Issue 1173

News

Federal and state governments are about to renew Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) to prolong industrial logging across 2 million hectares of New South Wales native forests. It is expected that an additional 100,000 hectares of native forest will be re-zoned for clear felling.

RFA renewals and burning native forests for energy is will mean the end of native forests.

More than 100 people marched in Northcote on March 10 in support of refugee rights. The rally was called by the Refugee Action Collective to focus attention on refugees in the context of the Batman by-election.

Aziz Muhammad, who has been imprisoned on Manus Island for 5 years, spoke to the rally via skype. He spoke of the “terrible” conditions on Manus Island. The three camps where refugees are living are overcrowded. There is no proper medical care. Mental health is deteriorating, as people see no hope. Refugees have been badly beaten by local people.

Lovers of the Murray and Darling rivers gathered outside Victorian Parliament on March 7 to call on Premier Daniel Andrews and Water Minister Lisa Neville to save the Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s Basin Plan.

Housing is a basic human right, but under neoliberal capitalism it has become a privilege enjoyed by fewer and fewer people.

In the 2009 kids film Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, a joke revolves around the illusion that waste products can be sent to a dump called Mount Leftovers. The joke turns dangerous when the dump suddenly bursts and spews forth.

Australia has been treating China as its Mount Leftovers for decades — 76% of paper and 88% of plastics went to China in 2011.

The first day of the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry heard startling evidence that National Australia Bank (NAB) managers took envelopes full of cash as part of an alleged bribery racket in which bankers sold loans based on fake documents to “smash” sales targets.

Leaked NSW Coalition government documents reveal that White Bay in Sydney's Inner West and parks on the city’s north shore are favoured construction sites for the $14 billion Western Harbour Tunnel and Northern Beaches Link tollway.

The “Cabinet in confidence” documents, obtained by Fairfax and the ABC, show the project will require the disposal of more than 500,000 cubic metres of contaminated sediment.

"Australian merchant seafarers demand and expect to have the right to work in their own country" read a letter from the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) state secretary Bob Carnegie to the general manager of Rio Tinto.

Australian merchant seafarers demand work not dole

"Australian merchant seafarers demand and expect to have the right to work in their own country" read a letter from the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) state secretary Bob Carnegie to the general manager of Rio Tinto.

Victoria's environment department has charged the government-owned logging agency VicForests over its illegal logging of rainforest buffer zones in East Gippsland. The allegations relate to a logging operation in the Serpentine Creek Rainforest Site of Significance near Cann River, which caused serious damage to protected warm temperate rainforest.

Green Left Weekly hosted a screening of the film Kurdistan: Women at War on March 9 to celebrate International Women’s Day. The film, directed by Mylene Sauloy, follows the historical development of the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) and other similar groups defending and transforming their communities across Northern Syria.

During the Greens/Labor battle for the Batman byelection, the mainstream media has characterised opposition to the Adani mine as an inner city/trendy/lefty issue.

However, recent polls have shown this is not the case. Support for the project is just as likely to lose votes for the Liberal and Labor parties as it is to win votes for the Greens.

A new ReachTel survey commissioned by the Australia Institute found the Adani mine is unpopular in inner city electorates around the country.

Queensland Council of Unions General Secretary Ros McLennan speaking at International Women's Day in Brisbane: 10 March 2018.

Green Left Weekly hosted a screening in Perth of the film Kurdistan: Women at War on March 9 to celebrate International Women’s Day. The film, directed by Mylene Sauloy, follows the historical development of the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) and other similar groups defending and transforming their communities across Northern Syria.

Both of Victoria's daily newspapers, The Age and the Herald-Sun, had front page articles on March 6 attacking the proposed enterprise agreement covering firefighters employed by the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB). This agreement is currently being voted on by MFB staff.

The Tamil Refugee Council released this statement on March 10.

* * *

The Tamil Refugee Council has condemned an early morning raid in which a refugee family was given just ten minutes to gather their belongings before being flown to Melbourne and detained at the Broadmeadows detention centre (Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation, MITA).

Analysis

In the lead up to the Palm Sunday refugee rights rallies Green Left Weekly’s Zebedee Parkes spoke to activists in the refugee campaign about the work they are doing in their communities and why they are coming to the rallies on March 25.

There is a global refugee crisis. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported last year that there are at least 22.5 million people seeking asylum across state borders and tens of millions more have been internally displaced.

The numbers are growing as more people become displaced due to conflict and environmental disasters.

In response, from New York to Berlin to Sydney, leading political parties are building walls, figuratively and literally, instead of coming up with humane solutions.

Australia has national environmental laws — the Environment Protection Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act). Yet given the staggering rates of land clearing taking place, resulting in the extinction and endangerment of plants and animals in Australia, these laws are clearly not working.

Afrin, a city within the canton of the same name in northern Syria , is under siege by the Turkish military, supported by right wing jihadist forces, including al-Quaeda, al-Nusra and the remnants of ISIS. Fifty-two days after the invasion began, more than 290 civilians had been killed.

Exxon has not paid a cent in corporate income tax on a total income of nearly $25 billion over a three-year period, and it has not broken any rules.

Santos, which is fighting to get its controversial 850 coal seam gas wells approved in the Narrabri in NSW, paid no corporate tax in 2014-15 and 2015-2016. It only paid $3 million in corporate tax in 2013-14 when, over those years, it reported revenue totalling $11.2 billion.

How can this be the case?

A series of submissions to a long-running Senate inquiry into corporate tax avoidance are asking this very question.

Within hours of the NSW Land and Environment Court decision on March 9 quashing new land clearing laws, the NSW government produced a new Land Management (Native Vegetation) Code.

The code was created to exempt land clearing from the usual development assessment processes. It was introduced after the government overhauled the state’s conservation laws in 2016, making land clearing easier for farmers.

As the newly-elected Queensland state parliament met for the first time on February 14, a small group of dedicated Protectors from Families Against Fossil Fuels and Standing with Sandi held their regular #StandAgainstCSG protest outside its doors.

Sandra Bamberry (Sandi) is the mother of two little girls who have experienced negative health impacts, including ongoing nosebleeds and nausea, from the many coal seam gas (CSG) mines that now surround their home on the Tara gasfields.

World

With North America and Europe experiencing bitter cold snaps and heavy snowfall over the past winter, climate scientists have recorded an exceptionally warm season in the Arctic Circle. Researchers say there is a strong link between the climate crisis marked by the Arctic temperature rises and extreme winter weather events.

The South African parliament has voted for a motion to amend the constitution that will allow the government to expropriate private land without compensation. However, a true resolution of the land question must be in accordance with the needs of those who work and live off the land.

This means the destruction of all existing tribal and feudal relations in the rural areas — and the nationalisation of the land.

Human rights advocates expressed outrage on March 13 after US President Donald Trump nominated deputy director Gina Haspel to be the next CIA director — despite her leading role in running a CIA black site where detainees were systematically and gruesomely abused, writes Jessica Corbett for

A sea of red swept the Indian state of Maharastra as tens of thousands of farmers joined the Long March to demand agrarian reform, with protesters reaching Mumbai, India’s financial capital. In response, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has agreed to resolve the farmers' issues within six months.

The Afrin canton in Northern Syria is under sustained assault from invading Turkish forces and allied Islamist gangs. 

The Turkish invasion, accompanied by reports of massacres and use of chemical weapons, aims to destroy the progressive, democratic Kurdish-led revolution in Syria’s north, which places women’s liberation at its centre.

The recent victorious strike by teachers in West Virginia, which was organised bottom up by rank-and-file teachers, 75% women, has demonstrated the truth of what worker militant and songwriter Joe Hill wrote: “There is power in a band of working [people], when they stand hand in hand!”

Two people died and homes, vehicles, shops and mosques were burnt during anti-Muslim riots in Sri Lanka.

The riots began in Kandy on March 5 and spread to other nearby towns. Victims accused the police of failing to protect them in the early stages of the violence. A state of emergency was declared on March 6.

Students, parents and teachers walked out of thousands of high schools across the United States on March 14 to demand legislative action to address gun violence.

Of all the International Women’s Day (IWD) demonstrations held in an unprecedented 177 countries on March 8, the Spanish state stood out as the site of the largest mobilisation for women’s equality. In fact, it was the greatest mobilisation for women’s right in history, with almost 6 million people — overwhelmingly women — striking and demonstrating in about 120 cities and towns.

Chile’s new president, Sebastian Piñera, of the right-wing party National Renewal (RN), has announced that he plans to “modernise” the country’s Anti-Terror Law.

Amid several controversies in the voting process, Colombians went to the polls on March 11 to elect 166 legislators to the House of Representatives and 102 senators.

Colombia’s Revolutionary Alternative Force for the Commons (FARC) said on March 8 it was cancelling its presidential election bid.

Culture

The Australian Union and Solidarity Choir (AUSC), made up of singers from across Australia, are travelling to Timor Leste (East Timor) in August and September take part in Popular Consultation Day celebrations in Dili to spread the joy and friendship of song to Timorese towns and villages.

Below are overviews of six new books for an ecosocialist bookshelf, compiled by Climate and Capitalism editor Ian Angus. They look at the Science for the People movement, health care under capitalism, the criminalising of poverty, Yemen in crisis, the origins of everything, and communism and democracy.

***

The title of Adam Hochschild’s marvellous book on the 1936-39 Spanish Civil War is taken from French author Albert Camus’s requiem for that doomed struggle: “Men of my generation have had Spain in our hearts … It was there that they learned … that one can be right and yet be beaten, that force can vanquish spirit, and there are times when courage is not rewarded”.

Visionary physicist Stephen Hawking, a leading explorer of the cosmos and champion of progressive causes, died early on March 14 at the age of 76.