Issue 1140

News

The City of Sydney has put forward an alternative proposal for the controversial $17 billion WestConnex tollway project.

Based on the original design for the motorway project, the alternative proposal offers a more direct motorway route to Port Botany and Sydney Airport for traffic from the west of the city.

The City of Sydney claims this alternative model will reduce congestion and remove the need for expensive tolls, while saving the NSW taxpayers billions of dollars.

The Northern Territory government issued a declaration on May 30 under the Petroleum Act reserving the entire Watarrka (Kings Canyon) National Park from the grant of a mineral and petroleum exploration permit or license.

The Traditional Owners, the Watarrka Park Land Trust, had been campaigning for such a declaration since they were notified of a proposed grant of two Exploration Permit Applications over the entire park in 2012.

Health services in Australia are resource intensive and a leading producer of waste and greenhouse gases, which contribute to global climate change.

The Victorian public healthcare system contributes 1% of Victoria’s total emissions and is estimated to be 2.8% of Victoria’s total ecological footprint.

On July 20 last year Wonnarua Elders Kevin Taggart and Patricia Hansson were part of a small group of Bulga residents protesting plans by Rio Tinto to close Wallaby Scrub Road as part of its expansion of the Warkworth mine.

Police arrived and arrested the only two Aboriginal people present.

Minimum wages rises $22 a week

Australia's lowest-paid workers will get a $22 a week pay rise after the Fair Work Commission lifted the national minimum wage to $694.90 from July 1.

FWC lifted the wage by 3.3% or 59 cents an hour to $18.29 an hour. Inflation for the year to the end of March was 2.1%. Minimum rates in modern awards will also rise by 3.3%.

ACTU secretary Sally McManus said the rise would not make up for penalty rate cuts affecting 700,000 workers.

The decision will affect up to 2.3 million people reliant on minimum rates of pay.

 

Vigil protests were held on May 25, in Hobart and Melbourne, to mark 100 days of peaceful occupation of the wildlife-rich forests of Tasmania’s Tarkine. The vigil, organised by the Bob Brown Foundation and Save the Tarkine, urged members of the Legislative Council to reject the Hodgman government's proposed destructive forests legislation and to provide National Park protection for the Tarkine.

Residents’ groups from Sydney's west and inner-west came together in a protest outside NSW Minister for WestConnex Stuart Ayres’ electorate office in Penrith on June 5. New tolls are about to be introduced on the M4 motorway as part of the giant tollway and tunnel scam that is WestConnex.

Commuters from western Sydney will be charged $2000 a year in the new M4 tolls, according to a letter from Penrith Valley Community Unions NSW (PVCU) that was delivered to Ayres' office.

The NSW Department of Planning & Environment admitted on June 7 that it had been inundated with more than 23,000 mostly oppositional submissions to corporate giant Santos’ plan for a gas field in the Pilliga region in north-western NSW.

The department has now totalled the figures: more than 18,000 “form submissions” were sent in — meaning that many people took advantage of anti-fracking groups’ efforts to broaden the anti-gas campaign, by signing a form and adding their personal view to a statement of concern.

The Adani company claims that a final decision to invest in the Carmichael coal mine has been made. However, campaigners have dismissed this announcement as a stunt and vowed the mine will never come into production.

Blair Palese of 350 Australia wrote to supporters on June 6: "We want to tell [Adani] that we are more committed than ever to STOP this project and ensure that sanity prevails by making sure this climate bomb never sees the light of day."

Hundreds defied rainy weather to take part in a vibrant "Love Trumps Hate" rally in Brisbane on June 11.

Analysis

The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) has called for a national day of rallies for June 20 to stop the attacks on workers.

This is the second national day of action called by the CFMEU this year, with a previous round of rallies having taken place in March.

The Australian national anthem is a fraud when it says: “For we are young and free”.

As I pass people on the streets of Melbourne, many grab their bags, dogs, kids, anything valuable, as I pass, simply because people — especially young adolescents — with a South Sudanese background are perceived as criminals. What if they greeted us with “g’day”, as they do to every other Australian, instead of being fearful of us?

The Australian Financial Review Rich List for 2017 features 60 billionaires — the most ever in its 34-year history. The total wealth of all "rich listers" has reached $233.1 billion, up from $197.3 billion last year.

Highest ranked among the 200 richest people in the country is paper and packaging tycoon Anthony Pratt, with a fortune of $12.6 billion. It looks like all that plastic packaging floating in the world's oceans has reaped at least one plutocrat some positive returns.

Immigration minister Peter Dutton has become so despised by sections of society that some are questioning if he has a soul or heart.

This could also apply to any Coalition or Labor immigration minister over the past couple of decades.

Watch videos of refugees protests over the past decade and it will not be long before you hear chants such as “Lock up [insert current immigration minister] throw away the keys, we won’t stop till we free the refugees” or “Blood on your hands [insert name]”.

As we celebrate the courage and the achievements of Eddie Koiki Mabo we all walk in his determined footsteps in our hope for a brighter future. The Mabo family asked me to paint you a picture of how Australia can offer an example to the world, if we achieve what that passionate man dreamed of, if we do it with reason and common sense, and if we show the care and respect that will create here in the 21st Century a Great Society like none the world has ever seen.

We condemn the terror attacks in London and Manchester, but we also need to call out the cynical and dangerous response from those in charge who have one solution — more of the same.

British Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May and US President Donald Trump are using these tragedies to ramp up Islamophobia, expand police powers, weaken civil liberties and strengthen the “war on terror” — the same policies that have failed to stop individuals from carrying out terror attacks.

Like many Victorian TAFEs, Melbourne’s Polytechnic is in decline. Trade training facilities sit idle and rusting away, mere ghosts of their former selves. Student activity in the once grand technical campuses is at a record low in Melbourne. Enrolments have dropped by tens of thousands — an overall decline of 40% — as courses are cancelled, staff made redundant, libraries shut down.

Once again the mainstream media is using lurid headlines and racist hyperbole to convince us that Australia is under threat from the spectre of Islamist terrorism.

Right-wing columnists are whipping themselves into a frenzy calling for further curbs on the already minuscule opportunity for refugees to settle in Australia, further criminalisation of ideological views and imprisonment without conviction.  

The day after a public meeting to oppose development on a toxic site in a northern suburb of Melbourne, the developer put it up for sale on a real estate site, without any mention of the contamination. In Victoria, there is no legal requirement for the sellers of contaminated land, to indicate that a site is contaminated.

Local residents packed the Fawkner Senior Citizens Centre on May 11 to hear speakers about the issues around this toxic site.

To mark the sixth international March Against Monsanto activists in Sydney organised an event on May 20 to raise awareness about the dangers of Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) food technology.

This year the focus was on Monsanto’s “Roundup” herbicide, an organophosphorus compound the company patented in 1974. In 2105, the World Health Organization urged people to stop using it due to its extreme toxicity saying that glyphosate “probably” causes cancer. The use of glyphosate has increased 16-fold since the mid-1990s when GMO crops were first introduced.

World

South African President Jacob Zuma’s recent cabinet reshuffle is nothing more and nothing less than the latest instalment of a long-running story of the capture of the African National Congress (ANC) and the post-1994 democratic state it has politically run. 

It is but a consequence of a political, economic and social crisis that has been forged and fed by the ANC – and its Alliance partners, the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) – as a whole, in conjunction with capital. 

Brazil's trade union confederations have called for a new general strike to shut down the country’s largest cities on June 30 in protest at neoliberal labour and retirement pension reforms, as well as to demand the resignation of unelected president Michel Temer who is currently embroiled in several corruption controversies.

The plan had seemed so well organised.

Its first stage was executed on October 1 last year when the ruling elite of the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) got the party’s Federal Political Committee (FPC) to force the resignation of general secretary Pedro Sanchez.

An important debate has opened up among the left, both within Venezuela and internationally, as a result of the recent turmoil in the country.

In an attempt to bring the views of grassroots Venezuelan militants to an English-speaking audience, Green Left Weekly’s Federico Fuentes interviewed Stalin Perez Borges.

A life-long union and socialist activist, Perez Borges is today a member of the United League of Chavista Socialists (LUCHAS), a radical current within the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV).

At the recent G7 summit, held May 26-27 in Taormina, Italy, US President Donald Trump said the US was going to leave the Paris Agreement on climate change, a move that may have a devastating effect for the whole planet.

In response to Trump’s declarations, German Chancellor Angela Merkel labelled Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May as unreliable partners, saying “we must fight for our own future on our own, for our destiny as Europeans”.

Sarah Ayoub was baking bread. She was putting a loaf into a clay oven when she heard the explosions.

That was on June 5, 1967, the day Israel declared war against Egypt.

As Israel’s tanks drew closer, Sarah grew increasingly worried about Munther, her husband. He had gone out to work, transporting goods along with a merchant.

After an hour passed, he made it back to their home in Beach refugee camp, part of Gaza City.

Theresa May desperately clung to power yesterday by resorting to a coalition of terror with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

After months of smearing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as a so-called “terrorist sympathiser” for engaging in peace talks with the IRA, she leapt into bed with the notorious loyalist party to avoid the humiliation of seeing her opportunist snap election force her out of No 10.

Ten DUP MPs will allow a government that looks set to be — in the words she previously used against other parties — a “weak and unstable coalition of chaos.”

After promising for months that she’d never call an early election, Tory Prime Minister Theresa May called a snap general election in April — fully expecting to be returned with a thumping Conservative majority.

Instead, the cynically conceived June 8 poll resulted in a disaster for Conservative politics in Britain. The Tories have lost their majority and now face a hung parliament.

Gay men in the Chechen Republic are being kidnapped and detained in torture camps as part of the government’s attempt to “purge” the country of homosexuality.

Chechnya is currently ruled by the wealthy war criminal Ramzan Kadyrov, who has the backing of Russian President Vladimir Putin. But Russia’s "gay propaganda laws", which criminalise the dissemination of information about LGBTQI issues, are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Chechnya’s deeply homophobic culture. 

Jorge Martin, secretary of Hands Off Venezuela, an international organisation that campaigns in solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution and in opposition to imperialist intervention, recently visited Venezuela in the midst of the current upheaval rocking the nation.

Colombia’s government reached an agreement with Buenaventura residents on June 6, bringing an end to 22 days of strike action in the country’s largest port city.

The strike action in Buenaventura resulted from decades of utter neglect of the region coupled with unfulfilled promises by successive governments to address the situation in the port city.

About 60,000 public school teachers gathered on the streets of Colombia’s capital, Bogota, on June 6 demanding a government response to a crisis in the sector.

The teachers have been on strike for over a month now demanding reform in education that would see dramatic investment in the sector in terms of pay and medical care as well as a reduction in the student-teacher ratio and improvement in school meals, among others.

Two major anniversaries recently marked the significant change that has taken place on the Spanish left in the last several years.

May 15 was the sixth anniversary of the Indignados mass mobilisations and protests against the brutal austerity unleashed by Spanish government in the wake of the economic crisis. Meanwhile, May 25 marked the third anniversary since the emergence of Podemos as the political voice of the anti-austerity movement with the election of the five Podemos candidates (including key leader Pablo Iglesias) into the European Parliament.

Culture

British rock band Radiohead have come under pressure by Palestine solidarity activists, who are calling for the band to cancel its July 19 Tel Aviv gig as part of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign.

Google Maps is ahead of the curve. The growing calls for the Margaret Court Arena to be renamed in response to the tennis star’s offensive homophobic comments has resulted in Google Maps renaming the Melbourne arena the Evonne Goolagong Arena.

David Kilcullen operates in the post-structural, morally grey nether world that neoliberalism has created. Not quite a mercenary — but not much better — he slides between being an Australian soldier, a top-level civilian strategic thinking adviser to the US military, a “security consultant” and an academic.

In its decade-long run, Tel Aviv’s LGBT Film Festival (TLVFest) has never before been hit with such pressure from the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign targetting Israel in support of Palestine. Now, nearly half of its international guests have pulled out from taking part.

Resistance!

The normalisation of the war on terror has become the standard refrain from the mainstream media (MSM), which would rather sensationalise and beat up stories of petty crime than investigate corporate crime.

The so called “riots”, supposedly orchestrated by a Dandenong-based Apex gang in the aftermath of the 2016 Moomba Parade, is a case in point. The media is attempting to whip up fear to promote the major parties “tough on crime” approach, but the reality is that crime rates all over the country are falling.