Issue 1076

News

NSW Christian Democrat MLC Fred Nile intends to reintroduce a bill to give personhood rights to foetuses. He has already had several attempts — the last one failing a year ago. On November 9, Nile sent NSW Legislative Council members notice of his new Crimes Amendment (Zoe’s Law) Bill 2015. The Crimes Act currently recognises grievous bodily harm to a pregnant woman if her foetus dies as a result of assault or violence committed against her. The maximum sentence is 25 years’ jail.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has dumped knights and dames from the honours system, saying they are “anachronistic and out of date”. The imperial honours were reintroduced by former Prime Minister Tony Abbott in 2014 to ongoing ridicule and controversy. Turnbull, a well-known republican, said Cabinet agreed the titles are no longer appropriate in a modern Australia and revealed the Queen has approved his request to scrap them. “Knights and dames are titles that are really anachronistic. They're out of date, not appropriate in 2015 in Australia,” he said.
One hundred medical students and their supporters took action at Sydney University against offshore processing and the detention of children on November 5. Taping their mouths shut to represent the attempt to gag workers under the Border Protection Act, the students held up signs saying “I am a Medical Student Against Kids in Detention #DetentionHarmsChildren #KidsOut.”
So the Malcolm Turnbull-led government thinks we need to reform the tax system. When looking at the extent to which multinational corporations are shirking their responsibilities in Australia, this sounds like a good thing.
ADELAIDE Watch Naomi Klein's new film This Changes Everything on Thursday November 12 at 7pm. Wallis Cinema, Noarlunga. Bookings at tugg.com/events/70646. Ph 0437 714 786. Email adelaide@ socialist-alliance.org. BRISBANE Join us at a forum: System change, not climate change on Friday November 13 at 6.30pm. Brisbane Activist Centre, 74B Wickham St, Fortitude Valley. Ph Angus 0431 935 576. CANBERRA Come to a film: This Changes Everything on Monday November 16 at 6.15pm. Event Cinemas, 6 Franklin St, Manuka.
The Mike Baird Coalition government sold $1 billion of state-owned property in 2013 and 2014, escalating its neoliberal drive to privatise public assets. Office blocks, hospitals, schools and even an island are on the block in this wholesale theft of the people's property, in the interests of the banks and big business. In 2011–2012, the state government sold assets worth $5 million. In late 2012, it established a new agency, Government Property NSW, to identify and manage the state's substantial real estate holdings.
The Annual General Meeting of Transfield Services (where shareholders voted to change its name to Broadspectrum) was the focus of refugee rights protests in Sydney on October 28. The Refugee Action Coalition, along with other groups including No Business in Abuse (NBIA) protested at the meeting. Around 150 protesters were stationed at the front of the building, drawing attention from shareholders, onlookers and the media.
Micklo Corpus, a Yawuru traditional owner of country around Broome, WA, has been camping at the entrance to Buru Energy's Yulleroo gas field for 15 months. This week, he was moved on by police for blocking Buru Energy vehicles from accessing a gas fracking site. Buru Energy is planning to frack two wells at the site 70 kilometres east of Broome to test its potential to produce commercial quantities of gas. Corpus is angry that even though the Yawuru people have been granted native title over the area, it does not give the legal right to stop fracking.
Border Force staff, who imposed work bans in support of their campaign for a new enterprise bargaining agreement on November 4, were stood down without pay by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP), despite the industrial action being authorised by the Fair Work Commission. The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) condemned the department's action as a heavy-handed escalation of the long-running dispute.
Queensland refugee advocate David Sprigg was fined $1000 on November 4 for throwing his shoes at immigration minister Peter Dutton at a citizenship ceremony on June 14. Sprigg told the court he was not remorseful for his actions, which were in protest against the government's border protection measures and detention of refugees.
The community assemblies at Port Botany in Sydney and Port of Brisbane continue to hold the line as the protracted process towards a settlement of the long-running dispute between Hutchison Ports and the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) continues. On November 6, the dispute over the controversial sacking of 97 Hutchison waterfront workers by text and email reached its 92nd day.
Tens of thousands of people rallied around the world on November 1 to demand greater international support for Kurds battling the ISIS in Syria. Last year on the same date, hundreds of rallies, demonstrations and actions took place across dozens of countries to show support for Kobane and its people at a time when major players in the region, including Turkey and Iraq, were doing little to help its people cope with the Islamic State siege.
Greens MP Jamie Parker gave this speech at the Sydney rally for World Kobane Day on November 1. * * * I'm here in solidarity with the people of Kobane and with all Kurds. I have spoken about the YPG and YPJ before, but now I also want to speak about the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). In this country there is only one party in the parliament, the Australian Greens, which fully supports the unbanning of the PKK. The PKK is not a terrorist organisation and we have stood against its banning since 2005, when the government first sought to list the PKK as a terrorist organisation.
I spent much of the last two weeks in Brisbane’s Land Court, listening to a Central Queensland grazier — Bruce Currie — and a couple of conservation groups — North Queensland Conservation Council and the Coast and Country Association of Queensland — trying to persuade the court that GVK Hancock’s proposed Kevins Corner mine in the Galilee Basin is neither viable nor desirable.
Activists in Melbourne braved rain on October 31 to remember Shaun Coolwell, who died after being restrained by police in Kingston, south of Brisbane, on October 2. His brother died in similar circumstances four years ago. The rally called for an end to deaths in custody and for the Deaths in Custody Royal Commission's recommendations to be implemented. The rally noted that not a single police officer or prison officer has been convicted for any of the 99 cases of Aboriginal deaths in custody between January 1, 1980 and May 31, 1989 that were investigated by the Royal Commission.

Analysis

Peter Boyle speaking at World Kobanê Day rally, Sydney, November 1. Peter Boyle gave this speech on behalf of Socialist Alliance at the Sydney rally for World Kobanê Day on November 1. * * * I am here to bring you greetings from the Socialist Alliance and the progressive newspaper Green Left Weekly.
In yet another policy continuity with Tony Abbott, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is considering raising the goods and services tax (GST). Once again, this shows the government acting in the interests of big corporations and the super rich against the interests of ordinary people. The simple truth is that the GST is an unfair tax. Poor people pay a higher proportion of their income in GST than rich people.
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 in Australia's offshore detention centres. She said: “It is my hope that through this brief account the men on Manus will not be forgotten.” This is the last part of a multi-part series and covers her time there in June and July 2014. ****
This is an edited version of the speech given by Jackie Kriz, the president of Geelong Trades Hall Council, at the Geelong Reclaim the Night rally on October 31. * * * I would like to thank the women of Reclaim the Night collective who, with support from Geelong Trades Hall, have worked tirelessly for months to organise this rally.
The Central Intelligence Agency was set up in 1947 as the key agency for US Cold War operations. From its inception, it intervened in the trade union movement and workers' political parties throughout much of the world, including Australia. One of the first post-World War II US policy objectives was to counter the newly-formed World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) to which the Australian union movement was affiliated through the ACTU.
The Age published a comment piece on October 26, called “Australia, we need to talk about the way we speak”. Author Dean Frenkel, lecturer in public speaking and communications, argued the Australian accent developed when “our forefathers regularly got drunk together and through their frequent interactions added an alcoholic slur to our national speech patterns”.
When it was revealed last month that Malcolm Turnbull has significant investments in the Caribbean tax haven of the Cayman Islands, I'll admit I felt some relief. At least our prime minister appeared committed to helping someone's economy, even if It was just a banking system once described by Barack Obama as “the biggest tax scam on record”.
Gas miner Metgasco's surprise announcement on November 2 that it was recommending its shareholders accept a $25 million payout for its three remaining exploration licences in NSW's Northern Rivers, near Lismore, was celebrated right across the state. Anti-fracking campaigners, who have worked hard for more than three years, educating, organising and mobilising communities against the industry, are very relieved.
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. In this week's article, Stanley Blair argues that the international border system exacerbates the injustice of capitalism and that we need open borders. * * * Around the world, political discussion has become increasingly concerned with immigration. The Australian establishment has been a world leader in immigration scaremongering for the past decade.

World

Israel is carrying out summary executions of Palestinians, Amnesty International has confirmed. Sometimes it lets injured Palestinians bleed to death. The human rights group says it has “documented in depth at least four incidents in which Palestinians were deliberately shot dead by Israeli forces when they posed no imminent threat to life, in what appear to have been extra-judicial executions.”
In what could be a historic move for reparations, car manufacturer Volkswagen has opened dialogue with the Brazilian government to negotiate compensation for the German multinational’s support of Brazil’s 1964-’85 dictatorship. Volkswagen was among many private companies that backed Brazil’s military dictatorship financially and operationally. Corporate complicity was revealed by Brazil's Truth Commission that investigated dictatorship-era crimes against humanity.
Labour's shadow chancellor John McDonnell threw his weight behind students who took to the streets on November 4 over Tory plans to cut maintenance grants and raise tuition fees.
Israeli occupation forces executed an injured Palestinian in Hebron on October 29, an eyewitness told Electronic Intifada on October 30. Video corroborates this clear case of extra-judicial execution, a war crime and part of a pattern of such killings of Palestinians by Israeli forces. Last month, 71 Palestinians had been killed according to the Palestinian Authority health ministry on October 30. This number includes five Palestinians who died as a possible result of tear gas inhalation, delayed medical treatment due to checkpoints and medical neglect by prison authorities.
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has accused the Irish government of cosying up to British intelligence agency MI5 and the British government in a bid to halt the growth of Sinn Fein in Ireland's south. A recent British report claimed the Irish Republican Army Council still exists — something flatly rejected by Sinn Fein. The IRA decommissioned its weapons in an internationally validated process in 2005 as part of the peace process in the six counties of Ireland's north still claimed by Britain that began with the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.
Thousands of trade union activists mobilised outside Parliament on November 2 to protest the Conservative government's proposed ultra-right Trade Union bill. The turnout defied expectations of the event’s organisers, the Trade Union Congress. Speaking at the lobby’s Central Hall rally, the Fire Brigade Union's Matt Wrack channelled the anger of his union’s rank-and-file. Unite's Len McCluskey reiterated his union's commitment to extra-legal action should the bill be passed, invoking the movement’s proud historic tradition of overriding unjust laws.
The text of the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership — negotiated by 12 Pacific rim nations including Australia — was released on November 5 after a negotiating process shrouded in secrecy. The release of the much-guarded text of the deal has renewed calls for action to stop the TPP as a “toxic deal” and “disaster for democracy”.
Erdoğan’s electioneering: aftermath of October 10 bombing in Ankara. In Turkey’s November 1 election, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) increased its votes from 41% to 49% in the five months (143 days) from the election in June. The AKP won a majority of seats — 317 out of 550. The governing party gained 5 million extra votes. It adopted very risky policies to get this result, but was determined to win the elections — no matter how many lives were lost.
The Bolivian government's national contribution to the COP 21 climate talks scheduled to start in Paris on November 30 contains a series of radical proposals for safeguarding the future health of the planet, Euractiv.com said on October 14. Bolivia's contribution insists that capitalism is responsible for “consumerism, warmongering and [...] the destruction of Mother Earth”.
Russia's initiation of air strikes in Syria on September 30, a year after a US-led coalition began air strikes in Syria — both officially targeting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) — began the latest round of speculation of a “new Cold War” with Russia and its allies pitted against the US and other Western imperialist powers.
Photo: Fenaes. A wave of popular protests and strikes rocked Paraguay on November 3 as popular discontent with the national government approached breaking point. High school students, teachers, public transport workers and health sector workers held strikes and marches protesting government policies.
The ongoing war without guns between the Spanish state and Catalonia entered a critical new phase on October 27. On that day, the newly elected pro-independence majority in the Catalan parliament published a draft bill that “solemnly declared the start of the process of creating an independent Catalan state in the form of a republic”.
President Nicolas Maduro unveiled the economic measures while visiting an industrial site in the Venezuelan state of Barinas. Photo: Prensa Presidencial. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro unveiled a series of economic measures on October 20 after the release of a new poll predicting a victory for the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) in December's parliamentary elections.
More than 85 people, including children, drowned or went missing near the Greek Islands Lesbos, Samos, Kalymnos and Rhodes between October 28 and 30. As numbers, these deaths are added to the more than 3400 who have already died trying to flee to Europe so far this year. As human lives, these represent an incalculable loss and moral failure by European leaders.
Tens of thousands of people have rallied worldwide to demand greater international support for Kurds battling the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in the largely Kurdish territory of Rojava in northern Syria. Kobane is a Rojavan town that was the scene of prolonged and devastating conflict between the Rojavan revolutionary forces and ISIS, before finally being liberated in January. The battle for Kobane became symbolic of the Rojavan struggle against ISIS and its allies, such as the Turkish state.
Protesters outside 10 Downer Street, while inside Cameron was hosting Sisi. November 5. British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has railed at Prime Minister David Cameron’s decision to host Egypt’s Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in his London residence on.
An internal report produced by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said a US warplane shot at survivors attempting to escape the group’s hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, after the building was bombed by the US last month, Gawker.com reported on November 11.
Seattle voted for working-class politics by re-electing socialist incumbent Kshama Sawant to City Council with a five point lead over her challenger. As a result, Seattle residents can expect to see more campaigns in City Council and in the streets to fight inequality and build social justice. “We have accomplished something historic,” Sawant said to supporters on Capitol Hill on the night of November 3 as election results came in. “We have had an open socialist re-elected to City Council.”

Culture

Remembrance Day is marked in Commonwealth nations on November 11 -- to commemorate the end of the bloodbath that was World War I. As a commemoration of fallen soldiers, it is overshadowed in Australia by Anzac Day -- but is a far bigger deal in Britain.
Red Rosa: A Graphic Biography of Rosa Luxemburg By Kate Evans Edited by Paul Buhle Verso Books, London, 2015, 220 pages $16.95. Order here Perhaps a new comic-book super hero is about to take the world by storm. An unlikely Frau Luxemburg, who transforms from a tiny and odd-looking outsider into the almost unstoppable Red Rosa — Revolutionary Scourge of the Oppressors.
“There is a saying amongst them that all cops are bastards,” Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm said on November 3 about the attitude of many fans of the Western Sydney Wanderers football (soccer) team towards the police force. “The cops have earned that label, they have to un-earn it.”