Issue 1160

Australia

Victoria became the first state to have a Renewable Energy Target (RET) written into law on October 20. The Victorian RET has been set at 25% renewable energy by 2020, and 40% by 2025.

Victoria is set to trial a safe injecting room, where users will be able to inject their drug of choice in a medically supervised safe space. The trial will run for at least two years, followed by a review.

It will be the first injecting room in Victoria and the second in Australia, after an injecting room was established in Kings Cross, Sydney, in 2001.

After a concerted campaign by staff, trade unions and the community, the NSW government announced on October 27 that Shellharbour Hospital in the Illawarra will remain in public hands.

The campaign forced the government to cancel its proposed public-private partnership (PPP) plan and instead proceed with a $251 million redevelopment of the hospital on its current site.

If there is one thing I have learnt from being involved in this campaign over the past decade, it is that seeing people protesting, known that someone cares about you and is watching, has always made a difference to people suffering in detention.

In some sort of sick joke, residents of the inner west suburbs of St Peters and Haberfield have been sent earplugs by WestConnex after complaints to it about the incessant and loud noise caused by the construction of this controversial $17 billion tollway.

The first LGBTQI rights march in Parramatta since 1983 was held on October 29.

It attracted more than 200 people to Centennial Square outside the Parramatta Town Hall before marching to the annual Parramatta Pride Picnic on the River Foreshore.

Angered by the latest round of cuts, staff at Victoria University (VU) held a protest outside a university council meeting on November 2.

National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) national president Jeannie Rea told protesters she had worked at VU for 20 years. She said that more than 100 people have lost their jobs at VU this year, with another round of redundancies still to come.

The results of the 2017 City of Greater Geelong Council elections have been declared, with Greens candidate Sarah Mansfield being elected in Brownbill Ward.

Mansfield won more than 17% of the primary vote. Her election was aided by a strong preference flow from residents who voted for Socialist Alliance (SA) candidates Sue Bull and Sarah Hathway.

A concerted campaign to stop Gloucester Resources Limited’s open-cut coalmine on agricultural land in Gloucester has been rewarded. The NSW Department of Planning and the Environment recommended on October 23 that GRL’s Rocky Hill mine not be given approval. 

A potential new battlefield has opened up in the fight against Adani’s proposed mega coalmine for the Galilee Basin in Queensland. To date, the campaign against the coalmine has successfully pressured several companies – including Australia’s Big Four banks – to rule out financing the project.

However, as the board of directors of procurement contractor Downer EDI Mining – which is in the box seat to construct the Adani mine infrastructure – prepared to face shareholders at its November 2 Annual General Meeting, news broke that the company and Adani were in negotiations with Chinese state-owned enterprise China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC) over its possible involvement in financing the project.

The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) launched its national boycott campaign against Streets ice cream products on October 29, urging people to “stand up for fairness and commit to a Streets-Free Summer”.

AMWU NSW secretary Steve Murphy said the workers had no choice but to call for a boycott after Streets “hit the nuclear option”.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s enthusiastic embrace of Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is reprehensible, the Tamil Refugee Council said on November 2.

“This place is like a war zone,” wrote Behrouz Boochani, an Iranian journalist locked up in the Manus Island detention centre, as he exhaustedly began to describe the situation on November 2 – day 2 of the “Manus Island siege”.

Since October 31, 600 desperate men, suffering in more ways than most people can comprehend after more than four years of torture in detention, have barricaded themselves in the centre.

The Geelong Women Unionists Network, with the support of Geelong Trades Hall Council (GTHC), is holding a conference, Working Women Get Organised, on November 11 which is open to everyone.

Feminist NGO Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia (RDVSA) is urgently seeking funds to keep the phones switched on at the NSW Rape Crisis Centre (RCC).

The NSW RCC is the last remaining public 24 hour, 7 days a week sexual assault counselling service in the state.

World

Britain's socialist Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the Paradise Papers, 13 million files leaked files that expose how the rich and powerful systematically evade tax, shows “one rule for the super-rich and another for the rest". 

The November 5 shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, was one of the deadliest mass shootings in Texas state history. It comes only a month after the shooting massacre in Las Vegas, where another white man, Stephen Paddock, opened fire on concertgoers, killing 59 people, including himself.

The Canaima Industries factory in Caracas is the assembly point for computers that are given to students for free across Venezuela. Its name comes from the huge Canaima National Park in the south of Venezuela, home to extraordinary landscapes and the highest waterfall in the world, Angel Falls.

We visited the small computer factory, located in the middle of a military base in the east of the capital, as part of the international solidarity delegation organised by Venezuela Analysis in August.

Police in the southern Indian state of Kerala unleashed brutal force against people protesting against the proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) pipeline of Gas Authority of India Ltd (GAIL) at Mukkom, near Calicut, CounterCurrents.org said on November 2. Dozens of protesters were injured.

The demonstrators blocked rural roads with burning tyres and threw stones at police vehicles. Tension prevailed in the area as the police resorted to a baton-charge and fired tear gas shells to disperse the crowd. Media representatives were injured in the police action.

Writing in the October 28 New York Times, conservative columnist David Brooks said the preceding week was “when Donald Trump and Steve Bannon solidified their grip on the Republican Party and America’s national government”.

Brooks speaks for the Republican establishment — and sorely deplores this development.

The Che Guevara stamp produced by the Irish republic’s postal service (An Post) has sold out its initial 120,000 print run. The stamp was released to mark the 50th anniversary of the Latin American freedom fighter’s murder on October 9, 1967 by CIA-backed Bolivian state.

The announcement confounds right-wing critics, who opposed the stamp.  An Post has described the demand for the €1 stamp — using Irish artist Jim Fitzpatrick’s image of the revolutionary icon — as “unprecedented”.

It is an understatement to say that relations between the US and North Korea are very tense.

The US government continues to threaten to further tighten economic sanctions on North Korea, and launch a military attack to destroy the country’s missiles and nuclear weapons infrastructure. For its part, the North says it will respond to any attack with its own strikes against US bases in the region and even the US itself.

When the time came for Miss Peru 2018 contestants to reveal their most intimate measurements on stage, the 23 beauty pageant hopefuls elected instead to deliver statistics of an altogether more shocking nature.

“I represent the constitutional province of Callaomy and my measurements are 3114 women victims of trafficking up until 2014,” declared Romina Lozano, later crowned Miss Peru on October 29.

Camila Canicoba, Miss Peru Lima, told the judges: “My measurements are 2202 cases of femicide reported in the last nine years in my country.”

A hydroelectric company that environmental activist Berta Caceres had fought, plotted with Honduran military and security forces to kill the Indigenous leader in March 2016, an independent commission has found.

The investigation was carried out by the International Group of Advisors and Expert Persons (GAIPE), comprised of several lawyers from Guatemala, Colombia, Holland and the United States. Its findings were based on dozens of interviews, court records and partial access to evidence provided by government investigators.

The 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, the first socialist revolution in world history, was marked on October 25 — the date the Bolsheviks led the revolutionary seizure of power by the soviets (elected councils of workers, peasants and soldiers).

Judge Carmen Lamela of Spain’s National High Court — direct descendant of the fascist Franco-era Court of Public Order — took the war of the Spanish state against the Catalan pro-independence government to a new level of judicial violence on November 2.

New Zealand Labour leader Jacinda Ardern, who says capitalism has been a “blatant failure”, became the country’s new, and youngest ever, prime minister on October 19.

Asked a few days after becoming PM if capitalism had failed New Zealanders, 37-year-old Ardern responded: “If you have hundreds of thousands of children living in homes without enough to survive, that’s a blatant failure. What else could you describe it as?”

Analysis

I believe we’re going to win this postal survey and, probably after some period of delay from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, we will win marriage equality too.

And when we do, Turnbull is going to want us to remember him as the prime minister who gave us marriage equality.

So let’s put something on the record: This community was never given anything by Malcolm Turnbull and the Coalition.

The Socialist Alliance is running in the November 25 Queensland state elections to help build an anti-capitalist alternative to the two-party system. We are also supporting the re-election of progressive independent MP Rob Pyne in Cairns and calling for a vote for the Greens in other seats.

Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison has ramped up calls for tax cuts to big business in an October 24 speech to launch the Productivity Commission's latest report.

Morrison claims corporate tax cuts are "an urgent matter" now that conservative governments in the United States, Britain and France are moving to slash big business taxes. Australia risks becoming an "uncompetitive tax island" if it does not follow suit, Morrison claimed.

The jingoistic festivities to mark the centenaries of the Battle of Beersheba (in present day Israel, October 31, 1917) and the Balfour Declaration (November 2, 1917) are being accompanied by an orgy of myth-making.

They mendaciously promote the story that Australia, through its mythological role in the battle with the Australian Light Horse Brigade, led to the foundation of the State of Israel.

Lidia Gunnai-Gunditj Thorpe is a Gunnai-Gunditjmara woman living on Wurundjeri Country in Melbourne’s north and the Greens candidate in the November 18 byelection for the Victorian state seat of Northcote.

Comfortably held by Labor since it was created in 1927, the seat of Northcote has seen a surge in support for the Greens in recent years. Some polls are indicating that Thorpe is on track to take the seat with a primary vote of about 40%.

The Fremantle local council elections on October 21 pitted largely conservative challengers against progressive incumbents, including Socialist Alliance member Sam Wainwright and Greens Mayor Brad Pettitt, both of whom had come under fire for the council’s decision to not celebrate Australia Day on January 26.

Both were returned with 55% of the vote, with progressive candidates defeating conservative opponents in all wards. Green Left Weekly spoke to Wainwright about the outcome

Resistance!

International students in New South Wales face higher cost of living expenses than their counterparts in other states. This is one of the reasons students at Western Sydney University (WSU) have decided to launch a campaign calling on the state government to grant them public transport concessions.

“New South Wales is the only state where international students do not have the same rights as domestic students and cannot access the same facilities,” Daniele Fulvi told Green Left Weekly.

Culture

The Billonaires’ Club: The Unstoppable Rise of Football’s Super-Rich Owners
James Montague
Bloomsbury, 2017
330 pages

At this stage of the 2017 English Premier League (EPL) season, it looks like one of the two Manchester teams will win the championship — and with barely a Mancunian between them. Both Manchester United and Manchester City have overseas owners, overseas managers and overseas-dominated player lists.

Over the past three decades, US-based Marxist journal Monthly Review has stood out as a major source of ecosocialist analysis. This has been especially evident in recent months, with the publication by Monthly Review Press of three pathbreaking books:

There has been a flurry of articles recently proclaiming that NFL player protests against racism and police brutality were winding down and entering a new stage: what a spokesperson for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell had branded moving “from protest to progress”.

Then along came Bob McNair.