Issue 1073

News

George Bender, a 68­-year­-old cotton farmer from Chinchilla, Queensland, took his own life on October 14. His family lays the blame squarely with the coal seam gas (CSG) industry he had fought against for a decade. Describe by his family as “a straight talker” who “told the truth, not the sugar coated bullshit”, George was a fifth generation farmer in the Western Downs. He stood for the right for a farmer to say “no” to the gas industry. His family said in an October 20 statement: “[George] was willing to talk openly to anyone who was interested
Sam (named changed) is a young refugee from Burundi who came to Australia in 2011 on a Protection Visa. However his visa has expired and the government wants to send him back. Burundi is currently engulfed by a civil war between the Hutu and Tutsi tribes. Unrest is growing because the opposition has accused President Pierre Nkurunzizi, a former Hutu leader, of violating the constitution that places a two-term limit on presidents. Nkurunzizi was re-elected for a third term in 2015.
Two Western Sydney University Resistance activists are running for the editorial board of the student magazine, Cruwsible. Phil Craig and Ian Escandor, both current Student Campus Council members, believe the student magazine could do much more to encourage activism on campus and better reflect students’ concerns. “Cruwsible should encourage more activism”, Craig told Green Left Weekly. “But the only way to do this is to have more student consultation.
Doctors and nurses at Melbourne's Royal Children's Hospital have announced they will not discharge children back into immigration detention. Their stance has received the backing of the Victorian state government and the Australian Medical Association. Medical staff held a rally outside the hospital on October 10: they held banner that read, “Detention harms children.”
Workers at the Hutchison Ports community assembly at Port Botany, Sydney, are holding strong and are keen to settle the long-running dispute with management. The dispute began on August 6 following the sacking of 97 waterside workers by Hutchison at their Port Botany and Brisbane terminals. Since them, the community assembly has held strong for nine weeks as talks continue between the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and management.
Sydney, October 11. The Socialist Alliance (Australia) adds it voice to the global condemnation of the terror bombing of a peace rally organised by trade unions, NGOs, the Peoples Democratic Party (HDP) and other progressive parties in Ankara on October 10. So far, 128 people have died from this bombing and some 500 have been wounded.
Immigration department officials seized pregnant Somali refugee Abyan from Villawood detention centre and flew her to the Solomon Islands on October 16, with the plan to fly her from there to Nauru. Abyan had been flown in from Nauru four days earlier to see doctors regarding the planned termination of a pregnancy that resulted from her being raped while in detention on the island.
A rally was held in Geelong on October 12 to protest mayor Darryn Lyons’ sexism. Lyons was photographed at a local Octoberfest event on October 10 wearing a t-shirt featuring an image of a naked Madonna hitchhiking, taken from her 1992 book Sex, paired with the caption “Gas, grass or ass, no one rides for free”. Fellow Geelong councillor Jan Farrell was the first to speak out about the photos. She posted on her Facebook page: “This is what passes for leadership at Geelong. As a woman who lives and works in Geelong I am beyond offended at [Lyons’] ongoing disrespect for women.”
About 300 anti-racism protesters rallied in Bendigo on October 10 as part of the Bendigo Action Coalition's Say no to racism and fascism campaign. Local residents and activists from across Victoria mobilised at the Bendigo Town Hall to oppose the far-right United Patriots Front (UPF) who paraded in Rosalind Park opposing the construction of a mosque in town. The UPF had called a national mobilisation in Bendigo on October 10, with members coming from Perth, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. About 400 attended the racist protest.
A “Hands off TAFE” day of action to stop the further privatisation of the TAFE system in NSW was held on October 12. The day of action, called by Greens NSW and supported by teachers, students and community members, involved protest actions outside TAFE colleges and in shopping centres in Sydney and regional towns across NSW. The actions mobilised public opposition to the state government’s plans to privatise more than one-third of TAFEs, and the loss of teaching and support jobs, the reduction in contact hours, the cutting of courses and increases in course fees.
The New South Wales government's nominally independent Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) has approved a fourth coal loader for the port of Newcastle. Port Waratah Coal Services (PWCS) initially applied to build the loader in 2012 at the height of the resources boom. Since then coal prices have crashed, caused by the fact that renewable energy is now a preferred source of “new build” power plants across the globe and fewer new coal-fired power plants are being built than was forecast.
Ten months after trains ceased running into Newcastle station, the New South Wales parliament has passed a controversial bill to close the line at Wickham and rip up the rail line in the CBD. The NSW Greens, who opposed the legislation along with Labor, the Christian Democrats and the Animal Justice Party, labelled the outcome a “betrayal” of the Hunter community and accused the government of selling out to “developer spivs”.
The federal government wants to amend the national security laws, in the November parliamentary term, to create the offence of inciting genocide and to lower the age at which a minor can be subject to control orders from 16 to 14 years' old. The amendments aim to allow for greater electronic tracking of individuals on control orders, and will give judges the ability to rely on sensitive information in forming a detention decision without disclosing that information to the affected person.
The New South Wales state government is giving away huge amounts of taxpayers’ money to big business through its wholesale sell-off of state-owned property. The losses include a higher rental bill for office space to house NSW public service departments. Government Property NSW plans to sell $865 million worth of buildings in 2015-16. This is more than double the $346 million in state property sold last financial year.
Labor leader Bill Shorten’s October 5 “defence” of penalty rates so totally missed the mark that he was quickly on the receiving end of a backlash from his own party. Shorten said that the extra income from penalty rates could be the difference between parents being able to send their children to private schools or not. What makes this even more embarrassing for Labor is that this was not a slip up due to an off-the-cuff comment. It was part of a prepared media statement.
An emergency protest on October 12 remembered those killed in a terrorist attack on a peace rally in the Turkish city of Ankara. About 120 people were killed in the bombings on October 10. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack. The peace rally was protesting against the Turkish government's ongoing war against the Kurdish population. Seval Ulus from the Melbourne Kurdish Association said: “The national creed of 'One Nation, One Language and One Religion' has become a ludicrous social belief that has contaminated peace between cultures.
Enterprise bargaining is the only way that workers and their unions can legally seek wage increases. Since the system was first introduced by a federal Labor government in 1993, it has achieved its deliberate, but unstated, aim of lowering aggregate wages and increasing profits.
Queensland pensioner and grandmother, 69-year-old Yvonne D'Arcy, who has twice beaten breast cancer, won an important victory in the High Court on October 7. D'Arcy brought a landmark legal challenge against US-based biotech company Myriad Genetics after it was granted a patent over the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. Mutations in the genes dramatically increase a woman's chance of developing breast and ovarian cancer.
Environment minister Greg Hunt gave formal approval on October 15 for a massive new coalmine in Queensland's Galilee basin, “in accordance with national environment law” after the Federal Court set aside the previous approval in August. But Indian coal mining giant Adani is unlikely to receive the federal government funding it needs to open the Carmichael mega mine. As resource prices crash and more than 1000 coalmining jobs have been lost in Queensland alone this year, Adani's competitors have come out in opposition to any federal government assistance for the mega mine.
Geelong Trades Hall Council president Jackie Kriz gave the following speech on October 12 at a rally in protest against Geelong mayor Darryn Lyons' sexism. Kriz is also a member of Socialist Alliance. *** We have to ask ourselves — is what the mayor did really that bad? I mean, he only wore a t-shirt depicting a naked lady with some captions. We've heard the comments — it's only a t-shirt, or it's political correctness gone mad. What's the fuss? It's a trivial matter. We hear this rhetoric all the time, but it is not a trivial matter.
Metgasco is upping the ante in its bid to drill for unconventional gas in the Northern Rivers area of New South Wales. Activists are even more determined to protect the region’s land and water. After Metgasco announced it would be carrying out pre-fracking seismic tests, Lismore council voted 5 to 2 on October 13 to refuse access to the gas company’s equipment.

Analysis

In our “A World to Win” series, Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance seeks to give voice to the ideas and demands of radical young people involved in the struggle to make the world a better place. This week, Leela Ford discusses why education should be free. *** The right to education is inscribed in the United Nations' Universal Declaration on Human Rights. It states that primary, secondary and university education should be as accessible as possible to all human beings.
The global refugee crisis has its roots in the wars waged by global powers for resources and territory. These conflicts have left millions of people displaced and driven hundreds of thousands to seek safety and protection in countries like Australia. Increasingly, climate change is becoming a second front of the refugee crisis as global food supplies are ravaged and sea level rises threaten the populations of island nations.
Having appointed himself Prime Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, then PM Tony Abbott went about cutting more than $500 million from Aboriginal services funding in the 2014 budget. The cuts formed part of a plan to consolidate existing government-funded Aboriginal affairs programs into its “Indigenous Advancement Strategy” (IAS). In March this year, Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion announced that nearly 1000 organisations would receive a share of the $860 million up for grabs in the first round of IAS funding. This money is going to finance 1297 projects.
Carol Hucker worked in Manus Island Detention Centre 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 seventh part of a multi-part series and covers her time on Christmas Island in April and May 2014. * * *

World

The spreading scandal of Volkswagen's falsifying of emission tests to evade regulations has begun to expose the cozy connections between the German government and the company. A recent article in the New York Times said: “There exists a revolving-door climate in which leaders glide between tops posts in government and auto firms.” But a recent settlement between the US government and General Motors reveals similar corruption.
Residents of El Rancho march in protest against the El Pavon mining project. Photo: Environmental Justice Atlas. After a long campaign of community resistance to the project, the Nicaraguan government has declared that the Canadian company B2Gold’s bid to open a gold mine is “unviable” due to its environmental impacts.
FMLN supporters celebrate election victory. March, 2014. Thirty-five years after its founding, El Salvador's historic Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) is set to hold its first national congress at the end of October.
Statue of Guaicaipuro. Photo: Correo del Orinoco. A statue of Caribe indigenous resistance hero Guaicaipuro was unveiled on October 12 by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to commemorate the Day of Indigenous Resistance. Guaicaipuro, an indigenous chief of the Caribes, led one of the most successful resistance campaigns against invading Spanish colonial forces throughout the 1560s and is revered by many of Venezuela’s grassroots movements.
Activists wave left Bloc flags. Will Portugal finally see the end of the austerity imposed over four years by the right-wing coalition of the Social-Democratic Party (PSD) and Democratic and Social Centre—People's Party (CDS-PP)?
Activists wave left Bloc flags. Will Portugal finally see the end of the austerity imposed over four years by the right-wing coalition of the Social-Democratic Party (PSD) and Democratic and Social Centre—People's Party (CDS-PP)?
Activists from Turkey's Kurdish lead People's Democratic Party (HDP).
The US government said on October 10 it would make “condolence payments” to those injured in an attack it carried out earlier this month on a Doctors Without Borders (MSF) hospital in Afghanistan. The series of air strikes on the trauma centre in Kunduz killed 22 people and injured 37 others. MSF has denounced the strikes as a war crime. “This was not just an attack on our hospital — it was an attack on the Geneva Conventions,” said MSF International president Dr Joanne Liu. A dozen MSF employees were killed in the attack, along with 10 patients, including three children.
Russia’s current military action in Syria, its first such action outside former Soviet territory, has shocked the world. Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan exclaimed, miserably: “Russia has no border with Syria, so why are they so interested in Syria?”
Newly leaked United States government documents have provided an unprecedented window into the secret US drone assassination program across the globe. In “The Drone Papers”, online publication The Intercept reveals drone strikes have resulted from unreliable intelligence, stemming in large part from electronic communications data, or “signals intelligence” (for example, using mobile phone signals to identify people) that officials acknowledge is insufficient.
Some things are recurring in the Israel-Palestine conflict. One is that the Israeli version of events is generally the direct opposite of reality. Another is that Western politicians and media uncritically accept the Israeli narrative. A third recurring feature of the conflict is that the most compelling evidence contradicting the Israeli version events is the body count.
The Dutch Safety Board released its long-awaited report on October 13 into the downing of flight MH17 at the Gilze-Rijen military airbase. It came 15 months after the disaster that killed 298 people, Morning Star said the next day. Board chairperson Tjibbe Joustra criticised the Kiev government for allowing civilian aircraft to fly through a dangerous war zone.
“For now, we are discussing a problem left to us by capitalism - climate change.” This was the conclusion of Bolivian President Evo Morales in his closing remarks to the October 10-12 World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Defence of Life in Cochabamba. More than 5000 people from more than 40 countries took part in the summit, established to give a voice to the poor and marginalised victims of climate change. Proposals and demands agreed on at the summit will be taken directly to the United Nations climate talks in Paris starting on November 30.
The moment the bomb detonated. Ankara, October 10, 10:04am. The following statement was released by Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ, co-chairs of the Peoples Democratic Party (HDP), on October 12 in response to the October 10 bombing of a peace rally in Ankara organised by the HDP, trade unions and civil society organisations. Following the attack, police blocked ambulances and attacked survivors.
There was massive participation in the general strike declared by four main trade unions on October 12 and 13 in protest at the October 10 massacre in Ankara. The strike brought life to a halt. While there was large participation across Turkey, thousands of workers took to streets in Ankara where the October 10 blasts claimed the lives of at least 128 people and left as many wounded.
A crowd salutes victims of the Ankara bombings, October 11. Turkish trade unions began a two-day general strike on October 12 in protest at the bombings two days earlier at a peace march in Ankara peace march that killed more than 125 people, Morning Star online reported.

Culture

The Coal Face By Tom Doig Penguin, 2015 $9.99, 144 pages Released earlier this year, Tom Doig's The Coal Face describes the day last year that fire took hold in Victoria's Hazelwood coal mine and burned for one-and-a-half months.
The Spanish football club Sevilla has rejected a €5 million sponsorship deal to advertise tourism in Israel on its players’ shirts. The 2015 UEFA Europa League champions turned down the offer due to the “political connotations” of appearing to support Israel, according to the Spanish sports publication Mundo Deportivo. Club sources told the sports website ElDesmarque that the image Israeli sponsorship would project “could be detrimental to Sevilla, especially taking into account present political issues and sensibilities and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict”.
Henning Mankell, the creator of the Swedish detective Wallander and activist for Palestinian and African rights, died at home on October 5 aged 67. He had been diagnosed with cancer early last year. Many fans of crime fiction will remember Mankell best for his Wallander novels — dark Scandinavian crime stories featuring a cynical, aging detective. Yet his stand for Palestinian rights is also an important part of his legacy.
Atmosphere of Hope: Searching for Solutions to the Climate Crisis By Tim Flannery Text Publishing, 2015 245 pages Australian scientist Tim Flannery became fascinated with proposals to extract excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and oceans when the billionaire aeronautics carbon-polluter Richard Branson, in response to Flannery's first book on climate change, The Weather Makers, invited Flannery to be a judge on Branson's £25 million Virgin Earth Challenge prize for methods of carbon withdrawal and storage.
Henning Mankell, the creator of the Swedish detective Wallander and activist for Palestinian and African rights, died at home on October 5 aged 67. He had been diagnosed with cancer early last year. Many fans of crime fiction will remember Mankell best for his Wallander novels — dark Scandinavian crime stories featuring a cynical, aging detective. Yet his stand for Palestinian rights is also an important part of his legacy.

Fighting Fund

In the wake of the shooting outside Parramatta police station — which left Curtis Cheng, a civilian police employee, and 15-year-old schoolboy Farhad Jabar dead — Parramatta mosque chairperson Neil El-Kadomia told the Daily Telegraph he was preparing to advise his congregation that “if you don’t like Australia, you should leave.” Australia's new, more silver-tongued PM raced to echo this sentiment, as did the no-serious-opposition leader Bill Shorten.

Good news (for a change)

An agreement has been reached to prevent Aboriginal children from being forcibly taken from their families and communities in western New South Wales. Grandmothers Against Removals (GMAR) finalised the deal with the Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) that will ensure Aboriginal elders are consulted if concerns are raised about a child's welfare.