Issue 1057

News

A rally for justice for Eddie Murray, a 21-year-old Aboriginal man who was killed by "persons unknown" while detained in Wee Waa police station in north-western NSW on June 12, 1981, was held in Sydney on the anniversary of his death. Anna Murray, Eddie's younger sister recalled answering the door to the police who had come to arrest her brother 34 years ago. At 16, she was the last member of the family to see Eddie alive. She said that there had never been a protest in Wee Waa over her brother's death and she proposed that one be held there this time next year.
Early this month the federal government transferred its first infant back Nauru. The five-month-old baby girl known as “Asha” (not her real name), her mother and father were forcibly transported from Melbourne's detention centre to Darwin detention centre and then to Nauru. Refugee activist Siobhan Marren has been campaigning for Asha and her family’s return. She told Green Left Weekly: “Asha is the first baby to be transferred back to offshore detention since the amendment to the Migration Act last December.
Perth City Council and WA Police raided the Nyoongar encampment at Matagarup (Heirisson Island) at 7am on June 18. Tents were seized, move-on notices issued and concrete barricades were erected at the car park entrance to try to deliver a terminal blow to the Matagarup Refugee Camp as the encampment is known. Police and council workers arrived in large numbers with trucks and equipment. More than 15 people had stayed overnight at the camp.
The crowdfunding campaign to make a dramatic feature film about the historic Jobs for Women campaign at the Port Kembla steelworks reached its fundraising target of $25,000 with a week to spare. Four days from the end of the campaign, $26,898 had been contributed toward the making of the film, over a 6-week period.
The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) has launched a wave of half-day stoppages, and other industrial action, in support of its campaign against the Tony Abbott government's attacks on wages, rights and working conditions. "This is the largest industrial action taken by Commonwealth public servants in a generation," Nadine Flood, national secretary of the CPSU, told a mass meeting of about 500 workers in the Sydney Masonic Centre on June 18.
About 40 protesters gathered outside NSW state parliament on June 17 to oppose the NSW Minerals Council’s "Beyond the Rocks Conference" being held in partnership with the Baird state government. They called for the council, representing multinational corporations such as Whitehaven Coal and Rio Tinto, to support a transition away from the destructive coal export industry. Protesters carried banners and placards with message such as "Minerals Council Conference: 1. Lies about coal. 2. Lies about CSG. 3. Lunch." The rally was called by Front Line Action on Coal.
BRISBANE Join in at a forum: Recent developments in Guatemala on Friday June 26 at 6pm. Listen to URNG-MAIZ representatve Ovideo Orellana who has just returned from Guatemala. Organised by Australia Venezuela Solidarity Network. Brisbane Activist Centre, 74b Wickham St, Fortitude Valley. Ph Margaret 0439 411 330. DARWIN
On June 13 a demonstration supporting the government of Ecuador and its new inheritance tax was held in Sydney. A group of Ecuadorians, members of the Chilean community and other Latin American sympathisers, gathered at the Addison Road Community Centre in Marrickville, Sydney, to show their support for the Ecuadorian president and the recently proposed inheritance taxation project. Wealth redistribution is one of the most important elements in the framework of La Revolucion Ciudadana (Citizen’s Revolution).
Stephen Langford, long term solidarity activist with Timor Leste and secretary of the Australia East Timor Association NSW in the 1980s and 1990s, was awarded the Order of Timor Medal in a special ceremony in Maliana, Timor Leste, on May 20 as part of Independence Day celebrations. The Indonesian government illegally occupied Timor Leste for 24 years from 1975 to 1999. The Australian government was complicit in the invasion, never opposing the actions of the Indonesian government, despite five Australian journalists being killed by the Indonesian military just before the invasion.
ISRAEL BOYCOTT IS WORKING There is a reason why the Israeli government and pro-Israel organisations use everything from slander to vexatious litigation to oppose the global campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel. The campaign is working. The June 12 Financial Times reported: “This week an Israeli financial newspaper covered a leaked government report estimating that BDS could cost Israel’s economy $1.4bn a year.
On June 14, NSW Minister for Social Housing Brad Hazzard unveiled plans for a $170 million development on the inner-Sydney Cowper Street, Glebe, block, which has lain vacant since the previous state Labor government demolished a low-rise public housing estate on the site in 2011. According to the government's plan, the new 500-apartment development would include about 250 private apartments, 150 public or social housing units and about 100 "affordable housing" apartments, reserved for "essential workers", such as nurses or teachers.
Following the announcements of the closure of Ford, Alcoa and Target’s head office, workers in the Geelong region have been dealt another blow. Barwon Health, now one of the largest employers in the Geelong region, announced on May 29 that its laundry service LinenCare would close by June 30, making 94 workers unemployed.
On June 12 the Geelong Women’s Unionist Network (GWUN) hosted a book launch for Women of Steel at Geelong Trades Hall. The purpose of the event was not only to launch the book recounting the Jobs for Women campaign which took on BHP in Wollongong in 1970s but also to raise funds for the Jobs for Women film project.
A rally for justice for Eddie Murray, a young Aboriginal man who was killed by "persons unknown" while detained in Wee Waa police station in north-western NSW on June 12, 1981. Anna Murray, Eddie's younger sister recalled answering the door to the police who came to arrest her brother 34 years ago. She was the last member of the family to see Eddie alive. She added that there had never been a protest in Wee Waa over her brother's death and she proposed that one be held there this time next year.
A 50-year-old woman died in custody at Bandyup Women’s Prison in Western Australia on June 15. The death has been confirmed by the state coroner’s office, but details of the circumstances surrounding her death are yet to be released.
Thirty refugee rights activists rallied outside Commonwealth offices in Sydney, to coincide with the June 17 presentation of a 65,000 strong petition to the Federal Parliament in Canberra, calling for the immediate closure of Manus Island and Nauru detention centres. The petition is here and can still be signed. Nicole Judge, Manus Island detention centre whistleblower, and Ian Rintoul of the Refugee Action Coalition (RAC) spoke at the rally.
A small symbolic protest in the rain was held outside the Commonwealth government offices in Bligh St, Sydney on June 16. The action marked the submission of a petition to the Senate with 65,000 signatures calling for the immediate closure of Manus Island and Nauru asylum seeker detention centres. These Australian offshore asylum seeker detention centres were disasters that could not be fixed, Nicole Judge, a whistleblower and former worker at both centres, told the protest which was organised by the Sydney Refugee Action Coalition.
British police and soldiers colluded in state terror with loyalist gunmen and bombers in the murders of over 120 Catholic civilians in the Northern Ireland conflict. They then covered up their misdeeds. That is the unchallenged finding of 15 years of research by The Pat Finucane Centre and Justice for the Forgotten in Ireland, now chronicled in the acclaimed book Lethal Allies: British Collusion in Ireland whose author, Anne Cadwallader, is visiting Australia this month (details below).
Funding to provide legal services to the Tasmanian Aboriginal community has been denied to the 42-year-old Aboriginal Legal Service run by the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre (TAC), and granted instead to the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service. The threat means the loss of $11.7 million over five years, and 15 jobs, many of them filled by Tasmanian Aboriginal people.

Analysis

WikiLeaks released the secret draft of the healthcare annex to the transparency chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on June 10. If the TPP is adopted, the annex would adversely affect national pharmaceutical schemes, such as Australia's Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and New Zealand's Pharmaceutical Management Agency (PHARMAC). 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.
The Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP) has laid five criminal charges against multinational mining company Linc Energy for causing irreversible environmental damage around the site of its experimental underground coal gasification (UCG) plant at Chinchilla, on the western Darling Downs. The charges allege that Linc wilfully and unlawfully caused serious contamination with carbon monoxide, hydrogen, hydrogen sulphide, carcinogenic BTEX and other gases.
Australia’s human rights reputation has been savaged in a new report by Amnesty International. The report is highly critical of Australia’s detention of Aboriginal children for minor offences. The Amnesty report, A brighter tomorrow: Keeping Indigenous kids in the community and out of detention in Australia, focuses on the crisis of Aboriginal child detention. The report says rates of Aboriginal youth detention are higher now than they were 20 years ago.
In 2013 the NSW Government took an axe to the existing victims of crime compensation scheme, introducing legislation that targeted survivors of sexual and domestic abuse. The government claimed this scheme would result in a faster and easier process for applicants, but this has not been the case, and the main changes make it more difficult, if not impossible, for many applicants.
The federal government is keen to cut the age pension. Its latest proposal to double the taper rate on the assets test has been supported by the Greens on the basis that this measure will reduce government support to those with significant wealth. The Greens also hoped that by supporting these pension cuts, the government would rein in tax concessions on superannuation. However, the government has since publicly ruled out any superannuation changes.
The campaign against closure of Aboriginal communities and mobilisations against unconventional gas in Eastern Australia are some examples of growing campaigns that are successfully challenging the agenda of capitalist governments in Australia, according to the eleventh national conference of Socialist Alliance.
Albert Einstein said the purpose of socialism is to overcome and advance beyond the predatory phase of human development. Today it seems the predatory phase is here to stay. The choice between socialism or barbarism is now pressing us on all sides. Mining, for instance, pays little in taxes, but we subsidise it to $4 billion a year — and will bear its health burdens for generations to come. As former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd found when he tried to make mining companies pay reasonable taxes, it is a rogue industry.
Northern Territory Attorney-General John Elferink was at an Amnesty International debate at Charles Darwin University on June 15, defending the position that “tough love” was necessary to reduce youth crime in the NT. As he was speaking, a 16-year-old was successfully breaking out of the Don Dale youth detention centre. According to an ABC News report, this was the eleventh break-out from the decrepit detention centre since August last year — showing that “tough love” is not working.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten’s persistent response to media questions about allegations raised in the unions’ Royal Commission concerning his former union, the Australian Workers Union (AWU), has been to refuse to provide a “running commentary”. After being requested by the commission to appear before it last week, he is now reported as saying: “I welcome the opportunity to talk about my 21-year record of standing up for workers”.
In recent difficult economic times, with youth unemployment at record rates, there is still one major state institution which is always recruiting — the military. As they have in the past, the armed forces are trying as hard as possible to present an attractive job prospect to the youth market. The offer of a career, job stability, qualifications and training can often seem too good to pass up.
People sometimes ask me while selling Green Left "In this day and age, why even have a newspaper?". The nature of print media is changing and most commercial newspapers and magazines are currently suffering an existential crisis. Many advertisers that traditionally used print have made the leap to digital media. The columns of classifieds, once referred to as the rivers of gold, are now drying up and newsrooms are shrinking along with the quality of journalism.
The Tony Abbott government’s illegal “Turn Back the Boats” policy is under further scrutiny, following media revelations that in late May, Australian customs officials paid $US30,000 to six crew members on a boat carrying 65 asylum seekers from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Myanmar, which was heading to New Zealand, from Indonesia.

World

The debt imposed on Greece and its people by creditors directly infringes the human rights of Greeks and is “illegal, illegitimate and odious”, a preliminary report issued by the Audit Committee on Public Debt declared on June 17. The finding came as talks between Greece and its creditors finished without a deal on June 18. The International Monetary Fund is threatening the near-bankrupt country with default unless it pays the US$1.7 billion it owes by the June 30 deadline.
HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtas. A delegation of six elections monitors sponsored by the Peace in Kurdistan Campaign to observe the June 7 Turkish election witnessed a stunning result took the left-wing Kurdish-based Peoples Democratic Party (HDP) into parliament for the first time.
Grassroots climate groups are calling for large protests in cities around the world to coincide with the United Nations climate talks held in Paris in November and December, known as COP21. In France, a broad coalition of almost 100 groups, including trade unions, have created Coalition Climat 21 to organise mass mobilisations before and during the Paris talks.
Unionists, rural workers and environmentalists are coming together in Arequipa, in southern Peru, to halt the proposed Tia Maria copper mine. The mine project belongs to Southern Copper Corporation, a subsidiary of Grupo Mexico. Mine opponents are demanding respect for workers' rights, community democracy and involvement in development decisions, and protection for the ecosystem and rural farmers.
Chilean teachers strike against education bill Thousands of Chilean teachers took to the streets of Santiago once again on June‭ ‬17,‭ ‬TeleSUR English said that day‭‬.‭ The protest was part of the indefinite national strike to protest against an education reform bill proposed by the government of President Michelle Bachelet.‭ ‬There were marches in at least five other cities across the country.‭
The great African revolutionary Amilcar Cabral offered the famous injunction 50 years ago: “Tell no lies and claim no easy victories.” This advice hits at the temptation of back-slapping vanity. The leading spokespeople for the 41-million strong clicktivist team from the Avaaz NGO need to remember Cabral. They over-reached ridiculously in praising the Group of 7 meeting of seven rich nations held in Bavaria on June 7 and 8. Avaaz wrote: “Many told us it was a pipe dream, but the G7 Summit of leading world powers just committed to getting the global economy off fossil fuels forever!!!
The domestic act of terror at a historic African-American Church in South Carolina has quickly been branded as a “hate crime” by US officials, and the white man who perpetrated it is described as a “troubled” person who was otherwise “sweet and quiet”. This is a predictable media narrative has to many for whom the racist and white supremacist motives behind the killing are transparent.
Thousands protest in Athens against austerity and in support of the SYRIZA government, June 17. Thousands of Greek people took to the streets of Athens on June 17 to reject austerity measures and support the SYRIZA-led government, TeleSUR English said that day.
A Black Lives Matter protest last August in New York. Photo by Edward Leavy.
The mass murder of nine African Americans in Charleston, South Carolina by a white racist has been widely denounced. But to understand this hate crime – a terrorist attack – it has to be put into a broader political context.
Violent right-wing protests erupted in Ecuador on June 8, sparked by plans for a new inheritance tax law that would target the richest 2% of the population. In response, President Rafael Correa agreed to temporarily halt two planned laws to carry out a nationwide debate on inequality and wealth redistribution – challenging the opposition to prove his government's laws would hurt the poor. On June 18, Correa took to social media to start the debate, asking: “How can we call a country a 'democracy' if less than 2% of families own 90 percent of big businesses?”
The squares in front of scores of town halls across the Spanish state were jam-packed with enthusiastic crowds on June 13. Tens of thousands had gathered to celebrate the inauguration of progressive administrations elected in a leftward swing in the May 24 local government elections for Spain’s 8144 councils.
The murder of nine people in a historic Black South Carolina church is both a deep tragedy and a strong symbolic attack on the Black community, civil rights activist and writer Kevin Alexander Gray told TeleSUR English. Three men and six women, including South Carolina Democrat Senator Reverand Clementa Pinckney, were shot dead in a mass shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on June 17.
Police are searching for a gunman who killed nine people and injured several others at a historic African American church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, in what is being called a hate crime by local officials. As of the morning of June 18, the perpetrator was still at large, local police officials said. “I do believe this is a hate crime,” the police chief, Greg Mullen, said during a late night statement, according to the Washington Post.
Supporters of Correa and the pro-poor 'Citizens Revolution' flood Quito on June 15.
Ecuador's left-wing President Rafael Correa has called for dialogue with his country's right-wing opposition amid a wave of protests over proposed reforms aimed at taxing the rich. The anti-government protests that began on June 8 have continued despite Correa's announcement on June 15 that he would temporarily postpone parliamentary debate on two tax measures targeting the ultra-rich.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro called for an urgent meeting of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) to discuss tensions and possible coup plots against the government of Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa. “It's time for us to activate all our solidarity with the people of Ecuador and with President Rafael Correa,” Maduro said on June 13 during an event in the Venezuelan state of Miranda. The call comes after Correa denounced a coup plot being hatched against him as he returned to the country on June 14 from the European Union-CELAC meeting in Brussels.

Culture

Author Carla Gorton at the Cairns launch of the book and associated film project. Photo: Jobsforwomenfilm.com. Women of Steel: Gender, jobs & justice at BHP Carla Gorton & Pat Brewer Resistance Books, Sydney $10 paperback, 73 pages www.resistancebooks.com
Rammstein. The racist United Patriot Front (UPF) have used German industrial metal band Rammstein in a new video to promote a racist march on July 17. The UPF are a splinter group from a Reclaim Australia that seek to harass Muslims and promote Islamophobia and violence. The video opens with the UPF member declaring “I am not a Nazi”. The UPF video has excluded images from Reclaim Australia rally in April of participants with swastikas.
Migrant workers are employed in slave-like conditions on construction of Qatar's World Cup facilities. The Ugly games: The Qatari Plot to Buy the World Cup Heidi Blake & Jonathan Calvert Simon & Schuster, 2015 472 pages The only surprising thing about the FIFA corruption scandal is that anyone should be surprised, given the long history of credible allegations of bribery in world football’s governing body.