Issue 1115

Australia

The dispute involving 55 unfairly sacked Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) maintenance workers is achieving media fame and causing a widespread boycott of CUB products.

The community protest that began 19 weeks ago has recently exploded on social media and now includes #BoycottCUB merchandise, giant city billboards and anti-CUB parties.

The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) approved the right-wing Australia First Party’s use of the Eureka flag as its logo on October 13, despite 11 written submissions opposing its use.

The AEC said the objectors provided “insufficient evidence” the application should be refused. It said it had no discretion to consider “historical and cultural claims” surrounding the Eureka flag. 

Ballarat Trades Hall Council secretary Brett Edgington said the decision by the AEC marked a “sad day for Australia”. 

Clinton Pryor left Matagarup (Heirisson Island) on September 1. It was the start of his long walk to Kalgoorlie, then on to Uluru, south to Adelaide, then Melbourne and Sydney. He plans to finally arrive in Canberra in the second week of January, 2017.

Clinton is a young committed Aboriginal warrior for justice and is a supporter of Green Left Weekly.

“The thing I cherish most in my life was living in community out on country with my mother and my people. My mum was a very happy and lovely lady. She was a person who believed in happiness," he told GLW.

The Productivity Commission’s main remit seems to be giving advice on cost savings, which is at odds with its annual budget. The upkeep and functioning of the commission costs taxpayers about $33 million a year.

Protesters outside residents being evicted

Contractors for the controversial $18 billion WestConnex tollway project dismantled their Sydney Park construction compound on Euston Road, St Peters, on October 14, following a major community campaign to stop the works.

Residents had mounted a 24-hour-a-day camp beside the site from September 19 after receiving notification that construction, including destruction of trees, would start that day.

University of Sydney professor Rick Shine has been awarded the Prime Minister’s Prize for Science for his work in teaching Australia’s native animals to give cane toads a wide berth.

In a backdown by the federal government on one of the most contentious elements of the Australian Border Force Act, health professionals have been removed from the definition of “immigration and border protection workers”. This leaves them free to speak out about conditions and medical treatment in Australia’s immigration detention system.

Up to 500 people joined a protest on October 19 near NSW Parliament against the Coalition government’s plans to weaken land clearing laws.

The Coalition came to power promising famers more rights to undertake mass land clearing. Opposition has been wide-ranging.

The NSW government is preparing to sell off the NSW land titles registry, the Land and Property Information (LPI) office, in a move dubbed by one economics commentator as “another dumb privatisation”.

Local and overseas banks, insurance companies and superannuation funds are said to be among potential buyers of the registry, which is expected to fetch more than $700 million.

On October 18, students delivered an open letter to Vice-Chancellor Martin Bean signed by 401 RMIT academics and staff calling on the university to dump its fossil fuel investments.

Larrakia welcome to country and smoking ceremony

Two hundred people rallied outside Parliament House in Darwin on October 18, demanding the new Labor government keep its pre-election promise for a broad scientific inquiry into the unconventional gas industry and a moratorium on shale gas fracking.

Sue Bolton, a long-term socialist activist running for re-election to the Moreland City Council, is being targeted by cowardly racists. But that has helped galvanise a huge amount of community support for her work and principled stands.

Thousands protest proposed nuclear waste dump

About 3000 people rallied on the steps of Parliament House on October 16 to protest against the state and federal governments’ plans to create nuclear waste dumps in South Australia.

This year the state government held the expensive — and some would say biased — Royal Commission into the Nuclear Fuel Cycle, which found South Australia was the perfect place to store the world's high-grade nuclear waste. It has just initiated a public consultation into the general idea of storing nuclear waste, which will continue into next year.

On October 10, 90% of poultry workers at Golden Farms processing plant in Geelong voted in favour of a protected action ballot and to reject the company's offer on a new enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA).

The National Union of Workers (NUW) has been having regular meetings with delegates, as well as mass members’ meetings, over the past few weeks to canvass members’ opinions on the conditions that are most important to them and to plan a campaign to put pressure on the company.

World

As Facebook gives the Israeli government more access to posts deemed as “incitement”, Israeli forces have been raiding the homes of Palestinians children and detaining them for months over posts on the social media site, a report by the Defence for Children International-Palestine (DCIP) said on October 17.

The group spoke with several Palestinian minors who were arrested for their Facebook posts, interrogated for hours and held in jail for months without charges under the Israeli policy of “administrative detention”.

The struggles of Ethiopians protesting repression and government-sponsored development programs have gone virtually unreported over the past year — and so has the murder of hundreds of people by the state for taking part in the resistance.

The struggles are centred among the Oromo people — the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia, but who have suffered marginalisation and oppression.

A new report from the United Nations released on October 17 brought another dire warning of the catastrophic consequences of climate change, Common Dreams said that day. The report warned that without putting immediate environmental safeguards into place, more than a hundred million more people could be driven into extreme poverty and hunger by 2030.

The US has announced it will continue giving millions of dollars in military funding to the Honduran government, despite the high-profile targeted assassinations and other human rights abuses documented this year in the Central American nation.

The decision was taken by the US Department of State on September 30. It was justified to Congress on the grounds that Honduras “has taken effective steps to meet the criteria specified in the Fiscal Year 2016 appropriation legislation.”

Students at universities across South Africa have been demonstrating for the complete removal of university fees for poor students.

They are pushing for the realisation of the demands raised by the #FeesMustFall campaign last year. This was the largest wave of protests since the fall of Apartheid and drew tens of thousands of students into the streets.

Pakistan's south-western province of Balochistan is the site of an intense struggle for self-determination against the federal government.

Despite the province being rich in natural resources, the Baloch majority ethnic group remains economically marginalised and receives little benefit from development in region.

In its efforts to counter the Baloch struggle, the Pakistani state has resorted over the years to violent repression and indiscriminate warfare.

Burma: ‘Stop violence against the Rohingya’

The Rohingya are an ethnic group facing extreme persecution in Burma (Myanmar). Australia has been criticised for failing to accept Rohingya asylum seekers as refugees.

The statement below was released on October 18 by 35 groups in Malaysia and the Asian region, including human rights groups and political parties such as the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM).

 

After the final debate in the US presidential race on October 19, Democracy Now! spoke to Dr Jill Stein, the Green Party’s presidential nominee. Stein and Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson were excluded from the debate under stringent rules set by the Commission on Presidential Debates, which is controlled by the Democratic and Republican parties. The interview is abridged below.

*  *  *

What is your response to the debate?

At least 2000 Seattle teachers sported Black Lives Matter shirts at schools across the city on October 19, TeleSUR English said. The action was part of several rallies under the banner of “Black Lives Matter at School” to push for racial justice in education in the United States.

The protests were organised by Social Equality Educators, a group of educators within the Seattle teachers union.

A new investigation by In These Times has revealed that, by percentage of population, Native Americans are more likely to be killed by police than any other sector — including African Americans.

It also found that while cases of African-American police deaths tend to dominate headlines, killings of Native people go almost entirely unreported by mainstream US media.

The systematic police repression of African Americans that Black Lives Matter (BLM) has exposed has prompted Black athletes to express their solidarity. The latest has been the silent protests at sporting events initiated by Colin Kaepernick, quarterback for NFL team, the San Francisco 49ers.

His protest is simple. He kneels when the national anthem is played before games. In spite of attacks against him, other professional athletes have emulated his protest. Perhaps most significant has been the many high school players across the country who have joined in.

The Australian captain of a women-crewed boat, which tried to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza last month, firmly believes the mission was worthwhile.

“The Women’s Boat to Gaza managed to reignite the spotlight on Gaza and on the terrible conditions that the Gazan people suffer”, Madeline Habib told Green Left Weekly.

Tens of thousands of women across Argentina walked off the job on October 19 to “make noise” against gender violence and economic inequalities in the first women’s national strike in the country’s history.

The strike came in the wake of a brutal gang rape and murder of a teenage girl that has reinvigorated the fight against femicide and gender violence across the continent. Protesters showed signs with the stories of missing or murdered women, chanting “We won't forgive, we won't forget”.

Students peacefully end their occupation of the Caetano de Campos school in Sao Paulo to avoid confrontations with military police.

Brazilian high school students occupied schools across the country – mostly in the southern state of Parana – to protest against the unelected government of President Michel Temer and his administration's assault on public education in a wave of protests launched on October 3, TeleSUR English said on October 9.

US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's full remarks to several Wall Street audiences became public on October 15 when the transparency group WikiLeaks dumped its latest batch of emails obtained from the account of John Podesta, Clinton's campaign chairman. WikiLeaks called the latest release a “holy grail” for journalism.

Analysis

As October comes to a close, the feminist “Reclaim the Night” marches, also known as “Take back the night”, draw near.

Reclaim the Night is an annual global protest against gendered violence and inequality traditionally held on the last Friday in October.

As is the case with much of women’s history, the origins of Reclaim the Night are poorly documented and little known.

On October 12, police cars descended at high speed on a laneway in the western Sydney suburb of Bankstown to arrest to two 16-year-olds. For the next few days the media uncritically reported police claims that they had foiled an imminent terrorist attack.

The trigger for the arrests was that the youths had just purchased M9 hunting knives at a local gun shop. This type of knife is not illegal in NSW.

A personal carer is so seriously injured that two surgical operations fail to correct a hand injury. The surgeon's post-operation report says: “The worker requires significant time off and work cover”.

Wind and solar may be leading the way in Australia’s renewable energy race, but there’s another contender lurking in the nation’s oceans.

Doctors and health professionals, with community support, have won a significant victory against the government’s agenda of suppression, fear and secrecy. Health professionals have been made exempt from the secrecy and disclosure provisions of the Border Force Act.

CFMEU members and police

The Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) and Registered Organisations bills passed in the House of Representatives on October 18. These bills, first introduced by the Tony Abbott government in 2013, were twice rejected by the Senate, triggering the double dissolution election earlier this year. 

This is the latest attempt to extend the John Howard era’s union busting agenda. The ABCC was first established by the Howard government in 2005, targeting the militant unions that covered workers in the construction industry. It was opposed by the union movement.

This is what things have come to.

The Greatest Democracy In the World™ is subjecting its people, and the world, to an election campaign to determine who gets to order new crimes against humanity, in which one candidate is a far-right, racist, woman-hating, tax-avoiding failed property mogul, reality TV star and serial sex offender, and the other is, by all available evidence, a robot built by Goldman Sachs.

Group of women holding pro-choice placards

Unlike the other states and territories, abortion is a criminal offence in New South Wales and Queensland, except under certain circumstances.

The doctor who provides the termination, anyone assisting and the woman herself could all be prosecuted under the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) or the Criminal Code Act 1899 (Qld).

In NSW and Queensland, bills have been developed that, if successful, will lead to the decriminalisation of abortion in both states.

Workers at the Geelong oil refinery, with the support of community members, maintained a 24-hour picket from October 5 to 11 at four refinery access gates over serious safety concerns at the site. The refinery, previously owned by Shell, has been managed by Viva Energy for the past two years.

Resistance!

A card left by  the family of Ashley Morris, one of two workers killed at the Eagle Farm Racecourse when a concrete slab fell on them on October 7.

Do you feel safe while you are at work? Do you think your bosses care about your physical and mental wellbeing?

The growing reality seems to be that more and more bosses do not care about the wellbeing of workers, and the larger the business the worse it seems to get.

Culture

Dirty Secrets: Our ASIO Files
Edited by Meredith Burgmann
Newsouth, 2014
464 pages, $32.99 (pb)

The only thing worse, notes Meredith Burgmann in Dirty Secrets, than discovering that your personal file held by Australia’s domestic political police, ASIO, is disappointingly thin is to find out that your official subversion rating hasn’t warranted a file at all.

From continued ire toward NFL star Colin Kaepernick over his protests against police killings to outrage over a racist mascot and a Los Angeles slugger’s rejection of Trump, sport in the US is fast becoming politicised.

Reflecting a racially-polarised society, tensions have recently broken past the typical barriers and spilled — like a rowdy, drunken fan — onto the playing field of the usually-insulated field of sports.

Prophets of Rage at their first live show in Los Angeles in May.

Tom Morello, renowned guitarist from Rage Against the Machine and social activist, has just finished a “Make America Rage Again” tour with new supergroup Proohets of Rage. The group features RATM members Brad Wilk and Tim Cummerford, as well as Public Enemy vocalist Chuck D and Cypress Hill frontman B Real.

Pitched Battle: In the Frontline of the 1971 Springbok Tour of Australia By Larry Writer Scribe Melbourne, 2016 336pp, $35.00

“Sport and politics don’t mix” is often heard from politicians and media commentators when people target sporting events in acts of protest or athletes use their chosen sports to make political statement — for example Muhammad Ali and, more recently, US NFL star Colin Kaepernick. However, sport is often politicised in many different ways by the ruling class to reinforce the status quo.

The star of the new Netflix hit Luke Cage, Mike Colter, said the new show — featuring a bulletproof African-American man sporting a hoodie — highlighted the plight of many young Black people in the United States who have been shot dead by police and the decades-long struggle against such brutality.