Issue 1060

Australia

"Some people think [the WestConnex tollway] can't be stopped. I am not one of those," Dr Michelle Zeibots told an anti-WestConnex rally of around 200 people in Goddard Park, Concord, on July 4. Zeibots, a transport planning expert, was one of a number of speakers at the rally, with the theme: "WestConnex Independence Day: Save Our City".

"The [NSW state] government can't even present a business case for this project. More than $15 billion of public money is being spent on a private road, rather than on public transport.

BRISBANE
Come to a rally: Stand up to Adani on Thursday July 16 at 12pm. Juru and Birri traditional owners, whose lands are covered by Adani’s planned projects, will travel to Adani’s HQ to deliver pledges of thousands of Australians to stop the Galilee Basin mega coal mines. 1 Eagle St, opposite Adani’s offices. Visit act.350.org/signup/stand-upto- Adani.

CAIRNS
Join us at Politics in the Pub: “Whose Australia is it anyway?” on Tuesday July 14 at 6pm. Speaker Kate Galloway, JCU law academic. Green Ant Cantina, Bunda St. Ph Jonathan 0437 790 306.

Geelong Trades Hall election wins for Socialist Alliance members
Geelong Trades Hall Secretary Tim Gooden was re-elected for another five-year term at the Trades and Labour Council meeting on July 7. Gooden, a member of the Socialist Alliance, was re-elected unopposed.
Socialist Alliance member Jacki Kriz, from the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Association, was elected President.

The Queensland government has announced plans to open the first training prison of its kind because of critical jail overcrowding across the state.

The government’s $145 million plan is to recommission the old Borallon Correctional Centre, west of Ipswich, and turn it into an "earn or learn" facility, catering specifically for inmates who are 18 to 30 years old.

There has been a 30% rise in prisoner numbers since 2012 and every male prison in the state is now overcrowded. The new prison will house about 500 prisoners.

“I'd cross the train tracks for this paper.” That was the comment made last week by a friendly man who comes into the Perth Activist Centre every week without fail to buy a copy of Green Left Weekly.

We had to explain to him that he would have to come back the next day, since a courier mistake meant the papers hadn't come in on time. “No problem,” he said. “I'd do whatever it takes, this is the best paper.”

Q&A to become more watchable

On July 6, the homophobic, climate change-denying minister of agriculture, Senator Barnaby Joyce, was due to appear on the ABC's Q&A program. However, the night before, he announced he would not be appearing because Prime Minister Tony Abbott had ordered all government ministers to boycott the program in response to the June 22 episode in which Liberal MP Steve Ciobo had to deal with a question he didn't approve of from the audience.

On July 4, federal environment minister Greg Hunt approved the Shenhua Watermark coalmine in the Liverpool Plains in north-west NSW.

It will turn 35 square km of prime agricultural land into a giant hole, contaminate aquifers and, as the July 8 Sydney Morning Herald said, “is expected to destroy 789 hectares of an endangered ecological community, much of it box-gum woodland, and 148 hectares of other woods”.

The mine will also destroy 800 hectares of koala habitat, condemning the local koala population to extinction.

As the example of Greece shows, the ruling elites and financiers are more than happy to extract their pound of flesh from working people, no matter the cost.

As times get tougher it can make it harder to contribute to the Green Left project. I speak to a lot of Green Left subscribers, particularly those who are renewing, and a common thread is that people are already feeling the pinch and having to watch every dollar carefully.

Scandal has erupted in Victoria as GDF Suez, the majority owner of the Hazelwood coal-fired power station, refuses to pay an $18 million bill to the Country Fire Authority. The bill is for the firefighting effort at last year's coalmine fire that blanketed local towns with soot and smoke for 45 days.

A landmark demonstration was held on July 5 in Perth. The crowd of about 5000 people — in the rain — made it the biggest protest for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) rights that has ever happened in Perth.

It was also the biggest LGBTI protest across the country so far this year. The rally was organized by GetUp! and Australian Marriage Equality.

Over the weekend of July 4 and 5, West Papuan solidarity activists visited Darwin to work with Aboriginal people to protest and organise against the Australian government’s complicity in atrocities committed by Indonesian forces against independence activists in West Papua.

The weekend included forums, band nights and a smoking ceremony to commemorate the Biak massacre in 1998. On July 6, the participants set up a protest embassy on the lawns near Northern Territory Parliament House.

More than 80 people braved Ballarat’s winter weather to demand an end to institutionalised discrimination against LGBTIQ couples. Ballarat’s Equal Love rally featured several speakers, including Equal Love (Ballarat) convener Koby Bunney.

“Love is love and it always wins,” he said at the end of a march from Bakery Hill to Ballarat Town Hall.

People were moved to hear from several couples whose relationships are not recognised by Australian law. Many voiced their frustration that while couples in Ireland and the US could now choose to get married, this was not yet the case in Australia.

Activists have welcomed the announcement on July 6 that the NSW Coalition government has decided to buy back a coal seam gas (CSG) petroleum exploration licence from AGL that covers Sydney’s water catchment.

“It is a big win,” said Jess Moore, spokesperson for Stop CSG Illawarra. The anti-CSG group, with significant community involvement, has been campaigning for four years to protect the water catchment.

About sixty Aboriginal activists and supporters protested outside the federal government’s “Recognition” meeting at Kirribilli House on July 6. PM Tony Abbott invited a selection of 40 Aboriginal "leaders", and opposition leader Bill Shorten, to discuss his proposal for a referendum on including a new clause in the Australian constitution to recognise prior Aboriginal occupation.

World

Leading British campaigners against global debt have slammed the creditors over a deal reached between the European Union countries and Greece, likening the deal to the imperial politics of the 19th century.

The debt campaigners also drew parallels with the way debt was used to control Latin American nations in the 1980s.

“The conduct of a number of EU governments over the past number of weeks has been alarming,” president of Irish republican party Sinn Fein and member of the Irish Dail (parliament) Gerry Adams said on the outcome of the European Union summit, which ended Greece submitting to a harsh deal.

“They have effectively closed down the Greek banking system and held the Greek Government and people to ransom.

One year ago, on July 7, 2014, Israel began an assault on the Gaza Strip that would last 51 days.

While a permanent ceasefire was brokered between Hamas and Israel on August 26, physical safety and freedom of movement continues to be denied to the people of Gaza. The already rapid deterioration of the economy and infrastructure was only hastened by the seven weeks of aerial bombardment.


Archbishop Atallah Hanna. Photo: al-Araby al-Jadeed.

Israel arrested a prominent Palestinian Christian leader on June 27 during a demonstration in the Hebron area of the occupied West Bank.

In the wake of the political assassination of nine African Americans in Charleston, South Carolina, on June 17 by a white supremacist, racial tensions remain high.

Since that incident, seven Black churches in the South have suffered fires, recalling many such incidents in the past.


Venezuela's president, Nicolas Maduro, speaks to the National Assembly in Caracas about the Guyana border dispute. Photo: AVN.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro says the giant oil company Exxon-Mobil and other oil lobbies have been working to undermine his nation's relations with the Caribbean, especially neighbouring Guyana.

One month after Turkey’s June 7 parliamentary elections, the country still does not have a government. Ahmet Davutoglu of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) remains caretaker prime minister.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan remains the dominant figure in the AKP and is manoeuvring to retain his party’s leading position. The president is supposed to be an impartial figure above party politics but Erdogan pays scant regard to such constitutional niceties.

The elections were marked by two significant and related developments.

The British Conservative Party government introduced new austerity measures on July 8, which include slashing millions of pounds in social spending, increasing the military budget and cutting corporate taxes.

Chancellor George Osborne announced the new budget to parliament, which includes some 12 billion pounds in social spending cuts over three years.

Allegations of human rights abuses have sky-rocketed in Honduras alongside a rise increase in militarisation in the violence-plagued Central American country.

Australia managed its way through the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) in better shape than most countries, mostly due to two factors.

The first was $83 billion in Australian government stimulus spending, the third largest in the world as a percentage of GDP, behind the US and South Korea.

The second was resilient demand for iron ore and coal exports to China which came from an initial US$4 trillion in Chinese stimulus spending organised through the country’s banks.

An email by a former leading climate scientist at oil giant Exxon Mobil suggested the company knew about the risks fossil fuels posed for climate change back in 1981. Yet the company instead spent millions on supporting climate change deniers.

“Exxon first got interested in climate change in 1981 because it was seeking to develop the Natuna gas field off Indonesia,” Lenny Bernstein, a 30-year industry veteran and Exxon’s former in-house climate expert, wrote in the email. “This is an immense reserve of natural gas, but it is 70 percent CO2.”


Protest demanding investigation of war crimes. Jaffna, Sri Lankan-occupied Tamil Eelam, February 24.

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has dissolved parliament and called elections for August 17. Sirisena was elected president on January 9, replacing Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Up to 10,000 people attended the March for Jobs, Justice, and the Climate in Toronto on July 5, climate action group 350.org said.

The mass march came ahead of the Climate Summit of Americas, held in the city over July 7-9.

Regardless of the result of the latest round of negotiations between the SYRIZA-led government of Greece and the heads of the 28 members of the European Union, one thing is certain: in coming years, the Greek people are going to need all possible solidarity because their struggles and sufferings are bound to continue.

The best imaginable deal with the EU will mean six years of Troika-imposed austerity grinding along to one degree or another. Forced Greek exit from the eurozone will drive the country deeper into recession, further contracting an economy that has shrunk by 25% since 2008.


Members of the European Parliament show support for Greece against its creditors.

"This debate is not exclusively about one country," said the Greece's left-wing Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in a speech to the European Parliament on July 8. "It is about the future of our common construction."

After Greece voted "no" by a large margin to more brutal austerity, Solidarity4All issued a call for assistance and solidarity on July 7, published below.


Supports of the 'no' vote celebrate in Athens on the night of July 5.

Leaders of Latin American left-wing governments have congratulated the Greek government and its people after Greece's historic July 5 referendum. Voters rejected debt austerity proposals by Greece's European lenders.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said: “The ‘no’ vote in Greece is a victory against the financial terrorism carried out by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).”

Analysis

With the recent rise of right-wing extremism in Australia, it’s a no-brainer that Muslims are on the receiving end of some of the worst cases of Islamophobia to happen since the Cronulla riots in 2005. Of all these Muslims, it seems that Muslim women who choose to veil themselves suffer from these attacks the most.

As a Muslim woman who chooses to wear the hijab, my experiences with right-wingers along with the media who throw around Islamophobic statements on a daily basis have made me who I am today.

Earlier this year it looked as if Labor4Refugees’ amendments to the Labor Party’s platform that specifically reject boat turnbacks might win enough votes from the ALP left and the Catholic right to get through at the ALP national conference in late July.

However, the Labor leadership is committed to a policy of deterring asylum seekers and is working to prevent any policy change at the conference.

The recent elections in the Maritime Union of Australia made Bob Carnegie secretary of the Queensland branch.

Carnegie is a committed socialist who has been a union, social justice and community activist in Queensland since the Joh Bjelke-Petersen era. More recently he risked prison, under the then-Campbell Newman government’s anti-union laws, leading a community campaign in defence of construction workers on the Brisbane Children’s Hospital building site.

Green Left Weekly’s Margaret Gleeson spoke to Carnegie about his plans for the union.

* * *

On July 19, Reclaim Australia will lead a coalition of conservative, Christian fundamentalist and fascist organisations in another set of rallies to “defend Australian values” from “Muslim invasion”.

In breaking news, it seems that the Labor Party left cannot agree to oppose a “turn back the boats” policy. So there seems to be no chance that the upcoming national Labor Party Conference in Melbourne on July 24 to 26 will consider opposing the Coalition policy of turning boats back that are attempting to reach this country, so the passengers can claim asylum, a human right.

The ACTU released a statement on June 22 highlighting one impact of the federal government’s White Paper on Developing Northern Australia.

The government’s strategy to boost Aboriginal workforce participation in remote communities means that Northern Australian businesses will be able to exploit free Aboriginal labour.

Greece's austerity-and-debt-driven crisis has prompted a humanitarian catastrophe.

The Australia-Greece Solidarity Campaign says half of all young people cannot find work, there is a growing shortage of essential medicines and child malnutrition rates have reached levels not seen since World War II.

Opponents of the Stage 3 expansion of the Acland coalmine in the Darling Downs in Queensland have called on the Palaszczuk government to make good on its campaign promises and reject the application by New Hope Coal. This comes in the wake of revelations that the mining company New Hope Group, would receive about 77% of royalties, while the state would get only 7%.

A booklet distributed to Fairhills High School students in Victoria made some wild claims about oxytocin and female sexuality.

The booklet, entitled Science and Facts, was used as part of a Christian sex education program at the public school. The program is run by Epic Youth, part of the Pentecostal megachurch “CityLife”.

From his late teens, Bill Shorten would tell anyone who listened that his ambition was to be Labor prime minister, following in the footsteps of his heroes Bob Hawke and Paul Keating. But first of all he had to find a faction because, in the Labor Party, it is the factions who have the power to select MPs, premiers and prime ministers.

A report undertaken by the Department of Education and Training shows that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students made up 1.1% of the total higher education enrolments across Australia last year. There were a total of 12,730 Aboriginal students, up from 11,684 students, a 9% jump from 2013.

According to Victorian Aboriginal Education Association Incorporated, the Gunditjmara Languages Program at Heywood and Districts Secondary College has been running for three years now, and received positive feedback from Year 7 and Year 8 students.

Culture


Newsome arrested after removing Confederate flag from South Carolina courthouse, June 27.


Gaelle Enganamouit (right) led her team to a dominating 6-0 victory over Ecuador on June 8.

With the football world still exhaling after a thrilling Women's World Cup, won 5-2 by the USA on July 5, it is worth taking a moment to look back at the tournament.