Issue 731

News

More than 500 students in Launceston walked out of class on November 8 to protest against the planned pulp mill in the Tamar Valley. This followed a similar protest of 600 students in Hobart the previous week.
“People before profits” was the message coming from the “rally for rights” organised by the Socialist Alliance in Newtown on November 9. The rally was addressed by Catholic priest Peter Maher, Your Rights At Work campaigner Michael Haines, three representatives from Community Action Against Homophobia (CAAH) and Greens candidate for Grayndler, Saeed Kahn.
Figures released by the Howard government’s Workplace Authority on November 9 showed that almost half of the industrial agreements so far vetted by the authority since the government introduced its “fairness test” in May have been rejected by the authority.
Workers at the Foster’s Yatala brewery, south of Brisbane, have voted down two non-union agreements put forward by Carlton and United Brewery (CUB) management, and are engaged in industrial action to win a union collective agreement. The brewery workers — 85% of whom are pro-union — come from the Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union (LHMU), the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU).
About 260 employees at hearing implant manufacturer Cochlear’s the Lane Cove factory in north Sydney are being pressured by the company to accept Australian Workplace Agreements (individual employment contracts) despite having twice voted in favour of having a union-negotiated collective agreement.
The Sydney branch of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) hosted a function in support of Palm Island man Lex Wotton on October 7. Wotton is being targeted by state authorities for his role in protesting the death of Aboriginal man Mulrunji at the hands of police in November 2004.

Analysis

KERRY NETTLE has been a NSW Greens senator since 2001. She spoke to Green Left Weekly’s PIP HINMAN about what the Greens had achieved, and why it was critical that they hold the balance of power in the new Senate.
The following appeal for solidarity with the Pakistani people’s struggle for democracy has been initiated by Melbourne civil liberties lawyer Rob Stary.
“When Ken Fry came back from a funeral several years ago he complained that one of the speakers ’went on about the bloke as though he was a blessed saint … I hope they don’t go on about me like that when I go …’.”
Labor leader Kevin Rudd and IR spokesperson Julia Gillard have fallen into the trap set for them by PM John Howard. By accepting the need to crack down on unionists in order to make Labor look respectable to big business, Rudd and Gillard have given credibility to the Coalition’s witch-hunt about “the union threat to the economy”.
What about your preferences? At its November 1 meeting the Socialist Alliance national executive decided its recommendation on preference flows for "above-the-line" voting for the Senate. It also urged all SA House of Representatives campaigns to
No housing crisis in la-la land Writing in the Australian Financial Review, former Labor leader Mark Latham opines that the "housing crisis" is completely manufactured, a creation of people who are having trouble upgrading from two- to three-car
As the federal government’s Northern Territory intervention grinds on with an escalating price-tag and concomitant obfuscation from politicians and bureaucrats about its actual implementation, we are beginning to see media reports — especially from the rampantly pro-intervention Rupert Murdoch stable — of support for the measures from the affected communities. While most of these refer to “whitefella” bureaucrats or store managers, the most cherished, obviously, have been apparent endorsements from Indigenous people as each new phase is rolled out. Most recently, we’ve seen the same pattern as welfare quarantining has started to come into effect in some communities.
For two years 13 Muslim men from Melbourne, have been held in Barwon prison near Geelong and nine men from Sydney in Goulburn’s super-max prison without trial.
The idea that we build something much better than capitalism had been around for generations but, 90 years ago in Russia, for the first time an alliance of workers and peasants made a revolution that was to frame the course of history ever since
In a striking piece of political theatre, on November 5 federal workplace ogre Joe Hockey promised to resign from a re-elected Howard ministry if the government changed Work Choices (significantly). “They can run all the scare campaigns they want”, Hockey said, “but the bottom line is if we are making any substantial changes to our laws, then I will resign.”
Les Malezer, chair of the UN Global Indigenous Caucus, which was responsible for drafting the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, spoke to a packed meeting in the Redfern community centre on October 28. “Our wealth is that of our Indigenous values: land, culture and spirit”, he said. “Not in assimilation, not in power, not in dollars, not in telling our people what they should do, or running organisations that do the same. Our wealth is in our lands, territories and resources. And the forced theft of these means that there must be reparation.”

World

Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans took to the streets of Caracas on November 4, in a massive sea of red, to support the proposed constitutional reforms adopted by the National Assembly that will be put to a referendum on December 2. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has explained that the reforms aim to deepen the Bolivarian revolution that his government is leading, which has already achieved significant gains in redistributing wealth and power to the poor majority.
On November 7, the Israeli High Court of Justice gave Israeli PM Ehud Olmert’s government one week to present data to back up its assertion that its newest economic sanctions against the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip — planned electricity supply cuts in particular — will not cause “unreasonable harm” to its 1.5 million residents.
A program for cultural transformation is being developed by ordinary Cypriots after the island’s politicians have proved unable to resolve the Cyprus problem, which has figured in international politics for over half a century.
On November 4, Mikhail Saakashvili, the pro-US president of the former Soviet republic of Georgia, accused Russia of fomenting mass protests against him. Saakashvili’s remarks were his first response to three days of protests in the capital Tbilisi in which some 100,000 people — a tenth of the city’s population — demanded his resignation.
“Taliban insurgents have captured a third district in western Afghanistan, local officials said on Monday [November 5], defying Western assertions the rebels are unable to mount large military offensives”, Reuters reported that same day.
On November 3, Pakistani military dictator General Pervez Musharraf initiated an intensified crackdown against all opposition to his increasingly unstable regime, with the decleration of a state of emergency. While the military’s spin doctors have attempted to make a distinction between this state of emergency and martial law, it has seen thousands of people put into “preventative detention”, mobile phones jammed, all non-government broadcasting stations taken off air and the abandonment of what pretence of rule of law still remained under Musharraf, who seized power in a coup in 1999.
Venezuela’s vice-minister of foreign affairs for Asia, the Middle East and Oceania, Vladimir Villegas, lead the Venezuelan delegation to the 38th Pacific Islands Forum (PIF — formerly the South Pacific Forum) meeting in Tonga on October 16-17. The PIF is the coordinated annual meeting, organised along a concensus model, of the heads of states of the 16 PIF members — Australia, the Cook Islands, Fiji, Nauru, NZ, Tonga, Samoa, the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Niue, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Palau, PNG, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu, with New Caledonia and French Polynesia being associated members, and Tokelau, Wallis, Futuna, the Commonwealth and the Asia Development Bank having official observor status. East Timor has had “special observer” status since 2002. With 33% of the world’s total surface and 46% of its ocean area, the 25000 Pacific Islands comprise 17 independent nations – all of whom have a vote and representation in the United Nations (11 have achieved this status only since 1960). Green Left Weekly’s Lara Pullin spoke with Villegas during the forum about Venezuela’s plans to increase cooperation, on the basis of solidarity, with the region.
Venezuela has initiated plans to extend its solidarity-based oil deals to countries in the Asia-Pacific region, as signalled by Venezuela’s deputy foreign minister Vladimir Villegas, at the 38th Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) leaders meeting in Tonga, held October 16-17.
Four days after the October 17-21 17th Congress of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC), the country’s government body dealing with public petitions and complaints — the State Bureau for Letters and Calls (SBLC) — held a national conference to map out new strategies to step-up its role in managing China’s escalating social conflicts.
With 44.9% of the valid votes cast, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, wife of President Nestor Kirchner, won Argentina’s October 28 presidential election. Fernandez was backed by her husband’s Front for Victory (FPV) party, still formally a faction within the Peronist (nationalist-populist) Justicialist Party (PJ).
Over the last few weeks, thousands of intellectuals from different political, philosophical, and religious backgrounds from around the world have mobilised to speak up in defence of Cuba.
General Pervez Musharraf would have not expected the political scenario that has emerged after five days of martial law, imposed on November 3. His hopes for achieving normality have been dashed, despite using the most vicious repression against the advocates (lawyers) and political activists. More unpleasant surprises are still to come for the military regime, which was used to relatively stable political control until now.
The following statement was issued by the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network (AVSN) on November 8.
We are on the brink of celebrating the 90th anniversary of Russia’s October Revolution, that beautiful, cherished uprising which asked for nobody’s permission to turn the hopes that the world might one day belong to those who work on it into a reality.
The November 2 British Independent reported that US- NATO ally Turkey “has started to impose economic sanctions on Iraqi Kurdistan by stopping flights between Istanbul” and Irbil, capital of the Kurdistan autonomous region in northern Iraq.

Culture

Hugo! — The Hugo Chavez Story From Mud Hut to Perpetual Revolution
By Bart Jones
Steerforth Press, 2007
570pags, $US30 (hb)
Meeting Resistance
Directed by Steve Connors & Molly Bingham
<http://www.meetingresistance.com/>
Becoming Julia — An unflinching look at what makes a man and what makes a woman, with all stereotypes turned on their head. SBS, Saturday, November 17, 1.20am. Message Stick: Kokoda Dreaming — The Wanga Idingii project is an early intervention

General

The idea that we build something much better than capitalism had been around for generations but, 90 years ago in Russia, for the first time an alliance of workers and peasants made a revolution that was to frame the course of history ever since.

Resistance!

Resistance stands in solidarity with the Pakistani people fighting for democracy and the removal of the Musharraf regime. Thousands of people have defied the ban on demonstrations to protest against “emergency rule” and the dictatorial regime.
I tell them “turn on the water”
I tell ’em “turn on the heat”
Tells me “All you ever do is complain”
Then they search the place when I’m not here
But we can, you know we can
Let’s lynch the landlord man
— Dead Kennedys