Issue 725

News

The inaugural Tropical Pride Festival was held at Cairns’ Tanks Art Centre on September 16. The night before the festival, for the first time a gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) contingent — consisting of 50 people — marched in the festival’s Cairns Parade of Lights, watched by some 10,000 people.
Labor has retained the seats vacated by former Victorian premier Steve Bracks and deputy premier John Thwaites. The results of the recent Williamstown and Albert Park by-elections confirmed the ALP’s Wade Noonan (a former Transport Workers’ Union assistant secretary) and Martin Foley (former state secretary of the Australian Services Union, who is chief of staff to Victorian police minister Bob Cameron) as respective successful candidates.
More than 500 people rallied in Darwin on September 15 to support the rights of Indigenous people in the Northern Territory and to oppose the federal government’s intervention into NT Indigenous communities.
Alex Bainbridge, a prominent organiser of the “Stop Bush” protest during the September APEC summit, will head the Socialist Alliance’s NSW Senate team. Others on the ticket are Susan Price, a National Tertiary Education Union branch activist at the University of New South Wales; environmentalist and feminist doctor Kamala Emanuel; and Wollongong University student and anti-war activist Tim Dobson.
The Socialist Alliance has launched a “climate change roadshow” to promote its radical policy of a 60% reduction in greenhouse emissions by 2020 and a 90% reduction by 2030.
A peaceful community assembly was held on Friday September 21 outside the Melbourne headquarters of Incitec Pivot Limited. Of the three Australian companies importing phosphate from Morocco sourced in Western Sahara, IPL has the largest share of the superphosphate market.
Around 200 people, including a dozen parliamentarians, rallied in front of the Western Australian parliament on September 18 to demand a closing of the mortality gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. At present, Aboriginal Australians die 17 years earlier than non-Aboriginal Australians.
“Each night we wonder whether we will see the morning, or if a tidal wave or tsunami might wash us away in the night”, Bernard Tunim of the Carteret Islands community in Papua New Guinea told a public meeting on September 19 organised by Friends of the Earth (FoE) and Oxfam Australia.
After an inquiry ordered by NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione cleared police of any wrongdoing during the September 8 APEC protest against US President George Bush, Human Rights Monitors have published more than 200 photos of officers who failed to wear visible identification.

Analysis

A damning report on the impact of Work Choices on workers in the retail and hospitality industries in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria — Lowering the Standards, released on September 13 — documents how quickly employers have acted to legally strip wages and conditions of workers in these sectors, even though the government claims many of these conditions are “protected by law”.
In an interview with the Australian Financial Review on September 17, Jeff Lawrence, the new secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), said that under a Rudd Labor government, unions would seek to engage constructively with businesses and employer groups. “There won’t be any targeting of employers who have used AWAs [individual contracts] … I specifically rule that out”, he said.
On September 8, Tim Gooden spoke to Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) Sydney branch secretary Warren Smith for the Geelong Trades Hall’s Union Air community radio program. The interview took place at the protest that day against the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit and US President George Bush.
Having previously written a critique of the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict which examined it’s “democratic” associations (GLW #722), I was amazed to discover that Professor Stephen Zunes presently serves as the chair of their board of academic advisors. Amazed because this information was news to me as the ICNC’s academic advisors are not available on its website, and also that a progressive academic like Zunes would become associated with the ICNC.
Following a meeting in Alice Springs on September 12-14, attended by some 100 Aboriginal people from across Australia, a new, independent political body for Aboriginal Australians is being established, the National Aboriginal Alliance.
The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union’s Western Australian branch has been organising Filipino workers employed in WA on section 457 visas. Joel Asphar, the AMWU organiser responsible for this work, told Green Left Weekly that “the campaign to recruit and organise these workers was not something we decided to do. It was out of necessity. I was responsible for the workshops south of the Swan river and there were 550 Filipino workers on 457 visas.”
An inconvenient truth "America's elder statesman of finance, Alan Greenspan, has shaken the White House by declaring that the prime motive for the war in Iraq was oil. In his long-awaited memoir, to be published tomorrow, Greenspan, a Republican
Independent journalist and film-maker John Pilger has just released a new film, The War on Democracy. Set in Latin America and the US, the film outlines the US-led destruction of democracy in successive Latin American countries since the 1950s and the significant reversal of that tide today. The film includes an exclusive interview with Venezuela’s socialist President Hugo Chavez. Green Left Weekly’s Emma Murphy spoke to Pilger about the issues raised in the film.
The Socialist Alliance’s new Welfare Rights Charter was launched on September 14 to an enthusiastic audience at the Southport Community Centre.
This statement was issued by Sam Watson, leading Indigenous activist and Socialist Alliance Senate candidate for Queensland. To sign or comment of the statement, or to view what others have said, visit .
In early August, NSW Premier Morris Iemma announced plans to build a new gas-fired baseload power station. He proudly stated that this power station would have lower emissions than the coal-fired alternative.
That opinion poll results, released on September 18, showing the Howard government trailing the ALP opposition by 10% were widely reported as good news for the federal government is an indication of the dire straits that the Liberal-National Coalition is in. While these figures do represent a comeback from those of the previous week, which had the Coalition 18% behind the ALP, the government has consistently been more than 10% behind the opposition all year.

World

As fears of violence and talk of secession and civil war fade, and a fragile calm descends over this Andean country, Bolivia’s first indigenous president, Evo Morales, celebrated an important milestone. Completing 19 months and three weeks in office, Morales has surpassed the length of time in power of his four predecessors — not including the two who were forced to step down even before being sworn in.
The following statement was issued on September 17 by the Democratic Socialist Perspective, a Marxist tendency in Australia’s Socialist Alliance.
Next month, a representative of the foreign ministry of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela will visit Australia to address the Latin America and Asia Pacific International Solidarity Forum in Melbourne on October 11-14.’s, Green Left Weekly’s Jim McIlroy and Coral Wynter conducted an interview in Caracas last November with Venezuelan vice-minister for Asia, the Middle East and Oceania, Vladimir Villegas. Villegas talked about the Venezuelan government’s revolutionary approach to international relations.
On September 13 Britain’s Trade Union Congress (TUC) reaffirmed its solidarity with Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution at its annual conference, backing Venezuela’s decision not to renew the public-broadcast license of the private TV station Radio Caracas Television (RCTV), which had “supported the military coup [in 2002] against the democratically elected government of Venezuela”.
A massive drop in Arctic sea ice during this year’s northern summer has opened up the Northwest Passage — a sea route that passes between the frozen Arctic region and northern Canada that could provide a quicker shipping route between Europe and Asia than previously allowed by either the Suez Canal or the Panama Canal — for the first time since satellite recordings began in 1978.
Since Beijing’s push to speed-up privatisation in the mid-1990s, left-leaning intellectuals in China have increasingly made use of Dushu (Readings), a monthly discussion magazine, as a platform to challenge this policy direction and Beijing’s overall pro-capitalist agenda. They highlighted the horrific social consequences of Beijing’s course and have generated waves of debates on the way forward for China.
The images on the television screen are now so familiar we become immune. Unimaginable numbers of people suffering and dying in a part of the world we know little about for reasons we know even less. What is it that we feel? Sadness, pity, a sense of anger, a sense of hopelessness? So we make the right noises, perhaps make a donation to the relevant charity and move on to the next news item. Yet the people suffering are just like us; the only difference is that we are lucky enough to have been born here.
Based on a new household survey conducted in Iraq in August, the British Opinion Research Business (ORB) polling agency estimates that the Iraqi death toll from the four-and-half year US war exceeds 1.2 million.
On September 12, Sheikh Abdul Sattar Abu Risha, a US-backed former crime boss in Iraq’s Anbar province, was killed by a roadside bomb that struck his convoy in the western province’s capital of Ramadi. Sattar died 10 days after he was feted by US President George Bush at a giant US air base in Anbar.
Tens of thousands of people marched in Washington, DC, on September 15 demanding an end to the US war in Iraq. Pennsylvania Avenue was filled shoulder to shoulder from the White House, where the action began, to the Capitol building. The turnout was larger than expected, a shot in the arm for anti-war activists.
The following statement was originally posted on , in response to the current US-backed campaign of destabilisation against the democratically-elected government of President Evo Morales, Bolivia’s first indigenous president, elected in December 2005 with just under 54% of the vote. Visit the site to add your name.
On August 15, the cities of Ica and Pisco located in the southern region of Peru were hit by a massive earthquake registering 7.9 on the Richter scale. This was the first quake recorded in living history in this area. It resulted in the loss of 540 lives, and immense physical destruction; 80% of buildings within the heart of Pisco collapsed, and more than 16000 people were left without housing and basic services.
A Louisiana appeals court threw out the only remaining conviction against Mychal Bell, the first of the Jena 6 to be put on trial in an example of modern-day Jim Crow injustice that has stunned people around the globe.
On September 12, the new East Timorese government led by Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao, tabled the Government Program for 2007-12. The coalition Parliamentary Majority Alliance (AMP) believes the program will help alleviate poverty and resolve internal unrest and security issues. “Everything is urgent for this nation, [and] we are defining priorities for the short term”, Gusmao told parliament.

Culture

Communism and Football — Throughout the 20th century, the football grounds of Eastern Europe became political battlegrounds. SBS, Friday, September 28, 8.30pm. Message Stick: Cape Expectations — The small Cape York Indigenous community of
The Bourne Ultimatum
Directed by Paul Greengrass
Starring Matt Damon & Julia Stiles
111 minutes
Screening nationally
The War on Democracy
Directed by John Pilger & Chris Martin
96 minutes
In limited release nationally
http://www.warondemocracy.net
The Molotov’s new track “Terror Nullius” comments on how “white Australia” treats its first people and rejects the lie that Australia was ever an empty land (terra nullius). With a pumping rock/dance beat, didgeridoo bass lines (from Dave-J), heavy guitars and spitfire lyrics, “Terror Nullius” calls on all Australians to fight for “a fair go” for Murri, Koori and all Indigenous Australians. Vote for this song and hear it played on Triple J by visiting http://www.triplejunearthed.com/themolotov. The song can also be downloaded at http://www.myspace.com/themolotov1.

General

Thanks to the generosity and hard work of Green Left Weekly’s supporters, we have raised $155,467 for our Fighting Fund this year. Over the next three months we need to raise $94,500 to reach our target. Every bit our readers do — whether through making donations or organising and/or attending our fundraising events — will be critical.
Renowned dissident journalist John Pilger will give greetings at the September 29 Green Left Weekly dinner in Sydney. The dinner will celebrate the fantastic victory that took place during APEC, when up to 15,000 people took to the streets in the face of unprecedented police intimidation and will help raise money for Green Left Weekly.

Letters

Nuclear power I In the May-June 2007 edition of New Left Review, George Monbiot wrote: "I am less hostile to nuclear power than I used to be. I no longer believe that uranium is about to run out or that the safe disposal of nuclear waste is

Resistance!

This year, Walk against Warming rallies are happening two weeks before the federal election. The rallies will be an important way for thousands of people across Australia to send a direct message to governments about the massive changes we need to avoid dangerous climate change. But more than that it will also give young people a voice and inspire them beyond the federal election to get active in grassroots campaigns to stop climate change.
In defiance of the biggest “security” campaign ever seen in Australia, aimed at intimidating and deterring people from protesting at APEC, up to 15,000 people joined the “Stop Bush — Make Howard History” protest in Sydney on September 8. The rally was a huge victory — a mass demonstration of our collective strength on the streets that Howard and Bush can only pretend to ignore.