Issue 1180

Australia

Farmers, businessmen and Traditional Owners from north-west NSW travelled to Adelaide on May 3 to tell Santos and its shareholders at the company AGM it will face a rural uprising if it proceeds with the Narrabri coal seam gasfield.

They were joined by South Australian locals who oppose Santos’s plans to drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight, telling Santos it has “No Licence to Drill” because these projects do not have community support.

Staff and employers of the Murdoch University Student Guild have reached an in-principle agreement in the latest round of bargaining after four weeks of negotiations.

Despite the short time frame, the negotiation team for the workers, which constituted an NTEU Industrial Officer and two Murdoch Guild staff members, were able to keep members in the loop throughout the entire process.

Staff and student rally against the cuts.

Staff and students at James Cook University (JCU) in Townsville and Cairns have refused to accept course and job cuts proposed by the university’s management.

The highlight of the campaign was a 120-strong student-led rally on April 30 at the Cairns campus, the largest student protest action in more than a decade at JCU. Students also joined the community protests called by the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) branch on April 27.

 

The 18th annual Green Left Weekly Comedy Debate is set to take place on June 16 at 6.30pm at Brunswick Town Hall. Bookings are available online at Trybooking.    

The event has been running since 2000, each year raising a significant amount to contribute to the annual Green Left Weekly Fighting Fund.

More than 50 people attended the annual May Day Dinner held in Geelong on May 5. Speakers at the dinner included Maritime Union of Australia women’s liaison officer Mich-Elle Myers and Victorian Allied Health Professionals Association secretary Craig McGregor. Former Secretary of Geelong Trades Hall Council (GTHC) Tim Gooden also gave a toast to Green Left Weekly.

Green Left Weekly asked Myers and McGregor, as well as current GTHC secretary Colin Vernon, why it is important to celebrate May Day.

May Day this year, held on May 6 in Sydney, was the strongest, most powerful and largest May Day I have marched in for years.

I joined with dozens of union contingents comprising thousands of workers in Sydney, chanting “The workers united will never be defeated” and “What do we want? The right to strike.”

The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) has warned that a review of the Australian Public Service (APS) will fail if the federal government uses it to continue to promote its damaging neoliberal ideology and refuses to make significant policy changes that benefit all Australians.

Hundreds of people took part in a union rally to support a fair enterprise agreement at the University of Queensland on May 10. The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) organised the industrial action in support of it's campaign.

NTEU branch president Andrew Bonnell told the rally that this was his fourth experience in negotiating an enterprise agreement at UQ and that it was "getting harder" to reach a resolution due to management intransigence.

More than 60 unionists and supporters of the labour movement met after the Sydney May Day march on May 6 to discuss the next steps of the Right to Strike campaign.

The meeting, which built on the success of a previous meeting held on April 14, called for the critical addition of the right to strike as a core demand of the Australian Council of Trade Unions' (ACTU) Change the Rules campaign.

In a dawn raid on May 4, about 20 police descended on protesters, who had set up tents on the lawn in front of Hobart’s Parliament House to protest the state government’s lack of response to Hobart’s housing crisis, and ordered them to move on.

In the biggest union mobilisation in Australia in more than a decade, up to 120,000 unionists and supporters descended on the streets of Melbourne on May 9.

The protest was organised as part of the Change the Rules campaign. The rally followed a mass delegates meeting in April and was the conclusion of nearly a fortnight of union actions across the country to launch the campaign.

The Refugee Action Coalition (RAC) released this statement on May 7.

* * *

Refugee advocates have serious fears for the welfare of Omid, a 24-year-old Iranian refugee from Nauru, who has been on hunger strike for more than 30 days.

His condition has significantly deteriorated since he was hospitalised a couple of weeks ago. He has reached a critical stage in the hunger strike with growing concerns that he may have already suffered some long-term damage to his health.

World

Emma Wilde Botta looks at US President Donald Trump’s latest effort to “break the regime” in Iran — by renouncing the nuclear deal negotiated by his predecessor.

Donald Trump’s announcement that the US will withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and reimpose economic sanctions will intensify geopolitical conflicts in the region. It threatens to spark a wider war, engulfing the region and possibly the world.

Palestinians in Gaza have defied deadly Israeli repression to continue their Great March of Return protests into their sixth week, writes Lisa Gleeson.

Protracted restrictions on the human rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association are incompatible with the conduct of a credible electoral process in Turkey, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said on May 9.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in a May 8 speech: “If one day our nation says tamam (enough), only then will we step aside.” In response, millions of people posted tweets featuring the word “tamam”.

There were more than 1.8 million posts including the word “tamam”, while different versions/spellings of the word were also popular. The hashtag #devam (“continue”) started by pro-Erdoğan groups immediately after lagged behind at 300,000 posts.

[Abridged from ANF News.]

The leader of the mass protest movement that brought down Armenia’s right-wing government has been elected by parliament as the new prime minister. Hovhannes Gevorkian looks at how this happened — and what the near future might hold.

A new round of United States sanctions against Venezuela, this time directed against three individuals and their businesses, was rebuffed on May 7 by Samuel Moncada, the Bolivarian Republic’s Vice Minister for Foreign Relations.

Campaigning is well underway for Venezuela’s May 20 national vote to elect the nation’s president and representatives to municipal councils and state legislatures. To get a sense of the campaign and situation in the South American country today, Federico Fuentes spoke to Australia Venezuela Solidarity Network (AVSN) Brisbane co-convenor Eulalia Reyes de Whitney, who has been back in her home country for the past several months.

United States President Donald Trump regularly professes deep concern for democracy and human rights in Latin America, but the US’s attitude to Honduras highlights the hypocrisy of US policy in practice. 

The council election result in Kensington and Chelsea, as part of England’s council elections on May 3, was a good indicator of how polarised the political situation is in Britain, writes Andy Stowe.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr on April 4, 1968.

The murder of one of the great Black leaders of the time by white racists with the complicity of the US government, most likely the FBI, stunned all African Americans in the country.

With growing concern over the possibility of a trade war between China and the United States, Marty Hart-Landsberg takes a look at the issues at stake.

John McDonnell, Labour's shadow chancellor of the Exchequer, declared Marxism a “force for change today” as he addressed the closing session of a conference in London marking Karl Marx’s 200th birthday on May 5.

McDonnell, a close comrade of Labour's socialist leader Jeremy Corbyn, received stormy applause for a speech in which he paid tribute to the revolutionary thinker and noted that public interest in his ideas had soared since the bankers’ crash of 2008.

Analysis

The federal government reached an agreement with the Labor opposition to pass amendments to the Murray-Darling Basin Plan (MDBP) on May 8, effectively ensuring less water will flow to the environment in the southern basin.

The deal sidelined negotiations with cross-bench Senators and scuttled a move by the Greens to request a disallowance motion for the vote because of environmental concerns.

Just a week before Sydney University Postgraduate Representative Association (SUPRA) held their annual Council elections on April 26 and 27, the out-going co-presidents Mariam Mohammed and Kiriti Mortha called on Sydney University management to investigate the "governance structure" of SUPRA, alleging there was a "toxic" culture on the council.

The NSW Coalition government’s long anticipated Koala Strategy, which was released on May 6, has been condemned as inadequate and doomed to fail by conservation groups, which say it ignores the key threat of habitat loss.

Dairy cows in a field

How did Murray Goulburn, once Australia’s biggest milk processor and a successful dairy cooperative since 1950, end up being sold to its international competitor, Canadian dairy giant Saputo? In the second of this multi-part series (read part 1 here), Elena Garcia provides some answers.

The wealthy and corporations got a visit from Santa Claus, but the rest of us got Scrooged again on Budget night.

A windfall in tax income — derived in part from higher than expected royalties and corporate taxes in the mining sector, owing to higher prices for iron ore, coal and oil — provided ideal conditions for the government’s pre-election budget.

There was never a chance that Treasurer Scott Morrison would use this windfall to boost social spending — that just wouldn’t accord with the Malcolm Turnbull government’s “trickle down” economics.

Since the project was first proposed in October 2010, Adani’s Carmichael coalmine, rail and port project has generated opposition, initially from local resident and conservation groups.

The Carmichael project is one of several of mines proposed for the Galilee Basin. GVK Hancock (Gina Rinehart’s joint venture with Indian company GVK) proposed Alpha Coal in September 2008 and Kevin’s Corner in August 2009. Clive Palmer applied for approval for Waratah Coal in October 2008. 

Culture

British team Leeds United FC is under fire after announcing late last month plans to tour Myanmar despite the mounting allegations of human rights abuses and “ethnic cleansing” in the country.

The club revealed its two final post-season games would be in the Myanmar cities of Yangon and Mandalay. The tour will be sponsored by a bank that has been linked to the government and, consequently, the hundreds of thousands human rights abuses reported by refugee Rohingya Muslims.

A group of young Palestinians in Gaza has founded “The Crutches”: the first football (soccer) team for amputees injured during the last three Israeli attacks on the besieged territory.

Palestinian civil society groups have accused Giro d’Italia cycling race, which started its first leg in Israel on May 4, of covering up Israel’s war crimes in Gaza and its secret police’s repression against Giro protests, said Kerry Smith.