Issue 1102

News

A public forum on abortion decriminalisation held at James Cook University in Cairns attracted more than 80 people on July 13. The night before, a public forum also took place in Brisbane organised by Young Queenslanders for the Right to Choose, attracting about 150 people. The JCU meeting was organised by Pro Choice Cairns to inform the discussion around the Abortion Law Reform (Women's Right to Choose) Amendment Bill 2016 which was tabled in parliament on May 10 by Cairns MP Rob Pyne.
The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) joined waterside workers from around the world on July 8 in actions to highlight the issues faced by wharfies internationally. Every port in Australia had an action of some description, with most ports taking to the streets to raise grievances about job security, safety and workers' rights.
Limelight Magazine reported on July 7 that a major restructure at ABC Classic FM could see the loss of several programs and many popular presenters. Quoting senior sources within the ABC, the magazine said the shakeup will see a large number of redundancies, including some of the broadcaster's most high-profile figures, as well the loss of most of its live-to-air presented programming.
A Gold Coast police officer accused of leaking video footage showing his colleagues brutally bashing a young man in a police station basement is facing criminal charges. Noa Begic was repeatedly punched to the ground in the station’s basement with his hands cuffed behind his back in January 2012. While the two officers responsible for the attack were given a slap on the wrist, Rick Flori, the station’s sergeant, who allegedly leaked video footage to The Courier Mail is now facing charges of misconduct, abuse of public office and fraud.
Carlton and United Brewery (CUB) is trying to impose a 65% pay cut on its maintenance workforce. The 54 electricians and fitters were called to a meeting in a pub on June 10 and told their jobs were terminated. They were then told they could reapply for their jobs with a company called Catalyst Recruitment which is part of the Programmed/Skilled Group. Five apprentices have been left in limbo with no jobs and no trade qualifications.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he will amend the Fair Work Act to make it possible for the federal government to block the proposed new enterprise agreement for firefighters employed by Victoria's Country Fire Authority (CFA). Turnbull said he will introduce legislation in the first sitting week of the new parliament to expand the list of "objectionable terms" that cannot be included in enterprise agreements.
Socialist councillor Sue Bolton convinced Moreland Council on July 13 to reinstate the after-hours Aged and Disability Home Support Services for existing clients as well as new ones. Bolton said she was enormously grateful to the parents of children with disabilities who spoke up on behalf of all the parents who were unable to come to the meeting or who didn’t think it was possible to fight the cut. “Those parents put a human face on the implications of a very bureaucratic cut: their stories had an impact on the other councillors”, Bolton told Green Left Weekly.
About 1200 people marched through Melbourne on July 8 in the annual National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) march. The rally demanded "Treaty Now", "Land Rights" and "Stop Deaths in Custody". http://www.sbs.com.au/nitv/nitv-news/blog/2016/
Cleaners won greater protection against unfair dismissal and loss of entitlements in a Fair Work Commission (FWC) decision on July 12. FWC awarded the cleaners entitlements they had lost when they were transferred to a new company, after their former employer lost a cleaning contract with two Sydney hotels. Mel Gatfield, NSW secretary of the cleaners' union, United Voice, said the case was "hugely significant”, not just for the 19 cleaners who have received $70,000 in redundancy payments, but for the legal precedent it sets.
World Wildlife Fund Australia has bought a commercial shark fishing licence for $100,000 in a move to protect sharks in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and beyond. The Queensland Government allocates five licences that allow a 1.2 kilometre net to trawl for sharks and other by-catch. WWF Australia conservation director Gilly Llewellyn said: "It's a new approach to conservation. "This is an opportunity for people to help stop a massive 1.2km long net from sitting in reef waters and indiscriminately killing almost everything that swims into it.
The Finance Sector Union has just signed a new agreement that covers workers in the National Australia Bank. This comes after widespread consultation with National Australia Bank staff and months of negotiations with the bank. The new agreement guarantees 3% increases; removes the link between sales targets and fixed pay; incorporates the outcomes of the ABA review into product payments over the life of the agreement; and introduces regular forums with NAB decision makers to resolve workplace issues, such as workloads, staffing and relief.
In a moment of devastating irony, former immigration minister Philip Ruddock, the man responsible for “children overboard” and the architect behind what became the anti-terror laws, has been nominated as Australia's UN Special Envoy for Human Rights. On July 12, Ruddock was given a platform at the Wheeler Centre — which claims he has “been a vocal advocate on several human rights issues” — to talk “human rights, the death penalty, and the changing Australian political landscape”.
Following the release of the Chilcot Report in Britain, a new group, Chilcot Oz, formed in South Australia to advocate for a full inquiry into Australia's involvement in the Iraq war. Chilcot Oz spokesperson, Mike Khizam, said the 100,000 people who marched for peace in Adelaide in February 2003 always knew that the Iraq War was unjustified. The Chilcot Report validates this and there are now a growing number of calls for a similar inquiry in Australia.
Heritage items from homes in the inner west suburbs of Ashfield and Haberfield are being sold off by private contractors prior to the demolition of houses to make way for the controversial WestConnex tollway. Contractors employed to demolish the homes are being allowed to sell valuable items including tiles, bricks, light fittings and leadlight doors and windows, according to the July 12 Inner West Courier.
Western Australia’s marine environment is unique. It has two world heritage areas, the largest fringing coral reef in Australia and more than a thousand kilometres of underwater forests, supporting incredible wildlife, important fisheries and tourism.
A 700 kilometre stretch of mangrove shoreline in the Gulf of Carpentaria has died, James Cook University Professor Norm Duke told the Australian Mangrove and Saltmarsh Network Conference in Darwin in early July. Duke, a spokesperson for the Australian Mangrove and Saltmarsh Network, said the scale and magnitude of the loss was "unprecedented and deeply concerning" and he had no doubt the dieback was related to climate change.

Analysis

The WA government released its plan for remote Aboriginal communities on July 14. The spin is all about “better living conditions”, “supporting families” and “more opportunities”. However the substance is still entirely about penny pinching and withdrawing resources. Communities will close if it is implemented. When WA premier Colin Barnett first announced that up to 150 communities would be forced to close, people responded with a massive, international protest movement to save the communities.
Australia desperately needs high-speed rail, if for no other reason than short-haul aviation is a major source of rising greenhouse emissions. This does not mean, however, that the Consolidated Lands & Rail Australia's (CLARA) proposal to build a high-speed line from Sydney to Melbourne, along with eight new “smart cities” along the route should be welcomed. Any proposal for a privately built, privately operated railway should be suspect. CLARA's proposal is particularly so.
Malcolm Turnbull, who has just scraped over the line to claim government, claims he has a mandate to implement all of his unpopular polices. Green Left Weekly asked several community leaders their opinion. Jeannie Rae, National Tertiary Education Union national president First, even in liberal, democratic terms Malcolm Turnbull is on thin ice considering he just slipped in. More importantly, if a policy is wrong whether or not the party that won the election claims they have a mandate to implement it doesn't make it right!
The killing of two African American men in Minnesota and Louisiana in early July created an uproar across the US and around the world. In Australia there was lots of social media commentary and letters to the press about US racism.
A joint review by Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance members. This year's Students of Sustainability (SOS) conference, organised by the Australian Student Environment Network (ASEN), took place in Musgrave Park, Brisbane on Jagera and Turrbal country July 7-11. SOS started in Canberra in 1991 and is the longest running, annual student conference in Australia.
Twenty-five per cent of Australian Rules football players are now women and girls, a figure that has doubled in the past five years. From February next year, eight new women's teams will compete in a national, six-round, AFL competition. Announcing the women's league last month, AFL chairman Mike Fitzpatrick said it would “change the game forever, [… uneasy pause …] for the good”.
There is ample evidence of systematic cruelty and regulatory failure with which to justify the New South Wales government's decision to ban greyhound racing. But this is a single industry in a single state. If we step back and look at the wider picture we see a telling lack of consistency in animal welfare policy and practice around the nation.
In May, the ABC's first female managing director Michelle Guthrie was introduced by the ABC Board as bringing “business expertise, international contacts, a record in content-making across an array of platforms, a deep understanding of audience needs and corporate responsibility for promoting issues like diversity”.
Malcolm Turnbull's very slim majority is no mandate to re-introduce the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) and other anti-worker legislation that he could not get through the previous Senate. The silence from the government was deafening during the election campaign, even though the ABCC legislation was the trigger. The ABCC was hardly mentioned. It only highlights the fact that Turnbull did not want to give the average worker the opportunity to scrutinise the finer details of his proposals to attack workers' rights.
This election was very tight. I don't think any party can claim a mandate. Malcolm Turnbull barely fell over the line. There is no mandate in that. Turnbull claims to have a mandate — to not tax the rich and keep giving it to Blackfellas. That is his mandate, and it would be the same if Labor had won. Another disappointing factor is that in the lead-up to the election, and in the post mortem, we have heard nothing about First Nations people. We are still dying in great numbers and they are arguing about who got the most votes in what seat.
Some weeks can bring mixed blessings. For instance, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull claimed a narrow victory for the Coalition in the federal election and on July 12 deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce was assaulted twice by a sheep on his farm.

World

Anti-coup rally in Brazil. Since the start of the 21st century, the left has won elections in most Latin American countries in a powerful wave of popular rejection of the disastrous neoliberal policies of the previous regimes. One must however distinguish between two quite different sorts of left governments:
A reform that better represents the nation's indigenous peoples has been implemented after a constitutional request by Bolivia's indigenous peoples of Yampara and the Sura people from Oruro department (state). Bolivians can now add any cultural identity they want on the back of their ID cards, as the government of Evo Morales continues its efforts to build an inclusive society that better represents the nation's Indigenous peoples.
The children of Santhiyogu Anton, who was abducted, tortured by Sri Lankan security forces. Photo from Tamilnet. Santhiyogu Anton, a 38 year old Tamil man, was abducted and tortured by Sri Lankan military intelligence on June 29. After previous experiences of harassment by military intelligence, Anton had sought the assistance of the Catholic Church. He was allowed to stay at a church near the city of Mannar.
Bill Gates was set to deliver the July 17 annual Mandela Lecture in Johannesburg, justifying his philosophy of market-oriented, technology-centric philanthropy. Last year, French economist Thomas Piketty’s speech on inequality attracted healthy debate — with even business notables endorsing his concerns — given South Africa’s intense social conflict. To illustrate, South Africa’s Gini Coefficient measuring inequality is the world’s highest (at 0.77 on a scale of 0 to 1, in terms of income inequality from employment). Since 2000, social protests have numbered on average 11 per day.
A highway blockade in support of Mexico's striking teachers was increasingly gaining popular support in the capital of the southern state of Chiapas, La Jornada reported on July 13. The protest in the city of Tuxtla Gutierrez was organised as a popular assembly. As of July 12, it had been active for 15 days, involving 3500 demonstrators in support of the radical CNTE teachers union.
Fundamentalist mob torches Christian neighbourhood in Lahore. March, 2013. Religious terrorism has become one of the major challenges for most Asian countries, particularly in South and West Asia. It has resulted in seemingly non-stop bombings, suicide attacks and other means of terrorism.
Jeremy Corbyn addresses supporters in London. “Jeremy Corbyn has touched parts of the electorate Labour hasn’t reached in a long time.” That is the judgement of Laura Kuenssberg, the Tory propagandist who delivers most of the BBC’s political coverage on Labour’s socialist leader.
The streets in Buenos Aires and other Argentine cities have been filled with protesters in a “Cacerolazo” (pot-banging protest) against President Mauricio Macri’s major hikes in utility prices. The hike includes a 700% rise in electricity prices, more than 2000% rise in gas prices in some places and a 350% rise in water prices. Consumer protection associations and left-wing groups called the march against the hikes, which are “affecting people very seriously,” said Osvaldo Bassano, head of the Association for the Defense of Users and Consumers.
Bernie Sanders’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton has hugely disappointed millions of his supporters. Many of those inspired by his call for a political revolution had held out hope, even until now, that he would refuse to endorse Wall Street’s favored candidate. But those hopes have come crashing down. Bernie Sanders's endorsement of Hillary Clinton has hugely disappointed millions of his supporters. Many of those inspired by his call for a political revolution had held out hope, even until now, that he would refuse to endorse Wall Street's favored candidate.
Amid chaos in Turkey with an ongoing coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the co-chairs of left-wing Kurdish-led People's Democratic Party (HDP) — itself a target of undemocratic erpression by Erdogan's government — released the brief statement below opposing the coup and insisting on a democratic resolutuion to Turkey's conflicts. ***
“The Party of the European Left declares its solidarity with the friends and families of the more than 80 people killed in the incomprehensible attack on July14 in Nice,” the group of left-wing parties across Europe said in a statement that day. “On its national day, France witnesses another violent attack despite all its anti-terrorist security measures.
The media and advocates of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement have repeatedly described opponents of the deal as opposed to trade itself. For instance, after US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump pressed his Democrat rival Hillary Clinton to swear off passage of the deal, the New York Times said Trump was embracing “nationalistic anti-trade policies”. The Wall Street Journal said Trump expressed “protectionist views”. US President Barack Obama warned that you cannot withdraw “from trade deals” and focus “solely on your local market”.
A July 14 rally in Kolkata against repression in Kashmir. Hundreds of students, trade union activists, women’s rights groups, lawyers and queer groups gathered at Jantar Mantar, Delhi, on July 14, wearing black bands to condemn the violence being unleashed on unarmed civilians in Kashmir.
A Black Lives Matter protest in New York on July 9. Once again the deep racism and racial divide in the United States has burst upon the national scene, dominating newspapers, TV and social media. Since 2014, videos taken by witnesses of police murders of Black people spurred the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement. In spite of the overwhelming visual proof of the guilt of the police murderers, they have almost all gotten away with it.
Jill Stein, the presumptive Green Party presidential nominee, is seeing an unprecedented surge of energy for her campaign in the wake of Bernie Sanders’ endorsement of Hillary Clinton. Stein said donations to her campaign increased tenfold in the 24 hours after Sanders’ July 12 endorsement. Jill Stein, the presumptive Green Party presidential nominee, is seeing an unprecedented surge of energy for her campaign in the wake of Bernie Sanders' endorsement of Hillary Clinton.
Graffiti on the Kimberly Clark Corporation factory gates reads: "No to the closure".
Jeremy Corbyn addresses the Durham Miners' Gala on July 9. British Labour Jeremy Corbyn's name should automatically be on the ballot paper in the Labour Party's leadership contest, the party's national executive committee (NEC) ruled on July 12.
The following statement was released by the Filipino socialist party, the Partido Lakas ng Masa, on July 11 in response to death squad killings of alleged drug dealers in the Philippines since the recent election of President Rodrigo Duterte. * * * Stop the killings! Prosecute the Generals and the top henchmen of the illegal drug trade! In less than two weeks, more than a hundred alleged drug pushers and petty drug traffickers were killed in the war against drugs called by the Rodrigo Duterte government.

Culture

Professional athletes provide a flicker of hope during these agonising days by speaking out against police violence. “Shut up and play” clearly doesn't fly when black bodies are falling at the hands of those whose job is to serve and protect. In fact, it's almost surprising now when football and basketball players — the two sports most dependent on black labour — do not speak out.
With Serena Williams' record-tying Grand Slam victory July 9, her claim to the best athlete of her generation — male or female — seems irrefutable. But with the celebrity tennis player's Compton-to-Wimbledon narrative, and emergence as an outspoken and defiant champion of the African American community in the US, is the superstar athlete the most iconic since the late Muhammad Ali?
Ten-time Grammy Award winner, US musician Pharrell Williams has cancelled his July 21 performance in Tel Aviv amid conflicting explanations. Over the past year, the “Happy” pop star has faced sustained pressure from the Palestine solidarity movement. Last year, amid rumours that he would be scheduling a Tel Aviv performance, campaigners urged him not to go. In an open letter, the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel said that by performing in Tel Aviv, Williams would show himself “indifferent to the suffering of Palestinian children”.