Issue 730

News

On October 31, residents of Wonthaggi — the South Gippsland town that is near the proposed site of the Victorian Labor government’s proposed $3 billion desalination plant — joined environmentalists from Melbourne in a 100-strong protest on the steps of state parliament.
On October 27, the NSW Teachers Federation (NSWTF) state council unanimously voted to “call upon Unions NSW to organise a Day of Union and Community Action to repeal all of Work Choices” for May 1 next year and to make it “the first of an ongoing series of actions to force the incoming federal government to repeal the anti-worker legislation in its entirety”.
@9point non = SYDNEY — The November 2 Reclaim the Night rally, attended by 50 people, in Hyde Park demanded that the federal government increase funding to women’s refuge services by 40% and provide funding to assist women and children to stay in their homes once the violent offender is removed.
PM John Howard is running low on stocks for a fear campaign to propel him back into office for a fifth time. In 1998, Howard gave just enough support to Pauline Hanson’s racist fear campaign against Asian migrants and Aboriginal people to to get him over the line in spite of promising to bring in the unpopular GST. In 2001, the fear campaign was generated by the Tampa refugees, with Howard defiantly claiming, “We will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come”. In 2004, it was the threat of rising interest rates under Labor — oops, can’t use that one again Johnnie!
On October 30, a Federal Court judge fined the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (DEWR) $30,000. The fine was for discriminating against union members when it advised Australian Public Service agencies to refuse leave to employees who planned to take part in the November 2005 Australian Council of Trade Unions national protest against Work Choices.
The Australian Nursing Federation (ANF) has conducted mass meetings around Tasmania to vote on whether to accept the state Labor government’s offer of a 3.5% annual pay rise over the next three years or step-up industrial action.
On October 31, some 70 Wollongong TAFE teachers stopped work in support of students facing massive fee increases. The stopwork meeting condemned both federal and state governments for under-funding TAFE and shifting the cost of quality vocational education onto students. The teachers also expressed disgust at the Howard government for finding a “lazy” $2 billion to support the duplication of TAFE with the new Australian Technical Colleges (ATCs).
A report in the October 29 Brisbane Courier Mail signalled that the Queensland state Labor government may finally legislate to decriminalise abortion. But not immediately — perhaps in 18 months time, well after the federal elections are over. Labor MP for Aspley, Bonny Barry, has been reported as preparing a private member’s bill to remove abortion from the criminal code. Premier Anna Bligh has said she will support it, but has no intention of introducing a bill.
A divided Sydney City Council on October 29 renewed News Corps’ contentious newspaper distribution license with the Lord Mayor Clover Moore's Community Independent Team split down the middle.
Organisers of the Footscray Racism No Festival have joined forces with the March for Multiculturalism to stage a “Big Day Out Against Racism” on November 17. The day will start with a street march beginning at 1pm at the State Library and participants will then be asked to make their way to the festival in Footscray, starting at 4pm at the Footscray Primary School.
On November 1, 50 people rallied in Hyde Park to protest the Australian Federal Police’s (AFP) role in training the Burmese police force. The rally was called by the Australian Coalition for Democracy in Burma.

Analysis

The Victorian Socialist Alliance’s lead candidate for the Senate, Margarita Windisch, gave this speech to the monthly meeting of the Melbourne branch of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA).
In the lead up to the federal election, your guide to what’s really happening behind the spin of the official campaign.
The Big Melt is a new report from Australian climate campaigner David Spratt of Carbon Equity. It warns that the latest data shows the effects of climate change are speeding up, with real dangers of the setting in of self-perpetuating, deepening “runaway” global warming.
On October 31, Victorian planning minister Justin Madden released a report that gave the environmental green light for the dredging of Port Phillip Bay. Channel deepening, which is tied to port expansion, is essential according to the Port of Melbourne Corporation (PoMC) because of the bay’s shallowness. Opponents argue that the risks are too great and that alternatives exist, but the Labor state government has made it clear that it wants the project to proceed.
Almost 90 Western Australian construction workers are due to suffer fines of up to $22,000 each on November 5, after admitting at an October 24 court hearing to taking “unlawful” industrial action in February last year. The workers’ “crime” was to take part in a 400-person strong strike in February 2006 on the city tunnel section of the Perth-Mandurah rail line to demand the reinstatement of their elected health and safety union representative Peter Ballard, who had been sacked by building company Leighton-Kumagai for insisting on maintaining safe working conditions.
There is an idea promoted by the ALP, aimed at obfuscating the party’s true nature, which is often used by ALP left-wingers to justify their continued allegiance. It’s what may be called the “generational myth”, and it goes like this: previous generations of ALP leaders and membership have always been more progressive, have more clearly seen “the light on the hill”, and it’s only the party’s current leadership that has sold out.
The scientists are horrified. But not being media-savvy publicists, they generally leave their shocking findings in scientific journals. The politicians quote cautious statements issued by scientific committees early in the decade, and worry about scaring off corporate funding. The business executives look for the chance of new profits, and hire public relations experts to advise them on cultivating a green image.
Know your candidate: Dr Tim Kirchler (Moncrieff, Queensland) In a candid chat with Green Left Weekly, Kirchler, who works as a general practitioner on the Gold Coast, spoke about his reasons for running. "I believe it's time that we in
The connections between water scarcity, power generation and the federal government’s promotion of nuclear power are worth reflecting on with National Water Week held from October 21-27.

World

Today is my second day in underground life. On November 3, when General Musharaf declared a state of emergency and suspended the constitution, I was in Toba Tek Singh, a city around four hours from Lahore. This was to attend a meeting to prepare for the Labour Party Pakistan’s fourth national conference. The conference is scheduled to be held on November 9-11 in the city. Posters welcoming the delegates were printed and an invitation card to supporters for the open session of the conference was ready as well.
November 7, 2007 -- On the third day of my underground period, I escaped arrest by seconds. It was because of inexperience. We live in a society full of high-tech methods to find a person.
The US launched its first assault in the “war on terror” in Afghanistan six years ago. Today, the country remains one of the poorest places on Earth, ruled by a corrupt warlord elite. Tariq Ali, a veteran of the anti-war struggle for four decades, spoke to Sherry Wolf about the disastrous consequences of the US-led war — and what the future holds.
A new UN report that tracks the world’s progress in achieving sustainable development goals, as recommended in the UN’s historic 1987 Our Common Future report, has painted a grim picture of across-the-board environmental deterioration.
For the 16th consecutive year, the United Nations has overwhelmingly voted for a resolution urging the US to lift its 47-year long economic embargo against Cuba.
In 1975, when Indonesia invaded East Timor, beginning a 24-year occupation that cost over 200,000 Timorese lives (over a third of the population), Australia’s support for this genocidal occupation was predicated on a policy outlined in the infamous “Woolcott telegram”: that Australia’s interest in East Timor was derived from the oil and gas resources in the Timor Sea.
Twenty-four aircraft of the Sri Lankan air force were damaged or destroyed during an attack on the Anuradhapura air base, in Sri Lanka’s North Central Province, carried out by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam on October 22. The LTTE has for several decades been fighting for self-determination for Sri Lanka’s Tamil minority, in response to the discrimination and violent repression carried out against the Tamil people by a series of racist Sri Lankan governments that have drawn their support from the island’s Sinhalese majority.
An official from ousted president Jean Bertrand Aristide’s Lavalas political movement was abducted at gunpoint on October 27. Dr Maryse Narcisse acted as spokesperson for exiled president and belongs to the five-member executive committee of Fanmi Lavalas. She was taken in front of her home in the area of Petion-Ville in Haiti’s capital.
“America’s hostile policy to the Iranian people and the country’s legal institutions are against international law. They are worthless and ineffective, and doomed to failure”, Iranian foreign ministry spokesperson Mohammad Ali Hosseini told a media conference in Tehran on October 25.
Respect — the Unity Coalition, the first British political party to the left of Labour to win a seat in the Westminster parliament since 1945, has split. In May 2005 George Galloway confounded pundits by winning an historic victory in the East London constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow. A former Labour MP, Galloway was expelled for his vociferous and unflagging opposition to the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan, and with others in the anti-war movement — notably the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), which plays a leading role in the Stop the War Coalition — formed Respect.
Starting on October 15, New Zealand Security Intelligence Service officers and police began raids on the homes of environmental, unionist and Maori activists in an unprecedented police action allegedly in response to a “terrorist” threat. Peter Robson from Green Left Weekly spoke to New Zealand-based activist Joe Carolan, who is involved with the Civil Rights Defence Committee (CRDC), the Solidarity union, and is a member of the national executive of Socialist Worker, about the raids and who is affected by them.
“Here in Bolivia, the majority have realised that the neoliberals have always betrayed us. Now the people cannot be so easily bought off, there is growing consciousness and a shift in the attitude of society. That is why it will be difficult for [the neoliberals] to defeat us now. We will continue governing for at least 50 to 100 years — some say forever.” This is how Roman Loayza, head of the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) group of delegates to Bolivia’s constituent assembly, described the situation in Bolivia when Green Left Weekly spoke to him on October 17.
The US military has increased air strikes in Iraq five-fold this year, according to data obtained by USA Today. The paper’s October 22 edition reported that the US military had carried out 1140 air strikes in the first nine months of this year, compared with 229 last year. The figures do not include attacks carried out by helicopters.
On October 28, the Israeli defence ministry ordered the cutting of fuel supplies to the Gaza Strip, home to 1.5 million Palestinians, half of whom are children. While Israeli government representatives claimed that they planned to cut supplies by 5-11%, fuel supplies were immediately cut by more than 30%, according to Palestinian officials.
After receiving the modified project of constitutional reform, which includes an additional 36 changes proposed by the National Assembly, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, announced on October 31 that the proposed changes, which will be put to a referendum on December 2, should be voted on in separate blocs, rather than as one single bloc.

Culture

Who Is The Right To Know
Macarena Ruiz, artist
Trocadero Artspace, level 1, 119 Hopkins Street, Footscray
November 7-24
The murder of South Africa’s reggae icon Lucky Dube on October 18, in an attempted car hijacking — one of South Africa’s most common crimes these days — has been condemned by all. The African National Congress (ANC) government has urged the nation to unite against the scourge of crime threatening “our democracy”. For opposition parties, Dube’s killing is further proof that crime is out of hand. As a deterrent, some have called for the reinstatement of capital punishment. There is a general feeling that the four “monsters” who recently appeared in court in connection with the crime should “rot” in jail. Typically, however, the debate remains very narrow and shallow.
Maralinga: Australia’s Nuclear Waste Cover-up
By Alan Parkinson
ABC Books, 2007
233 pages, $32.95 (pb)
Chile, that thin strip of land lulled to sleep by the Pacific and the Andes, has given birth to many people that have left their mark in the hearts of millions all across the planet: the Nobel Prize winners Gabriela Mistral and Pablo Neruda, the amazing composer Victor Jara, tortured and assassinated by Pinochet, our comrade Salvador Allende — and one of the greatest exponents of Chilean music, Violeta Parra.

General

Thousands of people will read Green Left Weekly for the first time this week. You may be one of these first-time readers. If so, chances are you will have picked up a copy at one of the large Walk Against Warming marches being held all around Australia on the weekend of November 10-11.

Letters

Walk Against Warming Like many people, I am increasingly concerned about the lack of concerted government action on climate change. There is a lot of talk but what we need is immediate action. We now know that even a small increase in

Resistance!

Six hundred students from more than a dozen high schools and colleges walked out of school and gathered at Parliament House lawns in Hobart on November 1 to protest against Gunns’ pulp mill. The mill, planned for the Tamar Valley near Launceston, would be the biggest of its kind in the world and has been approved by both state and federal governments.
Woodchipping giant Gunns Ltd’s $1.4 billion pulp mill in northern Tasmania is just one example of how a corporation has sought to subvert and corrupt the legal and political process, all in the name of profits. Gunns has shown a reckless disregard for both the ecological and human health implications of the pulp mill.