Issue 1114

News

More than 100 people rallied at Todd Mall, Alice Springs, against youth incarceration and torture on October 11. The national day of protest included actions in Darwin, Newcastle, Adelaide and Sydney and coincided with the first day of the Royal Commission into youth detention in the Northern Territory.

Protesters from Fossil Free Melbourne University staged a mock oil spill outside the university’s administration building on October 10.

They were protesting against the university's investment in 21 of Australia’s most polluting fossil fuel companies.

Dressed in HazMat suits, they pretended to clean up an “oil spill” of black plastic, with blackened toy animals and oil barrels placed around the scene.  

The Department of Education said more than 150 private schools across Australia received funding above their Schooling Resource Standard (SRS), which measures a school’s entitlement to public funding, while needy public schools remain significantly underfunded.

Federal and state governments would have more than $215 million extra a year to distribute to needy schools if they stopped funding others above their entitlement.

Over-funded schools received more than $1 billion in federal government funding.

The campaign to save Sydney University’s Sydney College of the Arts is celebrating another victory in its long battle with management.

Seven weeks after students occupied SCA administration offices in protest at the university’s determination to close the school, deputy vice-chancellor Stephen Garton has declared a six-month reprieve.

In an email to students late last month, Garton said SCA would remain at its Callan Park campus next year: “I can advise it is very unlikely teaching of any SCA subjects will take place on Camperdown campus in the first semester 2017.”

It was standing room only on October 8 for the launch of the Walyalup (Fremantle) activist centre.

The centre, which serves as the local Socialist Alliance branch office and bookshop, will also be available as a meeting and outreach space for local grassroots community groups.

Already the Fremantle Refugee Rights Action Network meets there fortnightly. Soon the office will feature a Nyoongar advocacy service run by local custodian Corina Abraham.

The Senate voted on October 10 to pass legislation aimed at blocking the Victorian Country Fire Authority (CFA) enterprise agreement.

Those voting for the law were the Coalition, Pauline Hanson's One Nation, the Nick Xenophon Team and right-wing independents David Leyonhjelm and Derryn Hinch. Labor, the Greens and independent Jacqui Lambie opposed the bill.

It has been 125 days since the Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) plant in Abbotsford sacked 55 electricians and fitters, who have a combined history of 906 years of service at CUB, and a protest was begun at the brewery gates.

Since then, the ownership and labour contractor of CUB have changed and thousands of Australians have joined a boycott of CUB products.

Stephen Jolly has been a socialist councillor on Yarra City Council since 2004. In the October 22 election he is standing as part of a team of seven socialist activists across all three wards in Yarra.

Greens Senator Nick McKim speaking at the rally in Hobart.

Every day, people’s human rights are violated. In detention centres like those on Nauru and Manus Island, such violations are not just allowed but enforced by the Australian government. However, last month people stood together for nine hours to tell the Australian government that they would not accept it any longer. 

The vigil was held in the Hobart CBD from 10am to 7pm. People took turns reading to onlookers from the Nauru case files that were recently leaked by the Guardian. Others held placards and banners with messages of solidarity for the people in detention centres at Manus and Nauru. 

Pauline Pantsdown was the highlight act of the Green Left Weekly Sydney Comedy Night at the Leichhardt Town Hall on October 8.

More than 300 people packed into the hall to see her perform her famous songs Backdoor Man and I Don’t Like it to huge applause.

Other comedians who delighted the crowd included: Kirsty Mac, Suren Jayemanne, Carlo Sands and Peter Green. The night, with the theme of “Halal Certified Comedy: Please Explain?” was MCed by Helchild.

A Kurdish journalist charged with being a member of a proscribed terrorist group — the Kurdistan Workers’ Party — was granted bail in the NSW Supreme Court on October 14. He was released on strict conditions, including a surety of $1.5 million.

Sydney-based Renas Lelikan was charged after he returned to Australia in July from northern Iraq, where the PKK is fighting Islamic State (IS).

Hundreds of Australian Services Union members marched through the streets of Melbourne on October 12 as part of a long running campaign against an unfair enterprise agreement at the City of Melbourne.

The Geelong refinery dispute may not hold the record for the longest campaign for workers’ rights, but the dispute over safety nevertheless won due to a concerted campaign.

BP announced on October 11 that it has abandoned plans for a $1.4 billion program to explore for oil in the Great Australian Bight, off South Australia.

The British petroleum giant said the decision, which delighted environmental groups, was made because the project was not economically viable. It said it would instead focus on projects it could exploit in the short-to-medium term.

Analysis

Jafri Alexandra X has been conducting a one-person crusade against racism in Melbourne for almost two years. He is well known as the person who holds a “stop” sign with “Stop Racism Now” on it every Friday afternoon outside Flinders Street Station.

This interview with Jafri and Dilman Ramadan was broadcast on 3CR's Solidarity Breakfast show on October 1. 

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Low-income people, activists, community workers and others will gather in Adelaide on October 21 and 22 for “Power to the Poor — Silent No More”, a two-day Anti-Poverty Week conference.

The event — organised by Anti-Poverty Network SA, a grassroots group composed of welfare recipients struggling with poverty and joblessness — promises to be one of the largest Anti-Poverty Week events in the country.

It is amazing how radical believing in the simple notion of welcoming refugees in Australia has become. ABC’s Q&A program on alternatives to detention on October 10 gave some insight into how convoluted the debate on refugees has become.

A number of “compromise solutions” are being put forward but none of them address the worldwide refugee crisis or end Australia’s cruel detention system.

It is now less than one week until the Moreland City Council election.

Campaigning for Sue Bolton at the early polling centre in the suburb of Fawkner, you can sense the level of community recognition for the socialist councillor. When a group of school kids and their teacher were looking for a public toilet at the playground adjacent to the polling centre, one of them suggested I “get Sue Bolton onto it”.

Australia's Big Four banks — the Commonwealth, NAB, ANZ and Westpac — are the most concentrated and profitable set of banks in the world. These mega-banks are cutting their workforces, while paying their executives huge salaries and bonuses. They should be placed in public hands.

The NSW government has announced plans to privatise hospitals in Maitland, Wyong, Goulburn, Shellharbour and Bowral. It is a symptom of a disease: our public services are threatened by politicians who want to privatise them so companies can run them for profit.

I have no doubt that the plebiscite would have been won: it would have been a huge opening to build a mass movement for marriage equality and demolish the opposition. But I shared fears that the “No” campaign would have hurt our youth.

A 19-year-old Aboriginal man, charged with sexually assaulting two children and who later had the charges dropped, is still living under a conditional release order. Green Left Weekly's Janet Parker spoke to the CEO of Developmental Disability WA Taryn Harvey about how the law is failing people with disabilities and how it can be changed.

Activists from all over Australia converged at Pine Gap, the US spy base, 50 years since it was first established for a series of protests. Robyn Marshall reports.

The Queensland government once again demonstrated its commitment to progressing Adani’s mega coal mine project in the Galilee basin on October 9.

State development minister Anthony Lynham announced that the government had invoked special powers to ensure the controversial Carmichael coal and rail project starts next year.

The combined mine, rail and associated water infrastructure have all been declared critical infrastructure. Lynham says the decision will mean less red tape for the proposed $21.7 billion Adani venture.

Just as in the 21 countries where marriage equality has been won, we will have to win this democratic right on the streets here too. This is the resounding conclusion supporters of equality must draw if we are to push back an emerging tide of conservatism unleashed by this latest round of major party politicking over the plebiscite.

[Ross Garnaut is a Professor of Economics at the Australian National University. In 2007 he was appointed to examine the impacts of climate change on the Australian economy and recommend medium to long-term policies and policy frameworks to improve the prospects for sustainable prosperity. The Garnaut Climate Change Review was finalised on September 30, 2008, with an update released on May 31, 2011. This is a speech given by Garnaut to the renewable energy summit hosted by the South Australian government on October 6.]

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World

There is a very sinister, hellish thing behind the tepid concern that rears its head when a country like Haiti suffers a tragedy.

As 800 people died and 90% of parts of southern Haiti were destroyed by Hurricane Matthew earlier this month, leaving whole towns flattened, and people homeless and without basic infrastructure, the trending hashtag was #PrayForFlorida.

Sixty million people are on the run worldwide, most from countries in the global South. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says one third of the refugees originate from Africa.

Wars, human rights violations, political instability, discrimination, poverty and the consequences of climate change and natural disasters are often named as causes for flight. But there is also ecocide — the destruction of livelihoods through the ruthless exploitation of raw materials and the subsidy politics of industrialised countries in the West.

During a debate in Miami earlier this year between the candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination, Bernie Sanders came out against the Monroe Doctrine. This doctrine dictates that the United States government could intervene throughout the hemisphere and overthrow whatever government does not suit Washington.

A flotilla bound for Gaza carrying food, medicine and other humanitarian aid was intercepted and seized by the Israeli Navy on October 5. The Women’s Boat to Gaza had set sail from the Spanish port city of Barcelona in mid-September in an effort to break the ongoing Israeli blockade of Gaza, Democracy Now! said on October 12.

US naval forces fired cruise missiles at targets in Yemen on October 12. This was the first direct Western involvement in the war in Yemen. However, Western powers — in particular the US and Britain — have been arming and bankrolling Saudi Arabia throughout the war. Since March 2015, Saudi Arabia, along with its Gulf State allies, has pursued a relentless bombing campaign and siege of the nation of Yemen. It aims to influence its neighbour’s political order.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced his proposal for the country’s federal budget for 2017 on October 14 — indicating that a staggering 73.6% would be dedicated toward social investment. It comes in a context of an economic crisis, including shortages of some goods.

In the days leading up to the announcement, the governing Untied Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) held street assemblies with thousands of Venezuelans to discuss and debate the proposed budget.

“In a democracy like ours, the budget is debated by the people,” Maduro said on October 12.

A little-known but controversial World Bank tribunal has bucked tradition and ruled against corporate power on October 14.

The tribunal rejected Canadian-Australian gold mining giant OceanaGold’s claim that El Salvador interfered with its profits when the government pulled the plug on a proposed gold mine.

The seven-year, multi-million dollar, largely secretive court battle had pitted mining-affected Salvadoran communities — supported by international human rights groups — against the deep pockets of OceanaGold.

Thousands marched in Venezuela’s capital of Caracas on October 12 to commemorate the Day of Indigenous Resistance — previously known as “Colombus Day”. The march also sought to counter opposition mobilisations in favour of the recall referendum against socialist President Nicolas Maduro.

The images and accounts of Haiti’s devastation following Hurricane Matthew’s passage on October 4 are gut-wrenching. The death toll is in the hundreds and continues to rise. Entire villages in the country's southwest were obliterated. The response of a Haitian government, left besieged and without resources by decades of foreign plunder, is anaemic. The victims’ anguished appeals for help are heart-rending. The United Nations now says 1.4 million people are in need of assistance, urgent and immediate for half of them.

Apparently, the universe does have a sense of humour.

After blaming his poor showing in the first presidential debate on problems with his microphone, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s candidacy is swirling around the toilet bowl due to comments that a different microphone did pick up.

Trump went into the second debate on October 9 with Hillary Clinton needing the impossible — for millions of people to forget the revulsion they felt when they learned about his casual misogyny unearthed in a 2005 recording.

Ten climate activists were arrested on October 11 for trying to shut down all tar sands oil coming into the United States from Canada by manually turning off pipelines in Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota and Washington state Democracy Now! said.

My heart breaks over Category 4 Hurricane Matthew’s slamming of Haiti, Jamaica and Cuba.

When Hurricane Sandy struck New York City where I live, our entire neighbourhood was destroyed — every single house was uninhabitable.

Culture

Play On! The Hidden History of Women’s Australian Rules Football
Brunette Lenkić and Rob Hess
Echo Publishing 2016,
324 pages

In a landmark development, the first national women’s Australian Football competition — AFL Women’s — will be launched next February. But a century ago, attitudes to women playing the game were very different.

We Shall Fight, We Shall Win
Produced by All India Forum for the Right to Education
2016

The All India Forum for the Right to Education (AIFRTE) has just released a documentary about its struggle against the privatisation of education in India. The film, We Shall Fight, We Shall Win provides a rare glimpse into grassroots voices for public education in India.

Resistance!

Tertiary students are doing it tough. Yet the Coalition would have you believe we have it easy. High — and getting higher — course fees, job insecurity and accommodation costs are all adding to students’ anxieties.