Issue 1119

News

Hundreds of Health and Community Services Union (HACSU) members disrupted the Victorian State Labor Conference on November 12 to protest against plans by the Daniel Andrews government to privatise public disability services.

Delegates walked off the conference floor to meet HACSU members, people with disabilities and their friends and families at the Moonee Valley Racecourse where they heard the message loud and clear: No to the privatisation of public disability.

Communities in South Gippsland and the Latrobe Valley were delighted on November 9 to hear that Western Australian-based mining company Mantle Mining had walked away from their coalmining licences in the area.

The Victorian government granted Mantle Mining six exploration licences for brown coal in June. The licences cover almost 500 square kilometres across the Latrobe Valley and South Gippsland, including the surrounds of Mirboo North, Callignee, Jeeralang and Carrajung.

NSW Premier Mike Baird agreed on November 15 to meet with residents campaigning against the controversial $17 billion tollway WestConnex. His promise came after they staged a sit-in at NSW Parliament House that day.

At the start of question time, three protesters attempted to drop a banner from the gallery that read “No WestCONnex / Baird it’s time to listen”.

The trio then chanted “No WestConnex” and informed MPs that dozens of residents were waiting for Baird to speak to them. They were escorted out by security.

Staff of the federal Department of Human Services (DHS), which covers Centrelink, Medicare and the Child Support Agency, voted to reject a management-proposed enterprise bargaining agreement that would strip away workplace rights and conditions.

This is the third comprehensive “No” vote in 14 months in DHS, which is the Commonwealth government’s largest public service agency.

The NSW Coalition government is in deep trouble after the disastrous by-election in the rural seat of Orange on November 12 in which the Nationals suffered a 34% swing against it.

Nationals state leader and Deputy Premier Troy Grant has been forced to resign, and has been replaced by John Barilaro.

The swing was the highest ever recorded in a NSW by-election, with some booths reporting a swing away from the Nationals of more than 60%. It is now possible the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party (SFFP) candidate, Philip Donato, could win the seat on Labor preferences.

Up to 40 teenage prisoners from Victoria’s youth justice centre at Parkville will be sent to a segregated wing of the maximum security Barwon adult prison after it was gazetted as a youth remand centre and a youth justice custodial centre on November 17.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said an adult prison was the “most appropriate facility” for those responsible for allegedly rioting at the Parkville Justice Centre the previous weekend.

The first time residents in Newtown — one of the oldest suburbs in Sydney — heard of a new Westconnex tunnel route under their homes was when a couple of test drill sites were set up in the neighbourhood. They immediately responded with a series of early morning protests at these sites.

Then an article in the November 11 Sydney Morning Herald reported that the Mike Baird Coalition government had decided to bring forward the construction of an eight-lane tunnel to link the M4 and M5 tollways.

Up to 1000 people gathered outside state Parliament on November 15 to protest against plans by the Western Australian Coalition government to sell the state’s main electricity provider, Western Power.

The protest was organised by the Use your Power Group, headed by the Australian Services Union (ASU) and Electrical Trades Union. There was also strong support from the Maritime Union of Australia, Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, United Voice, Australian Manufacturing Workers Union and State School Teachers Union.

Palestinians and their supporters gathered on November 15 at Federation Square in Melbourne to celebrate the Palestinian National Day. The Palestinian flag was raised for the first time ever in Melbourne and stood next to seven other Palestinian flags.

In response to the election of right-wing billionaire Donald Trump as president elect in the US, a “Dump Trump” protest was organised on November 12.

The action was in solidarity with African Americans, Latinos, LGBTQIA people, the disabled and women, all of whom have borne the brunt of attacks by Trump and his supporters as they exploited xenophobia, Islamophobia, racism, homophobia and misogyny during the long election campaign.

Landholders are celebrating after a gas exploration lease south of the environmentally sensitive Whicher Range, near Margaret River, was cancelled on November 11 after it expired and was not renewed.

Mariah de Cerquiera from the Whicher Range Action Group said the cancellation was a victory for the local campaign to save the area from being turned into an industrialised gasfield.

A report by UNICEF and Save the Children found operating the detention system on Nauru and Manus Island had cost $3.6 billion since the reintroduction of offshore processing in 2012.

The report said shutting offshore detention facilities would save $2 billion over four years.

Turnbacks are estimated to have cost nearly $300 million since Operation Sovereign Borders began.

The US Declaration of Independence declares: “When a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government”.

Err, like now, when we have just seen the racist, misogynist, billionaire bully Donald Trump “elected” US president by only 25% of the eligible vote and with 700,000 fewer votes that his opponent Hilary Clinton?

When the majority of US residents did not vote for either of these two candidates of the richest 1%?

The Bureau of Meteorology says wind gusts up to 260km/h from a “supercell” thunderstorm and multiple tornadoes were recorded on September 28, destroying transmission towers and causing the state-wide blackout in South Australia.

The report from the BoM – which mapped the passage of storms and seven tornadoes over critical network infrastructure – makes it clear that a freak weather event was responsible for the grid blackout.

Analysis

As a close blood relative of former minister for the environment Greg Hunt, I am deeply ashamed that he did not do one simple thing: protect Lawler’s Well.

There were 11 sites sacred to the Gomeroi people in the part of the Leard State Forest in north-western NSW that is being cleared for Whitehaven Coal’s controversial Maules Creek Mine. Ten have already been destroyed or irrevocably damaged. The last of these Gomeroi heritage sites is Lawler’s Well.

Asbestos is a thriving industry and asbestos lobbyists have set their sights on south-east Asia as the next frontier for new trade markets in the Third World. This was outlined at the recent annual South East Asian Ban Asbestos Conference, held in Jakarta in November.

As part of Anti-Poverty Week, on October 21 and 22, Anti-Poverty Network South Australia hosted Power To The Poor — Silent No More, a two-day conference devoted to the attacks faced by welfare recipients in Australia — sole parents, unemployed people, age and disability pensioners, carers, and others — and opportunities for pushing back.

WENDY, a job-seeker in her late 50s, spoke about her experiences as an older unemployed person. Below she was interviewed by PAS FORGIONE from Anti-Poverty Network SA.

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Mardi Gras — now the largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, (LGBTQI) pride march in the world — started in June 1978 when New South Wales police viciously assaulted queer people dancing through Oxford Street. 

The offshore detention hellholes of Nauru and Manus Island are becoming increasingly unviable as more damning reports are published, court cases in Papua New Guinea continue, private service providers under the pressure of boycott campaigns decline to reapply for contracts and protests grow in Australia.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s latest plan — third country resettlement in the United States — is a reaction to this pressure, while also maintaining the policy of boat turnbacks, border security rhetoric and denying asylum seekers the right to be resettled in Australia.

World

United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association Maina Kiai issued a blistering condemnation on November 15 of the militarised response to the Standing Rock water protectors’ peaceful protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The burial of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Heroes’ Cemetery (Libingan ng mga Bayani — LNMB) was hurriedly and secretively carried out, with military-style logistical support.

Marcos ruled the Philippines from 1965 until he was overthrown in the Peoples Power EDSA Uprising of 1986. He died in exile in the US three years later.

More than 100 Honduran and international human rights and social justice groups have thrown their support behind a newly launched independent investigation, led by international legal experts, into the murder of renowned indigenous environmental activist Berta Caceres.

As expected, once Brazil’s October regional elections were over, the Michel Temer government launched a large-scale offensive against workers, youth and the people in general.

At the heart of this offensive is Constitutional Amendment Proposal (PEC) 241, which essentially imposes a freeze on government expenditure for the next 20 years.

A group of right-wing extremists stormed the chamber of the lower house of the Brazilian Congress on November 16 demanding the military stage a coup to root out “institutionalised communism” in the country.

According to the BBC, the right-wing demonstrators pushed past guards, injuring some, before breaking a glass door to gain entry to the chamber.

Tamil and Muslim fisherpeople marched on the Musali Divisional Secretariat on November 9. They were protesting against plans to establish a settlement by the Sinhalese ethnic majority in their coastal area of Sri Lanka's Northern Province.

A placard condemns Obama's drone wars.

Powers that went largely unchallenged during the Obama administration are now in the hands of President-elect Donald Trump — and that’s a frightening prospect.

Spanish anti-austerity party Podemos held a series of internal elections over November 7–9 throughout seven regions across Spain  — Madrid, Andalusia, Extremadura, La Rioja, Castilla y Leon, Navarra y Aragón — and 12 different cities.

The elections were centred around the positions of the general secretaries in each region and territory, as well as the Autonomous Citizens’ Councils that form an integral part of the relatively new party’s political direction and organisation.

The Bersih 5.0 demonstration for clean elections in Malaysia made a huge splash despite threats of serious repression. The night before the demonstration at least ten prominent figures (including key organisers of the rally) were arrested.

The leadup to the Bersih 5.0 was also characterised by threats of violence from the pro-government Red Shirts. Although nominally independent, the government was clearly turning a blind eye to these threats. Some figures associated with the Najib regime were also promising to march with the Red Shirts.

“We know that elections and individuals alone don’t create change — movements do.”

This is the maxim that guided the huge United States-wide action that took place on November 15. There were nearly 200 protests against the Dakota Access pipeline, the largest since the US government requested the project be temporarily halted in September.

Each day after the November 8 presidential elections won by Donald Trump, the streets of cities across the United States have pulsed with anger, outrage, fear and solidarity in opposition to Trump, US Socialist Worker reported.

“The response was immediate, with spontaneous mobilisations forming as the election results came in,” it said.

Social movements across Asia, Latin America, Oceania, and North America celebrated on November 15 the fact that their seven-year strategic campaign had successfully derailed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a controversial trade deal widely condemned for privileging corporate profits over international public interest.

Moroccan protesters have taken to the streets in recent days, taking advantage of the global spotlight provided by the November 7-18 United Nations COP22 climate talks in Marrakech. Mouhcine Fikri could have been any one of them.

Fikri was the fishmonger whose awful death in the back of a garbage collection truck was caught on mobile phone footage that subsequently spread across social media to ignite large demonstrations in Morocco.

BHP Billiton executives faced dissident shareholders at the company’s annual general meeting in Brisbane on November 17 over its responsibility for the Samarco tailings dam disaster in Brazil last year.

The protesters want Australia’s biggest company to compensate the victims. BHP jointly owns the iron ore mine with Brazilian mining giant, Vale.

A protester holds a 'No Trump' sign.

The news that the White House and Republican congressional leaders have given up on passing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is welcome.

That the TPP would be defeated by Congress if brought to a vote signals that the Trojan-horse “trade” agreements that expand corporate power are simply no longer politically viable. People power beat the united forces of a US president, the Republican congressional leaders and the entire corporate lobby.

“We will resist and resist until we win!” chants Sebahat Tuncel before her mouth is forcibly shut by half a dozen police officers who drag her along the floor and detain her in early November.

Black Lives Matter Global Network released the following statement to Mic.com on November 15.

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Our mandate has not changed: organise and end all state-sanctioned violence until all Black Lives Matter.

The World Meteorological Organisation has warned that 2016 was set to be the hottest year on record by a significant margin livescience.com said.

WMO scientists told diplomats gathered in Marrakech, Morocco, for the November 7–18 United Nations COP22 climate talks that temperatures are 1.2˚C above pre-industrial times.

The Bersih 5.0 demonstration for clean elections in Malaysia made a huge splash despite threats of serious repression. The night before the demonstration at least ten prominent figures (including key organisers of the rally) were arrested.

Read a full report here.

Culture

Imperialism in the Twenty-First Century: Globalization, Super-Exploitation, and Capitalism’s Final Crisis
By John Smith
Monthly Review Press, 2016

On April 24, 2013 a clothing factory in Rana Plaza, Dhaka, Bangladesh collapsed, killing 1133 workers and injuring 2500 others.

This image of super-exploited, fatally-trapped workers, hemmed in by national borders and racist migration policies preventing them from moving to safer, better-paid work opens John Smith’s book — and illustrates his outrage.

As an openly racist president was elected in the US, artist-activists reacted to Donald Trump across Latin America and the Caribbean. Below is a selection, abridged from TeleSUR English.

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1. Mexico's old-school rock-rap band Molotov did not miss the opportunity to take a jab at both US president-elect Donald Trump and current Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.

The 71-year-old Canadian rock legend Neil Young’s latest song, “Indian Givers”, seeks to raise awareness about the Native American water protectors in North Dakota protesting the destructive four-state Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).

The Mexican and US national teams defied protocol on November 11 in their World Cup qualifier as they posed together for a team photograph. The move was a display of unity as US president-elect Donald Trump threatens to tear the two nations apart.

Mexico won the game, hosted in Ohio, with a 2-1 final score.

Normally, football teams pose separately before the game, but this time the players decided to pose together to strike back at Trump’s proposal to make Mexico pay for a wall between the two countries to keep immigrants out.

Resistance!

The feminist movement has been sent into a spin following the election of Donald “Grab her by the pussy” Trump in the US. While the consensus is that the election of Trump is a disaster for women, the debates around the would-be benefits of Hillary Clinton remain fierce.