Issue 1184

Australia

A desperate rooftop protest by an Iranian refugee being held on Christmas Island was restarted on June 11 after being subjected to further inhumanity.

Ghazi (not his real name), and another refugee took to the roof of the detention centre in late May to protest the conditions and the lack of access to medical care. According to the Refugee Action Coalition (RAC) both men had been in detention for over 3 years and were apparently taken to court and charged over an alleged incident prior to the May protest.

Protestors at the rally in Brisbane holding placcards and banners.

Thousands of people rallied across Australia on June 9 in a National Day of Action against live animal exports.

There were demonstrations in Brisbane, Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney and Adelaide calling on the federal government to ban the inhumane practice.

A recent survey has revealed that 73% of Australians now want to ban the practice. Two bills calling for live sheep exports to be phased out will be put before federal parliament in mid-August.

Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) is holding a Telethon on World Refugee Day, June 20, to give people from around the nation is a chance to champion a more compassionate Australia, while supporting and empowering refugees and people seeking asylum.

Now in its third year, the ASRC Telethon is hoping to exceed last year’s total of $660,000, double the amount raised in the first year of the event. This enabled the ASRC to provide food, housing, medical care, employment support, legal aid and advocacy to almost 5000 people.

Participants at the 2018 Beyond Coal and Gas Jamboree

The burgeoning movements against coal and gas projects, to defend the Great Barrier Reef and to conserve precious water resources were boosted by the Beyond Coal and Gas Jamboree held on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland over May 31 to June 3.

More than 350 activists from around Australia joined international guests from the Pacific, the US and India at the fourth Beyond Coal and Gas gathering.

In a clear win for the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMMEU), the Fair Work Commission (FWC) has ruled that Eureka Flags and other union banners can be flown from cranes on building sites.

The decision is another setback for the federal Coalition government and its industrial police force, the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC).

A contingent of Victorian Socialist members at a union rally

Clearing its first major hurdle in emphatic fashion, the Victorian Socialists gained registration as a political party in Victoria for the November 28 state election.

For a party to be registered in Victoria, a minimum of 500 people must confirm with the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) that they are members of that party.

In an email sent out to party supporters, Victorian Socialists secretary Corey Oakley thanked the members who returned their letters to the VEC confirming their membership. The VEC confirmed the party’s successful registration on June 6.

The Victorian parliament’s lower house (Legislative Assembly) voted on June 7 to create a framework for signing a treaty, or treaties, with Aboriginal people. While it still needs to pass the upper house (Legislative Council), it marks the first legislative commitment to treaty by an Australian parliament.

Earlier this year firefighters employed by the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) voted to endorse the proposed enterprise agreement that had been agreed on by MFB management and the United Firefighters Union (UFU).

This followed a long campaign by the union for an agreement that would protect workers' rights. UFU state secretary Peter Marshall told Green Left Weekly the agreement was endorsed by the "overwhelming majority" of firefighters.

Fremantle City Council agreed on May 23 to support a rise in the federal government’s Newstart Allowance paid to unemployed jobseekers, becoming the first local government in Western Australia to adopt this position.

Acting on a motion proposed by Councillor Sam Wainwright, council took this decision following the presentation of a petition of residents organised by Anti-Poverty Network Perth (APN). The petition called for Newstart to be raised to a level sufficient to allow recipients to live in dignity.

"No more chances!" was the main message some 1000 people were chanting loudly at a protest on June 9 against the live export industry as part of a national day of action.

"It is time to be kind" and "Baa baa barbaric" were some of the other messages displayed.

Photos: Alex Bainbridge

Supporters of safe access zones at abortion clinics are celebrating after the NSW Parliament voted for such zones in the early hours of June 8.

The Wollar Three outside the Mudgee Court

Charges brought against the so-called “Wollar Three” under New South Wales’ controversial anti-protest laws were dismissed by a Mudgee magistrate on June 5. However, the laws remain a threat to the right to protest.

The Wollar Three — Bev Smiles, Bruce Hughes and Stephanie Luke — were arrested on April 12 last year for protesting against the expansion of the Wilpinjong coalmine, which would expand the mine to just 1.5 kilometres from the village.

Supporters of equality will be surprised to learn that of three motions supporting abortion rights scheduled for debate at the NSW state Labor conference June 30-July 1, party officials are recommending that two be rejected and the third be sent off for further consideration.

World

Three things strike you when looking at videos and photos of the neo-fascist demonstration on June 9 in London calling for the release from prison of the Islamophobic criminal and English Defence League (EDL) co-founder Tommy Robinson, writes Andy Stowe.

Washington has a long history of using deportations to strike fear among undocumented workers. In recent years, deportations have multiplied — previous president Barack Obama became known as “Deporter in Chief”.

But President Donald Trump has greatly stepped up the drive, mainly against Latinos without papers. He has unleashed Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) to carry out indiscriminate raids where Latinos congregate, deporting the undocumented. These include those without criminal records or who are guilty of only minor offensives, often separating families.

There is plenty of evidence that the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign targeting Israel, initiated by dozens of Palestinian civil society groups in 2005 in protest against Israel’s apartheid policies, is frightening the Israeli state, writes Lisa Gleeson.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the dramatic May-June 1968 upsurge in struggle by workers and students in France. The effects of this turbulent period, writes Stanley Blair, were felt around the world — and for years to come in France.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and United States President Donald Trump met at a historic summit in Singapore on June 12 that concluded with a joint statement. Those who want peace and denuclearisation on the Korean Peninsula have welcomed the success of the summit. Though the end of the war has not been declared, a decisive step towards complete denuclearisation and an end to mutual hostilities has been taken.

The refusal by presidential candidate Henri Falcón to recognise the results bodes poorly for Nicolas Maduro’s new term as president. The consolidation of a moderate bloc within the opposition that Falcón represented — which recognises the government’s legitimacy — would have significantly cut into the strength of the more intransigent or radical parties on the right and provided Venezuelan politics with much needed stability.

At the June 8 ceremonial handing over of portfolio briefcases from outgoing conservative People’s Party (PP) ministers to their incoming Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) replacements, the contrasts were dramatic.

A bunch of reactionary lifetime political operators and religious obscurantists were replaced by what new Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez boasted was the “progressive”, “feminist” and “Europeanist” alternative.

As the numbers of Palestinians killed and injured while participating in mass non-violent resistance on the Gaza border continues to mount, Israel has sought to deflect culpability by blaming "Hamas and other Palestinian terror organisations" of "igniting a violent confrontation with Israel" through these protests.

President Daniel Ortega’s conciliatory moves in late April and May had raised hopes that tensions in Nicaragua would simmer down. Following several days of violent protests that began on April 18, Ortega called for the establishment of a roundtable dialogue to be mediated by Catholic bishops and he withdrew his social security reforms, the initial trigger for the protests. 

However, the government’s conciliatory move has been met with an unprecedented escalation of violence.

Italy’s new government is the most conservative and reactionary since World War II, writes Daniele Fulvi.

After three months of laborious negotiations, Italy finally has a new government. However, there is very little to celebrate.

The populist Five Star Movement (M5S) and the far-right Lega Nord (Northern League) came to an agreement on the government’s agenda. They won the argument against Italian President Sergio Mattarella to give the prime ministership to Giuseppe Conte, a professor and jurist who sympathises with M5S.

Analysis

The rape and murder of comedian Eurydice Dixon in Melbourne on June 12 has prompted a nationwide discussion about the endemic nature of male violence against women, as well as a push for solutions — short and long-term.

MARGARITA WINDISCH, a sexual assault councillor and educator on family violence at Victoria University, spoke to 3CR on June 18. Below is a transcript of her remarks. The full Podcast can be found here.

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The fate of more than 600 people rescued at sea by the Doctors Without Borders rescue ship Aquarius is one more example of the impact of right wing populism on human rights in Europe today.

How many more leaked internal reports into criminal-sounding behaviour of some Australian army and special forces personnel do we need to demand the occupation troops in Afghanistan and Iraq be removed — immediately?

At the recent Victorian Labor state conference, the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMMEU) delegation and the Australian Workers’ Union (AWU), Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees' Association (SDA) and Labor’s Right faction to close the conference early. That meant that a range of good motions, including for a Shorten government to close the offshore detention centres, were not debated. Union leader John Setka didn't think this was a problem but others, including rank-and-file CFMMEU members, do.

When is enough, enough? The latest assessments of the new round of tax cuts for the top end of town indicate that that they will definitely be better off.

But why, I find myself asking? How in all conscience can those with money to burn press for a bigger slice of the pie when they already have much more than they’ll ever need, at a time when there are so many living below the poverty line?

'Class consciousness is knowing which side of the fence you’re on. Class analysis is figuring out who is there with you.' — Slogan from a 1970s poster, author unknown.

The newly formed "Industrial Left" faction of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) in Victoria combined with the right at the party's state conference on May 28 to block discussion about imposing a 90 day time limit on offshore detention.

Culture

Doug McEachern’s novel follows the progress and regress of the two friends living in the 1960s as “endless acrimonious debates over militancy” pepper their student group house in inner-city North Adelaide.

Ian Angus, editor of Climate and Capitalism, takes a look at six new books of interest to ecosocialists —  from pro-corporate “environmentalism” to the struggle of indigenous peoples in Latin America and the scramble for Africa’s natural resources.

Palestinians are celebrating the news that Argentina – and its star Lionel Messi – will not be playing the “friendly” football match that had been set for Jerusalem in the coming days.

The cancellation is a huge blow to Israel and came after an intense campaign by Palestinians and their supporters, especially in Latin America and the Spanish state, urging Argentina not to help Israel whitewash its most recent massacres of unarmed civilians in Gaza.