Issue 1192

Australia

Activists took to the streets against new anti-protest laws which could make it illegal to try and stop government-inspired destruction.

There are many ways to fix New South Wales — currently plagued by cuts, privatisations and tollway madness — participants at a socialist activist conference concluded on August 12. The day-long discussion ended with the election of a team of Socialist Alliance candidates to contest for the NSW Legislative Council in the March 2019 elections.

Residents and workers are fighting to save a little urban oasis.

Critics are alarmed that the Queensland state government has announced plans to turn the Southern Queensland Correctional Centre, run by notorious British company Serco, into a private women’s prison.

A nuclear waste facility site is on the cards for South Australia. But the majority of people have come out strongly against what they see as a natural disaster coming their way.

About 500 people bearing handmade lanterns and banners marched through Sydney on August 11 to protest the state Coalition government's multi-billion dollar transport privatisation and road tollway scams.

International students handed over thousands of signed petitions calling for travel concessions for international students to Greens MLC Mehreen Faruqi outside state parliament on August 14.

New South Wales is the only state that does not provide travel concessions for international students.

Victorian Socialists, as trenchant anti-racists, share the disgust and outrage of many at the speech made by Katter’s Australian Party senator Fraser Anning on August 14.

In the context of calling for the reintroduction of White Australia and acceptance of racial discrimination, particularly targeting Muslims, we cannot believe the term “final solution” was used by Anning with any intention but to invoke Goebbels. This was the speech of a fascist. 

Nearly 100 workers at Note Printing Australia (NPA) in Craigieburn, which is owned by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), were locked out by their employer on August 10.

The workers have been campaigning for a wage rise of 3.5%. Their demand is in line with the appeal made by RBA Governor Philip Lowe to federal parliament in February, when he said that a generalised wage rise of 3.5% would help stimulate economic activity.

Many people think that university students have it all — time to read, think, sit in the sun and socialise — but that's just a mirage conjured up by glossy advertising.

The reality is vastly different.

More than 100 people attended a forum about Indigenous youth incarceration and education on August 8. Discussion focused on the links between the education system and skyrocketing imprisonment rates among young Indigenous people — dubbed the “school-prison pipeline”.

More than three years after Category 4 Cyclone Lam lashed the Galiwin’ku community on Elcho Island, residents are asking why the rebuild is taking so long.

World

Of the many world-shaking events that took place in 1968, high on the list was the movement for reform in Czechoslovakia to create a democratic socialist alternative to the Stalinist bureaucratic dictatorships that ruled the Soviet bloc. Chris Slee takes a look at the movement, which was dramatically ended by a Soviet Union-led invasion.

On the night of August 20/21, 1968, tanks from the armies of the Soviet Union, Poland, Hungary and Bulgaria rolled into Czechoslovakia. The aim of the invaders was to crush a movement for reform.

Observing the aftermath of the July 30 elections in Zimbabwe is like watching the remake of a movie. You know the ending, but watch to see how the new actors play their role and if there are any new twists.

The basic Zimbabwe storyline is that the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic front (ZANU-PF) has never lost an election since it took power after the liberation war ended in 1980.

The historic candlelight movement of 2016-17 that brought down the corrupt government of president Park Geunhye finally turned South Korea from one of the most reactionary anti-communist regime into a normal democracy. However, the recent debate over Yemenis refugees has revealed the naked face of deep-seated racism of many Koreans, writes Youngsu Won.

For the second time this year, Facebook suspended TeleSUR English’s page on August 13, Common Dreams said the next day.

After supports of the left-wing Latin American site campaigned against the removal, Facebook restored it on August 15, TeleSUR English said that day.

The latest campaign against British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn centres around the veteran anti-racist campaigner’s alleged anti-Semitism. Among the ongoing claims, Corbyn is denying allegations he laid a wreath at grave the killers of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

As well as the latest attack on Corbyn, it is clear the allegations are also aimed at demonising all solidarity with Palestine and support for a genuine peace based on justice.

The increasingly strident charges of anti-Semitism within Labour, and the widening circle of targets, have by now departed from all reality.

A United Nations report has called for an investigation of human rights violations in the divided South Asian territory of Kashmir.

Gaza’s fuel crisis remained unresolved a week after a United Nations humanitarian official warned on August 8 that hospitals and water sanitation facilities would soon shut down as a result.

Egyptian-French Marxist academic Samir Amin passed away aged 86 on August 12. The man who introduced the concept of “Eurocentrism” was, writes Nick Dearden, one of the world’s greatest radical thinkers.

Analysis

Socialist groups and community activists of different stripes have come together under the banner of Victorian Socialists in one of the most ambitious bids in decades to get a socialist elected to state parliament. Green Left Weekly’s Jacob Andrewartha spoke to Stephen Jolly, Victorian Socialists’ lead candidate for the upper house Northern Metropolitan seat, about this initiative.

Last September, while campaigning for the position of Lord Mayor of Newcastle and a ward councillor, I bumped into an NSW Labor Party officer at a coffee shop.

“Comrade”, he said, “You’ve got some great policies”. “Feel free to borrow any of them,” I relied cheekily. “Our housing policy, for example, is based on Socialist Alliance councillor Sue Bolton's work in Moreland, Victoria.”

The next day the local papers reported that ALP candidates were talking up “affordable housing”.

It says a lot about the state of politics today that the worst thing following the Murdoch-owned Sky News interview with neo-Nazi Blair Cottrell on immigration earlier this month, was not that a media outlet was giving a fascist a platform. The worst thing was that Cottrell’s comments were indistinguishable from those of other mainstream media outlets and elected politicians.

In the very early hours of Sunday, July 29, the federal government carried out a highly secretive transport of spent nuclear fuel. Helicopters and hundreds of police accompanied trucks from the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology’s reactor at Lucas Heights to Port Kembla in New South Wales. 

Social media has become integrated into workers’ daily lives yet there are few industrial agreements that remunerate them for the changes this has brought about in their working conditions, writes Geelong Trades Hall Council secretary Colin Vernon.

The Newstart Allowance received by Australia’s jobless (if they are lucky enough to get it) stands at $273 a week. The last time it was raised, relative to the Consumer Price Index, was in 1994. Last year, the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research calculated the poverty line for a single adult was at around $510 a week (including housing costs). That corresponds to a present figure of about $521. This means Newstart is now $248 a week below that miserably low poverty line.

Culture

An exciting and innovative new children’s TV series was launched on NITV on August 13 as part of National Science Week.