Issue 1067

News

Well over 1000 people attended the Bersih 4.0 rally in Perth on August 29. This was more than double the number who attended Bersih 3.0 in Perth in 2012.
A plan to swamp Melbourne’s CBD with Australian Border Force officials, police and transport officers to check the visa status of “any individual we cross paths with” was cancelled before it began following sustained criticism of the operation from politicians, unions, Melbourne city council, human rights lawyers and the people of Victoria.
On August 25 the Melbourne Magistrates Court dropped terrorism charges against 18-year-old Harun Causevic, who had spent 120 days in maximum security solitary confinement for the alleged “Anzac Day terror plot”. In April more than 200 police were deployed to arrest five Melbourne teenagers. The mainstream media unquestionably repeated police allegations about the plot, allowing politicians to talk and act as if its existence were an established reality.
BRISBANE Come to a rally to save penalty rates on Saturday September 5 at 11am. Capalaba Sports Club, 113 Ney Rd, Capalaba. Organised by United Voice Queensland and supported by QCU. MELBOURNE
The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and Hutchison Ports management agreed on August 28 to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU), which will result in all sacked workers at Port Botany and Port of Brisbane being reinstated for a further six weeks from August 31.
An emotional and highly charged stopwork meeting of hundreds of tram workers jammed into Trades Hall on August 27 to hear a report on their dispute with Yarra Trams. Yarra Trams and Metro Rail workers had called off a planned four-hour strike on August 21 in the hope that the companies would present the Rail Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) with a better offer. The better offer never came so the tram workers struck for four hours on August 27. This was the first tram strike since 1997.
BREAKING NEWS: Aunty Jenny Munro announced on August 31 that the Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy had forced the hand of the Aboriginal Housing Company to sign a commitment to guarantee that housing for Aboriginal families will be built as a part of the redevelopment of The Block. The signing is due for September 1, 2015.
Australian condom and rubber glove maker Ansell is engaged in some aggressive union busting in Sri Lanka. It has sacked about 300 poor mainly women workers who are fighting for the right to strike in one of Sri Lanka's so called Free Trade Zones. Workers gathered outside Ansell’s Melbourne headquarters on August 25 to demand Ansell reinstate the sacked workers and recognise workers' right to organise. Sri Lankan unionist Anton Marcus, who addressed the rally in defence of the sacked workers, said the workers had wanted nothing more than the right to negotiate through their union.
Early this year supporters of Green Left Weekly in Melbourne decided to relaunch the Green Left Radio show on community radio 3CR. This was after urging from station management and Green Left supporters volunteering at the station. The Green Left Radio program previously aired on 3CR between the mid-1990s and early 2000s.
The federal government’s anti-union agenda, on behalf of the Australian ruling class, has been further frustrated following its failure to ensure two key pieces of legislation pass the Senate. On August 17, the Senate defeated a bill that would have reintroduced the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) along with its coercive powers and weakened protections for unions.
Earthworker Cooperative was formed to respond to the challenges of climate change and the need for local job creation, by establishing worker-owned cooperatives throughout Australia in sustainability-focused industries. It has just raised $570,000, mostly via small donations, to establish the Eureka's Future Workers' Cooperative to produce and install high-quality Australian-made solar hot water systems. The first Eureka’s Future worker-owned factory has now been established through the mutualisation of the Everlast Hydro Systems factory in Dandenong in Melbourne’s south-east.
An Australian film, Gayby Baby, that follows four children with same-sex parents and highlights the obstacles they face has been banned from NSW schools after the Daily Telegraph objected. Burwood Girls High, where the director went to school, had planned to show the film as part of the Wear it Purple Day campaign aimed at supporting LGBTI students.
More than 800 workers gathered in Bicentennial Park on August 23 to protest against the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement in a rally organised by the Electrical Trades Union (ETU). ETU National Secretary Allen Hicks told the crowd Chinese companies need invest only 15% in a project worth at least $150 million to be able to bring in workers from overseas who are not subject to labour market testing. For as little as $22.5 million, a Chinese investor in a joint venture with an Australian company can avoid paying Australian wages and conditions.
The Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy released this statement on August 27. The Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy (RATE) has claimed an important victory in its fight for Aboriginal housing on the Block, ahead of a Supreme Court decision today on a timeline for forced eviction of the Embassy camp.
Green Left Weekly’s ROBIN MAYO caught up with MICH-ELLE MYERS on August 23, a family day at Port Botany in support of the workers sacked by Hutchinson Ports. Myers is a national officer for the Maritime Union of Australia. Why is the Hutchison dispute so important? The Hutchison dispute is important because it is waking the community up about why we need to get rid of the Abbott government. It helps the community realise how anti-worker this government is. It thinks it’s OK for people to be sacked by SMS and email in the middle of the night.

Analysis

BlueScope Steel announced a full-year profit of $136.3 million on August 24. This is an improvement on last year’s loss of $83 million, but not by much compared to past profits. The results were released on the day the Australian share market suffered its worst fall since the global financial crisis, yet BlueScope’s share price went up by almost 9%.
Dyson Heydon will not step down as commissioner investigating corruption in trade unions, having decided to ignore the widespread perception of his political bias. Whatever else he might be, Heydon is no fool. When he accepted the job as royal commissioner he knew what was expected of him. The commission was set up as a political witch-hunt into unions, designed to give the Coalition government an issue which it thought it could win the next election with. Heydon was happy to oblige and has been handsomely paid for doing so.
Pressure from activists for super funds to divest from Transfield Services, the biggest contractor in the Australian immigration detention industry, is increasingly bearing fruit. HESTA, the industry superannuation fund for health and community services workers — at $32 billion one of Australia’s largest super funds — sold its 3.5% stake, worth $23 million, in Transfield Services on August 18. On August 25 NGS Super, the industry superannuation fund for private school teachers, announced it would sell its $5.5 million stake in Transfield “on moral grounds”.
Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance’s “World to Win” series, aims to give voice to the ideas and aspirations of radical young people who are involved in the struggle for social change. This week, Murray Taylor discusses the ideas behind wealth inequality and the demand for redistribution. * * * Remember how Treasurer Joe Hockey promised that all Australians would pay an equal share in his efforts to balance the budget and assist in this recovery?
This week Canadian author Naomi Klein is visiting Australia to speak about why capitalism is incompatible with action on climate change. Her book This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate encourages everyone already involved in fighting for social justice and equality to see climate change as the “best chance we’ll ever get to build a better world”.
The University of Queensland Resistance Club has joined with other student clubs to call on the university administration to divest money from fossil fuels. The university has an undisclosed amount of money invested in projects whose emissions jeopardise the future of the young people that UQ is supposed to be educating.
The only thing unclear about Abbott's likely response to a request to join the US air war in Syria is how many flags Abbott will stand in front of when he makes the announcement. Prime Minister Tony Abbott has denied reports his government lobbied the US to formally request for Australia to extend its involvement in the US-led air war against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) — and bomb targets in Syria, not just Iraq.
The China Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) is a major deal, but there is little public understanding of its content. Much of the coverage of ChAFTA in the corporate media has focused on its benefits for business and its impact on Australia. But ChAFTA has far reaching consequences for working people in both countries. The Chinese and Australian governments signed off on ChAFTA on June 17. But before it can come into effect, both the Australian and Chinese governments need to pass enabling legislation.
John Percy, veteran socialist, died on August 19 in Sydney, aged 69. He was a co-founder of the revolutionary youth organisation Resistance and the Socialist Workers Party, later the Democratic Socialist Party. John, together with his brother Jim, began his political career as a student activist at Sydney University in the mid-1960s in the growing movement against the Vietnam War.
Carol Hucker worked on Manus Island as a counsellor for International Health and Medical Services (IHMS) and as a case worker for the Salvation Army from June 2013 to July last year. She has allowed Green Left Weekly to publish her account of her time there so people can become more aware of what is occurring on Manus Island and to these men. She said: “It is my hope that through this brief account the men on Manus will not be forgotten.” This is the first of a multi-part series and covers the period June to July 2013. * * *
This is a reply by Oxfam Australia's Climate Change Policy Advisor Simon Bradshaw to Andrea Bunting’s article “GetUp!-Oxfam’s Powershop partnership raises questions” in Green Left Weekly #1064. As a leading international development agency working around the world, Oxfam is seeing the world’s poorest people made even more vulnerable through the increasing risk of droughts, floods, hunger and disease due to climate change.
Robert Menzies achieved many things in his long political career. To remain prime minister as long as he did, Menzies kicked the communist can for as much as it was worth. He also benefited from a split in the Australian Labor Party and the ALP’s remarkable talent for shooting itself in the foot. By choosing ineffectual leaders — Doc Evatt was brilliant but erratic, while Arthur Calwell was dour, dull and unelectable — the ALP was putty in Menzies’ clever political hands.
Socialist Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn looks set to win the party’s leadership in the coming weeks — sending shock waves through the British establishment. He has generated huge enthusiasm among young people with his ultra-radical concepts like “maybe don't start pointless wars so poor people die for economic elites” and “let’s ensure we can all access health care and basic services”. But surely Corbyn is cheating. The whole concept of “democracy” seems rigged in his favour due to his dangerous approach of advocating policies that are actually in the interests of the majority.
On August 13, anti-marriage equality campaigner and Liberal government minister Senator Eric Abetz was presented with a petition against marriage equality — the "Uluru bark petition" — by Black pastor Peter Walker, who claimed to speak on behalf of "Aboriginal Australia".
After his resounding success in the immigration portfolio — in which international treaty obligations were trashed, human rights trammelled, and asylum seekers fleeing from persecution were greeted with perverse punishment — Scott Morrison was promoted to minister for social services where he wasted no time attacking the unemployed, the disabled and aged pensioners. It seemed impossible to go any lower. But if anyone was going to manage it, it was the minister whose arrogance is outweighed only by his ambition to be prime minister. Now it is expectant mothers he is trying to vilify.
Despite the overwhelming evidence, the federal government does not believe that climate change is real. The Climate Council recommended a reduction of 45% to 65% of Australia’s 2005 carbon emission levels as the minimum that would be required to prevent runaway climate change.

World

Fifty-three members out of SYRIZA's 201-strong central committee, have resigned on August 26 in protest at the new bail-out deal SYRIZA signed that agrees to the type of brutal austerity measures SYRIZA was elected in January to oppose, Enikos.gr said that day. Most have joined the Popular Unity movement, supported by former members of SYRIZA's Left Platform that will run on an anti-austerity platform in new elections called when SYRIZA Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras resigned recently.
Human-caused global warming has worsened California's extreme four-year drought by as much as 25%, says a new study that is just the latest to link the abnormally dry conditions with human-caused climate change. The study by Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, published on August 20 in Geophysical Research Letters, suggests that within a few decades, continually rising temperatures and resulting moisture losses will push California into even more persistent aridity.
Syrian refugees on Greece-Macedonia border. Photo: Amnesty International. “Are we animals? Why? Why?” Those were the words of one Syrian refugee to BBC's Channel 4 recently after Macedonian police attacked desperate families seeking entry into the country along the border with Greece. The refugee crisis has grown to immense proportions. Tens of thousands of people have flooded into the Balkans in recent weeks. Macedonia
The one thing neoliberal touts want us to forget is that the effects of the Global Financial Crisis of 2008 have never been overcome – and are still felt today. There is no such thing as everlasting “natural growth” in the world economy. As John Maynard Keynes long ago pointed out, capitalism “seems capable of remaining in a chronic condition of sub-normal activity for a considerable period without any marked tendency towards recovery or complete collapse”.
About 400,000 people marched in New York last September as part of global 'people's marches' demanding climate action. Desmond Tutu, Naomi Klein and Noam Chomsky are among a group of high-profile activists, academics and political figures who issued a call to action against climate change on August 27.
Palestinians in Gaza’s Jabaliya refugee camp demand the rebuilding of homes destroyed during Israel’s 51-day assault on the territory last year, June 15. Until July, not one of the homes destroyed during Israel’s assault on Gaza last year had been rebuilt. Why? Israeli rights group Gisha, which monitors Israel’s siege of Gaza, tries to provides answers in a recent analysis, “Where’s the housing boom?”
President Anote Tong from the Pacific Island nation of Kiribati does not mince words on the urgent need to phase out coal. He cannot afford to — his country is literally disappearing as a result of global warming. Tong released a statement on August 13 calling on countries to commit to phasing out coal before the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris in December where more than 190 countries are expected to attend. “A global moratorium on new coal mines [is] an essential initial step in our collective global action against climate change,” he said.
The statement below was released by Palestinian BDS National Committee on August 25. * * *
A broad campaign by the left-wing Kurdish-led People's Democratic Party (HDP) won a breakthrough 13.12% and denied President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) a majority in parliament in the June 7 elections. The HDP's success combined with the ongoing example of the progressive Kurdish-led Rojavan revolution across the border in northern Syria has prompted Erdogan's regime to push a strategy of war and conflict against Turkey's long-oppressed Kurdish population.
Photo: dpac.uk.net. Campaigners warned on August 27 that reports that 2380 people died within months of being branded “fit for work” under the British government's new welfare laws grossly underestimate the true impact of invasive government assessments into the lives of severely ill and disabled people.
It all began in 1835 when the British Empire sent a German-born naturalist and explorer to conduct geographical research in the South American territory it had colonised and named British Guiana. In the course of his explorations, a map was drawn that well-exceeded the original western boundary first occupied by the Dutch and later passed to British control.

Culture

On the weekend that marked the one year anniversary of the police killing of Michael Brown, another disturbingly similar case made the social media rounds: another unarmed young Black man was shot dead, on August 7, another police officer on administrative leave holding the smoking gun, another rush to convict the dead.
Wallis Simpson, Edward of Windsor, Adolf Hitler (fourth, fifth and sixth from left). 17 Carnations: The Windsors, The Nazis & The Cover-Up By Andrew Morton Michael O’Mara Books, 2015, 327 pages
With industrial disputes breaking out on wharves and warehouses around the country, conflict is also brewing between those who kick the roundball on the nation's football (soccer) pitches and those who administer the game. Football Federation Australia (FFA) is locked in a long-running dispute with players — represented by their union, the Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) — over a new collective bargaining agreement. The PFA is seeking a better pay deal for the national men's team (Socceroos) and national women's team (Matildas), as well as an A-League salary cap and wage rise.
R&R: A Novel By Mark Dapin Viking, 2015, 287 pp, $32.99 Mark Dapin is a rising star of Australian writing, having first made his mark as a journalist with a string of newspapers. He is a knock-about sort of working-class bloke, who brushed up against the British socialist movement before migrating, a bit of a boxer as well as a writer. Interviewing the light welterweight world champion Kostya Tszyu for the Sydney Morning Herald, Dapin famously persuaded Tszyu to let him spar with him in the ring. Tszyu didn’t muck about, breaking three of Dapin’s ribs.
Here's this month's radical record round-up, with an emphasis on Indigenous resistance. What album, or albums, would you suggest? Comment below, on Twitter or Facebook.

1. THE BASICS - THE AGE OF ENTITLEMENT