Issue 1147

News

Activists have called on the NSW government to cancel the exploration licence for the proposed KEPCO coalmine in the Bylong Valley after the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) Review Report slammed the project for putting at risk prime agricultural land, precious water resources, heritage values and the community.

Five state and territory Conservation Councils are calling for a judicial inquiry into water management in the Murray-Darling Basin and the implementation of the Basin Plan in response to revelations by the ABC’s Four Corners on July 24.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has asked the Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) to investigate allegations of maladministration and potential corruption raised in the report titled “Pumped — Who is benefitting from the millions spent on the Murray Darling?”.

The Socialist Alliance is the first party to nominate women candidates for Geelong's upcoming local council elections.

Sue Bull, a health and safety teacher, committed trade unionist and previous candidate for Socialist Alliance has been pre-selected, along with Sarah Hathway, a Deakin University student and 2014 state election candidate.

Hundreds of Electrical Trades Union (ETU) members and other unionists protested outside Crown's casino complex in Southbank on July 25, after marching from the State Library of Victoria.

It was part of what the ETU promises to be an orchestrated campaign against former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett and the Crown Casino over the sacking of 16 gaming technicians.

More than 100 people attended a public meeting called by the Refugee Action Collective (RAC) on July 24 to discuss how to break bipartisan support for offshore processing. The discussion focused on ways to change Labor Party policy.

Chairperson Margaret Sinclair read a message from Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary Sally McManus, who said Australia has a "responsibility to take a greater number of refugees than we do". She said the current intake is "shameful".

Delegates from several unions met in Sydney on July 28 and voted unanimously to call for a statewide day of action on October 18 in response to attacks on penalty rates, the ABCC, and the war on workers and their unions.

The meeting also voted to hold another combined unions delegates meeting in mid-September, to plan an ongoing campaign.

The motion was moved by Construction Forestry Mining & Energy Union (CFMEU) delegate Denis McNamara and seconded by Unions NSW Secretary Mark Morey.

Some 50 activists played protest games, sang and danced in the Commonwealth Bank’s foyer in Sydney on July 24. Stop Adani Sydney spokesperson Rada Germanos told Green Left Weekly: “We’re playing games in the Commonwealth Bank’s Sussex Street foyer calling on it to stop playing games with our collective future and pull out of funding the Adani Carmichael coal mine [in Queensland].” 

Warrnambool City councillors unanimously voted to support marriage equality on July 3. Councillor David Owen, who instigated the motion, said backing marriage equality would be a “symbolic act, in support of a very important social justice issue” and align it with 48 other councils in Australia.

The family of Ms Dhu, who died in police custody in August 2014, is to launch legal action against the state of Western Australia, the police and the Country Health Service. They plan to lodge a claim of misconduct leading to death and a complaint of racial discrimination to the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Ms Dhu’s uncle Shaun Harris said the claims were about accountability and instigating change. “We need to enforce change, custodial change and reform, not just in Western Australia but Australia wide. Without accountability there will be no justice for my niece.”

In the 1960s, Joy Cummings, a Labor Party activist, locked onto a row of Moreton Bay figs in Islington Park, Newcastle. The majestic trees, which had been earmarked for the chainsaw to widen the road, were saved and still stand today. Cummings went on to be elected to Newcastle Council and in 1974 became Australia’s first female Lord Mayor.

Bus drivers and supporters rallied outside Burwood Bus Depot on July 20 to oppose plans by the NSW Coalition government to privatise Inner West bus services.

At the rally, petitions containing around 14,000 signatures against the bus privatisation were handed over to Labor and Greens MPs. Petitions with more than 10,000 signatures trigger a debate in state parliament.

The government reportedly announced a call for corporate expressions of interest in the privatisation the same day.

“In solidarity with Elijah’s family, his community and Kalgoorlie, we stand in protest” was the call by the Aboriginal group Fighting in Solidarity Towards Treaties (FISTT), which organised a rally of about 300 people at the Supreme Court in Sydney on July 24. It was one of a series of protest rallies around the country.

Wiradjuri elder Aunty Jenny Munro asked: “Where is the national outcry for this innocent 14-year-old boy? Where is the justice for the death of an innocent child? There is no justice for a murdered Aboriginal child.

In the face of an escalating international campaign by the right-wing Venezuelan opposition, backed to the hilt by the US, to bring down the left-wing government of President Nicolas Maduro, solidarity activists around the world, including Australia, are stepping up their activities. Supporters of the Venezuelan right-wing opposition are also escalating their efforts aimed at undermining and attacking the solidarity movement.

Analysis

As students commence semester two on August 1, the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) will release a report entitled The University Sexual Assault and Harassment Project, the culmination of year-long research into the nature, prevalence and reporting of rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment in university communities. 

“Socialism is back. Unmentioned and unused, a dead concept and suddenly there was Corbynism.” That’s how Guy Rundle announced the resurrection in “The Death of Neoliberalism” in the July 15 issue of The Saturday Paper.

The status quo in this country is ... interesting. Take the man who deliberately chased down 14-year-old Elijah Doughty in a four wheel drive, killing the Aboriginal teenager in Kalgoorlie, yet was acquitted of manslaughter by a jury without any Aboriginal people on it.

But don’t worry, he was found guilty of “dangerous driving”, which makes me wonder if the judge gave him a stern lecture about taking more care on the roads or next time he might kill someone whose life matters.

A toll road spiderweb is spreading across Sydney, with the cost of vehicle journeys set to rise substantially in coming years.

Imagine a workplace where you could be put on a secret register for forgetting to say a word from a call centre script because it would be a breach of company policy. Then, if you left that company and tried to get a new job, your prospective employer would not hire you simply because you were on that register.

You would never know whether you were on that register; you would have no right of appeal; nor would your name ever be removed from it, regardless of whether you were eventually found not guilty of the allegation.

The largest ever Australia-US joint military exercises have just finished. Talisman Sabre 2017, the seventh of these expensive biennial war games, wound up in Brisbane on July 26 on the USS Ronald Reagan — a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier with capacity for 5000 troops and 200 fighter jets.

South Australian Yankunytjatjara elder and activist Yami Lester, who was blinded as a teenager by dust from the Maralinga nuclear bomb tests in the 1950s, died on July 21 in Alice Springs, aged 75.

His family said his death "leaves an incredible legacy of better global understanding of the devastation of nuclear bombs and for the ongoing battle for recognition of the consequences of them".

In launching the report Not so super, for women: Superannuation and women’s retirement outcomes” by David Hetherington and Warwick Smith on July 20, Australian Services Union (ASU) national secretary David Smith said: “Australia’s compulsory superannuation system is failing women. According to the latest figures, women are retiring with around half as much superannuation (53%) as men.”

On July 21, a Western Australian Supreme Court jury found the man accused of chasing and killing Aboriginal teen Elijah Doughty with his car was not guilty of manslaughter.

It is the latest demonstration that the legal system is failing Aboriginal people and exposes the depths of a racism that remains the bedrock of mainstream Australian culture.

World

In a New York Times op-ed in June titled “How Democrats Can Stop Losing”, Bernie Sanders slammed the Democratic Party.

“In 2016 the Democratic Party lost the presidency to possibly the least popular candidate in American history,” he wrote. “In recent years, Democrats have also lost the Senate and House to right-wing Republicans whose extremist agenda is far removed from where most Americans are politically.

On September 26 last year, Podemos’s Castilla-La Mancha secretary-general Jose Garcia Molina said that his party’s agreement keeping the regional Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) government in office in the autonomous community had “died of depression and shame”.

Twenty civil society groups from across Africa have released the statement below in support of protests in Morocco and other North African countries against growing state repression, resource theft and imperialist expansion. They call for respect for people’s rights and just development. The statement is reported from Pambazuka.

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One hundred years ago, between July 16-20 [3-7 in New Style] 1917, a protest movement of workers and soldiers in Petrograd was repelled by military and police attacks, with hundreds of casualties.

It was a key phase in the storm that swept Russia during 1917. It  culminated in the October Revolution when, led by the Bolsheviks, the soviets (councils) of workers, soldiers and peasants took power, overthrowing the capitalist Provisional Government that was formed after the February Revolution deposed the Tsar.

Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte’s annual State of the Nation (SONA) address on July 24 reflected his government’s increasing trajectory towards dictatorship. Outside, protest marches converged on the parliamentary complex at Batasan, reflecting the growing grassroots opposition to the worsening dictatorial trend.

Veterans For Peace condemns President Trump’s effort to ban transgender people from serving in the U.S. military. Veterans For Peace affirms the rights, humanity and identity of trans people and calls on President Trump to reverse his bigoted decision to bar trans people from exercising their right as full citizens to serve in the United States military.

THE STORY is, by now, a familiar one: An unarmed person is gunned down by police officers who shoot first and ask questions later.

But Justine Damond, who was killed by cops in Minneapolis on July 15, was white. Her murder has led to multiracial calls for justice for her and all victims of police brutality--and raised another dimension to the epidemic of police violence that is leading people on the left to consider new questions.

Venezuelans are set to vote for a National Constituent Assembly (ANC) on July 30. Proposed by the government as a way to find a peaceful and democratic solution to months of political turmoil in the country, the ANC has been rejected by the opposition, who have pledged to stop the vote going ahead.

The opposition is instead calling for the resignation of President Nicolas Maduro and the formation of a transition government under its control. They took the first steps in this direction on July 19, releasing plans for a new “unity government”.

Israel’s “security measures”, including installing metal detectors at Haram Al Sharif — which contains the Al Aqsa mosque, one of Islam’s holiest sites — were finally rescinded on July 27 amid growing protests. But Palestinians continue to face unprecedented levels of surveillance and harassment.

On the night of July 27, Israeli security forces clashed with Palestinians who returned to the site to pray for the first time in nearly two weeks since Israel shut down the mosque.

When I first went to Palestine as a young reporter in the 1960s, I stayed on a kibbutz. The people I met were hard-working, spirited and called themselves socialists.

I liked them. One evening at dinner, I asked about the silhouettes of people in the far distance, beyond our perimeter.

“Arabs", they said, “nomads”. The words were almost spat out.

Members states of the Organization of American States (OAS) have once again failed to reach consensus to “take action on Venezuela,” which Caracas regards as interference in its internal affairs. 

At a July 26 meeting of the OAS Permanent Council in Washington, 13 countries read a declaration calling on the Venezuelan government to abandon the July 30 Constituent Assembly elections.

That was two fewer member states than supported a similar resolution at the OAS foreign ministers' meeting on June 19, and five short of the number needed to pass a resolution.

Images of the Bolivarian National Police firing tear gas at protestors in Venezuela cannot be provided to us in large enough quantities by the mainstream media.

Culture

Plebeian Power: Collective Action & Indigenous, Working-Class & Popular Identities in Bolivia
By Alvaro Garcia Linera
Haymarket Books, 2014
345 pp, US$28.00

 

Alvaro Garcia Linera, twice-elected vice-president of Bolivia, is the continent’s most prominent theoretician-politician to place 21st century Latin American left thought in a Marxist framework.