Issue 1177

News

Huge numbers took part in the annual Labour Day parade in Brisbane. This was the culmination of a weekend of rallies throughout the state. A wide number of workplace and social issues were canvassed at the rally including a strong call to #ChangeTheRules

The Victorian Labor government announced on April 15 that it would fast-track the controversial North East Link, a 26-kilometre freeway to connect the Metropolitan Ring Road at Greensborough with the Eastern Freeway at Bulleen.

Hundreds of people gathered outside the Northern Territory parliament in Darwin on April 18 to protest the Labor government’s decision, announced the day before, to lift the ban on fracking. Another protest is planned for April 22.

Chief Minister Michael Gunner announced the onshore ban on fracking would be lifted following the tabling of an independent report which concluded that the risks associated with the hydraulic fracturing of gas could be “managed” and “regulated”.

We are often asked: "How do you do it?". People who have seen Green Left Weekly keep going on the proverbial smell of an oily rag often express surprise (and respect) for the fact that we have doggedly kept going with this project since 1991.

Well, it is hard work. Putting the stories together, collecting the photos and videos that are increasingly important in our online presence and distributing it week after week is no easy feat. 

More than 100 unionists and supporters crowded into the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) Sydney meeting hall for a "Fight for the Right to Strike" public meeting on April 14.

Following the recent public exposure gained by the Change the Rules campaign, speakers emphasised the need to overturn anti-worker and anti-union legislation.

The campaign to save the iconic Powerhouse Museum in inner-city Ultimo from being sold off to private developers and moved to a flood-prone site in Parramatta has received a sizeable boost by a motion passed by the NSW Legislative Council that will force the NSW Coalition government to release the "business case" for their plan within two weeks.

Greens MP Jamie Parker successfully moved the motion on April 12, with the support of Labor, the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers, Animal Justice and a maverick Liberal member, former fair-trading minister Matthew Mason-Cox.

,

Several hundred people attended a Rage Against WestConnex rally in King George Park, Rozelle, on April 14. The rally was organised by Rozelle Against WestConnex (RAW), with co-sponsorship from a range of anti-WestConnex action organisations.

More than 2000 delegates from unions across Victoria overwhelmingly supported state-wide action on May 9 as part of the Change the Rules campaign.

The April 17 meeting was one of the largest gatherings of unionists seen for some time as delegates from a range of blue- and white-collar sectors filled the Melbourne Town Hall, with about 200 more being turned away at the door.

Analysis

Universities are big business and critical to the health of Australian capitalism.

University education added $140 billion to the Australian economy in 2014. According to Universities Australia, 1.3 million Australian and international students were enrolled in Australian universities in 2016.

Recent military actions by Western powers, backed by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, have certainly proven controversial. But the simple fact is that the civilised and democratic West cannot refuse to act in the face of the indiscriminate massacre of civilians in Yemen … I mean Syria.

Sorry, I got confused. Yemen is where the West is arming Saudi Arabia and backing its brutal war killing civilians and causing a huge humanitarian catastrophe. We support that carnage.

Green Left Weekly’s Alex Bainbridge caught up with Sue Bolton, Socialist Alliance councilor in Moreland and Victorian Socialist candidate, to ask her about the Victorian Socialists’ campaign for the Legislative Council’s Northern Metropolitan seat in the state elections in November.

Why are you running on the Victorian Socialists’ ticket?

Many Australians are unaware that up to 2500 armed personnel from a foreign nation routinely occupy Australian territory. However, soon the next contingent of US marines will arrive in Darwin, writes Nick Deane.

It is extraordinary that foreign forces should be stationed in Australia in peacetime. There has been no such foreign presence here since the end of World War II. There is no threat to Australia, so there is no need for this presence.

Australia needs an independent national agency charged with safeguarding the environment and delivering effective climate policy, according to a coalition of environmental, legal and medical NGOs.

Most Western democracies have established national regulatory action, such as the US Environmental Protection Agency — yet Australia is a notable exception.

The Sydney Stop the War Coalition organised a hastily-called protest against the latest Western bombing raid on Syria on April 18. It condemned the Australian government and Labor opposition that were quick to support to the United States, French and British attack, which was launched in retaliation to the reported Syrian regime chemical gas attack on April 7 in which more than 40 people were killed.

The Socialist Alliance released this statement on April 18 in response to the bombing of Syria by the US, Britain and France.

* * *

The Socialist Alliance condemns the Australian government for its lapdog-like endorsement of the April 13 missile bombardment of Damascus and Homs by the United States, Britain and France.

Australian workers are doing it tough. Wage rises have dropped to their lowest level in decades: ABS figures show average full-time wages have fallen below basic cost of living needs. Casual workers have taken an even harder hit.

It’s time to fight back and get organised. The Australian Council of Trade Unions seems to have come out of its bunker. It has called for a full blown “Change the Rules” campaign to win back our “rights at work”, lost progressively since 1996.

A Senate committee inquiry into the Community Development Programme (CDP) — supposedly covering remote employment and community development — has found it causes real harm to people and communities. It is a racist work for the dole scheme and it must be scrapped.

Climate and renewable energy activists are furious that the federal and Victorian governments are throwing $100 million into a dubious “clean energy” pilot project to produce hydrogen from brown coal in the Latrobe Valley.

The $500 million demonstration plant is at AGL’s Loy Yang power station and mine near Traralgon. It is being built to develop the technology to gassify brown coal and will produce up to three tonnes of hydrogen in its first year. It is expected to create about 400 jobs.  

World

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's decision to call an early general election on June 24 — a year and a half before it was due — is a sign of weakness and desperation, according to opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) MP Lezgin Botan.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) are losing popular support because of their anti-democratic and pro-war domestic and regional policies and because the economy is a mess. The official unemployment rate is nearly 11% and one in five young people are without work.

Hundreds of popular organisations and social movements from across Latin America and the Caribbean met at the Summit of the Peoples in Lima, Peru, over April 10-14.

The summit is a regular parallel to the official Summit of the Americas, which brings together governments from the entire Western Hemisphere.

Venezuela officially boycotted the governmental summit following Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s controversial banning by Peru’s government. This, however, did not dissuade a colourful and multifaceted Venezuelan delegation from attending the parallel summit.

The most recent survey conducted by Vox Populi for Brazil’s Unified Workers’ Union (CUT) found 59% of the Brazilian population consider former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio ‘Lula’ da Silva to be a political prisoner. Lula, as he is popularly known, complied with an arrest warrant against him earlier this month few days following a Supreme Court ruling against his appeal earlier this month.

“I’ve been listening, and I’ve been impressed. But the winners today are the teachers in the state of Arizona.”

These are the words of Arizona’s Republican Governor Doug Ducey at an April 12 press conference in the state Capitol building in Phoenix. He had just announced a funding plan that he claims will raise Arizona teachers’ pay by 20% by 2020 and raise education funding by US$371 million by 2023.

Strikes, protests and occupations are breaking out everywhere. Sam Wainwright writes that resistance to French president Emmanuel Macron’s austerity plans is gathering pace and its development will determine the future of the country.

Macron and his big business patrons complain that France has failed to “modernise” like Britain did during Margaret Thatcher’s reign. A key turning point that explains why the French working class has been able to slow this process was the huge social movement and strike wave of 1995, in which millions of people took to the streets. 

British opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said on April 14 that there was no legal basis for British strikes against Syria and such action would encourage others to behave in the same way. He has called for a new War Powers Act, which would require the British government to seek approval from parliament for any future military actions.

In a letter to British Prime Minister Theresa May, Corbyn explained why he opposed the coordinated United States, British and French strikes against Syrian government structures. The coalition fired more than 100 missiles into Syria.

In 1792, pioneering British feminist and social justice activist Mary Wollstonecroft wrote in The Rights of Women: “It is justice, not charity that is wanting in the world.”

Now, 226 years later, Labour has anchored that fundamental truth in its vision for international development: A World for the Many, Not the Few.

Since Rodrigo Duterte began his term as the 16th president of the Philippines in 2016, Filipinos and the international community have watched in horror at accounts of dead bodies found nightly in the country’s streets, linked to extra-judicial killings (EJKs).

The Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM), respected as a small principled party that packs a big punch, is running its largest election campaign yet. Peter Boyle speaks to its campaign coordinator.

It is 2.34am in Malaysia and S. Arutchelvan (better known as “Arul”) is typing in answers to my questions on the PSM campaign in the country’s general election on May 9.

Culture

Jepke Goudsmit & Graham Jones, co-directors of Kinetic Energy Theatre Company, reflect on the life and loss of a unique place — The Edge, last known as the King Street Theatre, of which they were the original founders.

Good, affordable theatre venues and practice studios have long been hard to come by in Sydney. The latest victim of our city’s rat race for survival is our former home base: that intimate theatre at the bottom of King Street in Newtown, which we set up in 1985.

Radical US sports writer Dave Zirin asks why a major multinational corporation is sponsoring football (soccer) teams in illegal Israeli settlements.

Greater Sunrise
A play by Zoe Hogan
Directed by Julia Patey
Belvoir Theatre, Sydney
Until April 21

"In 2004, Australia placed a bug in Timor-Leste's presidential cabinet room, in order to gain the advantage in negotiations over resources in the Timor Sea. The bug was placed under the cover of an aid program. The bug ended up costing Timor-Leste billions of dollars in lost resources," playwright Zoe Hogan notes about her new play, Greater Sunrise.