Issue 729

News

5000 state sector nurses crammed into Melbourne’s Festival Hall and voted unanimously to end their industrial action and accept a four year enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA) at an Australian Nursing Federation (ANF) mass meeting on October 25.
Twenty-one years ago Jackie Kriz, an Australian Nurses Federation job representative, took part in Victoria’s landmark nurses’ dispute of 1986. As a young Geelong nurse she remembers the long campaign where nurses went from being professionals who would never strike to industrial campaigners.
Assistant state secretary of the Western Australian branch of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), Joe McDonald, was expelled from the Australian Labor Party on October 26, on the recommendation of Labor leader Kevin Rudd. Earlier this year Rudd had failed to have the militant unionist expelled, and the ALP had stated that it would await the outcome of McDonald’s six charges for “trespass” on Perth building sites before making a decision.
On October 15, on a vote of five to three, a Sydney City Council planning committee voted to send the development applications (DAs) for the distribution of mX, City Weekly and 9 to 5 to the next council meeting for approval.
The movement to oppose genetically modified crops and foods in Australia received international support for its campaign with the October tour of the Consumers’ Union of Japan (CUJ).
On September 21 about 200 people attended a forum on Sri Lanka organised by People for Human Rights and Racial Equality, a group comprising Sri Lankans of different ethnic groups living in Australia.

Analysis

Anti-war activists have again called for the Australian troops to get out of Afghanistan as a second Australian soldier this month was killed there.
If you’ve sat in front a TV in the past few weeks, you’ll have seen the message: Australians need to get “climate clever” just like the Howard government, which, we’re told, is encouraging and funding new, environmentally friendly technologies such as “clean coal”. In fact, we’re led to believe, the government has put some $3.5 billion in recent years into new methods for combatting climate change.
The infamous “worm” responded positively to PM John Howard’s climate change announcements during Channel Nine’s telecast of “The Great Debate” between Howard and ALP leader Kevin Rudd on October 21.
A call for socialist ideas Speaking at the launch of Socialist Alliance candidate Jim McIlroy’s campaign for the federal seat of Griffith, held by ALP leader Kevin Rudd, veteran socialist and university lecturer Gary MacLennan called for the continuation of the struggle for socialist ideas.
On October 21, the day of the “great debate”, Labor leader Kevin Rudd announced Labor’s latest policy to help “working families”. He promised, if elected, to increase the federal government rebate on child care costs from 30% to 50% and to pay the rebate quarterly rather than annually. This promise stands alongside Labor’s pledge to allocate $2.5 billion dollars to allow “working families” to claim 50% of educational costs up to $750 per year for primary school kids, or $1500 for high schoolers. And of course, let’s not forget the “education revolution”.
Guy Pearse — the speechwriter for the federal Coalition environment minister from 1997 to 2000 who blew the whistle last year on the Howard government’s use of Australia’s biggest polluters to write its greenhouse gas emissions policy — visited Melbourne on October 24 as part of an east-coast speaking tour.
In the lead-up to the federal election, your guide to what’s really happening behind the spin of the official campaign.

World

The Venezuelan consulate and the residency of a Cuban doctor were attacked with explosives in the opposition-controlled state of Santa Cruz in the early hours of Monday October 22.
Carrying signs reading “Police are the real terrorists” and “Free all political activists”, up to 1000 people rallied outside the Rotorua District Court on October 25 to protest against police raids that resulted in the arrest of 17 people a week earlier, as three of those arrested had their court cases transferred to Auckland.
Sam Watson, a Queensland Murri leader and a Socialist Alliance Senate candidate in the coming Australian federal elections, condemned the recent raids by New Zealand police on the homes of Maori and other social movement activists, in the following statement released on October 24.
Gabriela Ngirmang, Mirair of Palau, who was instrumental in giving the world its first nuclear-free constitution, passed away peacefully at 12.10am on October 10 (Palau time). Gabriela had been sick for some time.
Following a week of discussions behind closed doors, the national executive of the Communication Workers Union voted by nine votes to five on October 22 to recommend that postal workers accept Royal Mail’s latest offer on pay, pensions and working conditions. The proposed deal will now be put to CWU members in a national ballot.
“Waving colourful banners and Kurdish flags, thousands of people demonstrated across northern Iraq today in protest at the growing threat of a big military incursion by Turkey to hunt down Kurdish rebels”, the October 18 London Times reported.
At a well-attended press conference on October 25, Cuban ambassador Gilda Lopez Armenteros directed public attention to the upcoming United Nations General Assembly vote on a resolution calling for an end to the United States economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba.
Venezuelan opposition groups are planning to use “all means possible to stop the constitutional reform referendum”, scheduled to take place on December 2, reported the October 25 Ultimas Noiticias. Describing the proposed constitutional reforms as a “constitutional coup”, a coalition of opposition parties — some of which participated in the short-lived military coup against the government of socialist President Hugo Chavez in 2002 — have called for a massive protest on November 3, demanding that the National Electoral Council (CNE) suspend the constitutional reform referendum.
On October 24, US President George Bush — a firm defender of freedom and human rights, as any Iraqi tortured by US forces at Abu Ghraib could testify — denounced Cuba as a “tropical gulag”. Bush said that Cuba is characterised by “terror and trauma”. The president also reaffirmed his support for the punishing US economic embargo against Cuba, which has lasted almost half a century and cost the Cuban people some US$89 billion.
Two thousand people rallied in the East Timorese capital of Dili on October 17 to demand food sovereignty for East Timor. The demonstration was the culmination of three days of activities to mark World Food Day.
The death, on October 25, of the second Australian SAS soldier in Afghanistan this month, Matthew Locke, in the province of Oruzgan in southern Afghanistan, has again focused attention on the hidden military occupation that has bipartisan support in Australia. David Pearce was killed in the same province by Taliban forces on October 8.
The following call for unity among left-wing forces was issued by Farooq Tariq, general secretary of the Labour Party Pakistan (LPP).
Israel has continued to carry out rocket attacks on Gaza. On October 25, Israeli missiles killed two Palestinians, bringing the total number of Palestinians killed in two weeks by the occupation forces to more than 10.
At its 16th Congress five years ago, the Communist Party of China (CPC) amended its constitution to allow the admission of capitalists to its ranks and to legitimise the swelling number of capitalists already in its membership. Today, 3 million of its total membership of 73 million are capitalists — over 4%.

Culture

The Occupation: War and Resistance in Iraq
By Patrick Cockburn
Verso, 2006
229 pages, $49.95 (hb)
The Book that Shook the World — The Little Red School Book has been described as "essentially a manual for kids on how to challenge the authority of the school system". SBS, Friday, November 2, 8.30pm. Australia by Numbers: Brewarrina 2839 —
The Atheist Manifesto: The Case Against Christianity, Judaism and Islam
By Michel Onfray
Melbourne University Press, 2007
219 pages, $32.95
The 11th Hour
Written and directed by Leila Conners Petersen & Nadia Conners
Produced & narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio
In cinemas
Dead Money
Written & directed by Paul Gilchrist
With Ali Davies, Brett Ellwood, Daniela Giorgi, John Maynard & Dave Tibbles
TAP Gallery, Paddington, Nov 1-18
$24/$18
Bookings, phone (02) 9328 4321 or 0434 924 262

General

It was when they played Kermit the Frog singing The Rainbow Connection at Gail Lord’s funeral that I started crying.

Letters

NZ police raids In his article in GLW #728 on police raids in Aotearoa [New Zealand], Stuart Munckton wrote: "Sam Buchanan, one of the four arrested in Wellington following a raid on an anarchist organising centre, told the NZ Herald he was in