Issue 724


In the wake of a Federal Court judge finding that the Australian government wrongfully revoked the visa of Dr Mohamed Haneef, a community forum on “Anti-terror laws and your civil rights” was held in Brisbane on September 2.
On September 11, the Mudgee District Environment Group (MDEG) denounced the NSW Labor government’s approval of the Moolarben coalmine, 40 kilometres north-east of Mudgee on the Goulburn River, as “a reckless act that shows no regard for our environment, viability of our rivers and water resources, cohesion of our rural communities or global warming”.
Workers employed by the Bruck Textiles, Australia’s largest maker of woven fabrics, at its main manufacturing plant in the Victorian town of Wangaratta have twice voted to reject management’s non-union agreements that would significantly reduce their entitlements and have instead requested the company negotiate with their union, the Textile Clothing and Footwear Union (TCFUA).
On September 9, 300 people met in a community hall in the east Melbourne suburb of Scoresby to show their support for three Tamil community members who were arrested in May under the “anti-terror” laws.
On September 10, almost all Esselte workers who had struck against an attempt to impose Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs — individual contracts) went back to work with a union collective agreement. However, David Rojas, the site’s union delegate, has been sacked and barred from the workplace.
Ros Kidd, author of a new report detailing the theft of hundreds of millions of dollars from Queensland Aboriginal workers through unpaid wages over many decades, has called for part of the federal budget surplus to be used as compensation. The Hard Labour, Stolen Wages report was launched at the Irish Club on September 5.
On August 30, western Sydney charged US President George Bush with war crimes committed during the immoral and illegal occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq. Bush was also charged with the crimes of assault on the environment, crimes against civil liberties and against workers. A People’s Tribunal was held at the Parramatta Town Hall, and prosecuting witnesses included former Guantanamo Bay detainee Mamdouh Habib, Dennis Doherty (from the Anti-Bases Coalition and the Communist Party of Australia), Kamala Emanuel (environment spokesperson for the Socialist Alliance) and Ninos Tooma (Iraqi activist).
Earlier this year, three workers on 457 “guest worker” visas died on the job in separate incidents. Both the construction union (CFMEU) and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) are calling for an independent judicial enquiry into the treatment of all of the 50,000 workers on these visas. In many cases, these workers are underpaid and given heavy manual labour, rather then the skilled work that is stipulated in their visa conditions. Green Left Weekly’s Andrew Martin interviewed AMWU Queensland state secretary Andrew Dettmar, about the 457 issue.
Seventy-two Tamils from Sri Lanka who have been held in detention on the Pacific island of Nauru for more than six months were granted refugee status by the immigration department on September 12. But that does not mean they will be able to live in Australia.


A motion moved by Australian Democrats Senator Andrew Bartlett calling on the government to support the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous people was voted down in the Senate on September 10. This comes at a time when the Northern Territory intervention by the Howard Government has started to put “boots on the ground” in the NT, with few results reported from the mainstream media and serious criticism from Aboriginal and human rights groups.
“I think all these unfair tribunals and all this unfairness have to be removed”, Derek Belan, NSW state secretary of the National Union of Workers, told Green Left Weekly in response to Labor’s release of its Forward with Fairness Policy Implementation Plan in late August. “If Labor is elected, people are voting that they don’t want this stuff. There is a mandate to remove it. People are aware what this stuff means and people want it removed and Labor has to listen.”
Despite the media fanfare, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, held in Sydney on September 8 and 9, achieved next to nothing in combating global warming.
The Democratic Socialist Perspective (DSP), a Marxist tendency in the Socialist Alliance, is now calling for the immediate withdrawal of the Australian troops from East Timor. A meeting of the DSP National Committee resolved to investigate the prospects for building a public campaign around this demand. Peter Boyle, the DSP’s national secretary, explained the reasons for this decision to Green Left Weekly
Protesters’ defiance of the APEC security crackdown was clear from early on the morning of September 8 when the NSW police drove their shiny new $600,000 black water cannon, with sirens blazing, past us at Sydney Town Hall. We whistled, gave it the finger, and continued preparing for the biggest anti-war protest in Sydney in more than a year.
On August 23, NSW education minister John Della Bosca announced the state Labor government’s intention to close Macquarie Boys Technology High School in Parramatta by 2009. The school occupies a large site near Parramatta.
The following statement was issued by Beyond Zero Emissions on September 7.
Green Left Weekly’s Graham Matthews asked a number of protesters at the Stop Bush rally in Sydney what motivated them to take part.
“Mission accomplished!”, boasted NSW Premier Morris Iemma at the end of one of the most aggressive policing operations in Australia for many years. The last public official to use that phrase was US President George Bush, who had just invaded Iraq. Did Iemma mean to link the thousands of protesters in Sydney with the enemy population of Iraq?
Alex Bainbridge, chairing the Stop Bush/Make Howard History anti-APEC rally told the massing crowd that there were at least 10,000 people gathered at 11am at Sydney’s Town Hall. Despite an intensive campaign aimed at keeping people away, and provocative policing on the day, up to 15,000 people come out on September 8, asserting their right to protest against US President George Bush and Australian Prime Minister John Howard.


Public Services International (PSI), an international union federation, is calling on its affiliates to send letters of protest to the Salvadoran government following the arrest of 8 members of the executive board of the Trade Union of Nursing Workers of El Salvador, SIGEESAL, members of the Salvadoran Trade Union Front (Frente Sindical Salvadoreno). The union leaders were arrested in the city of Ahuchapan and Santa Ana, early in the morning of September 4 by members of the National Police. There are also arrest warrants issued against other union leaders as well.
“US combat deaths in Iraq have dropped by half in the two months since the buildup of 28,000 additional troops reached full strength”, Associated Press reported on August 31. In the days following, most of the US corporate media repeated this claim. But what they didn’t report was that the number of US combat deaths in June-August — a total of 264 — made it the deadliest summer for US occupation troops since the war began in March 2003. Last summer, 169 US soldiers were killed in Iraq.
Delegates at the Trades Union Congress (TUC) in Brighton gave Gordon Brown a frosty reception during his first speech to the TUC as Britain’s new Labour PM on September 10. Brown used the speech to underline his demand that pay rises in the public sector be limited to no more than 2% over the coming year.
Throughout the week, some people in Cochabamba had worried about how September 13, a date expected to involve confrontation between the supporters of the government of left-wing, indigenous President Evo Morales and the right wing, would turn out. People at work talked of a coup. Others remembered the protest on January 11 when three people were killed and some buildings burnt, worrying that the same would happen again. Some of the most right wing spoke of a campesino “invasion”.
The outcome of Timor Leste’s parliamentary election could be seen as a political victory for former president, and now prime minister, Xanana Gusmao.
The United States government has almost perfected a method of intervention that is able to penetrate and infiltrate all sectors of civil society in countries that it deems to be of economic and strategic interest. In the case of oil-rich Venezuela — in the middle of a process of transformation led by socialist President Hugo Chavez that is adversely affecting the interests of US corporations — this strategy began to take form in 2002.
Violent police repression mixed with President Michelle Bachelet’s bizarre assertion that the right to protest still exists in Chile has been the government’s response to the national Unitary Worker’s Council (CUT) day of protest against neoliberalism, held on August 29. Claims by the governing Socialist-Christian Democrat alliance to be politically “centre-left” now look weaker than at any point in its 16-year reign, given its incapacity to address the underlying political and economic causes that lead to the CUT protest.
Twenty-five years ago this September — after its 1982 invasion of Lebanon had achieved its military objectives by forcing an evacuation of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) to Tunisia — Israel unleashed the Lebanese Christian Phalangist militia on the defenceless civilians of Beirut refugee camps Sabra and Shatila. Under the Israeli occupation of West Beirut, the Phalangists, armed by and in liaison with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), carried out a three-day spree of killing and rape, massacring an estimated 3000 Palestinian and Lebanese civilians.
On September 7, the weekly demonstration in the Palestinian West Bank village of Bilin against Israel’s apartheid wall became a celebration. Protesters danced and sang as they marched to the wall. Three days earlier, the Israeli Supreme Court had ordered the Israeli defence ministry to re-route 1.7 kilometres of the 703-km wall, which has been declared illegal by the International Court of Justice.
Eighty mostly young Cambodians and a smattering of resident foreigners gathered on September 12 for the opening of the House of Friendship with Cuba (Casa Cuba). Casa Cuba is the initiative of the Association of Cambodians Graduated in Cuba.
During the last week of August, more than 3000 workers at the state-controlled Chengdu Power company went on strike at their diesel engines producing plant in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, and protested at the city government offices. The action was a bid to pressure the factory management to honour the original agreement under which working conditions would be changed while the company is restructured for privatisation.
For Bolivia’s indigenous majority there is no going back. The election in 2005 of Bolivia’s first indigenous president, Evo Morales, marked a watershed — a before and after in Bolivia’s history — after more than 500 years of struggle against imperialism and colonialism. It marked a conscious step forward by Bolivia’s indigenous majority in its struggle for justice and equality.
“The innovative offer by the government of Ecuador to refrain from exploiting its largest oil reserve, in exchange for international compensation for nature conservation, is attracting increasing support”, according to an August 23 IPS article. The initiative relates to the untapped Ishpingo-Tiputini-Tambococha (ITT) oil reserve, which is located in Yasuni National Park in the Amazon. According IPS, the park is one of the world’s most biodiverse regions. It was created in 1979 and covers 982,000 hectares.


I'd like to thank the students from the schools, For getting off their stools, And coming out to protest against these tools. The old, the young, The weak, the strong. No more pain, Stop their reign. Confront – get out there! Walk
Revised and Updated Edition By Eric Hobsbawm
Abacus, 2007
368 pages, $27.95(pb)
Fanning discontent’s Flames: Australian Wobbly Poetry, Scurrilous Doggerel and Song, 1914-2007
Corrosive Press, 2007
43 pages, $2
Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten
Directed by Julien Temple
Dendy Films, 123 minutes


Saturday September 8 was another red banner day for people’s power.


Bethlehem connection Your article "Marrickville and Bethlehem twinned" (GLW #723) made two inaccurate statements which it is important to correct. It claimed that the visas of the Bethlehem delegation were delayed "due to complaints" made by me.


US President George Bush will add Sydney to the long list of cities that have greeted him with mass demonstrations demanding an end to the war on Iraq. PM John Howard will remember APEC as the summit that failed to bolster his domestic support.