before?

The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) has written to Prime Minister Tony Abbott stating its complete opposition to the forced closure of remote Aboriginal communities.

Owen Bennett is the founder of the Australian Unemployment Union. He recently spoke at a public forum in Adelaide hosted by Anti-Poverty Network SA on why attacks on employed and unemployed people are connected.

Pas Forgione from Anti-Poverty Network SA spoke to him about how these attacks are related and the Australian Unemployment Union's latest campaign.

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How are attacks on welfare recipients and attacks on workers connected?

There was a time when an Australian Council of Trade Union congress would be covered by a media pack the size of the parliamentary press gallery. But with private sector union membership languishing at just 12% of the workforce, these days are long gone. Events during the recently held May triennial congress highlighted some of the reasons for organised labour’s demise.

During a week in which the issue of gay marriage was being canvassed in the national parliament, the congress was silent on the matter, largely due to the opposition of ACTU senior vice-president Joe de Bruyn.

Rachel Evans gave this speech to a rally for marriage equality in Sydney on May 31. She is a member of Community Action Against Homophobia (CAAH) and the Socialist Alliance.

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We are on the cusp of a victory.

A victory of ordinary people against prejudice and bigotry.

We are on the edge of winning this battle for marriage equality — when the likes of Prime Minister Tony Abbott and conservative journalists Alan Jones and Andrew Bolt coming out positively for our love rights, we know we are close.

Culture


Tom Morello.

A new US-based record label for “rebel music”has been launched by Rage Against Machine guitarist Tom Morello, who also performs as solo act the Night Watchman, Rolling Stone reported on June 4.

The corruption scandal that has hit FIFA, culminating in the recent arrest of seven FIFA officials in Switzerland and the resignation of FIFA president Sepp Blatter, has focused attention on the world’s most powerful football (soccer) body.

You have to go back to FIFA's founding to understand the factors that have led to these events. It was formed in 1904 to oversee international competition among various European football associations.

Whichway
Lucky Luke
Released March 24, 2015
www.facebook.com/currymurri13

The artwork for Lucky Luke's debut album shows him holding Mount Isa's infamous lead smelter like a didgeridoo. It's as if he's taking it back for his people.

"The photo, as you say, is almost like I am reclaiming the smelter," says the rapper, who is from the Waanyi, Mitakoodi, Ringa Ringa, Kalkadoon and Warumungu tribal groups.