Issue 1156

Australia

The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) warned that the Queensland government’s September 29 proposal to significantly expand the Port of Townsville, will further damage the ailing Great Barrier Reef.

Socialist Alliance candidates for Brownbill Ward in the Geelong Council election, Sue Bull and Sarah Hathway, who were among the first women candidates to nominate, have released their preferences, with the top seven positions going to progressive female candidates.

The several hundred men on Manus Island, still detained after more than four years, scattered red petals over pictures of Rajeev Rajendran on the evening of October 2.

A hand-drawn banner, illuminated by flickering candles, spelled out the mood of the memorial.

Below a picture of Rajendran the men wrote: “R.I.P. We are all in the queue. How many more you want to kill?”

About 800 aged care nurses and carers in 26 Victorian Bupa nursing homes are set to take protected industrial action.

The first stage will include wearing campaign t-shirts, handing out campaign materials, bans on certain paperwork and speaking to the media.

The Victorian branch of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) has been negotiating with Bupa management for improved staffing levels, skill mix, wages and working conditions for the past 14 months.

An extraordinary Inner West Council meeting called by Greens councillors on October 3 to discuss supporting residents’ groups’ campaign against the WestConnex tollway project resulted in very little.

The Labor Mayor Darcy Byrne dominated the five-hour meeting, filibustering to prevent four motions from being discussed. Byrne, who regularly proclaims that “democracy has been restored to council”, insisted that his motions in the form of two “Mayoral minutes”, which had not been circulated, take centre stage.

Kone lift workers have won a 16% pay rise after a six-week campaign.

About 200 Kone employees voted to accept in principle the much-improved company offer.

The breakthrough came after ETU and AMWU members took five four-day and one six-day stoppages over six weeks.

Workers will soon receive a 5% increase in pay backdated to March, with instalments of 4.5%, 4.5% and 2% to follow annually.

Polls released in the first week of October have shown a surge in support for marriage equality, the result of new Australian Electoral Commission enrolments by young people, women and inner-city residents who are more likely to vote Yes.

Former Sydney Swans player, anti-racism campaigner and 2014 Australian of the Year Adam Goodes was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Sydney on September 30. The Adnyamathanha and Narungga man was named a Doctor of Health Sciences (honoris causa) for his work in supporting the Indigenous community, his charity work, his community leadership and his sporting exploits.

Workers at the Streets ice-cream factory in Minto are planning a boycott of Streets products — including the iconic Paddle Pop — if Unilever continues its efforts in the Fair Work Commission (FWC) to end their enterprise agreement.

In echoes of the case of Ms Dhu, a Noongar mother-of-five called police for help during a family violence incident, but they instead ran a background check on her. They found an outstanding warrant for $3900 in unpaid fines, relating to an unregistered dog in 2012. She was jailed for 14 days in lieu of payment.

Members of several trade unions rallied outside NSW government offices in Farrer Place on October 4 as part of a national day of action to demand 10 days of paid domestic violence leave for all workers.

World

As the Nobel Committee announced on October 6 in Oslo that  the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons had won the Nobel Peace Prize. At the same time, US President Donald Trump is expected to “decertify” the landmark 2015 Iran nuclear deal next week. Democracy Now! spoke with Tim Wright, the Asia-Pacific director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. The full transcript follows the video.

Delegates to the recent Labour Party conference in the English seaside town of Brighton seemed not to notice a video playing in the main entrance. The world’s third biggest arms manufacturer, BAe Systems, supplier to Saudi Arabia, was promoting its guns, bombs, missiles, naval ships and fighter aircraft.  

It seemed a perfidious symbol of a party in which millions of Britons now invest their political hopes. Once the preserve of Tony Blair, it is now led by Jeremy Corbyn, whose career has been very different and is rare in British establishment politics.

The world media’s attention has focused on the very real humanitarian crisis gripping hurricane-ravaged nations in the Caribbean and regions of the United States, but the “world’s worst humanitarian catastrophe” (in the words of The New York Times in August) is in Yemen.

The unfolding disaster in Yemen is entirely human-made, is worsening and is the result of policies pursued by the United States and Britain.

The United States has been criticised for voting against a United Nations resolution that sought to eliminate the death penalty for the LGBTIQ community. The US was among 13 nations including Saudi Arabia and Iraq to vote down the resolution.

The resolution condemned “the imposition of the death penalty as a sanction for specific forms of conduct, such as apostasy, blasphemy, adultery and consensual same-sex relations”.

Despite the US vote, the United Nations Human Rights Council approved the historic resolution with a 27-13 margin.

Nearly 2000 retired workers and Social Security department workers gathered in Athens on October 3 to protest “inhumane” cuts to pensions.

An army of 1500 senior citizens marched behind banners, chanting “shame on you” and calling for the government to cancel the memorandum that has led to ongoing cuts since 2010, with further cuts set for 2019.

Is it possible to have a successful referendum when your country is effectively occupied by 10,000 police and paramilitaries with orders to stop it?

The holding of Catalonia’s October 1 referendum on independence shows it is: all you need is a mobilised people with a clear view of where they are going, Europe’s most powerful and persistent social movement to help guide them, and a government committed to carrying out its promises.

France’s Council of Ministers approved five ordinances on September 22 that undermine union power and employment rights within France’s Labour Code, which came into effect the next day.

The government imposed these changes by using undemocratic measures in France’s constitution, which allows it to push new measures into law without passing legislation through parliament.

In the face of this, the movement against the changes continues to build. 

Last week a conceptual barrier carefully constructed by South Africa’s elites since 2015 was suddenly cracked at the University of the Witwatersrand Great Hall, by two of the country’s leading economic personalities: Pravin Gordhan, who served as a pro-business finance minister for seven years until being sacked in March, and super-consultant Iraj Abedian, who in 1996 co-authored the country’s post-apartheid structural adjustment programme. Two more solid bourgeois representatives would be hard to find.

Members of the National Political Council of the Revolutionary Alternative Forces of the Commons (FARC) rejected the threats and violence that have claimed the lives of 25 people since signing peace accords with the government last November.

“Since the signing of the peace agreement, five former combatants, nine militiamen and 11 relatives of members of the FARC have been murdered,” the group said in a statement on October 2.

The National Liberation Army (ELN) has announced a temporary and bilateral ceasefire with the Colombian government.

The group said the ceasefire, agreed to in September during peace talks in Quito, Ecuador, will be implemented from October 1 to January 9, 2018.

Just days before he was set to speak at the 2013 Trade Union Congress (TUC) Conference in Britain, Colombian union leader Huber Ballesteros was arrested and imprisoned in his home country on trumped-up charges of rebellion and financing terrorism.

Following a prolonged international campaign – in which Britain’s peak trade union body played a key role - Ballesteros was finally released in January after 40 months in jail.

In September, he attended this year’s TUC conference.

Scotland vowed on October 3 to ban hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” due to “overwhelming” public opposition to shale gas.

Scottish energy minister Paul Wheelhouse said Scotland’s current moratorium would be extended “indefinitely” through planning powers — removing the need for legislation.

The Agricultural Social Production Unit (UPSA) Caquetios, located in Cabudare, in Palavecino municipality, Lara state, is run by the Brazilian Movement of Rural Landless Workers (MST). A campesino organisation, the MST shares similar objectives to those of former president Hugo Chavez and the pro-poor Bolivarian Revolution he led – in particular, land collectivisation as the best way to grow food and put an end to rural inequality.

In 2006, the MST was invited to Venezuela to take over a 40-hectare estate as part of Chavez’s attempt to transform Venezuela’s countryside. Since then, the group has been joined by several Venezuelan farmers, with both groups learning new experiences from each other.

Puerto Rico is facing a huge humanitarian crisis after being hit by two super-strong hurricanes. It suffered a glancing blow by Irma and then a direct hit by Maria, both storms greatly strengthened by warmer ocean water caused by climate change.

The crisis is still unfolding weeks after Maria hit. The full picture and extent of the damage will not be known for some time.

Everyone sensed the new energy at this year’s Labour Party conference, held in Brighton from September 24-27.

The reality of the conference was something not seen in Britain for a long time: thousands of determined and self-confident members of a Labour Party that boldly stands for what they believe in.

Businesses ground to a halt in Barcelona and across Catalonia on October 3, as a general strike was observed and protesters poured into the streets. Two days after the Spanish government authorized the use of force to disrupt a referendum on independence from Spain, Catalans for and against secession remain livid.

 

Analysis

So declared George Orwell’s allegorical Joseph Stalin, Napoleon the Berkshire Boar, in his 1945 classic Animal Farm. In Australia, we’ve declared war on some inequalities, like those contained in the Marriage Act, while we acquiesce to, tolerate, ignore or accept many others. Just like the animals on Orwell’s Manor Farm, in contemporary Australia, it seems all inequalities are equal but some are more equal than others.

Activists from all over Australia travelled to be part of the week of frontline action against Adani coalmine. Green Left Weekly spoke to Juliette from Gympie in Queensland and asked her thoughts on the protest.

"I have come up to join all these amazing, strong, empowered people to show my opposition to the Adani coalmine because I really care about our planet, I care about our future.

In the three months to June, Australia's greenhouse gas emissions reached a record level, with the annual emissions on track to surpass the previous peak in 2009, according to the latest National Energy Emissions Audit published by The Australia Institute.

Fluctuating poll results indicate that the imminent Queensland election is an open contest between the Annastacia Palaszczuk Labor government and the Liberal National Party (LNP) opposition. Strong campaigns by the Greens and One Nation could also see newcomers into the state parliament from both left and right.

In a September address to the United Nations Human Rights Council, top UN human rights official Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, described the Myanmar military’s attacks on Rohingya as being “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.

Satellite photos show the Myanmar security forces and local militia burning entire Rohingya villages to the ground. There are consistent accounts of extrajudicial killings, including the shooting of fleeing civilians.

The Victorian Labor government plans to sell off inner city public land, which currently houses more than 2000 public housing tenants, to property developers. Under the misnamed Public Housing Renewal Plan, the government will give property developers access to land that is currently used for public housing.

This plan involves the forced removal of tenants and the demolition of nine or more public housing estates across Melbourne. Many residents have lived on the estates for many years and do not want to leave.

Tony Abbot’s recent suggestion that the army take control of gas resources in states that have banned or limited unconventional gas mining shows the lengths to which the recalcitrant fossil fools will go to defend dirty energy corporations, which are under increasing fire as the national debate over energy security continues. 

Culture

Tony Abbott cannot take a trick.

First, Abbott condemned the NRL for “politicising” sport — for having US hip hop performer Macklemore as its pre-show entertainment for the October 1 grand final. But far from the NRL backing down, all the ex-PM achieved was sending Macklemore’s 2013 song in support of marriage equality “Same Love” to number 1 on iTunes — four years after it originally hit number 1 on the ARIA charts.

The award-winning Netflix animated black comedy show BoJack Horseman follows the misadventures of BoJack Horseman (Will Arnett), an anthromorphic horse and washed-up former TV star trying to remain relevant in Hollywoo (formerly Hollywood, until the “D” on the famous sign gets stolen).

Dave Randall is an activist and guitarist with the band Faithless and his own band Slovo. He is the author of the recently released Sound System: The Political Power of Music. Green Left Weekly’s Barry Healy spoke to him about music and politics.