Issue 719

News

Around 50 workers from the Fosters brewery at Yatala, south of Brisbane, and their supporters rallied outside the Carlton United Brewery (CUB) head office in Fortitude Valley on July 27 in support of their campaign for a union agreement. The protesters held up placards and waved to passing traffic, who honked their support.
Three-hundred people packed Griffith University’s Multi-Faith Centre on July 22 for an emergency community forum in support of Mohamed Haneef and democratic rights.
On July 21 the East/Hills branch of the Socialist Alliance pre-selected Annolies Truman to run for the seat of Pearce in the up-coming federal election.
Pharmaceutical giants have put profits before lives when it comes to Third World people’s access to HIV medications, Andrew Hewett, executive director of Oxfam Australia, said.
Personnel in the Australian navy have broken down and cried while carrying out duties that include repelling refugees from Australian waters, according to documents released under Freedom of Information laws and reported on by the July 22 Sun-Herald.
The Socialist Alliance’s New South Wales state conference, held in Newcastle on July 21, emphasised the struggle against global warming and against the Howard government’s hated Work Choices legislation.
About 400 Tamils gathered in the city square on July 25 to commemorate the death of an estimated 4000 people in the anti-Tamil riots that occurred throughout Sri Lanka in July 1983.
On July 26, around 200 angry students and staff from the University of Melbourne (MU) arts faculty and the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) protested the university’s butchering of its arts courses. The protest was in response to the university’s decision to ram through the “Melbourne Model”, an elitist, US-style graduate system aimed at reducing student/staff numbers and subject choices, which would create a two-tiered education system.
The NSW Labor government’s cabinet, once again intoning the chant of “terrorism”, has agreed to introduce compulsory DNA testing for anyone arrested for any offence. The leaked cabinet decision was reported in the June 22 Sydney Sun-Herald.

Analysis

On July 23, the Australian published extracts from a leaked internal Australian Council of Trade Unions report that described unionisation in the private sector as being at “crisis levels”. The report, authored by ACTU assistant secretary Chris Walton, warns unions against any expectation of a “golden age” should Labor be elected at the forthcoming federal election, and proposes continuation of a levy on all members to build a war chest with which to rebuild the movement.
Within a week of the revelation that Australia is planning to join the US-led Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) nuclear fuel cartel, foreign minister Alexander Downer publicly proposed that Australia sell uranium to nuclear-armed India, even though India is not a signatory to the international Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
At a time when it is pretending to improve conditions for people in the Northern Territory’s remote Aboriginal communities, the federal Coalition government is phasing out the Community Development Employment Projects (CDEPs). The announcement was made in the May federal budget papers, but has also been integrated into the new NT intervention plan, announced by PM John Howard on June 24.
Yappera Children’s Services Co-operative, an Indigenous childcare and pre-school centre in Thornbury, faces closure due to the state and federal governments’ refusal to provide the $150,000 required for essential plumbing repairs.
Sixty people held a colourful protest on the steps of the Victorian state parliament on July 18, as part of a long-running campaign to have the Tullamarine toxic waste dump closed and the site cleaned up. The dump, which is operated by the Cleanaway corporation, is located adjacent to Tullamarine airport. It is within 1.5 kilometres of the suburb of Westmeadows and is close to other residential areas.
Federal ALP leader Kevin Rudd took a further step to the right on July 23 when he announced full support for logging old-growth forests in Tasmania. Rudd also announced his support for Gunns Ltd’s $2 billion pulp mill project proposed for the Tamar Valley, north of Launceston, in the federal electorate of Bass.
A representative of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) was welcomed by a large crowd packed into a Sydney University lecture theatre on July 26.
Shortly after midnight on July 29, Indian Muslim doctor Mohamed Haneef boarded a flight in Brisbane to be reunited with his wife in Bangalore and meet his newly born daughter for the first time, as he was trying to do at the time of his arrest at Brisbane Airport on July 2. The previous evening, he had been released from jail, after federal Director of Public Prosecutions Damien Bugg announced he was dropping all charges, conceding that the “anti-terrorism” case against the Gold Coast Hospital registrar had collapsed. “On my view of this matter a mistake has been made”, Bugg told a media conference.

World

The Venezuelan revolution, led by socialist President Hugo Chavez, has captured the imagination of millions of people around the world with its increasingly successful challenge to US imperialism and US-backed neoliberal policies that have caused widespread impoverishment across Latin America. Since Chavez’s re-election in December on an explicitly socialist platform, there has been a struggle to significantly “deepen” the revolutionary process towards creating a “socialism of the 21st century”.
Various leaders of Venezuela’s primary pro-government labour union, the National Workers Union (UNT), have called on all sectors of the organisation to join together and hold elections later this year. At a press conference on July 17, labour leaders Marcela Maspero and Orlando Chirino invited all sectors of the UNT to a general meeting on July 26 to organise general elections and, in that way, unite the principal labour union of the country that has remained divided in recent years.
Although slated to run on July 20-28, the Zapatista “Intergalactica” gathering really began on July 19 in Tuxtla Gutierrez, with an event in the main square in support of the People in Defence of the Land. Several busloads of Zapatistas from Mexico City arrived to join those already there in demanding indigenous land rights.
“In weighing how to deal with the al Qaeda threat in Pakistan, American officials have been meeting in recent weeks to discuss what some said was emerging as an aggressive new strategy, one that would include both public and covert elements”, the July 18 New York Times reported following the release the previous day of the public version of a new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Islamist terrorist threats to the US.
On July 26, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) issued a call for their affiliates to join an international day of action on August 9 to protest the imprisonment of two trade union leaders in Iran. Mansour Osanloo, president of the Tehran bus workers’ union, Sandikaye Kargarane Sherkate Vahed, has for the third time over the past year-and-a-half found himself in detention. The latest arrest took place after he was abducted while travelling on a Tehran bus on July 10. He is being held in Evin prison, charged with “conspiring against national security”.
On the evening of July 24, New Zealand hospital workers claimed a major victory against the aggressive industrial tactics of Australian company Spotless Services.
In the lead-up to Indonesia’s 2009 elections, a new left party has been formed. The National Liberation Party of Unity (Papernas) was founded on the basis of three main demands: the cancellation of Indonesia’s foreign debt, the nationalisation of the minerals sector, including oil and gas, and national industrialisation.
Michael Moore’s Sicko, released in the US on June 22, has already become one of the five highest grossing documentaries of all time. Predictably, the film’s withering attack on the US’s profit-driven health-care system has elicited a strong response from apologists for neoliberalism. The following article on the reaction to Moore’s film originally appeared as an editorial in the US Socialist Worker.
Protests involving more than a million students shook the streets and classrooms of Chile in mid-2006. This movement, also known as the “penguins’ revolution” (after high school students’ black jacket and white shirt uniform), arose in response to the continued neoliberal approach to education in the country.
In an attempt to bolster the regime of Fatah leader and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Israel and the US have proposed a plan to “kick start” the “peace” process by rehashing the Olso Accords and the “Road Map to Peace”.
“Seven of the most important Sunni-led insurgent organisations fighting the US occupation in Iraq have agreed to form a public political alliance with the aim of preparing for negotiations in advance of an American withdrawal”, the July 19 British Guardian reported it was told by leaders of the groups.
Denouncing the congress as “rubbish” and a “national disgrace”, left-wing Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa called on the upcoming constituent assembly, for which there will be elections held on September 30, to dissolve the body, which is widely viewed as corrupt. The calls came after the opposition-controlled congress amended a number of recent laws introduced by the executive to curb unprecedented rises in the price of food.
The campaign to isolate Israel through boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) has taken meaningful steps forward in the past few months, with major trade unions in Britain, Ireland, South Africa and Canada declaring their support for an international boycott.

Culture

White Moth
Xavier Rudd
Universal, 2007
14 tracks, $22.99
Hard Choices: Unchain My Heart — The story of a Burmese refugee who has voluntarily shackled himself in chains to draw attention to the plight of his suffering homeland. SBS, Friday, August 3, 3.30pm.
Justice for the Innocent: A Benefit Gig for the Doomadgee Family of Palm Island
The Arena, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane, August 11
Tickets $42 + booking fee available from music shops and <http://www.oztix.com.au>
<http://www.myspace.com/justicefortheinnocent07>
Yesterday Sergeant Chris Hurley
Walked smooth hair and broad-shouldered from the courtroom.
His stride was confident but his nostrils
flared ever-so-slightly
his face flushed the crude red of triumph
by the all-white jury.
But Mulrunji is dead.
Left to bleed his severed vessels
into his own body until
his life ebbed away
in the red flow.
Did you hear the low sobs of past thousands
echo in the island watchhouse?
And are you watching, Australia?
(What a clever trick)
Because we all got off
when Hurley got off.
@auth poem = by Laura Ealing
The Culture Struggle
By Michael Parenti
Seven Stories Press, 2006
143 pages, US$12.95 (pb)
<http://www.sevenstories.com>
A Power Governments Cannot Suppress
By Howard Zinn
City Lights Books, 2007
293 pages, US$16.95
<http://www.akpress.org>

General

It has been 37 years since the Vietnam War ended, but you don’t have to look far to see the scars of that war — people who have lost limbs, people suffering deformities from the extensive use of chemical defoliants such as Agent Orange by the US military.

Letters

Dental care funding Green Left Weekly renders a great service to the labour movement by publishing news that the millionaire ruling class do not want us to know anything about. One illustration concerns the achievements being made in

Resistance!

The following is abridged from a speech given by Paola Harvey to a people’s trial of US President George Bush, organised by the Stop Bush committee in Wollongong on June 23. Harvey is a Resistance member and helped initiate last year’s Walk against Warming rally in Wollongong.
The fact that we live in a sexist society was brought home in July by the publication of a study titled Youth Cultures of Eating, which found that one in five women suffer from an eating disorder. The study, funded by the Australian Research Council, compared data collected in 2000 and 2006 from interviews with 8950 young people.