Issue 1198

Australia

Three hundred Brazilians and their supporters took part in a solidarity action near Sydney's Opera House on September 30 to protest against Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil's far-right frontrunner in the October 7 presidential elections. 

Pat, a 16-year-old Aboriginal boy, was killed on September 28, 1983, after a fight erupted between a drunken off-duty police officer and local Aboriginal people in Roebourne, Western Australia. Pat was passing by at the time and was drawn into the melee by police. Pat was subsequently struck by a police officer, falling backwards and hitting his head on the pavement. Denied medical assistance, he died a just a little more than an hour after he was locked up. 

Refugee advocates are campaigning to stop the deportation of Huyen Tran, a Vietnamese woman who fled her home country by boat due to religious persecution in 2011.

Voters in two key Queensland seats will have the chance to vote for grassroots socialist candidates at the next federal election.

Medical practitioner Kamala Emanuel and community activist Mike Crook have been endorsed as the Socialist Alliance candidates for Brisbane and Lilley, respectively.

Workers at Esso’s Longford gas plant in Victoria have been picketing for more than 470 days after the company sacked 230 workers and demanded they reapply for their jobs under a new agreement that would slash pay and conditions.

About 200 general and academic staff rallied at the University of Sydney on October 3 against management plans to cut jobs and services in the professional support staff area.

About 100 people attended an election forum on transport in the Moreland local council area with some candidates on September 27. The Victorian election is on November 24.

Workers from five Alcoa sites throughout Western Australia voted at a mass meeting in Pinjarra on September 28 to end their seven-week strike. The vote occurred after the Australian Workers’ Union (AWU), which covers the 1600 Alcoa workers, secured an agreement guaranteeing job security and ensuring that no workers would be replaced through casualisation, contracting or labour-hire companies.

The Electrical Trades Union (ETU) Western Australia branch has tightened the screws on the Australian Labor Party over its betrayal on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP-11) agreement.

More than 1700 delegates from 40 unions attended a mass meeting at the Melbourne Convention Centre on September 25, where they voted to hold an all-unions march and rally next month. Present at the mass delegates meeting were unions covering workers in the health, construction, education, public, transport and manufacturing sectors, among others.

The Victorian road lobby is at it again. Fresh from being defeated on the East-West Link, the rent-seeking tollroad builders have been given a construction gift in the form of a massive new project in Melbourne’s east.

The Victorian Labor government wants to hand over part of Federation Square to the corporate giant Apple. The community resistance is building.

World

What is happening in Syria? More than half a million people have died since the war in Syria began in 2011. Five million Syrians have sought refuge abroad and more than 6 million have been internally displaced.

Tens of thousands of Brazilian women took to the streets on September 29 to protest against the misogynist politics of Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right candidate in Brazil’s October 7 presidential race.

In 2009, 20 years after the negotiated end to a brutal civil war, the left-wing Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), former guerrillas turned political party, finally won the presidency of El Salvador. But, writes David Grosser, with the second FMLN administration nearing its end, a third term after next year’s presidential vote is very much in doubt.

United States President Donald Trump and the Republican Party are trying to ram through a coup, writes Barry Sheppard. Running roughshod over multiple allegations of sexual assault and insulting the women involved, they seek to solidify a far-right majority of five out of nine members on the Supreme Court for the next several decades.

The struggle to defend a 200-hectare forest has sparked Germany’s biggest environmental protests for at least a decade.

The Hambacher Forest (aka “Hambi”) is the last remaining corner of a much larger area of woodland that has been eaten up by a huge open-cut lignite mine, owned by European energy giant RWE.

Lignite is the dirtiest form of coal in terms of pollution. The lignite-fired power stations around the mine form the biggest sources of airborne pollution in the European Union.

McDonald’s workers in 10 cities across the United States walked off the job on September 18 to demand an end to sexual harassment in the workplace, writes Ann Coleman.

A march of almost 200,000 people in Barcelona on October 1 marked the first anniversary of Catalonia’s independence referendum.

Pro-independence Catalans commemorated the first anniversary of the banned vote, which had to defy heavy repression as the Spanish state sought to stop it taking place. Despite a brutal crackdown by the Spanish police that left 900 people injured, most who voted backed independence.

The British Labour Party took a radical, anti-austerity manifesto to last year’s general elections and, despite polls and media commentators expecting an unprecedented disaster, came close to winning, denying the ruling Conservatives a majority. Despite this success, attempts to attack and sabotage Labour’s socialist leader Jeremy Corbyn, and the ranks that support his vision, have continued. Michael Calderbank takes a look at what took place and what it means for the party’s future.

Italy is going through important and agitated days, writes Daniele Fulvi, with the government coalition issuing two crucial decrees concerning immigration and economy.

Analysis

Queensland parliament will finally start debating whether to make abortion legal on October 16.

The interim report of Royal Commissioner Kenneth Hayne on the crimes and greed of the Big Four banks underlines the urgent need to radically overhaul the banking and financial system.

The recent crisis at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, with the sacking of managing director Michelle Guthrie and the resignation of board chair Justin Milne, is best understood by realising that neither were friends of the national public broadcaster, writes Alex Bainbridge.

United States President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court appointee Brett Kavanaugh probably never expected he would become a central target of the #MeToo movement for his misogynist behaviour in his university years.

Minister for Families and Social Services Paul Fletcher announced on September 26 that the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) had reached the milestone of registering its 200,000th participant. That same day, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that the final figures for the 2017-18 federal budget showed the budget deficit had been reduced to $10.1 billion, with "the single biggest saving [being] the lower than expected numbers of participants entering the NDIS.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has made a disingenuous pitch for “unity” and “honesty” in response to Byron Bay Council’s decision on September 20 not to celebrate Australia Day, in deference to the hurt it engenders to Indigenous peoples.

Culture

Sunburnt Country: The History & Future of Climate Change in Australia
By Joelle Gergis
Melbourne University Press, 2018

This is a very readable book written by a climatologist, an expert on the weather in the Southern Hemisphere from the University of Melbourne, writes Coral Wynter.

From taxing tech firms to pay the license fee to creating a new British Digital Corporation (BDC), the Alternative MacTaggart Lecture by British Labour’s socialist leader Jeremy Corbyn  in August  unveiled an array of potential new Labour  digital policies, writes Nick Webb.

These proposals are not yet official party policy, but they give a good sense of where Labour’s leadership is headed as it develops its offering ahead of a potential Brexit-related snap election.

Empire of the Tsars: Romanov Russia
Three part series presented by Lucy Worsley
Available on SBS On Demand until October 10

This three-part series examines the history of Russia’s most famous royal family, the Romanovs. This is a useful introduction to a topic for those wanting to know more about the conditions that led to the 1917 Russian Revolution.

The Romanovs rose to power in 1613 after the collapse of the previous Rurik dynasty that ruled Russia for 700 years. The tsars were absolute monarchs with enormous power.