Issue 728

News

More than 400 people participated in around 65 workshops and 10 plenary sessions to discuss a myriad of national and international campaigns against imperialism and neoliberalism at the Latin America and Asia Pacific International Solidarity Forum held at Victorian Trades Hall and the RMIT on October 11-14. The participants included 33 activists and leaders from people’s movements and political parties in 20 countries, the most diverse left gathering hosted in Australia for years.
Victorian state sector nurses are being threatened with having their pay docked for at least four hours for each day they participate in industrial action over wages and conditions, which began following a mass meeting of more than 3500 Australian Nursing Federation (ANF) members on October 16.
On October 13, 450 supporters of the Burmese democracy movement, including members of Sydney’s Burmese community, trade unionists, and members of the Greens and the Socialist Alliance, rallied in Martin Place.
Claims by immigration minister Kevin Andrews that African refugees are less capable of resettling in Australia than other migrant groups have been met with widespread condemnation by welfare, community and human rights organisations.

Analysis

A landmark Federal Court hearing for 96 Western Australian construction workers that begins on October 24 is the most dramatic demonstration yet of the impact of the Howard government’s draconian IR laws.
In his frantic bid to secure a fifth consecutive election victory for the Coalition, Prime Minister John Howard has fired up the amp and is loudly proclaiming his message that growth and increased private wealth will solve all problems. Howard is presenting his message — pump-primed by a lavish promise of personal tax cuts (largely for the already wealthy) and proclamations that economic growth can proceed unhindered (in spite of growing environmental concerns and increasing inequality) — like a spruiker at a country sideshow: enjoy the fairy floss and don’t mind the smell of bullshit.
The socialist movement lost a strong supporter with the death from cancer of David Matthews — my father — on September 30 at the age of 79. David joined the Socialist Alliance soon after its formation and remained a financial member and a strong supporter of the campaign to bring the fractious left together.
Ali Beg Humayun was threatened with deportation by the immigration department (DIAC) on October 8. Humayun, a queer Pakistani man, has been locked up for over two-and-a-half years in the Villawood detention centre and is currently appealing a Refugee Review Tribunal (RRT) decision not to grant him refugee status.
In the lead-up to the federal election, here’s a guide to what’s really happening in the Liberal and Labor camps, as well as anecdotes from the Socialist Alliance’s campaign trail.
Victoria’s nurses are fighting three enemies: the state Labor government, the hospital administrations, and the federal Coalition government.
On October 16, events in more than 150 countries marked World Food Day, which commemorates the founding of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, with the theme of “the right to food”.
Victoria’s nurses are fighting three enemies: the state Labor government, the hospital administrations, and the federal Coalition government.
The Socialist Alliance’s anti-war campaign coordinator, Pip Hinman, has offered her condolences to the family of trooper David Pearce, recently killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan’s Oruzgan province.
On October 12, PM John Howard announced his plan to hold a referendum to alter the preamble to the Australian constitution to include an acknowledgment of the original inhabitants of Australia. This is a departure from Howard’s historic position against “symbolic” gestures of reconciliation — a position that in the past has earned him the ire of Indigenous groups, who in 2000 literally turned their backs on Howard when he refused to apologise for previous governments’ complicity in the horrendous policies that led to the Stolen Generations.
During the upsurge of working-class and liberation struggles that followed the 1917 Russian Revolution, socialists from all continents joined in founding a world party, the Communist International, or “Comintern”.

World

“You’re only killing a man”, revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara said in a school in La Higuera, before he was shot. Forty years later, in that exact spot, among the fog of the Bolivian forest and darkness of night, flags representing social movements from all over Latin America waved in the wind and their bearers danced together until sunrise. That night of October 7 we remembered Che and the struggles of that time, through speeches and song, and we thought about the future as the continent turns red with the idealism, humanism, rejection of neoliberalism, and collective ownership of resources that Che had talked of and fought for.
Despite China’s spectacular GDP growth of nearly 10% per year since 1978 — and despite Beijing’s claim that the country remains on a socialist course — in the eight years to 2005, workers’ wages as a proportion of GDP plunged from 53% to 41.4%.
Across the board, the right made gains in Greater Auckland’s council elections at the expense of both the political centre (Labour-aligned tickets) and the grassroots left (notably RAM — the Residents Action Movement).
After winning a stunning 82% of the vote in the April 14 referendum for a constituent assembly to rewrite the constitution, Ecuador’s left-wing president Rafael Correa scored his third major victory in a year on September 30 with his party, Country Alliance, winning 70% of the votes for the new assembly.
Two-hundred people protested outside the Wellington District Court on October 17 to protest the arrest of four Wellington men appearing in the court following massive police raids on the homes of many social activists two days earlier, according to a NarcoNews.com article by Julie Web-Pullman. Aotearoa Indymedia reported on October 17 that 80 people protested in Christchurch and 30 in Melbourne on October 16, and 50 protested in Rotorua and 30 in Sydney the following day.
On October 3 Caribbean Net News reported that the South American nation Guyana, which borders Venezuela to its west, will soon benefit from a US$12.5 million debt write-off by Venezuela under an agreement expected to be finalised in the near future.
According to an October 8 report from Venezuela’s Presidential Press Office report, a new poll conducted by polling company Seijas has revealed that only 3.4% of Venezuelans think capitalism is the best system of government; 22.6% said it was preferable to socialism and 62.7% said they preferred socialism to capitalism.
Fractures have emerged in Respect — the Unity Coalition, a group formed in January 2004 by an alliance that drew together expelled Labour MP George Galloway (now Respect’s sole MP), the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) and anti-war activists. On August 23, Galloway issued a letter to Respect’s National Council titled “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” criticising the group’s lack of organisation and “custom of anathematisation in the organisation which is deeply unhealthy and has been the ruin of many a left-wing group before us”.
US President George Bush has opposed US Senate legislation to fund health care for the nuclear-test-affected Marshallese. Sixty-seven US nuclear bombs were detonated in the Marshall Islands between 1946 and 1958.
Andy Newman, an editor of British blog Socialistunity.com, spoke to Salma Yaqoob for Green Left Weekly. Yaqoob is the national vice-chair of anti-war coalition Respect — the Unity Coalition, as well as a leader of Birmingham’s Stop the War Coalition and a Birmingham city councillor.
On October 9, Prime Minister John Howard declared that David Pearce, an Australian Army trooper killed by a Taliban-planted roadside bomb in Afghanistan, had died for a “just cause” while fighting “brutal terrorism”. Pearce’s death was only the second combat loss for the 950 Australian soldiers participating in the US-led occupation of Afghanistan. A Special Air Service sergeant died in Afghanistan in February 2002 when his vehicle hit a landmine.
In an opinion piece printed in the October 16 Washington Post, 12 former US Army captains who served in Iraq between 2003 and 2006 argued that the US should either reinstate compulsory military service — “the draft” — or immediately withdraw all its troops from Iraq.
Some 130,000 post office workers in the Communication Workers Union (CWU) have brought mail deliveries in Britain to a standstill by holding two 48-hour strikes over pay and working conditions. The strikes, which began on October 5 and October 8 respectively, are over management plans to axe 40,000 jobs, to close workers’ final salary pension scheme, to offer a below inflation pay rise, and to tear up all existing national and local agreements on working hours.

Culture

Writing in an Age of Silence
By Sara Paretsky
Verso, 2007
138 pages, $39.95 (hb)
Sustainable Living for Dummies
By Michael Grosvenor
Wiley Publishing Australia, 2007
320 pages, $39.95 (pb)
I am a mystical Strand
between frenzied burgeon and wide waters
I am a decompression chamber
A pristine zone borrowed from Poseidon, till again,
he angers and commands large loyal swells to reclaim me,
with foam and sand and mermaid’s hair
In August 2005 Workers Radio Sydney emerged on to the Sydney breakfast radio scene. In the two years since the first broadcast, the show’s producer and presenter, Craig Bulley, has established a dedicated and growing audience who tune in between 6am and 9am weekday mornings for a hearty breakfast of music and politics. The show has become a listener’s hub for unionists, activists and community campaigners, as well as the many concerned Australian workers and their families who rely on the show for information about the attacks on their rights and conditions under the Howard government and its Work Choices regime.
The World in 50 Years — A vision of the political and environmental state of our planet in 50 years' time. SBS, Saturday, October 27, 7.30pm. The Big Lie — A working-class mother of four takes on a global tobacco giant, in an attempt to gain
Stand Up and Shout
GetUp! Action for Australia
Rouseabout Records, 2007
22 tracks, $24.95
http://www.undercovermusic.com.au/standup.html
Gallipoli
Les Carlyon
Macmillan, 2002
600 pages, $35 (pb) The Great War
Les Carlyon
Macmillan, 2006
880 pages, $55(hb)

General

The guessing competition run by the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network this year was drawn on October 14 at the Latin America Asia Pacific International Solidarity Forum in Melbourne. The winners are: first prize, Barry Healy (Perth); second prize, Steven O’Brien (Newcastle); and third prize, Rowan Stewart (Geelong). The AVSN thanks all those who supported the competition, which raised $2500 for Venezuela solidarity activity in Australia.
When PM John Howard tried, unsuccessfully, to ban the use of the “worm” — the audience’s reaction graph in the only debate Howard’s agreed to have with Labor leader Kevin Rudd in this election campaign — Rudd protested with a scripted joke.
GLW #727 reported that 120 people marched in Cairns in solidarity with Burma on October 3. The protest took place on October 4.

Domestic fallout managed by ASIO/FBI -Australian Government interference with analyst’s economic means, privacy, family, home, and correspondence.

Letters

Radioactive racism If the Howard government is serious about reconciliation, it should repeal blatantly racist legislation. A case in point is the government's attempt to impose a nuclear waste dump on unwilling Aboriginal communities in the

Resistance!

Resistance is an active, campaigning organisation. We’re in there where the struggle is. We don’t just talk about standing up for the oppressed. We actually do it. Recently, we met members of the Burmese community in Canberra at a series of protests outside the Burmese embassy. When we met them, we naturally wanted to jump into the struggle right there alongside them. We were involved in the first meeting of the Canberra Network for Democracy in Burma (CNDB), and helped organise the protest on October 13 for the international day of solidarity with the Burmese struggle.
@body intro = My name is Ayi Layah Mon and I am a member of the Mon Youth Group.
The Howard government’s changes to electoral legislation, passed last year, will mean a large portion of young people who are of voting age will be left off the electoral roll for the November 24 federal election. This legislation — an obvious move to bar certain voters from the political process — affects mainly those who are statistically more likely to vote against the government, such as the young, homeless people, house-renters and those who speak English as a second language.
Tasmanian high school, college and university students are planning to walk out of class on November 1 to protest federal environment minister Malcom Turnbull’s approval of the Gunns’ pulp mill.