Issue 1079

News

A proposal for a refugee hub at Callan Park has won the support of Leichhardt Council. Leichhardt Council decided on December 8 to write to the state and federal governments to request funding for the establishment of a Refugee Welcome Centre in Callan Park. Leichardt Mayor Darcy Byrne said: “By offering a place in our own backyard to the orphans and widows fleeing Syria and elsewhere, we can put our good intentions into action.”
Up to 100 people gathered in Wollongong on December 5 to witness the New South Wales government's costly operation to move 25 tonnes of highly radioactive nuclear waste through Port Kembla to the Lucas Heights facility in southern Sydney. After a welcome to country by a prominent traditional land owner and elder, we were addressed by representatives from the Maritime Union of Australia, the South Coast Labour Council and Beyond Nuclear initiative. Overnight and into the early morning, Greenpeace activists on flotillas witnessed the incoming shipment on their flotillas.
Residents of the Millers Point public housing area in inner-city Sydney face "Sophie's Choice" on the future of their accommodation, Chris Hinkley, of the Millers Point community working party, and a 44-year resident of the suburb, said on November 19. He was commenting on the decision by the NSW Coalition government to offer 28 non-heritage listed apartments to the estimated 90 remaining residents, in exchange for their agreement to move out of their existing homes.
The fight to stop WestConnex intensified in November with the release — finally — of the motorway's Strategic Business Case. Four months after roads minister Duncan Gay's promised release date, a heavily redacted Strategic Business Case for WestConnex was released. This was testament to the ongoing pressure of campaigners.
West Papuans, Aboriginal activists and supporters held a midday vigil outside the Indonesian consulate in Perth on December 1 to mark West Papuan Independence Day. The action also called for the end of the military occupation by Indonesia that has killed more than 500,000 West Papuans since 1961, when West Papua was annexed by Indonesia.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull made some very modest announcements at the COP21 climate change conference. He pledged Australia to the final years of the Kyoto protocol, an agreement that is about to lapse, and $800 million to developing nations for climate adaptation. This money is to come from existing foreign aid, which recent budgets have slashed. In contrast, Canada's new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged $2.5 billion.
This year the Earth's climate scored the global warming trifecta: it passed the milestone of 1°C of warming since pre-industrial times; it is set to be the hottest year on record; and it will be the first year in which the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is over 400 parts per million (ppm) on average due to the continued burning of fossil fuels. This is uncharted territory for the Earth. It came as world leaders met in Paris for Climate talks on how to keep warming below 2°C.
The 38 crew of the Victorian ship MV Portland docked in Portland, in south-west Victoria, have refused to sail the vessel to Singapore on a one-way journey. The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) is demanding the Federal Government and aluminium producer Alcoa reverse a decision to sack the workers and allow a foreign-crewed ship take over its route between Western Australia and Victoria.
NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli announced that Aboriginal languages will be offered as an HSC subject from 2016, a decade after the NSW Indigenous Languages policy was introduced. Students have been able to take Aboriginal language courses from Kindergarten to Year 10 since 2005, giving teachers time to prepare for teaching the HSC course. Of the 35 Aboriginal languages in NSW, 19 are currently being offered as language courses across the state.
Campaigners hoping to save the Ballerrt Mooroop former Aboriginal school site in Glenroy were in shock after Victorian Labor education minister James Merlino sent them a letter on November 23 announcing that the site would be sold. Ballerrt Mooroop Working Group chairperson Dorothy Bamblett challenged the government's decision. “It is still possible to save the site,” she said. “The fight isn't over. We have to rally around to stop the government selling off the site. If we lose the site, it will be gone forever. We have to act now.”
One side event at the COP21 United Nations climate change conference in Paris was the launch of the Fossil-Fuel Subsidy Reform Communique. Almost 40 countries signed onto the statement, which pledges to eliminate subsidies to the fossil fuel industry. The communique said: “The International Energy Agency (IEA) highlights fossil fuel subsidy reform as a key component of a set of energy measures to combat climate change and estimates that even a partial phase-out of fossil-fuel subsidies would generate 12% of the total abatement needed by 2020 to keep the door open to the 2°C target.”
ADELAIDE Join us at the Green Left Weekly end-of-year party. Vegetarian-friendly BBQ lunch. Drinks available. No BYO please. Saturday December 19 at 12pm. Black Forest. For address phone Laura 0402 435 891. BRISBANE Come to a forum on Ecosocialism: A planet to save, a world to win. Hosted by Socialist Alliance. Saturday December 12 at 12pm. Brisbane Activist Centre, 74b Wickham St, Fortitude Valley. Ph Angus 0431 935 576. CANBERRA
Over the last 18 months there has been a flurry of editorials and full page opinion pieces in Perth's only daily newspaper, The West Australian, demanding the state government keep its promise to build light rail to Mirabooka and unfavourably comparing Perth's infamous car dependent urban sprawl to European cities. It even ran a "tale of two cities" special feature celebrating the decision by Vancouver in the 1970s not to allow freeways into its inner city.
Over the weekend of November 27-29, more than 140,000 people took part in marches in 55 towns and cities across Australia as part of the global protest in the lead-up to the United Nations COP21 climate talks in Paris. The protests promoted a 100% renewable energy future and climate justice. * * * Melbourne Chris Petersen reports that in Melbourne up to 60,000 — the organisers' estimate — marched for climate action.
The agreement to end the longstanding dispute between Hutchison Ports and the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) appears near to resolution after nearly four months of conflict. The dispute began on August 6 with the sudden sacking by text and email of 97 waterfront workers at Hutchison's two facilities at Port Botany and Port of Brisbane.
On November 27 the ABC published documents showing that the Queensland Coordinator General plans to extinguish native title over parts of the proposed Carmichael mining site in the Galilee basin and give the freehold to Adani. The document said: "The Moray Downs Land acquisition includes the takeover of native title rights and interests of the Wangan and Jagalingou people to allow for the leasehold land to be converted to freehold.
The campaign against the Perth Freight Link freeway continues to gather momentum with more than 3000 people participating in its contingent at the Fremantle Festival Parade on November 1 and a similar number converging on the Beeliar Wetlands on November 22. The Rethink Perth Freight Link Alliance has now linked 32 organisations opposed to the freeway and in support of alternative transport solutions, including better public transport, more freight on rail and the building of a second container port in Cockburn Sound.
Family members and supporters gathered on December 2 outside the inquest into the death in custody of 22-year-old Ms Dhu. The protest was a response to the shocking evidence of neglect and institutionalised racism revealed at the inquest and the fact that the conclusion of the inquest has been delayed so that police testimony won't be heard until at least March 2016.
Up to 60,000 people rallied for action on climate change in Melbourne on November 27. The rally kicked off a global weekend of actions to coincide with UN climate talks in Paris. The march was led by First Nations activists and demanded an end to fossil fuels and a planned transition to 100% renewable energy. Photo by Ali Bakhtiarvandi
Anti-racist protesters once again easily out-numbered the racist and Islamophobic Reclaim Australia at rallies around Australia on November 22. MELBOURNE The biggest rally was in the outer suburb of Melton, about 35 kilometres west of Melbourne, where anti-Islam groups have been campaigning against the construction of an Islamic school and mosque.

Analysis

On November 22, the Australian Greens launched their updated renewable energy plan Renew Australia. The plan improves on their 2013 Clean Energy Roadmap, which was light on detail, merely calling for the Renewable Energy Target (RET) to be raised to 90% by 2030, more funding for the commercialisation of renewable energy technology and improved coordination and planning of the electricity grid.
More than 2000 People's Climate Marches were held over the weekend of November 27 to 29. In Australia more than 140,000 people took to the streets to show they care, passionately, about climate change. They are also angry at government inaction, as illustrated by the many homemade placards and props. These marches were the biggest national anti-government mobilisations for many years. The Melbourne march — a huge 60,000 people — was the biggest street march there since the anti-Work Choices protests of 2005.
Over the past few months, refugees who were once deemed by ASIO to be a threat to national security have been gradually released from indefinite detention. It appears that one of Australia's most internationally criticised immigration detention policies is being quietly abandoned. The most high-profile victims of this policy, Ranjini and her son, who was born in detention and had never known a day of freedom, were released on November 13.
In our “A World to Win” series, Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance members have expressed their desires for a different future. From universal basic income, green economies and reproductive rights, we have discussed demands that can change the trajectory of our current world towards somewhere greener, freer and more just. In this final article of the series, Angus McAllen raises the demand of “Everything for Everyone”, an idea of a society without classes, inequality and poverty. ***
When the First Fleet sailed into Port Jackson on January 26, 1788, it carried more than the physical paraphernalia for European settlement. Along with tools, agricultural implements, chains, handcuffs, the cat-o'-nine-tails and gunpowder, the colonists brought with them an entrenched world-view.
During the 1890s the Australian colonies were ravaged by unemployment, industrial conflict and misery. Economic conditions became so bad there was a determined attempt to create a different society, a society that was protected from the ravages of capitalism. One such attempt was by journalist William Lane who, in 1893, had little difficulty in recruiting members to his new utopian society in distant Paraguay. This attempt was ultimately a failure, mainly due to Lane's demanding personality, but the idea of a new, fairer society lingered.
The use of the drug ice in Australia is said to be at “epidemic'' levels. There is nothing new in this claim for both Australia and much of the rest of the world. Epidemics have accompanied the use and misuse of stimulants since the late-19th century. John Rainford traces that history in the final part of this three-part series. * * * The rise in the use of crystal methamphetamine, or ice, shows the self-defeating mechanism of drug prohibition.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the introduction of the Racial Discrimination Act in Australia, yet we still live in a country where racism runs deep. Legislative change, which was won as a result of the movements for black liberation and for women's liberation, was a step forward. However, legal changes alone cannot undo centuries of oppression. For this to be lasting we have to continue to campaign and organise against racism. We need to tackle the system that gives rise to it.
Viewers of the ABC TV documentary Hitting Home, screened to coincide with the International Day against Violence Against Women on November 25, could be forgiven for thinking Australia’s “domestic violence crisis” is finally being taken seriously. Produced by ABC TV's Sarah Ferguson in cooperation with NSW Police and the NSW Department of Justice, Episode 1 of the two-part series took viewers inside DV refuges, specialist police units and courtrooms and featured interviews with incredibly courageous survivors. Their message to victims, and Ferguson’s, was clear: “Get out. Now”.

World

In July 2012, the residents Kobanê rose up against the regime of Bashar al-Assad, making it the centre of the liberated cantons of Rojava (Syrian Kurdistan). In the rest of Syria, various forces — including the regime, the so-called "Islamic State" and the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front have turned the country into a battleground, fuelled ethnic and religious divisions and competed with each other in cruelty to civilians. By contrast, in Rojava's liberated cantons a new society based on participatory democracy, ethnic equality, religious tolerance and feminism is emerging.
Even with protests banned in Paris ahead of the United Nation's COP21 climate talks, about 2300 climate protests sent a global message to leaders at the talks. Hundreds of thousands of people joined climate change protests, marches and other events around the world on November 29 to send a message to leaders on the eve of COP21 that the world is waiting for climate change action. The 2300 climate actions included 175 countries.
Bolivian President Evo Morales has blamed capitalism for environmental destruction during his speech at the opening plenary at the United Nations COP21 climate summit in Paris, France, TeleSUR English said on November 30. Morales called capitalism “the formula that has destroyed our species” and delivered a manifesto to save Mother Earth and life.
The poorest half of the world suffering the worst impacts of climate change is responsible for just 10% of global carbon emissions, while the richest 10% spew out half of all emissions, says a new report released by Oxfam on December 2. TeleSUR English said that day that the findings of Oxfam's Extreme Carbon Inequality highlight the need for world leaders to heed the calls of social movements and pay attention to the vastly unequal contributions to climate change to craft a deal based on global climate justice.
On December 6, Venezuela held its 20th election in 17 years and one of its most difficult yet. With the opposition upping the ante in terms of media attacks and sabotage, 2.5 years of economic difficulties and since the passing of revolutionary leader Hugo Chavez, not to mention a recent right-wing victory in Argentina, the left and right around the world turned anxious eyes to Venezuela.
Venezuela's Bolivarian Revolution will face its toughest challenge yet this Sunday, when voters go to the polls to elect a new National Assembly. Amid an economic crisis marked by currency instability and inflation, many Venezuelans are understandably going to be thinking hard before casting what would be seen as a vote in support of President Nicolás Maduro.
Armed thugs, some with signs supporting Republican presidential candidate, Ted Cruz, intimidate worshipers at a mosque in Irving, Texas. November 21. In her 2007 book The Shock Doctrine, Canadian author Naomi Klein discusses how capitalist governments and corporations exploit disasters to further their interests against the rest of us.
“We, the developing countries, are dignified and sovereign nations and victims of a problem that we didn’t cause.” This statement was made six years ago, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) at the Copenhagen Climate Conference.
The dam took just half-an-hour to entomb half the village of Bento Rodrigues in 18 metres of iron-ore tailings, reddish mud and water slurry. A “mountain tsunami” is how firefighters in Mariana, in Minas Gerais in south-eastern Brazil, described the bursting of mining company Samarco Santarem’s iron-ore tailings dam on November 5. Marcos de Eufrasio, a 38-year-old stonemason who was cutting rock on that sunny afternoon, said that, from nowhere, he heard a “mighty roar”.
The statement below was released by four mayors of cities in the Spanish state — Barcelona, Cadiz, Zaragoza and A Coruna — and signed by many well-known figures from Spanish media and culture. It was translated for Green Left Weekly by Dick Nichols. * * * The brutal attacks in Paris on November 13 were designed to install a climate of terror in the population, raising walls of suspicion and hatred between neighbours, shattering community life and bringing the politics of fear into our daily lives.
The November 13 terrorist attacks in Paris were an ideal political gift for Europe's warmongers. It offers a chance to fulfill some previously out-of-reach dreams — such as restoring Germany to a fully-fledged offensive military role or to finally split the British Labour Party between its pro- and anti-war wings. In Spain, however, the militarists — led by the governing People’s Party (PP) of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and the official opposition Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) — have a tricky job getting the country on board the “war on terror”.
Israel has detained at least 1200 children since October 1. As the latest upsurge in mass Palestinian resistance to Israel's occupation entered its third month, the world marked the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People on November 29.
We have all heard the story of when, during a visit to the United States, a journalist asked Mahatma Gandhi what he thought of Western civilisation, and Gandhi is said to have replied that he thought it “would be a very good idea.” Former Greek finance minister and outspoken opponent of the savage austerity programs forced on Greece, Yanis Varoufakis recalled Gandhi’s words in the talk he gave at the University of Sydney on November 26. Varoufakis’ message was clear: Like Western civilisation, European democracy would indeed be a very good idea.
British parliament sat late into the night on December 2 before eventually voting up Prime Minister David Cameron's proposal to join the US-led air war in Syria. Opposition Labour Party leader and veteran anti-war activist Jeremy Corbyn argued strongly against bombing Syria, as did protesters outside parliament. However, many right-wing Labour MPs supported the government.
The right wing's attacks on women's access to abortion once again turned deadly on November 27. Colorado Spring police arrested Robert Dear six hours after he entered a Planned Parenthood facility wielding an AK-47 rifle. By then, he had murdered three people and wounded nine.
Even with protests banned in Paris ahead of the United Nation's COP21 climate talks, about 2300 climate protests sent a global message to leaders at the talks. Hundreds of thousands of people joined climate change protests, marches and other events around the world on November 29 to send a message to leaders on the eve of COP21 that the world is waiting for climate change action. The 2300 climate actions included 175 countries.
Thousands marched in protest during the APEC Summit held in Manila on November 18-19. US President Barack Obama turned up with a "gift" of two warships to the summit perversely themed of this APEC Summit is "Building Inclusive Growth". More than a quarter of Filipinos are struggling to survive on less than US$1.25 per day but Obama does not come with food, clothing, housing or anything urgently needed by these millions in extreme poverty, but with two warships to underline Washington's latest military build up against China.
Neo-Nazis protest against Palfreeman's nomination. Banner says: "Death to BHC [Bulgarian Helsinki Committee]."

Culture

"Should Team Autralia Be Disqualified?' was the theme of a comedy debate held as a fundraiser for Green Left Weekly in Sydney on October 17.
The Butterfly Prison Tamara Pearson 343pps Open Books www.open-bks.com In her debut novel The Butterfly Prison, Tamara Pearson, an Australian journalist working for Latin American news site TeleSUR in Quito, uses a poet’s sensitivity and language combined with a journalist’s eye for reportage. She weaves storylines that situate the poor and alienated as actors in resisting the living prison which dehumanises them.
Red and Black Bloc banner on November 29. A large-scale revolt of fans of the A-League, Australia's leading football (soccer) competition, has broken out. With several “active support” fan groups on an indefinite strike and fans from each of the 10 clubs protesting in one form or another, it is one of the largest sporting-related protests in Australia's history.
He fell in Afghanistan Sometime the day before The Major from the New Mexico National Guard couldn't find my house and it was a stormy night in Albuquerque So we talked by cell phone instead-- No dress uniforms at my door-- It was a clean three shots Straight through the heart He was dead before he hit the ground The Major was a father himself he said I could hear his kid behind the phone I could see my own son reaching up to his dad The Major called back later The government could fly me the Major said to the Dignified Transfer at Dover base I asked where that was

Good news (for a change)

Victoria passed legislation on November 27 creating exclusion zones of 150 metres around abortion clinics. Victoria decriminalised abortion in 2008. But each month right-wing Christians organised protests that harass women seeking to use clinics that offer abortions. The legislation makes it an offence to film people without consent or block access to footpaths, roads and vehicles within the zone around GP clinics, hospitals and other health services offering abortions.