Issue 1110

Australia

An Australian lawyer who lodged a submission to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2014 calling for an investigation of Australian detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island, told a Refugee Action Collective (RAC) forum in Melbourne on September 5 that the release of the Nauru files has improved the chances of action being taken.

On September 8 about 100 childcare workers stopped work across Melbourne to call for equal pay and recognition for their work.

A number of childcare centres, including Dawson St Child Care Co-operative, Monash Community Family Co-operative, Monash Children’s Centre, Monash Caulfied Childcare Centre and East Brunswick Kindergarten and Childcare Centre, closed at 3pm, affecting about 500 children.

After a two-year campaign by students and staff, the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Vice Chancellor Peter Coaldrake has committed to divest the university’s $300 million endowment fund of its shares in coal, oil and gas companies.

The move, announced on September 2, means QUT has joined three other Australian universities — Australian National University, La Trobe University and the University of Sydney — in a global divestment movement to withdraw support from industries fueling climate change.

Conservationists have welcomed the announcement that the Western Australian Environment Protection Authority's assessment of a proposed coal mine in the Kimberley has been terminated.

The mine, called, ironically, "Duchess Paradise", would have been the first coalmine in the Kimberley/Canning Basin region. Had it been approved it would quickly have been followed by many more coalmine proposals.

Thousands of protesters converged on central Melbourne on September 7, marching through the CBD and blocking traffic at key intersections to support sacked brewery workers.

In the latest escalation of the dispute, unions are demanding the AFL pressure Carlton & United Breweries, one of its major sponsors, to meet the workers and to re-engage them immediately at full wages and conditions, or "face a CUB beer-free footy finals season".

In March, the Victorian Country Fire Authority (CFA) received a secret report from anti-union law firm Seyfarth Shaw Australia giving advice on how to attack the United Firefighters Union (UFU).

According to a Fairfax Media article summarising the leaked report, it recommended hiring firefighters on "individual and/or non-union contracts". It also recommended reducing union officials' right of entry into CFA workplaces.

Anti-deportation activists were unable to stop the deportation of Tamil refugee Raj Kumar (not his real name) on August 31.

At short notice, refugee rights activists and members of the Tamil community gathered outside Villawood Detention Centre in Sydney to protest the deportation. An application for an interim ban on the deportation was filed but not heard in time to prevent the deportation.

"We are facing severe economic and political destabilisation in Venezuela. The leaders of the right-wing opposition have been trying to create fear in the country for many weeks now," Eulalia Reyes, a Venezuelan activist in Australia, told a Sydney forum on September 3.

She was in Venezuela during the violent opposition protests in 2014, and more recently from October 2015 to June 2016. She presented an eyewitness account of what is really going on in Venezuela today.

Below is the Mandate Trade Union in Dublin’s solidarity message to the Carlton and United Brewery strikers.

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Mandate, the union for retail and bar workers in Ireland, has sent a message of solidarity to the 55 sacked workers of the Carlton United Breweries plant in Abbottsford, Victoria and urges all Irish workers based in Australia to support the workers as they struggle for their rights and their jobs.

The NSW Greens have slammed reported plans by the state government to build a new privatised western Metro train line from the city centre to Parramatta.

Commenting on a September 1 Sydney Morning Herald report that planning is under way for a new rail line between the CBD, the Bays Precinct around Rozelle and Parramatta, with possible future extensions to Maroubra in the south-east and Badgerys Creek airport in the west, Greens NSW transport spokesperson Dr Mehreen Faruqi asked, “Will this government ever understand what good integrated transport planning looks like?”

Prison teachers at the Cessnock Correctional Centre stopped work for an hour on September 5. A similar action by staff at Long Bay Prison in Sydney took place on September 2.

They were protesting job cuts and the outsourcing of New South Wales prison education to staff without formal teaching degrees.

From February, prisoners in NSW will have most of their education delivered by staff from an external training organisation. Most of the prison teachers will be made redundant in December.

National Threatened Species Day on September 7 is held each year to commemorate the day the last Tasmanian Tiger died in captivity in a Hobart zoo in 1936.

Environment groups Goongerah Environment Centre (GECO), Wildlife of the Central Highlands and Fauna and Flora Research Collective decided to commemorate the day this year by presenting an invoice for $2 million to the state government.

The groups called on the state government to better protect species such as the threatened Greater Glider and Victoria’s animal emblem, the critically endangered Leadbeater’s possum.

The Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) has scored a victory against the privatisation agenda of the state Coalition government after it abandoned plans to privatise the NSW Public Works Heritage Services, UnionsNSW announced on September 2.

About 40 stonemasons, scaffolders and roofers have been maintaining some of Sydney’s oldest buildings for more than 20 years, but in June last year Finance Minister Dominic Perrottet announced their jobs would be outsourced.

World

A coalition of about 60 Black Lives Matter groups from around the United States issued “A Vision for Black Lives: Policy Demands for Black Power, Freedom and Justice” on August 1.

The document is long and detailed. It is the most important Black independent political action program since the National Black Independent Political Party and Black Power conventions of the early 1970s. It also is a reflection of the leading role of Black young people in the still-nascent radicalisation of US youth in general.

As one presidential candidate faces charges for spray-painting construction equipment at a Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) protest on September 6, many are calling for President Barack Obama and White House Democrat presidential candidate Hilary Clinton to oppose the controversial project.

Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier said that Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein would be charged for taking part in an action in which 150 to 200 people protested at a DAPL worksite in North Dakota.

International solidarity with the 55 Carlton United Brewery workers sacked by the company and replaced with scab labour has grown.

On September 8, coinciding with the mass rallies in support of the CUB 55 in Melbourne, trade union activists tried to confront the company management of SAB Miller at their headquarters in London. SAB Miller is the parent company of CUB, with a total operating profit of $4.4 billion.

Irish republican party Sinn Fein has condemned the British government’s non-apology over police collusion in a 1994 massacre in the six northern Irish counties still claimed by Britain.

On June 18, 1994, masked men armed with assault rifles burst into a pub in Loughinisland in County Down as Catholic civilians watched a Republic of Ireland World Cup football match. Opening fire, they killed six people and injured five.


Protest against austerity. Lisbon, 2013.

A month ago, on August 8, it became official — the high school governors agreed that the headmaster had acted correctly in not caning the two miscreant schoolboys.

On being sworn into power on January 15, 2007, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa said: “Latin America is not living through an era of change, it is living through a genuine change of eras.”

His enthusiasm was shared by many, and with good reason: after years of intense social struggles against right-wing neoliberal governments, new left forces were winning elections across the region.


Caracas, September 7.

Thousands of Venezuelans took to the streets of Caracas and other major cities across the country on September 7, calling for peace in their country and rejecting right-wing opposition plans to destabilise the government of President Nicolas Maduro.

The march was called by the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) and joined by civil society groups and grassroots movements.

MST leader says Brazilians must rise up

Joao Pedro Stedile is a founder and leader of Brazil's Landless Workers' Movement (MST). One of Latin America’s largest social movements, the MST fights for land reform and the rights of poor farmers.

Below, Stedile calls for resistance to the “institutional coup” in Brazil, in which elected Workers’ Party (PT) president Dilma Rousseff was removed by the Senate and Michel Temer installed on August 31.

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São Paulo, September 7.

Brazil’s unelected president Michel Temer was greeted with shouts of “Temer Out” on his first public appearance in Brazil since being installed in office on August 31.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets on September 7 in more than a dozen cities for a national day of action dubbed the “Cry of the Excluded”.

The situation is deteriorating in “the Jungle” — the informal settlement in the northern French port of Calais of refugees trying to reach Britain.

French police demolished the southern half earlier this year, yet the population is steadily rising and has surpassed 10,000. Neglected by governments and NGOs, the volunteers who provide food, clothing and other aid are receiving fewer donations to assist the growing population. Hunger has become prevalent, along with diseases caused by lack of sanitation.

Chelsea Manning, the US army private who leaked classified information about US war crimes to WikiLeaks, announced on September 9 that she has begun a hunger strike to protest the lack of respect and dignity from prison and military officials.

“I need help, I am not getting any,” Manning said in a statement. “I have asked for help time and time again for six years and through five separate confinement locations. My request has only been ignored, delayed, mocked, given trinkets and lip service by the prison, the military, and this administration.”

French workers and students are set to hold a new national mobilisation against the “El Khomri” labour law, which undermines workers’ rights.

The protest is the 14th national mobilisation in the campaign against the law this year — but the first since the law was forced through parliament without a vote and since France's summer holidays.


Hunger strikers begin their fast for Öcalan in Diyarbakır on September 5.

A hunger strike was launched in Turkey’s Kurdish capital Diyarbakır on September 5 by politicians and activists demanding a meeting with jailed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan.


Protest against Turkish invasion and massacre of civilians. Girkê Legê, Rojava, August 28.

The statement below was released on September 1 and signed by a range of politicians, academics and activists from around the world. To sign, please send your name, organisation and country to mc@kurdishinstitute.be.

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Hunger striking prisoners Malik al-Qadi, Mahmoud al-Balboul and Mohammad al-Balboul.

In Bethlehem, hundreds of people participated in a march in solidarity with three Palestinian political prisoners on hunger strike, IMEMC news said on September 6.

The following statement was released by the Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM) on September 7.

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The dangerously deteriorating situation that the country now faces, marked by the killings and bombings resulting in the meaningless death of thousands of people, is a result of the war strategy followed by the Rodrigo Duterte regime. The war strategy, which began as a “war against drugs”, has now been extended and intensified with the “war on terror” in Mindanao.

Analysis

Oppose the coups in Latin America! Solidarity with the people of Venezuela and Brazil!

We, the undersigned, condemn the destabilisation plan underway in Venezuela against President Nicolas Maduro. We send our solidarity to President Maduro and the Venezuelan people who are resisting attempts by right-wing opposition forces to oust a democratically-elected government by violent means in violation of the democratic vote of the people and the country’s constitution.

Parliament resumed on August 30 and the government's agenda was simple: delay marriage equality; justify the double dissolution; and argue the case for a renewed assault on living standards — I mean: “budget repair”.

The “budget repair” project was contained in a centrepiece “omnibus” bill that combines 24 measures from this year's budget that have not yet passed the Senate. It is an attack on students, welfare recipients, ordinary workers and the environment.

Something smelly has been swirling around Canberra lately, and I am not talking about Clive Palmer’s locker at Parliament House, which hazmat teams are still trying to contain. No, I am talking about the fetid stench of parliamentary politics under capitalism.

“AT 1330, ASYLUM SEEKER [REDACTED] APPROACHED SAVE THE CHILDREN (SCA) CASEWORKER (CW) [REDACTED] IN THE MESS AT RPC3. [REDACTED] WAS CRYING AND WAS OBSERVED TO BE VERY SHAKEN. [REDACTED] AND [REDACTED] SAT OUTSIDE WHERE [REDACTED] REPORTED THAT A WILSONS SECURITY GUARD HAD JUST HIT HIM.”

Early one morning last month, the Chief Commissioner of the Greater Sydney Commission (GSC) Lucy Turnbull — a lifelong resident of the city’s most privileged suburbs along the south-eastern edge of the harbour — quietly slipped across to Sydney’s inner west where she was taken on tour by a WestConnex manager of the M4 East tollway tunnel corridor. There she presumably saw for the first time the gigantic construction sites in Haberfield where scores of heritage homes, businesses, gardens, parks and trees stood until a few weeks ago.

Increased evidence of homelessness in Melbourne’s iconic graffiti laneway, Hosier Lane, has prompted outrage from government and local businesses in recent weeks.

The responsibility of governments to help with the costs of child-rearing has been a part of Australian social policy since the early 1920s, when the first widows’ pension (1926) and child endowment (1927) schemes were introduced.

Australia has recognised this principle since the Harvester judgment of 1907, which raised the issue of how much income was appropriate for a family with child-rearing responsibilities. For most of the 20th century, this was recognised in taxation policy, as well as in income support policies.

Since 2003, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) has had the power to detain people for up to seven days, without charge, for questioning in relation to a terrorism investigation.

That person does not have to be a terrorism suspect or even an associate of a terrorism suspect; is compelled to answer questions; and is forced to keep the detention and interrogation secret.

Resistance!

I have been made homeless twice in the past fifteen months and I am not the only one.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Census of Housing and Population (2011) revealed there were 26,238 homeless people between the age of 12 and 24. They make up 25% of Australia's homeless population, with women experiencing domestic violence and sexual assault making up the highest proportion of this age category.

Culture

Humming of the Axis
Jeremiah Johnson
www.jeremiahjohnson.com.au

Singer-songwriter Jeremiah Johnson, who grew up in regional New South Wales, is well known and loved in his adopted hometown of Cairns and will soon be hitting the road for an extended tour around Australia. After a successful crowd funding campaign this year, the independent musician has a fully equipped tour bus and it’s time for his fan base to grow even further.


”Benny G the clown”, painted on the Israel's Apartheid Wall, referencing Ben Gurion, first prime minister of Israel.

It is a sad day when a good comrade like Richard Neville, who first rose to prominence as editor of counterculture magazine Oz in the 1960s and ’70s, dies.

If you had any doubt about Richard’s deep radicalism, it is worth watching his video about climate change posted on The Guardian site with the Marsha Rowe and Geoffrey Robertson obits. In it he nails neoliberal economists, the corporations and the rich as the drivers of dangerous climate change — and implicitly anticipates the Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn phenomenon.