Issue 1172

Australia

Participants in the 1978 Brisbane IWD rally led the march

Over 300 people took part in the Brisbane/Meanjin International Women's Day rally and march at Emma Miller Place on March 10.

Over 300 people took part in the Brisbane/Meanjin International Women's Day rally and march at Emma Miller Place on March 10.

Speakers addressed issues including: women's rights at work, abortion rights; violence against women; justice for incarcerated women; justice for Aboriginal women (especially the case Ms Dhu); the inadequacies of family law; and the history of IWD.

In the lead up to the South Australian election, Premier Jay Weatherill announced on March 5 that an incoming Labor government would introduce portable long service leave for community services workers.

Australian Services Union (ASU) members in all states have been campaigning for long service leave portability for many years. So far only Victoria and the ACT have been successful. Portability of entitlements will bring stability to the sector. Community Services is a growing industry in which recruitment and retention of qualified staff is an issue.

Firefighters employed by the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) have begun voting on a new enterprise agreement, which includes a pay rise of 19% over four years.

The previous agreement expired in 2013.

MFB management resisted including clauses in the new agreement requiring it to consult with the United Firefighters Union (UFU) on a range of questions, such as equipment and uniforms, and clauses clearly specifying the rights of workers in relation to issues such as rosters.

The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) announced on February 28 that Wilson Security will no longer provide it with security services and SecureCorp has been appointed as its long-term security services provider.

Wilson Security has provided security services for the Australian government’s detention centres on Nauru since 2012 and Manus Island during 2014–17. It is notorious for overseeing, perpetrating and attempting to cover up years of abuse against refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru, as many inquiries and reports have shown.

More than 200 residents and supporters gathered at the Moorefield Bowling Club in Rockdale on March 3 to protest the proposed F6 Extension to the controversial $18 billion Westconnex tollway, linking the south-western suburbs to Wollongong.

If the F6 motorway is built, residents from the suburbs of Arncliffe, through Rockdale to Sans Souci and all the way to the Royal National Park, will face immense environmental and social disruption.

New South Wales transport minister Andrew Constance should note the observation by Victor Hugo, the French novelist, that the worst thing a minister can do is have policies that upset people so much that they protest publicly and loudly about them.

About 90 Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) members at Australian Paper’s Preston envelope factory returned to work victorious on March 6 after an eight-week strike, with most of the workers’ terms being met and the rest to be negotiated.

“Stop police attacks on gays, women and blacks” shouts an iconic poster at the 2018 Museum of Love and Protest gallery exhibition.

It was the slogan that reverberated down Sydney’s Oxford Street 40 year’s ago as the original 1978 protest-parade marched through Darlinghurst, laughing, dancing and imploring others to come out of the closet and join the fight to repeal anti-homosexual laws.

The formation of a militant super-union has been given the go-ahead by the Fair Work Commission (FWC) in a decision announced on March 6.

Founding national secretary of the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMMEU) Michael O'Connor welcomed the formation of the new union, created by the amalgamation of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA), and the Textile, Clothing, and Footwear Union of Australia (TCFUA).

A group of 29 refugees, including eight children, became the fifth group of refugees to escape detention when they left Nauru on March 4 for resettlement in the US. The group consisted of Sri Lankan, Rohingyan and Afghan families, and single men from Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Since the US resettlement deal began in September a total of 139 refugees have left Nauru and 85 have left Manus Island.

World

Northern Syria (also known by its Kurdish name of “Rojava”) has been the scene of a social revolution with women’s liberation at its centre in recent years. However, it has come under constant attack.

In January, cryptocurrency Bitcoin dropped from a high of US$19,850 to US$6000. It has since risen to a more stable value of about US$10,000, but the wild ride of Bitcoin is a dangerous development in capitalism that should make us wary.

About five million women went on strike and marched in Spain on March 8 in support of a call for an international women’s strike to mark International Women’s Day and demand a just and egalitarian society, TeleSUR English said that day.

Dozens of Palestinian journalists protested social media giant Facebook on March 5, criticising its routine blocking of accounts from the Middle Eastern country.

After the December 21 Catalan election reconfirmed a majority for pro-independence forces, it seemed inevitable a new government would soon be formed. More than two months later, however, the spectre of a repeat election haunts Catalonia.

New South African President Cyril Ramaphosa made headlines when the ANC leader backed legal changes that could allow land reform to redistribute land from traditionally powerful white owners to the Black majority.

But this populist posture aside, the new administration is seeking to deepen pro-corporate neoliberalism and austerity.

The results of Italy’s March 4 general elections paint an alarming picture. No one holds the numbers to form a new government alone and the situation is very puzzling and uncertain.

The United States administration has stepped up its efforts at “regime change” in Venezuela in recent weeks.

Colombia’s National Police have announced an internal investigation days after the country’s leftist presidential candidate was attacked on his way to a campaign rally on March 2.

United Nations human rights official Andrew Gilmour said on March 7 that it was impossible to safely send Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh back to their homes in Myanmar as documents released under freedom of information laws show that the Australian defence department plans to spend almost $400,000 on training members of the Myanma military in 2017-18.

In the middle of the harshest winter for more than a decade, Britain finds itself still gripped by the icy fingers of neoliberal austerity.

West Virginia officials agreed on March 6 to a deal ending a teachers strike by raising pay for all state workers by 5%. It came after more than a week of protests across the Appalachian state.

Analysis

Yet another report has been released showing the capitalist “trickle down” promise is rubbish.

The World Inequality Report 2018 — produced by the World Inequality Lab at the Paris School of Economics — busts the neoliberals’ myths about globalisation and privatisation working for everyone. It shows that the wealth gap is widening and, in some countries, very dramatically.

Progressive, activist campaign groups such as GetUp!, 350.org and Friends of the Earth have been in the federal Coalition government’s sights for some time.

However, a new bill introduced into parliament threatens to also frustrate the work of human rights, environmental, women’s, international aid and social justice NGOs and charities.

Following the resignation of former Goldman Sachs executive Gary Cohn as the Trump administration's Chief Economic Advisor, US President Donald Trump tweeted: “Will be making a decision soon on the appointment of new Chief Economic Advisor. Many people wanting the job — will choose wisely!”

I am sure he's right on at least the first part of that tweet. There will undoubtedly be a conga line of other corporate bloodsuckers eager to take the job.

I live about 10 minutes' drive from Morwell, a town that simply feels like decay. Unemployment is among the highest in Victoria, the stress of losing jobs or homes is fuelling a drug crisis and it seems as if things can only get worse.

It’s hard to walk down empty streets with boarded up shopfronts and not feel worried about Morwell’s future. Following news that Target in Mid Valley, Morwell's largest shopping centre, would close, that future is more uncertain than ever.

Iranian-Kurdish journalist and refugee Behrouz Boochani has been detained on Manus Island for almost five years. The theme of home in the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre’s campaign to Change the Policy was inspired by Behrouz, whose vision of home is “humanity”.

Tasmanian elections are decided by the Hare-Clark system, a method of proportional voting that means a party must secure close to half the total vote to win majority government.

It is a complex system in which a voter has a single transferable vote in one of the five electorates, each of which elect five members of parliament. The system often produces close results and minority governments. It also means seats are rarely decided on election night.

Last month Australia slipped further down the rankings in the international corruption index. Among a wide range of factors cited by Transparency International was Australia’s “inappropriate industry lobbying in large-scale projects such as mining”, as well as “revolving doors and a culture of mateship”.

Who would you rather vote for in a state election?

A candidate from a leafy-suburbs party that has not been able to quell its factional squabbling for long enough to win office since before the turn of the century? Or a know-nothing roped in a few weeks earlier to stand on behalf of a political opportunist, who bases his appeal on childish stunts?

Karl Fitzgerald, 3CR’s Renegade Economist, spoke to independent investigative journalist Michael West (Michaelwest.com.au) about Transurban and its control of Australia’s toll roads.

* * *

Let’s start with some numbers: traffic was up just 1.4% on Transurban toll roads over the past six months, but toll revenues were up 9.6% and the earnings before tax trickery by 11.6%. But its net profit was up a staggering 280% in just six months. What does that mean?

Culture

Climate and Capitalism editor Ian Angus looks at five important new books on famines, deadly epidemics and the pesticide poisons in our food.

This year is the 50th anniversary of 1968, the year when revolutionary upsurges occurred all across the globe.

Filmed over one year in 23 countries, Ai Weiwei’s Human Flow is at the same time beautiful and heartbreaking.