Issue 1142

News

Refugee activists from the Whistleblowers, Activists and Citizens Alliance (WACA) hung a banner off the Channel 7 building in Melbourne’s Docklands on June 23.

The Channel 7 building is in direct line of sight of the Border Force headquarters in Customs House, where operational matters in Manus Island and Nauru refugee detention camps are managed.

In a move similar to the one that preceded abortion law reform in Victoria and Tasmania, Queensland Attorney-General and justice minister Yvette D’Ath has referred abortion to the Queensland Law Reform Commission (QLRC). It has been tasked with drafting legislation to modernise abortion law. The current laws date back to 1899 and have not been amended since.

Christians, Jews, Baha'is, Buddhists, Hare Krishnas and Quakers were among the religious groups represented at multi-faith gathering for climate action in Brisbane on June 27.

Anglican Dean Peter Catt spoke first arguing that Earth is part of God's creation and needs to be protected for its own sake, not simply for utilitarian reasons. This opened up a theme developed by other speakers about religious motivations for taking environmental action.

People living in and around Gloucester have barely drawn breath since successfully defeating AGL’s plans to turn the Gloucester Basin into a coal seam gas field. Now, they are fighting to stop a massive coal mine, the Rocky Hill Coal project.

Gloucester Resources Limited (GRL) first proposed an open-cut coalmine, 900 metres from homes on productive agricultural land in 2012. The project included major pieces of infrastructure including a coal handling and preparation plant and a rail load-out facility and operating four open-cut pits 24 hours a day.

A proposed law restructuring Victoria's fire services has been referred to a parliamentary select committee, and will not be put to a vote until parliament resumes in August. This follows the expression of "concerns" about the law by conservative crossbenchers in the upper house.

The proposed law would end the antiquated situation where regional cities and a large part of the Melbourne metropolitan area are covered by the Country Fire Authority (CFA), and receive an inferior service. 

The V8 supercars race due to run through Newcastle streets in November places “private profit over the common good and social justice” according to the Newcastle East Residents Group (NERG).

In a recent leaflet NERG points out that residents continue to be sidelined by Newcastle City Council, Destinations NSW (a government tourism body) and Supercars Australia Pty Ltd.

The race deal was worked out in a private briefing and closed council meetings without community involvement last year.

Senate to investigate SDA deals

The giant Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA) will be subject to a parliamentary inquiry over wage deals that have cost workers hundreds of millions of dollars.

The Senate inquiry, initiated by Nick Xenophon and backed by the Greens, will examine claims that workers at retailers such as McDonald's, KFC and Coles are paid penalty rates under their SDA-negotiated enterprise agreements that are lower than the industry award.

Justice Peter Applegarth of the Supreme Court rejected on June 23 the application by New Acland Coal (NAC) for judicial review of the Queensland Land Court’s decision, which recommended rejecting the Stage 3 expansion of the New Hope Mine. He said he was not satisfied irreparable harm would be caused to New Acland Coal and other third parties if a stay was not ordered.

Representatives at the annual meeting of the Australian Local Government Association voted on June 20 to back a motion by Hobart city council to push for the federal government to change the date of Australia Day.

Hobart city council voted in April to sponsor changing Australia Day from January 26, a date many Indigenous people regard as Invasion Day.

This year, the City of Fremantle moved some Australia Day events to January 28, after local Aboriginal elders said January 26 was not a day to celebrate.

Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe has called on workers to start demanding pay rises.

Lowe said on June 19 Australia’s economy is suffering a “crisis” in wage growth and the relatively low unemployment rate means workers should start asking for a larger share of the nation’s economic pie.

His call comes as data shows the share of national income going to workers has fallen to a 50 year low and the underemployment rate, where workers want to work more hours, rose to 8.8%.

Underemployment has now risen for the past six consecutive quarters.

Stop Adani groups are rapidly springing up in cities and towns across northern Queensland, intent on helping the movement against the company’s Carmichael coalmine.

Campaign roadshows have been springboards, including in Townsville and Port Douglas, with others proposed for Gordonvale and the Atherton Tablelands.

The WA state Labor government announced on June 20 that it will not obstruct the construction of the four uranium mines in the state that have already received environmental approval. But it says it will block future proposals.

Toro Energy's Wiluna project, Vimy Resources' Mulga Rock project, and Cameco's Kintyre and Yeelirrie projects were all approved before Labor won the March election. Environmental approval for Yeelirrie was initially denied amid fears several species of subterranean fauna would be made extinct, but it eventually got the nod anyway.

On June 27, Geelong Trades Hall Secretary Colin Vernon along with other union and community activists raised the rainbow flag at Trades  Hall in support of marriage equality.

The council is supporting the LGBTI community and Surf Coast Shire residents who have been campaigning to keep the flag flying at their local council building since council backtracked on a position it took in April.

Around Australia, thousands of unionists, led by the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), took to the streets on June 20 as part of a national day of action against the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC), attacks on penalty rates, wage theft by employers and exploitation of migrant workers.

The CFMEU was joined by hundreds of other workers in contingents including nurses, teachers, firefighters, financial sector workers, public sector workers, university staff, manufacturing workers, electrical trades and maritime workers.

Analysis

The Independent member for Cairns Rob Pyne made the following statement in the Queensland parliament on June 16, while holding up a piece of bleached coral.

* * *

This is coral — bleached coral. Be scared. Be afraid. It will not hurt you, but the global warming that killed it will. This bleached coral is the canary in the coalmine.

After years of student and staff dissent about the presence of Broadspectrum on campus, University of Newcastle quietly announced it would be ending the contract at the end of this year, two years earlier than agreed.

The university had contracted Broadspectrum, formerly known as Transfield, to manage the facilities, waste and security on the Callaghan, Ourimbah, Port Macquarie and Sydney campuses.

There are countless reports from NGOs, scientists and government agencies on climate refugees.

For example, last year more than 2 million people had to gather their possessions and flee as floods hit the Yangtze River in China. But, despite this becoming one of the world’s greatest issues there is very little activism around climate refugees in the developed world.

The adage of moving house being the most stressful time of one’s life has been proved at a West Brunswick public housing estate. Resident Lindi told Green Left Weekly: “One hundred residents are being compulsorily moved. The latest notice on the move is it will be in July.”

Unless you lived in West London, you would not have known about a 24 story, 70-metre-high apartment block that served as public housing London before June 14.

Grenfell Tower housed low paid workers, single mothers, migrants — those who could not afford to live anywhere else. It is located in an affluent area of London surrounded by luxury apartment blocks, many of which are empty.

The Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Family Council (W&J) is involved in a remarkable struggle to assert their Indigenous rights in opposition to the proposed Adani Carmichael coalmine.

Despite the company’s board-level decision to proceed, the mine has not cleared all legal hurdles.

Alice Pearl Daiguma Eather, a young Aboriginal community leader, activist and teacher, died aged 28 in the Aboriginal township of Maningrida, Northern Territory on June 4. Speakers at her funeral and wake summed up Alice as having “a beautiful spirit, a remarkable life”.

Alice was a bilingual primary school teacher and slam poet as well as an activist against coal seam gas (CSG) mining. More than 500 family, friends, supporters and members of the Maningrida community attended Alice’s funeral at Mount Gravatt in Brisbane and more attended her wake in West End.

In a speech to parliament on June 21, Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson attacked the Venezuelan government and President Nicolas Maduro, while praising right-wing opposition protests in the country.

It is not clear whether Whish-Wilson’s position reflects the official policy of the Australian Greens or is merely a personal view. In either case, the Greens should reject this position that promotes violence and confrontation, rather than dialogue and respect for Venezuela’s democracy and sovereignty.

"The NSW Coalition government's 2017 budget might be better described as the ‘biggest con-job in the Western world’," Susan Price, Socialist Alliance candidate for Ashfield in the upcoming Inner West Council elections, said on June 21. She was responding to state Treasurer Dominic Perrottet's declaration that his inaugural budget was "the envy of the Western world".

Last year we wondered where the Australian Bernie Sanders would come from. Now we're asking, who will be our Jeremy Corbyn? Could it be Anthony Albanese? Nah, too right wing. What about Scott Ludlum or Sally McManus?

Posing it this way gets the question the wrong way around. The circumstances produce the leaders that answer the call.

In both the US and Britain recession and austerity inflicted pain on working people to a degree not yet felt by most Australians, although it's surely on the way.

World

Bolivian President Evo Morales offered to “free” Organization of American States, OAS, Secretary General Luis Almagro from the “North American empire” on June 24

“I offer to free brother Luis Almagro from submission to the North American empire,” Morales said in a tweet. “All for the dignity and sovereignty of our peoples.”

The message came only hours after Almargo declared that he would resign “for freedom in Venezuela.”

After winning 30 extra seats in the general elections three weeks ago and leading in polls, the socialist leader of Britain's Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn has received a rapturous welcome at Europe's largest greenfield music festival in the southwest of England.

The Labour party's Jeremy Corbyn took to the main Pyramid stage on the second day of the event to address the largely young crowds. Tens of thousands of people turned up to see the 68 year old, making him one of Glastonbury's most anticipated headliners this year along with Radiohead and the Foo Fighters.

The idea that every eurozone country should adopt an export-led growth model should not only be rejected because it is based on exploitation, but also because it is economically impossible.

At the closing of the World Peoples' Conference on June 21 in Tiquipaya, Bolivia, social movements called for a “world without walls,” while Bolivian President Evo Morales urged social movements to adopt the progressive proposals of the gathering's final declaration, which dubbed the migration crisis as just one symptom of neoliberal globalisation. 

Zimbabwe is facing elections next year, with the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union - Popular Front (ZANU-PF) government likely to be returned despite its huge unpopularity.

The 93-year-old Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s first and only president, plans to seek re-election for another five years. But there is a bitter scramble within his party to find his successor. The scramble is purely for power — policy is irrelevant to the struggle.

It is important to note that while the vitriolic right-wing government opposition is concentrated among the white and economically elite elements of the population, the barrios, shanty towns and rural areas that are home to the poor, Indigenous communities and the Afro-Venezuelans have not erupted into protest for the most part because they support the government. In order to understand the roots of the elite opposition's hate and racism toward Black and Indigenous government supporters, one has to understand the history of the presidency that preceded Maduro's – that of Hugo Chavez.

In his new book A Redder Shade of Green, Canadian ecosocialist activist and Climate and Capitalism editor Ian Angus says ecosocialism must be based on a careful and deliberate synthesis of Marxist social science and Earth system science — a 21st century rebirth of scientific socialism.

Theresa May is now Britain’s prime minister in name only. Leading a government that may collapse within days, propped up (she hopes) by the homophobes of the Democratic Unionist Party, it is clear her time is nearly up.

So while May is in office but not in power, who has stepped into the vacuum of leadership she has left? Jeremy Corbyn.

The Cuban Council of State has called for the holding of general elections to decide delegates to both municipal and provincial assemblies, and to choose deputies to the National Assembly of People's Power.

According to the Cuban newspaper Granma, the first round of elections for municipal representatives will be held on October 22, and the second round runoff for candidates who have not obtained at least 50% of the vote will be held on October 29.

Cuba defended its sovereign right to grant protection and asylum to US dissidents, civil rights fighters and persecuted persons, rebuffing the demand of US President Donald Trump that the Caribbean nation return so-called US "criminals" to the country as a precondition for the resumption of neighbourly relations between the long-time foes.

“In tune with the national legislation and international law, and Latin America's tradition, Cuba has granted political asylum or refuge to civil rights fighters from the United States,” Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez stated at a Havana press conference on June 19.

The Cuban government issued a statement on June 16 in response to US President Donald Trump’s announced change of policy toward the socialist-run island, reasserting the country’s sovereignty. 

In a speech that day in Miami, Trump said he will cancel former President Barack Obama’s "completely one-sided deal with Cuba."

It is too early yet to write about the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower on June 14 without being overcome by a mixture of sorrow and anger. This not just could, but should have been avoided.

The residents, including through the Grenfell Action Group, have been raising concerns about the safety of the block and the refurbishment for several years. In October, the London Fire Brigade wrote to Kensington and Chelsea Council expressing concerns about the insulation used at Grenfell. They were all ignored.

Culture

No is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics & Winning the World We Need
By Naomi Klein
Haymarket Books, 2017

A new book by Naomi Klein, one of the leading left journalists in North America and author of such important treatises as No LogoThe Shock Doctrine and This Changes Everything, is not something you wants to miss — especially when it is on the 2016 US election and the rise of Donald Trump.

“How does it aid the revolution, you trying to be funny?” The left-wing Liverpudlian Alexei Sayle, future star of the BBC’s comically demented The Young Ones, was flummoxed by this question posed to him by an exiled Arab revolutionary in Sayle’s London flat in 1971, in which the General Congress of the deadly serious Popular Front for the Liberation of the Occupied Arab Gulf was being held.

Sayle, the son of working-class communists, was a “practising communist” himself. But he also loved clowning around, he writes in Thatcher Sole My Trousers, his follow-up memoir to his childhood reminiscences in Stalin Ate My Homework.

Below are five new books for the “ecosocialist bookshelf” on climate change and human health, ecology and imperialism, environmental economics, capitalism and universities, and the meaning of hegemony.

They have been compiled by Ian Angus, the editor of Climate and Capitalism, where this first appeared. Angus is the author of A Redder Shade of Green, which has just been published by Monthly Review Press.