Issue 1169

News

Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon became the first federal parliamentarian in Australia to publicly condemn Turkey's three-week war on Afrin, one of three democratic autonomous cantons in northern Syria, when she addressed a rally in Sydney on February 10.

Two days later, the Labor MP for Wills Peter Khalil called for Turkey to halt its attack in a short speech in Parliament.

About 200 relatives and supporters of the late Patrick Fisher gathered on February 11 to commemorate his life and hold a march calling for justice.

Fisher died on February 7 while fleeing from police who had kicked down the door of his girlfriend's home. He was wanted on outstanding warrants for minor stealing offences.

Police claim he slipped while trying to climb down to another unit and fell from the thirteenth floor balcony of the Joseph Banks Tower in the Waterloo public housing estate.

The Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) traditional owners of the land on which Adani has approval to build its Carmichael coalmine are concerned that the Queensland government will act to extinguish their native title rights prior to a Federal Court hearing scheduled for March 12–15.

This follows the decision by the Federal Court to not extend an interim injunction, which had been in place since December 18, restraining the Queensland government from extinguishing native title under the terms of the purported Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA).

In February 2016, I wrote an article for Green Left Weekly about that year’s Closing the Gap speech, with the headline “PM’s Closing the Gap speech — more Turnbullshit”. Aptly named I thought. But two years later nothing has changed.

A group of activists from Grandmothers Against Removals (GMAR) and the Socialist Alliance gathered in front of NSW Parliament on February 9 to protest on the 10th anniversary of the national apology from former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

The longest running industrial dispute in Western Australia’s coalmining history ended on February 14 when, after 180 days of protected industrial action, maintenance workers at Griffin Coal returned to work. Workers voted on February 9 to accept a new enterprise agreement that gave them back their family friendly rosters, a liveable wage and entitlements.

The United Firefighters Union (UFU) is planning to rally outside Victoria’s state parliament house as part of a campaign against deceptive behaviour by the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) board.

Hawkesbury Council in Sydney's far north-west voted at its January 30 meeting to reject an offer by NSW Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) to leave a "viewing platform" made from a section of the historic Windsor Bridge when the proposed Windsor Bridge Replacement Project has been completed.

Eighty people rallied in Dandenong, an outer Melbourne suburb, on February 11 against the planned deportation of Santharuban, a former member of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) who sought asylum in Australia after the defeat of the LTTE in 2009.

The LTTE fought for an independent Tamil homeland in the north and east of the island of Sri Lanka. Former members of the movement continue to be "disappeared, detained, tortured, and harassed by the Sri Lankan security forces", according to a statement by the Tamil Refugee Council (TRC), which organised the rally.

Fourteen long years after young TJ Hickey was chased to his death in Waterloo, his family and the Indigenous Social Justice Association (ISJA) organised a moving rally in Waterloo, along the fence line where the young Kamilaroi man was killed.

Members of the Oakey Coal Action Alliance (OCAA) gathered in Acland on February 14 for the Queensland environment department’s decision on the environmental authority for New Hope Coal’s proposed Acland Stage 3 project. 

Expecting the worst — that the department would reject the recommendation of the Land Court — local farmers and community members were overjoyed at the decision by Queensland’s Environment and Science Department to reject New Acland’s environmental authority amendment for the Stage 3 coalmine expansion. 

The announcement on February 9 that Aurizon will withdraw its application to the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) to construct a rail link between the Abbot Point coal terminal and the Galilee Basin was welcomed by opponents of the Adani Carmichael coal project.

Coordinator of Farmers for Climate Action Queensland Michael Kane was heartened by the setback to the rail line. He said graziers across central Queensland had been put through the wringer over this mega coal mine project.

The federal government’s building industry watchdog, the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC), has issued new Building Code rules that specifically ban the Eureka Flag from being displayed on building sites. If an employer breaches the code, they become ineligible to compete for government work.

Analysis

A man waves over a roughly boarded fence, as a guard walks intimidatingly in front of it. A group of refugee protesters, sweltering in the hot sun in Leonora — a two day drive from Perth into the desert — wave back and yell “azadi”, the Farsi word for freedom.

I am one of the protesters and I am filming the protest.

One week earlier, just before the start of my second year at university, I opened an email from an activist group advertising a “Caravan of Compassion” to Leonora detention centre.

A few days later I was on the bus, barely knowing one other person.

Last year was the year of women’s truth-telling about sexual and domestic violence. It was also the year that 49 Australian women met violent deaths.

In the second month of this year, there has been no respite from the unceasing onslaught of violence against women and the resulting murders.

To study these deaths is to uncover a blunt, chilling fact: the most dangerous place in Australia for a woman to be — and the most dangerous company for her to be in — is at home with her male intimate partner on a Saturday night.

Greens MP Adam Bandt was forced to apologise twice to new Liberal Senator and renowned fan of British neo-Nazi’s social media work Jim Molan, after Bandt called the former Australian general a war criminal.

The Next Generation (TNG) wants to build the biggest waste-to-energy incinerator in the world at Eastern Creek in Sydney’s west. Local residents are defiantly opposed and have organised for more than a year to bring Labor and the Coalition onside.

At a rally outside NSW Parliament on February 6, Labor pledged it would oppose it. Tanya Davies, the local Liberal MP, told the rally that while she was concerned, the decision was a planning issue, not a government one.

After 1000 submissions were made — mostly opposed — to the proposal, TNG has submitted its third revision.

An “Act of God”, or lightning, was a key reason for the recent meltdown of Sydney’s rail network, according to transport minister Andrew Constance. He also claimed that the “dark arts of unionism” — presumably some sort of devilry — inspired rail unionists to vote to strike over pay and rosters on January 29.

Politicians may blame God and the Devil for recent transport chaos, but when the dots are joined between different aspects of the government’s transport policy the reality becomes clearer.

New Greens MP Michael Berkman is looking forward to the opportunity to put Greens policies and values forward as the new member for Maiwar.

He told Green Left Weekly that it was a “hugely significant result” for the Greens to win their first seat in Queensland and a significant increase in their vote in other seats.

“One of the common myths about the Greens is that it is a wasted vote,” he said. And that is a myth he is keen to bust.

Are you sick to death of the endless debate about whether odious Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce has a right to privacy? 

Of course some of that debate has now veered into thoughtful comparisons of how a misogynistic press “pawed” over the private lives of female politicians, such as Julia Gillard and Cheryl Kernot. But generally it remains fixated on whether public figures have a right to keep their private lives private.

Barnaby Joyce thought he was untouchable. But for the Malcolm Turnbull government in crisis mode, it seems he could be dispensable.

The week before last, it appeared that Joyce’s media and parliamentary advisors may have just managed to save his skin. After the tabloids splashed news of his affair — including a picture of Vikki Campion, Joyce's former media advisor and now partner — we had the “Look, I never said I was an angel” line.

World

Seventeen people were killed and at least 15 other people were wounded on February 14 at the Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County, Florida, in one of the deadliest school shootings in US history.

Venezuelan workers’ organisations have denounced illegal arrests, firings and persecution in the Lacteos Los Andes state-run dairy company and private Venevision TV station. Meanwhile, campesino (peasant) leaders in Barinas state were freed and authorised to return to their land after persecution by an ex-land owner.

The British government sold spying equipment worth more than £300,000 to the right-wing Honduran regime implicated in mass human rights abuses, including the assassination of high-profile environmental activist Berta Caceres.

The sale of the spyware came in the year preceding Honduras’s November 2017 presidential election, which was widely seen as stolen by the incumbent government of Juan Orlando Hernandez.

Women from the Tirbesipiye-Cizire Canton in northern Syria (known as “Rojava” in Kurdish) held a women-only demonstration through the city centre on February 9.

The marchers expressed their support for the resistance by women and others in the Afrin canton in Rojava against the fascist invasion from Turkey and Islamic gangs, which began last month — and in support of the feminist, multi-ethnic Rojava Revolution.

The most effective way to counter US President Donald Trump’s reactionary policies is through mass action.

The Democratic Party, however, hopes to steer movements and individuals opposed to Trump into support of its candidates. While this trap of “lesser evil” politics has proved to be a failure over and over again, there is another, outright reactionary, content to the Democrat’s current anti-Trump campaign.

Leila Khaled, a leader of the People’s Front for the Liberation of Palestine, took part in the Third Congress of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) that was held in Ankara, Turkey, on February 11.

Turkey's second largest opposition party — the left-wing, Kurdish-led Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) — elected new leaders at its Third Congress on February 11.

With the National Electoral Council setting April 22 as the date for the country’s presidential election and the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) confirming current president Nicolas Maduro as their candidate, leftist organisations in Venezuela have been debating what position to take.

As Venezuelans get ready for April’s presidential election, US Senator Marco Rubio claimed via Twitter the world would support Venezuela’s military if it decided to orchestrate a coup against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who is up for re-election.

The Republican lawmaker from Florida tweeted on February 9: “The world would support the Armed Forces in #Venezuela if they decide to protect the people & restore democracy by removing a dictator.”

Faten Ahmed was a 26-year-old with a rare form of cancer. She died in August while awaiting an Israeli permit to travel for chemotherapy and radiotherapy not available in the Gaza Strip, which has been subjected to a crippling Israeli siege since 2007.

She had previously missed eight hospital appointments after Israeli “security approval” was delayed or denied, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Ahmed was one of five women who died from cancer in that month alone while waiting for Israeli permission that never came.

Norwegian parliamentarian Bjornar Moxnes has officially nominated the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights for a Nobel Peace Prize. The leader of the left-wing Red Party explained that the BDS “should be supported without reservation by all democratically-minded people and states”.

Cape Town — in which some of Africa’s most affluent live — is rapidly running out of water. Population growth and a record drought, exacerbated by climate change, are creating one of the world’s most dramatic urban water crises.

Ireland’s Dail Eireann (its lower house of parliament) voted by a large majority on February 8 in favour of a bill to ban the government issuing new contracts for oil and gas exploration.

The following statement by a group of international socialist feminists in solidarity with Iranian women’s struggles was initiated by the Alliance of Middle Eastern Socialists on February 10.

The Socialist Alliance in Australia is among the signatories.

Australian group the Socialist Alliance released the statement below on February 1.

A brand new World Bank report, The Changing Wealth of Nations 2018, offers evidence of how much poorer Africa is becoming thanks to rampant minerals, oil and gas extraction.

Yet World Bank policies and practices remain oriented to enforcing foreign loan repayments and transnational corporate (TNC) profiteering — thus maintaining the looting.

Culture

In Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 11-12 last year, an infamous mobilisation of neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other far-right groups was met by anti-fascist and anti-racist protesters. In violent clashes, attacks by the far right resulted in many counter-protesters being injured and one dead — anti-fascist activist Heather Hayes, who was killed when a fascist drove a car into the crowd.

US President Donald Trump, whose election was supported by and emboldened the far right, refused to condemn the far right, stating: “You had many fine people on both sides.”

The furore surrounding Michael Wolff’s book is unsurprising because he lifts the lid on the foetid cesspit that is US President Donald Trump’s White House. In the tradition of scandal-mongering journalism, he reveals the back-stabbing, in-fighting and squabbling of this ramshackle administration of bigots, ignoramuses and incompetents.

Golden Years
Directed by Andre Techine
Starring Pierre Deladonchamps, Celine Sallette, Gregoire Leprince-Ringuet & Michel Fau
Showing as part of the nation-wide Alliance Francaise Film Festival

This is a gender-bending true story of how a French man fled World War I trenches and — at the urging of his wife — survived in hiding by passing as a woman.

The AFL Women’s second season is now in full swing. Launched on February 2, the Carlton-Collingwood game repeated the large crowds that greeted the start of last year’s inaugural season. After two rounds, Carlton, the Western Bulldogs and Melbourne remain unbeaten in the eight-team competition. As the season heats up, Jackie Lynch offers some hot tips for what to expect in the AFLW over the coming weeks. She will also tell you how to win 3000 Sam Newman Bobbleheads!

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