Issue 1145

News

The NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association (NSWNMA) welcomed reports the NSW government had capitulated on July 7 on the proposed privatisation of Bowral and District Hospital. This followed the announcement on July 6 that Wyong Hospital, south of Newcastle, will also remain in public hands.

NSWNMA general secretary Brett Holmes said the decision was a testament to 10 long months of campaigning with the community group Public Health First, local health workers and their supporters.

Liverpool Plains farmers have reacted angrily to NSW resources minister Don Harwin’s announcement on July 12 that it will buy back only half of the Shenhua coal exploration licence covering the Liverpool Plains. This means that the government is allowing an open-cut coalmine in NSW’s food bowl.

The NSW government will pay $262 million to buy back 51% of Shehua’s exploration licence. However, as eight years have passed without the coal giant starting “substantial development”, the government could simply cancel its exploration licence without compensation.

Just months after an Electrical Trades Union (ETU) victory against Carlton and United Breweries, a much larger battle looms over Melbourne’s industrial landscape. 

In early July, the behemoth Crown Casino laid off its entire electrical workforce. Like the Carlton brewery before it, the casino has tendered an electric gaming contract to the poker machine supplier Amtek. Just three weeks ago Amtek advertised the new casino positions, with wages set at 50% of the old salary.

Far North Queensland Stop Adani groups mobilised when the Queensland government announced its latest "governing from the regions" exercise would be in Cairns over July 10–14.

They wanted their message that the massive Carmichael coalmine must be stopped to become the main issue and not the government’s pork-barrelling.

Peace activists are planning a court support solidarity action with Jim and Franz Dowling, Tim Webb, and Andy Paine as the group faces court on July 19.

They will appear before the Brisbane magistrate’s court on charges related to the March 1 action in which a sword was removed from a war memorial and shaped into a gardening tool. The group are members of the Catholic worker movement.

The Queensland Land Court delivered its judgement on Hancock Galilee’s proposed Kevin’s Corner coalmine on July 4. Hancock Galilee is a wholly owned subsidiary of the GVK Group, which also owns the adjacent Alpha mine.

Land court member Wayne Cochrane determined: “There is no basis upon which I should recommend refusal of the grant of the mining lease, notwithstanding that it will convert otherwise useful grazing land into a coalmine.”

“The revelation that Sydney is set to become the ‘toll road capital of the world’ shows the madness,” said Pip Hinman, Socialist Alliance candidate for Stanmore ward in the September Inner West Council elections.

“The disastrous $17 billion WestConnex tollway is just the latest in a string of tollroads around the city, and should be halted immediately,” she told Green Left Weekly on July 15

New South Wales housing minister Anthony Roberts told a 600-strong meeting on July 12 that the main solution to Sydney’s housing affordability crisis was to create more supply. He derided those arguing for affordable rental housing targets as “simplistic”.

The Sydney Alliance’s second “housing assembly” included Catholic Archbishop Anthony Fisher, Churches Housing executive officer Magnus Linder, Greater Sydney Commission CEO Sarah Hill and several people who presented their personal experience of housing stress.

National secretary of the Finance Sector Union Julia Angrisano gave this speech at the CFMEU’s National Day of Action to Stop the Attacks on Workers on June 20. It was an inspiring speech that raiased some key issues affecting bank workers today.

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Analysis

Countless abuses have occurred in the four years since then-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s announcement in 2013 that no asylum seeker who arrived by boat will ever be resettled in Australia. Here are six key reasons to join the calls to evacuate all those detained on Manus Island and Nauru now and bring them to Australia.

Many councils across Australia have local laws that restrict free speech. Most people are unaware of these laws, until there is an issue that engages them enough to want to exercise their right to free speech and set up a stall, hand out leaflets, get petitions signed and maybe organise a protest rally.

Only when a council officer tells them they have to pack up and leave, do they realise there are undemocratic laws on the books.

It doesn't take much to set off Tony Abbott and his right-wing shock-jock chorus, does it?

When Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull referred, in a speech in London, to the historical fact that Robert Menzies went to great pains back in 1944 to not call his new political party “conservative”, but rather the Liberal Party, Abbott and crew started howling.

A conference on the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign for Palestinian justice will be held at the University of Sydney over July 28–29.

Free and open to the public, the conference will be the largest ever held on BDS in Australia, with three keynote lectures, four discussion panels and more than 30 separate talks on a wide array of topics.

The dispute between the Australian Greens and the NSW Greens, which erupted during the debate over the federal Coalition’s Gonski 2.0 funding bill, is puzzling to many.

This is because both Green parties agreed not to support the Gonski package on the basis that, even after amendments, it was still inequitable.

However, it appears that NSW Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon become the patsy for another, more significant, battle in the Greens — one which goes to heart of the type of party it aspires to be.

The news that a trillion ton piece of ice just broke off from the Larsen-C ice shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula is a reminder that global warming is real and dangerous.

While climate scientists say this had been expected, they also say it is connected to global warming. As ice shelves help keep land ice in place, when one breaks it allows land ice to slip into the ocean and drastically contribute to sea level rise.

For years climate scientists have been warning that time is fast running out to stop the worst effects of global warming.

Australian special forces routinely commit war crimes in Afghanistan.

Such a conclusion is strongly suggested by hundreds of pages of secret Australian Defence Force documents leaked to the ABC, which were revealed on July 11. 

Superannuation should provide a comfortable retirement for the several million workers who signed up to the 1983–95 “superannuation revolution” by the ACTU and Hawke-Keating Labor governments. But what should be in a super account to provide a comfortable retirement for this “pioneer” generation?

World

World leaders broke with the United States on climate change and reaffirmed their commitment to the Paris climate agreement at the Group of 20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany on July 8, which brings together representatives from some of the world’s largest economies. 

However, a new report has exposed the strong support for large fossil fuel corporations from G20 governments as a whole.  

As the battle for the right of Catalonia to vote on independence rages between the Spanish government in Madrid and the independence-oriented Catalan parliament in Barcelona, major developments have taken place in one of the most famous struggles for independence on the Iberian Peninsula — the Basque Country.

Argentine police violently evicted a group of laid-off workers from a PepsiCo factory in the capital city of Buenos Aires on July 12, after more than three weeks of occupying the plant.

Since June 20, a group of workers and labour rights activists occupied the plant to defend the 691 people who lost their jobs after an announcement made by the company confirmed that they would no longer operate.

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva was sentenced on July 12 to nine years and six months jail over corruption charges in the Operation Car Wash investigations. The ruling came a day after the Brazilian Senate's approval of President Michel Temer's unamended labour reform bill, which has been heavily criticised by trade unions and social movements.

Venezuelans were taken by surprise with the announcement that opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez would serve out his jail term under house arrest. The move is an unprecedented concession that seeks to calm the waters in the lead up to the July 30 Constituent Assembly elections. 

But the conflict in the country is showing it has multiple faces. On July 10, a day after the official election campaign began, a candidate was assassinated in the middle of a campaign event.

In regard to the charges about US President Donald Trump’s collusion with Russia to throw the election his way, it is worth mentioning that going through the list of all the nations that Washington has meddled in is far too long for one article. The US is, without any doubt, the world’s meddler in chief.

Even the list of countries where the US conspired to overthrow elected governments when electoral meddling failed is lengthy.

But one angle to the Russian controversy that is underreported is this: scratch the Russian connection and US-German relations pop up.

Hundreds of thousands of people rallied in the Turkish city of Istanbul after a 280-mile Justice March against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The demonstration was in response to the widespread jailings and dismissals authorised by the Turkish government after last year’s failed coup attempt.

Arab women have announced the foundation of “Martyr Amara Arab Women’s Battalion” under the umbrella of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), ANF News said on July 12.

Formed in 2015, the SDF is an alliance of progressive armed groups — the largest of which are the Kurdish-based People’s Defence Units (YPG) and Women’s Defence Units (YPJ), although including a growing number of other groups  — that is subordinate to the grassroots structures of the Democratic Federation of North Syria.

It was in the autumn of 2014, only months after Islamic State (ISIS) achieved huge territorial gains inside Syria and Iraq, committing genocidal and femicidal massacres, that a revolutionary silver lining arose from the little-known town of Kobane in Syria’s north.

Having overrun Mosul, Tel Afar and Sinjar in Iraq, as well as a vast expanse of territory inside Syria, ISIS prepared to launch an attack on the north of Syria, known by Kurds as Rojava.

What ISIS did not anticipate in Kobane was that it would encounter an enemy of a different kind – an organised, political community that was ready to defend itself courageously by all means necessary, and with a worldview that turns ISIS’s death ideology on its head.

A fire broke out at a migrant camp on the Greek island of Lesbos on July 10, following a protest at the site demanding better living conditions.

Local authorities told the Xinhua News Agency that the fire at the Moria camp had been extinguished and that at least five container units and three tents were destroyed. No injuries were reported.

An informal summit of interior ministers from all European Union member states was held on July 7 in Tallinn, Estonia. The first issue on the agenda was migrants.

Hundreds of Haiti's factory workers protested in Port-au-Prince on July 10 against the government’s proposed paltry rise in the minimum wage.

Currently paid US$4.75 a day, workers mainly from factories outsourced to foreign companies are demanding wages rise to US$12.75 dollars for eight hours of work.

However, the government has said the minimum wage should only rise by 55 cents.

Thousands of landless workers marched on July 12 through the streets of the Paraguayan capital, Asuncion, to demand the cancellation of debts contracted with the national bank.

The demonstrators have been blocking the centre of the capital since July 10, setting up their camp in front of the National Congress.

Culture

Activist singer-songwriter from Brisbane, Phil Monsour, has released a new song and video, “Voices Rising” which celebrates the work of teachers and the struggles of the Queensland Teachers’ Union.

A the same time, Monsour has released One Song One Union, an album of contemporary trade union and solidarity songs, which is available online.

Martin Pieter Zandvliet’s multiple award-winning 2016 film Land of Mine is harrowing viewing. But it is not to be missed by anyone interested in issues of war and peace — or in fine films.

In no breast did the prodigious financial corruption of world football’s administrative elite beat more vigorously than that of Chuck Blazer, the head of football in the North and Central American and Caribbean regional body.

Chuck was not called American soccer’s “Mr Big” for nothing. His bottomless appetite for high-calorie nosh gave him a gargantuan girth, which was matched financially in size by his tax-sheltered bank accounts. These bulged with millions of dollars received through fraud, embezzlement, bribes, perks, gifts and inducements.

Not only could he afford to rent an entire floor of luxury apartments in the prestigious Trump Tower in Manhattan, but he preserved one of them solely for the use of his cats.

My bias is real. When it comes to tennis legends Venus and Serena Williams, they have never been just athletes to me, but people. I have felt an imperative to defend them against detractors, know-nothings and dime-store bigots.

The reasons are obvious: they were once two Black teenagers from the public courts of Compton, treated with contempt — of both a race and class variety — by their sport. They not only survived but thrived.

Resistance!

The PNG Supreme Court declared last year that the Manus Island detention centre was unconstitutional and must be closed. The Australian government is closing the centre; however, it is still refusing to bring the 861 men in Manus Island to Australia, leaving many to live in fear and uncertainty.