Issue 1065

News

The ABC has revealed that a report prepared for the Queensland government says that hundreds of square kilometres of prime agricultural land are at risk from an experimental plant operated by mining company Linc Energy. Queensland’s environment department alleges that the Linc plant at Chinchilla is responsible for the toxic chemicals and explosive gases that have caused “irreversible” damage to valuable Darling Downs farming land.
ARMIDALE Progressive Cinema: Ivory Tower Reveals how colleges in the US promote expansion over quality learning. Entry free, donations welcome. Friday August 21 at 6pm; community dinner 7.30pm. Kent House, 141 Faulkner St, Armidale. Ph Bea 0458 752 680. Email bbleile@ bigpond.net.au. BRISBANE Benefit concert for Gaza — Middle Eastern dinner
Melbourne climate activists staged an “End of Coal” parade on August 13. They were celebrating the Commonwealth Bank’s decision to cancel its involvement with Adani’s Galilee coal proposals. They called on all Australia’s Banks to stop investing in fossil fuels.
In 1972, Aboriginal rights campaigners successfully pressured the Whitlam Labor government to grant funds for the Aboriginal Housing Company to begin buying houses in Redfern for low-cost housing for Aboriginal people. Now, Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy (RATE) is fighting for The Block to retain this role instead of being sacrificed to greedy developers.
"We have won the first battle in a long war," Paul McAleer, Sydney secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) told a rally of several hundred waterside workers and other unionists at the entrance to the Hutchison Ports terminal at Port Botany on the evening of August 13. He was speaking as news emerged of the important, if temporary, victory the union had achieved in winning a court injunction to order reinstatement of the sacked Hutchison workers in Sydney and Brisbane.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott's blocking of a conscience vote for marriage equality in a six-hour Coalition party room meeting has angered supporters of equal marriage. The grassroots movement for marriage equality, a defining feature of Australian politics over the last 11 years, has been reinvigorated over the last two months. Rallies are being organised by Equal Love in Melbourne and Adelaide on August 15 and 16. Liberal MP Warren Entsch's cross party bill will be put on August 17. On August 8 and 9, rallies took place in Sydney, Perth and Brisbane.
About fifty supporters holding Aboriginal flags and chanting “Deicorp, Deicorp we won’t stop! Get your hands off The Block” gathered on August 14 to defend the Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy’s (RATE) fight for affordable Aboriginal housing on The Block. The battle to stop commercial development in Redfern, the original site of the urban Aboriginal land rights struggle, has been waging for 15 months.
Almost 50 people marched from Parliament House to Dumas House (where the state treasury offices are located) to present petitions to treasurer Mike Nahan on August 14. The petitions called for the removal of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) on tampons and other women's sanitary products. Protesters pointed out that products more commonly used by men including condoms and shaving cream are not taxed yet tampons and pads are.
Green Left Weekly is running a special campaign to get the paper out there and involve more people in the distribution. Green Left gets no sponsorship from corporations or government so everything we do is dependent on the volunteers who donate their time writing, producing, fundraising and distributing the paper. Emma Field from Hobart helps campaign with Green Left because she can see the role the paper plays in educating people about the issues we face, such as racism, global warming and equality for LBGTI people.
Amnesty International (AI) adopted a resolution on August 11 supporting the full decriminalisation of sex work and supporting the rights of sex workers. It described the resolution as being based on “harm reduction” and in line with its “overarching commitment to advancing gender equality and women’s rights”.
Adani loses Standard Chartered bank British bank Standard Chartered announced it has ended its role advising Indian mining giant Adani on finance for its Galilee Basin mega coalmine and Abbot Point port expansion on the Great Barrier Reef. Standard Chartered was the last big bank to retain ties with Adani and leaves it without a financial adviser. This follows the Commonwealth Bank cancelling its involvement with Adani and the Federal Court setting aside Greg Hunt’s approval of Adani’s Carmichael coalmine on August 5.
A Greens Bill to protect NSW from the invasive coal seam gas industry failed in the Legislative Council by just three votes — 16 to 19 — on August 13. The Liberal National Coalition and Shooters and Fishers Party voted to protect the unconventional gas industry, while repeating the lie that it could co-exist with agriculture and pristine water catchments.
August 13 was Day 4 of an indefinite strike and picket by workers at Woolworths’ Melbourne Liquor Distribution Centre (MLDC). The strike began at 4am on August 9 when workers walked off the job in protest at Woolworths’ plans that all new employees would be labour hire casuals. During the last enterprise bargaining negotiations, Woolworths had agreed not to introduce labour hire. Currently, all employees, including casuals, are directly employed by Woolworths with opportunities for casual workers to apply to become permanent each year.
Many Victorians had hoped the election of a state Labor government signaled an end to the East West Link and the dawn of a new age of public transport projects, with the Andrews government committing to start building the $11 billion Metro Rail Project in 2018. Now, federal Liberal MPs from Melbourne’s outer east are trying to resuscitate the East West Link. On August 8 they held a small rally with the demand “Build the Link”.
A new front in the battle against WestCONnex has opened up with the beginning of preparatory works at the Alexandria Landfill adjacent to Sydney Park in the inner west suburb of St Peters. The landfill was chosen last year to be the site of a WestCONnex interchange, spewing anywhere between 30,000 to 100,000 cars a day into congested inner south-west streets. Nearby residents are in uproar when they found out last week that asbestos would be removed. This is despite the Environmental Impact Statement not having been released, or approval granted, for that stage of WestCONnex.
More than 100 people attended a rally in Brisbane on August 8, organised by health professionals against the Border Force Act. The Act makes it illegal for health workers working in detention centres to speak out against conditions, risking a 2-year custodial sentence.
The peaceful community assembly at the Port of Brisbane.
A #WECANDOTHIS sign, washed in rainbow lights, greeted politicians at Canberra Airport as they returned for the new parliamentary sitting this week. But the Liberal Party remains unmoved, and will keep their binding “no” vote for the duration of this electoral cycle.
In what has become a typical pattern by employers, Woolworths sent a text message to the 680 workers at its distribution centre in Broadmeadows on June 9 to inform them that the warehouse would be closed down in 2018.
Woolworths’ decision that all new employees at its Melbourne Liquor Distribution Centre (MLDC) will be labour hire casuals has sparked an indefinite strike.
"Making Solar Thermal Happen" was the theme of a forum on August 5 at the University of South Australia, hosted by Repower Port Augusta and Climate Emergency Action Network of South Australia (CLEAN SA). Speakers explored the benefits of the community proposal to build solar thermal power stations in Port Augusta from the point of view of jobs, manufacturing, health, climate and regional development. The discussion was timely, with Port Augusta’s future remaining uncertain after the recently announced forthcoming closure of its coal-fired power stations.

Analysis

It is now more difficult for unemployed people to find a job than it has been for 20 years. Official youth unemployment is 12% and the official national jobless rate has risen to a 13-year high of 6.3%. The last time employment prospects were so depressed was in the 1990s when the national unemployment rate was 8%. In South Australia, the official unemployment rate is now 7.9%, with employment growth a negligible 0.3%.
Tony Abbott’s government has managed, yet again, to delay making a decision about equal marriage. Opinion poll after opinion poll shows an overwhelming majority of Australians supporting equal marriage — more than 70% support for marriage equality in the last poll conducted by Liberal Party pollsters Crosby Textor — but Tony Abbott continues to drag his feet.
The great power of Vincent Lingiariʼs story is that it teaches us how this land sings to us all, how it holds us and nurtures us. This is the common ground that we share. When the Gurindji leader and his people walked off Wave Hill Station, camping by the Victoria River and then eventually by Wattie Creek at Dagaragu almost half a century ago, they understood that the land was their birthright and their destiny.
Tony Abbott is a man of principle, so long as that principle is resisting the 21st century, says Carlo Sands.
World famous climate scientist James Hansen, known as the “father of global warming” for being the first to see the threat of catastrophic climate change in 1988, has issued a new warning. Sea level changes are likely to be much higher, less stable and happen much sooner than previous predictions.
One in three women is a victim of domestic violence. I am one of those. The violence did not happen until I was pregnant and, as a result, vulnerable. I did not report it to the police as I was too scared: it was carried out in the privacy of our flat; there was no obvious injury and he was very contrite afterwards. I vividly remember him buying me breakfast at a cafe the next morning, an unusual event, while I sat too traumatised and depressed to say anything. Before that, I had never suffered a physical assault from anyone.
The NSW Coalition blocked a Greens’ motion in the upper house on August 12 calling for long-term funding for violence prevention and specialist services. Funding for women’s refuges across NSW has been cut and the services tendered out to charities, including religious ones. The motion acknowledged that: · domestic and family violence is the leading cause of death and injury in women under 45; · this year, violence against women at the hands of someone they were involved with or knew, has claimed the lives of 34 women across Australia;
Recent scandals have placed a spotlight on Australia’s electoral system. However, the discussion about possible electoral reforms has largely failed to go beyond touch-ups to an increasingly obsolete set-up. Moreover, some changes would ultimately help tighten the grip that the two major pro-corporate parties have on power — precisely at a time when more Australians are turning their backs on them. Recent revelations have demonstrated what many of us already know: both the Liberals and Labor are backed by big business.
Seventy years ago this month, the US committed two of the worst terrorist attacks in human history. The incineration of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by atomic bombs represented the bloody climax of World War II. The nation that committed this heinous crime soon itself came to be the only remaining capitalist superpower.
The official unemployment rate in Broadmeadows is 23.5% but the real unemployment and underemployment rates are far higher. Youth unemployment is higher than the overall rate. We are very close to the 30% unemployment rate of the Great Depression. Woolworths has now announced that it intends to close its Hume Distribution Centre and shift it across town to the outer south-eastern suburbs. This would throw about 680 people out of work.
The federal government has been widely criticised for its weak carbon emission reduction target announced on August 11. The new target of reducing emissions by 26 to 28% on 2005 levels by 2030 will replace the previous target of a 5% emissions reduction on 2000 levels. These targets are nowhere near enough to stay under a 1.5°C rise in global temperature, needed to prevent going over climate tipping points.

World

Kokilavany is contesting in the Sri Lankan parliamentary election in 2015 on behalf of the All Ceylon Tamil Congress Party, which is part of the Tamil National People’s Front (TNPF). She spoke to Lalitha Chelliah on Community Radio 3CR's Tamil Manifest program on August 1. * * *
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ campaign to become the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate for next year's race has broken into the mainstream. Pitching left, Sanders consistently draws far larger crowds to hear him speak than any other aspirant in either the Democratic or Republican parties. Polls show his support is climbing, and in one state, New Hampshire, he has moved ahead of the Democratic front-runner, Hillary Clinton. He may win some states in the Democratic primaries.
The explosion of anger and protest on the streets of a Missouri city one year ago has transformed the United States political landscape in ways that are hard to understate, the US Socialist Worker said in this August 5 editorial. * * *
The Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) have forcibly relocated more than 25,000 Ingessana people from the Bao region in Blue Nile between April and July. The relocations to other parts of the state are part of a deliberate campaign of ethnic cleansing designed to weaken opposition to the SAF’s armed offensive in the region. Blue Nile in Sudan’s south, along with neighbouring state South Kordofan, has been subjected to a concerted SAF aerial and ground assault since 2011.
Fidel Castro, the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, used the occasion of his 89th birthday on August 13 to pen a statement demanding US compensation for damages caused to the Caribbean island for its decades-long blockade. Reflecting on history, Castro wrote: “We will never stop fighting for peace and the wellbeing of all human beings.
In an election where almost every presidential hopeful sought to stake their claim as the candidate for change, it was the incumbent Kirchnerista forces — for the first time headed by neither late former president Nestor Kirchner nor sitting President Cristina Kirchner — that came out in front. Argentine voters went to the polls on August 9 to cast a ballot in the presidential primaries — a legally required first step towards running in the upcoming presidential elections in October.
Heat and corruption are a heady mix. As Iraq swelters in record-breaking temperatures, thousands of largely young Iraqis are taking to the streets to protest the miserable conditions they face. They are angry about the lack of electricity and water - and blame rampant government corruption.
“The only cost-effective way to stop illegal immigrants trying to storm through the Channel Tunnel is to set up a machine gun and take out a few people,” Steve Uncles, the extreme right-wing English Democrats' candidate for the post Kent Police and Crime Commissioner, wrote in an August 4 Facebook rant. “[T]hat would stop it very quickly and immediately cut dead this tactic … who has got the guts to do this in our politically correct society?”
By any logic, Greece's SYRIZA-led government should be sinking in the opinion polls. At the Brussels Eurosummit of Eurozone leaders on July 12, SYRIZA Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras agreed to a set of draconian preconditions for obtaining a third €86 billion bailout. The decision effectively reversed the opposition to austerity on which SYRIZA was elected in January.
Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa and social movements behind Ecuador’s “Citizens' Revolution” are engaged in yet another battle against the South American country's entrenched elites. Supporters of Correa marched through the capital of Quito on August 12 to the presidential palace, where they intend to maintain a permanent presence to help defend the elected government. The next day, violent opposition protests led to 86 police officers being injured, the interior ministry said, along with 20 civilians and three members of the press.

Culture

Coranderrk: We Will Show The Country By Giordano Nanni & Andrea James Starring Uncle Jack Charles, Jim Daly & Syd Brisbane La mama Courthouse, Melbourne Until August 23 Tour around Victoria, Sept 8-19 Tickets www.lamama.com.au A new theatre show will tell the story of a lesser known struggle of the First Nations.
The year-long vilification of Aboriginal AFL star Adam Goodes should not be trivialised and dismissed as simply ignorance or mob mentality. This is a valuable opportunity to reflect on race relations in Australia and the ways racism is perpetuated. After taking a brief break in the face of sustained booing that dogged him whenever he took to the field, the Sydney Swans star returned to the game for the Swans August 8 win over Geelong. The Geelong crowd warmly welcomed Goodes in a public demonstration of all that is humane and open-hearted in the Australian public.
#SayYesToLove Volume 1 Featuring Jimmy Barnes, John Butler Trio, Josh Pyke & many more $16.99 via iTunes All proceeds to Australian Marriage Equality www.sayyestolove.org.au A group of prominent Australian musicians have joined forces to support the campaign for marriage equality, MusicFeeds.com.au said. Twenty-one acts have combined to launch the compilation album #SayYesToLove Volume 1 on July 17, with all proceeds going to Australian Marriage Equality's campaign.
Mexican-Lebanese actor and film producer Salma Hayek has said she never felt accepted by Hollywood. Talking with the Huffington Post, Hayek spoke out on racism in the United States and what it means to be an Arab Latina in the Hollywood industry. Promoting her new animated feature movie Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet, based on Gibran's poetry book of the same name, Hayek said the US has a “very severe problem with discrimination that we try to overlook. It's there.”
The St Louis Rams players braved even greater hostility by entering with their hands raised in support of the Ferguson protesters and their “hands up, don't shoot” slogan. The police killing last August of unarmed 18-year-old Black man Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and the subsequent protests have sparked a new Black freedom struggle and forever changed this country.