Issue 1195

News

Comedian and radio personality Wendy Harmer tweeted recently about a dinner experience she had: “Had my Liberal-voting friends over last night who are adamant the Govt. should nationalise the banks — same position as espoused by Green Left Weekly. Weren't best pleased when I pointed this out. Fun debate :)” 

It’s no surprise people are drawing this conclusion, as more revelations from the banking royal commission show just how much the banks have screwed over customers in the name of profits.

The WestConnex privatisation “involves arguably the biggest misuse of public funds for corporate gain in Australian history”, Sydney University transport analyst Chris Standen wrote on September 3.

Standen was commenting on the August 31 announcement by the New South Wales Coalition government that it was selling off 51% of the controversial WestConnex tollway complex to a Transurban-led consortium for $9.3 billion.

An indefinite strike by 1600 workers at Alcoa in Western Australia is set to enter its second month, after a company offer was voted down by 80% of the workforce. Alcoa’s proposed enterprise agreement would mean workers would lose job security and, in some cases, up to 50% of their pay.

New Prime Minister Scott Morrison unsurprisingly revealed on September 4 that he is considering deregistering the Construction Forestry Maritime Mining and Energy Union (CFMMEU).

The reason he gave was not that the union had committed any industrial “crime”. Instead it was a Father’s Day tweet by Victorian CFMMEU state secretary John Setka.

Sources have informed Green Left Weekly that the new CEO of Barwon Health in Victoria is on the warpath and the target appears to be patient services.

Barwon Health incorporates University Hospital Geelong, Geelong’s only public hospital and the only tertiary-level hospital outside of Metropolitan Melbourne. The hospital’s catchment area extends from Werribee to the South Australian border, encompassing more than 350,000 Victorians and up to 500,000 for certain specialised treatments.

The toxic chemical blaze which started in a West Footscray factory, in Melbourne's west, on August 30, and took firefighters 17 hours to bring under control, has provoked such widespread anger that the state government has been forced to intervene.

Newcastle youth Ceder locked on to the side of a coal train in Newcastle, halting all supply heading into the world's largest coal port on September 7. Ceder was later cut loose and taken into police custody. This was the third protest action this week organised by Frontline Action on Coal against Australia’s coal industry and its contribution to global climate change.

Up to 5000 unionists marched through Sydney’s CBD on September 6 to demand the right to strike and the abolition of the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC).

Stop Adani activists are celebrating the state Labor government’s decision to prosecute the Adani-owned Abbot Point Bulkcoal for pollution violations at the time of Cyclone Debbie last year.

A study by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on labour relations in 26 developed economies, including Australia, has confirmed that workers’ real wages have fallen because labour market deregulation has “gone too far”.

The IMF researchers noted the “statistically significant, economically large and robust negative effect of deregulation” on labour’s share of national income, with workers’ share of national income falling drastically from 1975 to 2015.

Former US intelligence analyst turned whistle-blower and activist Chelsea Manning will speak via satellite from Auckland to audiences in Melbourne and Brisbane, following the Australian government's refusal to issue her with a visa on character grounds.

Sue Bolton, a socialist councillor in Melbourne, has accused Victorian authorities of deliberately minimising the threat of far-right figures.

Newcastle Police arrested a young man and woman for filming a peaceful protest on September 3, along with Sarah Barron, a Newcastle local, who had blocked all coal trains heading across Sandgate bridge for three hours. All three were taken into custody by around a dozen police, with the two who filmed the event being charged with “aiding and abetting”.

Barron was participating in “Act Up Newcastle” as part of the #EndCoal campaign initiated by Climate Justice group Frontline Action on Coal (FLAC), in collaboration with Newcastle Climate Justice Uprising.

Twelve people have died in Australian offshore detention centres in the past five years as a result of murder, suicide and medical neglect, according to Angelica Panopoulos from the Refugee Action Collective (Victoria).

Analysis

The five-year Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, which presented its findings last year, opened up a greater understanding of the problems in religious and community institutions’ dealings with children.

Events over the last few weeks have revealed just how politicised Australia’s immigration policy has become.

A 2014 military agreement means Australia is host to the United States military, from where it can launch hostilities against our neighbours in the Indo-Pacific-South East Asia region.

“Any leader of any country who believes that there is no climate change, I think he ought to be taken to mental confinement. He is utterly stupid”, Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi said on August 31.

While the debate on free speech has largely focused on the "rights" of racists and bigots, federal and state governments have been quietly passing new laws that strip citizens of the freedom of speech that is essential to democratic deliberation.

World

About 4000 Tamils rallied in Mullaitheevu on the northeast coast of the island of Sri Lanka on August 28, Tamilnet reported.

They demanded the return of land previously confiscated from its Tamil owners and given to settlers from Sri Lanka’s Sinhalese ethnic majority, as well as the abandonment of irrigation projects that will result in further Sinhalese settlements in Tamil areas.

Representatives of 74 communes — institutions of popular power elected from grassroots communal councils — from across Venezuela gathered in Lara state late last month to participate in the inaugural National Assembly of Communes, writes Paul Dobson.

The meeting of more than 300 commune activists was held to try to strengthen the connections between different communes in a range of areas. This includes linking up productive micro-projects, communicational initiatives and educational networks.

Caracas authorities denied the existence of a humanitarian crisis of Venezuelan migration in the region on August 29, blasting the reaction from neighbouring Latin American governments as “hypocritical” and “xenophobic”.

Tian Chua addressing Merdeka (independence) celebration in Sydney on September 1

Back in 1999, Tian Chua was one of the leaders of the Reformasi movement in Malaysia who was arrested and beaten up after mass protests against then National Front government of Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

But today he is vice-president of the Peoples Justice Party (PKR), the largest party in the new Alliance of Hope (Pakatan Harapan) government whose PM is the same Mahathir.

During a recent speaking tour of Australia, which coincided with Malaysian Independence Day celebrations, Tian Chua spoke about his new relationship with his former jailer.

People are “justifiably angry” that Labour’s national executive committee (NEC) decided to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism, Jewish Socialists’ Group’s Julia Bard said after the NEC voted to do so on September 4.

Jewish Socialists’ Group activist David Rosenberg said it was “no doubt a significant setback” for Jeremy Corbyn’s allies but, despite the adoption of the definition and all its 11 examples, pro-Israel MPs and groups are hesitant to call it a victory.

After decades of successfully avoiding responsibility for the consequences of its glyphosate herbicide, Monsanto has been ordered to pay US$39 million to cancer sufferer Dewayne Johnson by a San Francisco court, writes Alan Broughton.

Monsanto was also fined $250 million. This is the first of about 8000 such cases pending in the United States. Shareholders in Bayer, the huge German chemical company that purchased Monsanto in June for $60 billion, lost 10 billion euros as a consequence.

The British Labour Party’s national executive council (NEC) voted on September 4 to adopt the controversial the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism. Supporters of Palestinian liberation, including Jewish groups, have criticised the definition.

Prisoners in many states in the US began a coordinated national strike on August 21, the anniversary of the 1971 killing of Black Panther member and prison activist George Jackson by guards in an escape attempt at San Quentin prison in the San Francisco Bay Area.

In the context a mass radicalisation led by Blacks and youth, the incident became a cause célèbre in its day.

On July 6, Haiti exploded. By the tens of thousands, Haitians poured into the streets of Port-au-Prince to demand the resignation of President Jovenel Moise. Robert Roth looks at the roots of the rising that ousted the prime minister and forced a government back down.

The protests were sparked by the government’s announcement that it would cut or remove subsidies on fuel. This led to a 38% rise in petrol prices, with the price of kerosene jumping 50% to US$4 a gallon.

Culture

Secularia
Eliza Gilkyson
Red House Records
2018

In these whirling times of burning forests, unspeakable human rights violations and stupid White House tweets, it can seem like our minds are being sucked down a numbing vortex, into a voracious black hole — “the centre cannot hold”. 

Could there be light at the end of these darkest of days?  Might we still feel joy and have hope, despite all pessimistic logic?

Social Reproduction Theory
Edited by Tithi Bhattacharya
Pluto Press $45

The rise of #MeToo, the anti-rape culture movement in India, the global women’s strike and the pro-choice movements that have rocked Ireland and Argentina reveal a new generation of feminist activists organising for change. Many of the new activists may not have heard the debates from the previous upsurge — the “second wave” of feminism.