Issue 1070

News

It is a long and perilous journey for those fleeing war-torn Syria in hopes of reaching safety. But one such refugee refused to make journey without his cat. Photos have emerged in Greek media showing the moment the unnamed refugee landed on the island of Lesbos, cradling the tiny cat he could not bear to leave behind. The man had few other possessions when he crossed the Mediterranean Sea, according to Greek news outlet Protothema.
Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance will host its second Radical Ideas Conference over December 4 to 6 in Sydney. Following the success of last year’s conference, hosted in Geelong, Resistance activists say this conference will help energise young people to struggle against corporate power, environmental destruction and social exclusion. The conference will have workshops and panels including discussions on topics such as combating the austerity agenda of the 1%, fighting back against racism, Islamophobia and colonialism and the struggle for environmental justice.
Three separate domestic violence deaths just days apart in south-east Queensland have prompted Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to fast-track the implementation of the recommendations of the Special Taskforce on Domestic and Family Violence. The deaths of a child and two women between September 7 and 10 occurred less than a month after the government published its response to the Task Force’s report, Not now, not ever: Putting an end to domestic and family violence in Queensland.
Popular Melbourne community radio station Triple R has been given a reprieve by the Victorian state government. The government intervened to stop a high-rise development next to the station's East Brunswick headquarters. The development threatened to block the station's signal from reaching a transmitter on Mount Dandenong. Planning Minister Richard Wynne set up an independent panel to adjudicate. The panel agreed that it was too expensive for Triple R to move its radio mast and recommended a smaller building.
Water buybacks for the Murray Darling basin will be capped at 1500 gigalitres after Labor joined with the Coalition to pass a bill in the Senate on September 14. The bill was backed by the National Farmers' Federation and means the government will be able to buy back only 1500 gigalitres of water entitlements from farmers each year.
How to get active ARMIDALE Join Women in Black in a silent vigil for peace, mourning the victims of violence around the world. Saturday September 26 at 10.30am. Outside the Old Courthouse in the Mall. BRISBANE Come to the Sunshine Coast Climate Change Relay. Organised by Sunshine Coast Environment Council. Saturday September 26 at 10.30am Sunshine Beach, 12.15pm Kings Beach, 5.45pm Cotton Tree Park. MELBOURNE
A resolution of the long-running dispute between the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and Hutchison Ports is reported to be near, as the community assemblies continue at the terminals at Port Botany and the Port of Brisbane. A further hearing in Fair Work Australia is due in the week beginning September 21. The dispute began on August 6, with the midnight sacking by text and email of 97 waterside workers at the two ports. Following a Federal Court injunction, the sacked workers are back on the payroll, but are not being rostered on to work.
More than 300 people, and 22 horses, marched on the Northern Territory parliament on September 15 to demand a moratorium on unconventional gas production in the NT as part of the Our Land is Our Life rally. The rally was organised by Frack-free NT and included contingents from Aboriginal communities, unions, farmers and environment groups. Larrikeyah elder June Mills opened with a fiery welcome to country and a smoking ceremony, condemning what she called “white man’s law” that threatened water supplies and livelihoods.
Protesters rallied outside Queensland’s parliament on September 16 to demand the Palaszczuk government honour its election promises and protect the Great Barrier Reef. This comes after several victories for the environment movement, with major banks pulling out of the Carmichael Coal mining project that, if approved, would greatly increase Australia’s coal production and damage to the Great Barrier Reef.
Newly-elected Nationals Party president Larry Anthony has been revealed to be the executive director and co-owner of a lobby firm that counted coal company Shenhua Watermark as a client. Anthony’s firm, SAS Group, lobbied for Shenhua until July this year. The company wants to build an open-cut coalmine near Gunnedah, on the Liverpool Plains. The mine is expected to produce 10 million tonnes of coal a year.
In the latest blow to the anti-worker industrial policies of the federal Coalition government, staff in the Department of Human Services (DHS) have voted by 83% to reject an enterprise bargaining agreement offer from management. More than 78% participated in the ballot. The overwhelming result in DHS follows strong votes in a number of other agencies recently, including Veterans Affairs, IP Australia and Health, to oppose agreements that would have attacked their rights, conditions and take-home pay.
Westpac workers have managed to break the link between targets and annual salary in the recent Enterprise Agreement (EA) negotiations between Westpac and the Finance Sector Union (FSU). After two months of negotiations, including a petition signed by workers across the Westpac Group, FSU negotiators reached an “in principle” agreement effective from 2016. The link between targets and annual salary increases has been broken, with staff only required to meet minimum behaviour standards and complete compulsory compliance training — which 98% of staff achieved in the last two years.
More than 30 people attended the Brisbane launch of Women of Steel: Gender, Jobs and Justice at BHP on September 17 The book documents the 14-year landmark struggle for jobs, which began in the 1980s when a group of mainly migrant women took on The Big Australian and won.
An Afghan refugee who set himself on fire in a Western Australian detention centre has died. The man, Ali Jafarri who was believed to be in his late 30s, had burns to 90% of his body after the incident at the Yongah Hill detention centre. According to the ABC, detainees and Serco guards found Jafarri barely alive in his room. He is believed to have wrapped himself in a sheet before dousing himself with accelerant and setting himself on fire. Two guards who helped him were also injured.
The federal government will allow the factory freezer supertrawler the Geelong Star to resume night fishing in the Small Pelagic Fishery, despite no evidence that the vessel will avoid killing more dolphins and seals. The Geelong Star was banned from night fishing by environment minister Greg Hunt in May in response to community outrage at dolphin and seal deaths caused by the supertrawler. It will use a new, untested barrier net, but it is not required to use video cameras.
On September 12, hundreds of people marched in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth against the Turkish state under president Recep Tayyip Erdogan waging war on the Kurdish people. In the last month, severe clashes have taken place in many Kurdish cities, including Silopi, Lice, Şemdinli, Silvan, Yuksekova and Cizre, where civilians have been targeted by state forces. Tens of civilians, guerrillas and members of state security forces have died in the ensuing clashes. Socialist Alliance’s Dave Holmes gave this speech at the Melbourne rally. * * *
Left-wing Greens have been sidelined in a re-allocation of the party’s portfolios announced on September 15. Critics say the moves are part of new leader Richard di Natale’s expressed desire to make the party more “mainstream”. It appears that the portfolio reshuffle took place without consultation, and became public on the party's website on September 15 when an updated contact list was sent to the corporate media.

Analysis

Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance’s “A World to Win” series aims to give voice to the ideas and demands of radical young people who are involved in the struggle to make the world a fairer and more just place. This week, Sarah Hathway discusses the struggle and exploitation of young people in the workplace. * * * There are many issues facing young people in or entering the workplace that impact not just on young people but on the broader working class as well.
The historian Geoffrey Blainey recently addressed staff at BHP headquarters in Melbourne on the 130th anniversary of the forming of Broken Hill Propriety Company Limited in 1885. Blainey told the assembled audience “there is no commercial institution in Australia that has contributed so much to the nation’s history”. To set the historical record straight, he should have added that there is no commercial institution that has fought so hard against the workers whose surplus value it expropriated than BHP.
Few people would have shared tears — unless they happened to be chopping onions at the time — when Tony Abbott was ejected as prime minister in the latest of a string of Lib-Lab leadership spills. Let's be honest. The rolling TV coverage of Malcolm Turnbull's political assassination of Abbott kept the nation entertained for a couple of hours on a Monday night. Who did not enjoy watching the grim faces of those Liberal MPs as they trooped into their party room for the spill, and the even grimmer faces of some as they came back out?
Ok, who didn’t cheer when they heard that Tony Abbott might be dumped as Prime Minister? And then before the reality that nothing had really changed sank in, who didn’t cheer when he actually was dumped? Yes, you spoil sports out there, I know that we have just switched captains on a leaky boat — appropriate metaphor don’t you think — and the boat hasn’t actually changed. But you have to admit that seeing Abbott’s humiliation was enjoyable.
The NSW government owns about 277,400 properties. Their combined commercial worth, according to finance minister Dominic Perrottet is $60 billion. Most of the property is commercial, built up over many decades by successive Labor and Coalition governments, and financed by NSW taxpayers, on behalf of whom the present NSW government holds them in trust. But the Mike Baird government doesn’t get this “holding in trust” thing. They believe the assets are theirs to sell; and this is precisely what Perrottet intends to do.
Somewhere wandering aimlessly through the hard streets of Sydney's North Shore, is a dishevelled man in a crumpled suit and a few days’ growth telling concerned passers-by, “I'm not crying, it's just the onion” as he bites into his umpteenth bulb since Monday night, eyes red and flakes of onion skin around his mouth and down his front.
What causes heart disease — high fat or the over-consumption of sugar? Humans have been eating all sorts of foods for more than 200,000 years, since we evolved from the African savannah. But what should we be eating to stay healthy in the 21st century? Should we eat large amounts of protein, or avoid meat? Should we avoid carbohydrates, including vegetables and fruit? Should we avoid all fats or just some? Should we follow the Aitkin’s diet, the paleo diet, the low GI or high GI diet, or just go vegan? It is very confusing.
When he announced his bid to unseat Tony Abbott as Liberal Party leader Malcolm Turnbull promised a “new style of leadership”. The problem is that is about all we can hope for from the new prime minister: a change in style but not in substance.
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 so that people can become more aware of what is happening on Manus Island. She said: “It is my hope that through this brief account the men on Manus will not be forgotten.” This is the fourth part of a multi-part series and covers November 2013 to January 2014. * * *
As we head towards the November 29 People’s Climate Marches, reflecting on the successes of the struggle against the unconventional gas industry in NSW can provide useful tips on strategies to rebuild a serious campaign for climate action in this country. Militant ordinary people have, since 2011, forced the unconventional gas industry in NSW into a holding pattern in some instances and a retreat in others. The community-led campaigns have changed the political landscape in a way that even hardened cynics would once have thought impossible.

World

Singapore's general election on September 11 returned the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP), led by Lee Hsien Loong, to office with 69.9% of the vote and 83 out of 89 elected seats. This is an increase of almost 10% on their vote in 2011. This result, which went against the predictions, was a huge setback to the opposition parties. Only the Worker’s Party (WP) was able to hold onto one Single Member Constituency (SMC) seat, Hougang, and one five-seat General Representative Constituency (GRC), Aljnunied. Even in Aljunied the WP only just held on with 50.1% of the vote.
After police violence stopped refugees crossing Serbia-Hungary border, many went to Croatia. Some have since reached Austria and Germany. Croatia-Serbia border, September 18. Hungarian riot police used tear gas and water cannons against crowds of refugees and migrants on September 17. Clashes at the Horgos-Roszke border crossing with Serbia lasted for hours, after hundreds of refugees and migrants protested to demand entry to Hungary.
Campaigning kicked off on September 8 for the first competitive elections in Myanmar (Burma) since the 1950s. The November 8 poll will pit the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) against more than 100 opposition parties, including Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD). Myanmar’s military ceded power to a quasi-civilian government through 2010 elections that were boycotted by the NLD, ending a military dictatorship that spanned from 1962.
Day care centre for Colombian refugees in Ecuador. Governments across the world are erecting walls and tightening laws to keep refugees out, but one country is taking a radically different approach based on the simple premise that “no one is illegal”. The Andean nation of Ecuador, with a population of 15.7 million people, is no stranger to the challenges of dealing with refugee crises.
The Australian Tamil Congress (ATC) has welcomed a September 16 report released by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, which "identified patterns of grave violations in Sri Lanka between 2002 and 2011, strongly indicating that war crimes and crimes against humanity were most likely committed by both sides to the conflict".
Venezuelan foreign minister Delcy Rodriguez. Caracas, September 17. Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez said on September 17 that international media were looking to “scam” the world over what is happening on the border between Venezuela and Colombia.
Demonstration in solidarity with West Papua. Honiara, Solomon Islands. Indonesian police beat two West Papuan students in Yahukimo, Papua Province, on September 16 for handing out leaflets about the Pacific Islands Forum.
Nicolas Del Cano. Initiated just over four years ago, the Left and Workers Front (FIT) in Argentina has scored some breakthroughs, quickly earning its place on the national political scene.
Funeral in Cizre of civilians killed by Turkish state. The Turkish right wing takes winning elections seriously. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is so serious about achieving the result it wants in parliamentary elections on November 1, it is pushing the country to civil war.
There are sprawling industries and self-proclaimed career “terrorism experts” in the US that profit greatly by deliberately exaggerating the threat of terrorism and keeping Americans in a state of abject fear of “radical Islam”. All sorts of polemicists build their public platforms by demonising Muslims and scoffing at concerns over “Islamophobia”. The most toxic ones insist that such a thing does not even exist, even as the mere presence of mosques is opposed across the country and are physically attacked.
The city council in Iceland's capital, Reykjavík, has voted to boycott Israeli goods as long as the nation continues its illegal occupation of Palestine. The Israeli government responded by claiming it was victim of a “volcano of hatred” after the capital of Iceland decided to boycott Israeli products due to the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the ongoing atrocities committed against the Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank.
When veteran left-wing activist and MP Jeremy Corbyn entered the race for British Labour Party leader, sparked by former leader Ed Miliban's resignation in May, he did so reluctantly on grounds it was “his turn” to be the “token socialist”. But in a stark sign of the depths of anger at brutal anti-poor austerity and disillusionment with mainstream politics, Corbyn was declared the overwhelming victor on September 12 with almost 60% of the vote – more than a quarter of a million votes in total. His nearest opponent got 19%.
British Greens member of parliament for Brighton, Caroline Lucas, has welcomed the election of socialist MP Jeremy Corbyn as Labour Party leader. Lucas said: “Jeremy’s success in this contest is a real boost for progressive politics. For the first time in my memory Labour will be led by someone who stands up for the radical changes demanded by the challenges we face.
I come from the same generation as Jeremy Corbyn. We were all born into families who had lived through the war. My dad joined up as soon as he could and was in the navy for five years. My mum was in a reserved occupation. Her first boyfriend was a rear gunner who was shot down over Berlin in 1943, aged 19. One of my uncles lost his leg at Niemagen. My primary school had air raid shelters. Most of the dads of my friends had been in the services.
It is hard to imagine two election campaigns more different than that leading up to SYRIZA's triumph in Greece's January 25 elections and country's September 20 vote. In January, SYRIZA's winning slogan was “Hope is on the Way” — hope for a government that would end the six years of suffering inflicted on Greece by austerity measures in the first two memoranda of the “Troika” (European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund).

Culture

The Intervention:‭ ‬An Anthology‭ Edited By Rosie Scott‭ & ‬Anita Heiss Concerned Australians,‭ ‬2015 $25 ‭“‬The Intervention to us was like Australia declaring war on us and in the process they demonised and dehumanised Aboriginal men,‭ ‬women and children,‭”‬ says Rosalie Kunoth-Monks,‭ ‬Aboriginal elder and‭ ‬2015‭ ‬Northern Territory Australian of the Year.
Vanished: The Mysterious Disappearance Of Mustafa Ouda By Ahmed Masoud Rimal Press, 2015 US$20, 205 pages, pb There is an act of violence in Ahmed Masoud’s Vanished: The Mysterious Disappearance Of Mustafa Ouda that reverberates throughout the novel. An act done in a perfunctory way, described in a short sentence that compels the reader to sit up, if not choke.
Artist Doreen Chapman at the opening night of ‘We Call It Home’. We Call It Home Spinifex Hill Artists exhibition, FORM gallery, Perth September 3 to November 30 Many of the Martu people of Western Australia’s Pilbara region, extending out into the Great Sandy, Little Sandy and Gibson Deserts, only ceased living a pujiman (entirely traditional) life as late as the 1960s. Many also took part in the huge Aboriginal stock workers strike of the late ’40s.