Issue 1111

News

Campaigners against the inappropriate Absoe development in Brisbane's West End scored a small but important victory on September 14. The state government “called in” the approval that had previously been granted by the Brisbane City Council. This means the state government will reassess the development approval.

This decision comes on the back of a concerted community campaign supported by Greens councillor Jonathan Sri.

Members of the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) across the country walked off the job for 24 hours on September 9 in protest at the federal government's refusal to make reasonable offers on pay and conditions in agency bargaining throughout the federal public service.

The strike involves staff in key agencies, including Human Services, Medicare, Centrelink, Child Support, the Tax Office, Defence, the Bureau of Meteorology, Agriculture and Water Resources and Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Community and union supporters joined sacked Carleton & United Breweries (CUB) workers and "Scabby the Rat" for a lunchtime protest outside Wallan Engineering in Campbellfield, in Melbourne's northern suburbs on September 15.

Wallan has been supplying most of the scabs to replace the CUB maintenance workforce, who were sacked, only to be offered the same work with a 65% wage cut, under an external labour hire company enterprise bargaining agreement.

One-tenth of the Earth's wilderness has disappeared since the 1990s, according to a new study published in the journal Current Biology.

Over the past 20 years, wilderness areas equal to half the size of Australia have been lost. Researchers say the loss highlights the need for global agreements to protect remaining areas unaffected by human activities.

On the 43rd anniversary of the coup that ousted the elected government of President Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973, a forum “Crisis in Venezuela: An Eyewitness Report” drew parallels with the current situation in Venezuela. 

The forum was hosted by the Australia Venezuela Solidarity Network (AVSN) Brisbane and Australian Solidarity with Latin America (ASLA).

Conservationists who gathered outside the Land and Environment Court on September 13 were extremely disappointed by the court decision to allow the continued discharge of polluted mine water into Sydney's drinking water supplies. They chanted "Wild rivers, not waste water" and "Clean water, not coal water" after the ruling.

Colong Foundation for Wilderness Director Keith Muir said: "4nature has failed to overturn the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) decision that allows Centennial Coal to discharge polluted water from the Springvale mine into the Coxs River.

The Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) announced on September 13 plans to close its permanent research station on the sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island, which has been operating since 1948, and instead use a network of field huts to be used by seasonal staff.

The AAD said an independent engineering investigation had concluded there were increasing occupational health and safety risks, environmental contamination and risks from ocean inundation at the ageing base unless it underwent a major upgrade.

In a reaction to the NSW government banning greyhound racing, Racing NSW announced on September 13 that it will introduce a 1% levy on the $204 million it pays in prize money to look after horse welfare.

Racing NSW will form a new department, including vets and staff to retrain racehorses and place them within the horse community beyond their time on the track.

Its role will be to establish partnerships with riding schools, pony clubs and other equestrian organisations to promote re-homing of thoroughbreds.

The campaign to Save Sydney College of the Arts (SCA) has forced the Dean of the College to resign. It was a major demand of the fight to retain Sydney University’s unique, studio-based arts college in the heart of Callan Park — the jewel of Sydney's inner west.

Colin Rhodes announced his resignation on September 13. He will be replaced by SCA teacher Margaret Harris. 

The announcement came as the student occupation of SCA's administration building entered its third week — the longest occupation against management dictates, in USYD history. 

Aboriginal candidate Yingiya Mark Guyula has won an upset in the seat of Nhulunbuy, toppling sitting member and deputy-chief-minister-to-be Lynne Walker by only eight votes after preferences and recounts on September 9.

Guyula delivered the NT Labor Party its only defeat in the August 28 election — it now holds a whopping 18 seats in the 25-seat parliament. The seat was previously seen a safe one for the popular Walker.

About 300 Aboriginal people have joined a class action filed in the Federal Court on September 12 to recover wages they say were stolen by the Queensland government more than half a century ago.

The claim is for unpaid wages held in government trust accounts under Queensland’s Aboriginal Protection and Preservation Act 1939, which allowed the government to control the earnings of Aboriginal people until 1972. Much of the money was lost or stolen.

Analysis

Newly elected Senator Pauline Hanson gave her maiden speech in the Senate on September 14 — 20 years after her first appearance as a parliamentarian in 1996.

Her incendiary speech outlined a far-right agenda of racist bigotry, misogyny and attacks on welfare rights.

The massive win by independent City of Sydney Council Lord Mayor Clover Moore and the big swing to Labor in outer suburban councils are big blows to Premier Mike Baird and the state government. This comes on top of a growing slide in the government's popularity as a result of a series of policies that have caused widespread public backlash in the state.

Community activists, residents and supporters came together to launch Sue Bolton's campaign for re-election to the City of Moreland Council in Melbourne's northern suburbs on September 10.

Bolton, a member of Socialist Alliance, received some heart-warming endorsements and pledges of support from a number of community members.

The Labor opposition has voted for the $6.3 billion in public spending cuts over four years proposed by the Malcolm Turnbull government. The opposition agreed to support 20 of the 24 cuts originally proposed by the government in its "Omnibus Bill" and put forward more cuts of its own to prove how committed Labor is to “budget repair”.

Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act — Australia’s federal hate speech law — has tended to dominate public debate about free speech for the past few years. This has meant other important laws that restrict free speech in broad ways are being overlooked.

While the 18C debate has raged, important new restrictions on freedom of speech have been introduced in Australia. These have flown much further under the radar. These restrictions should concern us, because they have a wide-ranging impact on the freedom of speech that is essential to democratic deliberation.

Juanel de la Forêt gave this speech at a Sydney College of the Arts rally on September 7 against Sydney University’s proposal to close the college.

* * *

I would like to acknowledge that I am an occupier on occupied land. I offer my respects to Aboriginal elders, past and present.

I am an international student from Cape Town, South Africa, and a first year student at Sydney College of the Arts. I am also a proud occupier and would like to thank you all for coming and for this incredible support.

Are small-scale nuclear power reactors the key to dealing with the high cost of electricity in South Australia? Someone in the policy apparatus of Labor Premier Jay Weatherill seems to think so.

Adelaide’s Channel 7 splashed the story across its news reports on September 7: the nuclear power option was being officially explored!

“A top-level report clearly indicates small-scale reactors have been on the short-term radar,” the channel stated.

Gamilaraay people are engaged in an epic fight for country against coal and gas giants supported by state and federal governments. For Raymond “Bubbly” Weatherall, from the Gunu Gunu clan and the Biridja clan, the fight is about totems — “our water, the environment and the land itself”.

World

Protesters demand justice for murdered Indigenous environmentalist leader, Berta Caceres.

Honduras marked 195 years since winning its independence from Spain on September 15, but the small Central American country remains deprived of true independence. It is stuck under ongoing domination of wealthy local oligarchs, foreign corporations, and US imperialism.

Photos of forcibly disappeared supporters of the Patriotic Union. Photo: EFE. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos acknowledged the state’s responsibility in the killing of thousands of members of a leftist political party three decades ago, TeleSUR English said on September 15. Santos pledged to prevent such assassinations again.

Suspected leftists held by the military during the mass killings that followed the Western-backed 1965 Indonesian military coup. East Timor’s decision to take Australia to the Hague over Australia’s refusal to obey international law — and grant East Timor its legitimate share of oil and gas resources — comes just weeks after a tribunal at the Hague found Australia was complicit in the murders in Indonesia in 1965.

East Timor has taken Australia to the United Nations Conciliation Commission at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

At issue is a permanent maritime boundary and the exploitation of oil and gas reserves in the Timor Sea — with East Timor accusing Australia of stealing badly needed resources that, by international law, belong to Asia’s poorest nation.

One year after spilling enough cyanide solution to fill at least 40% of an Olympic-size swimming pool at the controversial Veladero mine in Argentina, Canadian mining giant Barrick Gold owned up on September 15 to another cyanide leak at the same gold mining operation in the country’s mountainous and river-rich San Juan province.

Barrick announced it had suspended work at the mine to address the leak, caused on September 8 by a damaged pipe carrying dilute cyanide solution used in gold processing.

“Thousands of Native Americans at Standing Rock in North Dakota are protesting a pipeline project that puts their water supply at risk, threatens to plow up their sacred sites, and would worsen climate change,” Chuck Collins wrote at Common Dreams on September 14.

Fracking in the Vaca Muerta shale reserves. Mapuche Indigenous communities in the Argentine Patagonian province of Neuquen have denounced fracking in the Vaca Muerta shale reserves, which they claim are contaminating their land and groundwater, killing their livestock.

By some estimates, more than 1 million people came out across Catalonia on September 11 for Catalonia’s national day (the Diada) to show their support for Catalan sovereignty and — for most present — for Catalan independence from the Spanish state.

Solidarity from Syria with striking RMT train guards. Britain’s National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport workers (RMT) has been organising Britain’s rail workers to fight for their rights with a series of industrial actions. No strangers to international solidarity, the RMT also recently passed a motion supporting the 55 sacked Carlton & United Breweries workers in Melbourne.
Palestinian workers queue to cross the Apartheid Wall in Bethlehem. With Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu set to become the first Israeli prime minister to visit Australia next year, the Australian government will likely seek to deepen economic ties with the self-proclaimed “only democracy in the Middle East”. It is also likely, if not certain, that Israel’s ongoing strangling of Palestine — economic as well as political and military — will not be mentioned.
Tamils protest on August 3 against Sri Lankan navy land grabs in Mullivaikkal. Tamils who had been protesting outside a military cantonment in a suburb of Kilinochchi began a hunger strike on September 7.
Despite the rain, hundreds of people turned out in Seongju County on September 4 for a candlelight vigil for the 54th night in a row. Their message is clear: no to the United States’ planned deployment of the THAAD missile defence system, not in Seongju or anywhere in South Korea. Seongju, a small town of mainly melon farmers, today finds itself at the forefront of a struggle against a new proposed US military deployment in the region. It is a deployment some warn could rekindle the Cold War.

US soldier Chelsea Manning, serving a 35-year prison term for passing classified files to WikiLeaks, ended her hunger strike on September 13 after the Army said she will receive treatment for her gender dysphoria, the American Civil Liberties Union said.

Culture

Miami Dolphins kneel during national anthem on September 11.

On September 11 in the United States, a small group of National Football League players risked their careers, their endorsements and their livelihoods. They did so through the simple act of refusal.

Simon Hunt is a lecturer at UNSW’s Art and Design school as well as a political satirist. Hunt found success and notoriety in the 1990s as Pauline Pantsdown, releasing song “I’m A Backdoor Man” (1997) and “I Don’t Like It” (1998), which parodied far right politician Pauline Hanson. In 2004, Hunt released “I’m Sorry”, a parody of then-prime minister John Howard that was released as “Little Johnny”.

Good news (for a change)

The momentum to boycott Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) products is growing. The Monash Student Association’s Sir Johns Bar and the Swinburne Student Association will no longer stock any CUB products.

Hotels across the nation — including The Tote in Abbotsford, The Lincoln in Carlton, the Kent Street Bar in Collingwood, and the Raccoon Bar in Melbourne, the Unicorn in Ballarat and the Grand Yamanto and Cecil Hotel in Queensland — are also refusing to serve CUB beers on tap.

However, most pubs are locked into contracts for their tap beers.

THE Queensland government announced on September 7 that it will move all 17-year-olds out of adult prisons within 12 months of new laws being passed.

It plans to pass legislation in the Parliament by the end of this year to facilitate the change.

There were 48 17-year-olds in the state's adult prisons at the time of the announcement.

The move means 17-year-olds will no longer be viewed as adults by the courts. However, 17-year-olds currently before the courts would be placed in adult prisons, if sentenced to jail time, until the laws officially change.

Resistance!

Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance member Zebedee Parkes short documentary film For my Friends in Detention has been selected for showing at film festivals around the world.

The film explores the impact refugee activism in Australia has on people on both sides of the fence. It draws upon several years of observational footage, including activist Sarah’s first experience of a detection centre and her relationship with Cali, a Tamil refugee.

Parkes spoke to We are Moving Stories about the film.