Issue 732

News

Speakers at a meeting of 100 people at the Fitzroy Town Hall on November 15 slammed the “anti-terror” laws.
Supporters of the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network (AVSN) gathered in Brisbane Square on November 16 to provide information to passers-by about December’s constitutional referendum in Venezuela, and to demand, “US hands of Venezuela!”
At a 100-strong October 26 Your Rights at Work election forum, Sue Cory, Greens candidate for the federal seat of Leichhardt, spelt out her party’s policies supporting the rights of workers to organise and take industrial action, in contrast to those of the ALP, which would maintain the existing anti-worker laws introduced by the Howard government.
Twenty-year-old Lismore resident Ben Cooper was awarded a “Kids in Community” award in June, for his work as a queer activist in the community. Cooper organised two equality rallies in Lismore for the same-sex marriage National Days of Action and is the founder of Lismore Activists for Same Sex Equality (LASSE). LASSE has recently been involved in a campaign against Regeneration, a Lismore Baptist church group that aims to “convert” young gays to heterosexuality.
Stuart Baanstra, a Community Action Against Homophobia (CAAH) activist, is going to court over refusing to sign the 2006 Census. His first hearing on November 6 resulted in a rescheduling of the hearing until November 27.
Community concern over the Victorian state government’s plan for a $3.1 billion desalination plant at Wonthaggi is growing following reports that the Labor government is forcibly acquiring properties around the proposed site. The local community and environmentalists have opposed the proposal as being environmentally damaging and the wrong solution to tackle water shortages.
“These are the worst days in Pakistan’s history”, Ali Khan, a student from Pakistan, told a rally in Burke Street Mall on November 15. The rally was called by Australia Asia Worker Links and the Socialist Alliance to protest the state of emergency imposed by Pakistan’s Army Chief of Staff and president, Pervez Musharraf.
After an 18-month ordeal, workers at Tristar — a Marrickville-based car parts manufacturer — claimed victory on November 15 after the company agreed to pay redundancy packages to all its remaining Sydney workers. The last of 32 manufacturing workers will leave the company on November 30.
On November 17, thousands of people, including five busloads of people who came down from Launceston, rallied in Hobart’s Franklin Square against Gunns Ltd’s proposed $1.8 billion pulp mill in the Tamar Valley.
Brewery workers at the Foster’s Yatala plant, near Beenleigh south of Brisbane, are continuing their campaign for a union collective agreement. The workers — members of the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union, the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union — are holding pickets outside the brewery gates from 1-5pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, as well as some night-time pickets.
The housing affordability crisis is serious enough for both Labor and the Coalition to promise home-buyers financial support in the present election. According to official statistics it has never been harder for first home buyers to acquire a home.

Analysis

The Climate Change Coalition is a new political party. Green Left Weekly’s Zane Alcorn spoke to CCC candidate Dr Karl Kruszelnicki, who is running for the Senate in New South Wales.
A lot of workers would have been shocked to read the report in the November 14 Melbourne Age about the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) ordering construction companies to remove union posters and signs and anything with the Eureka flag on it.
What Women Want (Australia) is a new political party formed in April that obtained federal electoral registration in August. It currently has almost 780 members, women and men, and is standing 14 Senate candidates across every state and the ACT, plus lower-house candidates in Wakefield and Hindmarsh in South Australia, Gippsland in Victoria and Stirling in WA.
“We have a plan to withdraw from Iraq, while Mr Howard doesn’t” — with these words on October 14, ALP leader Kevin Rudd described the war on Iraq as one of five “critical areas where the difference [between Labor and the Coalition] couldn’t be clearer”. He then went on to virtually ignore the Iraq war throughout the rest of the election campaign.
Climate change is the challenge of our generation and we need to do everything we can to stop it. What is our role as young people? How can we be most effective? After the Walk Against Warming rallies around the country, where young people came together in youth contingents, where to next for the youth climate movement?
The Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC) aims to bring together existing social justice and environment groups to work cooperatively on climate-change activism. The hope is that a coherent and united youth voice on climate change will emerge.
This year marks the 90th anniversary of the Russian Revolution. In the years following the revolution, its leaders initiated the formation of the Communist (Third) International (Comintern), an international grouping of communist parties. In Venezuela, the leadership of the country’s unfolding socialist revolution have issued a call for a new international of Latin American left parties. In this article, part of a series on the early years of the Comintern, John Riddell looks at the role of the International in developing revolutionary workers’ parties.
November 11’s national Walk Against Warming was an important initiative for the climate change movement. It was smaller than the 100,000 people organisers had hoped for, but the fact that tens of thousands joined the biggest political demonstration of the election period confirms the opinion poll findings that climate change is a grave concern for large numbers of people.
The headline that wasn't (1) "Inflation fears as profit growth rises". You didn't miss this headline on an article in a recent Australian Financial Review — though you may have read the actual article it should have been the headline of. In the
Although it was silent on the issue during the state elections, the NSW Labor government led by Premier Morris Iemma is canvassing plans to privatise large sections of state utilities including the rail network, the electricity grid and Sydney’s ferries. The privatisation scheme is necessary, according to the government, to raise funds in order to reduce the budget deficit and pay for improvements in NSW hospitals and schools, and upgrades to the Sydney highways, as well as produce greater efficiency in public transport.
Migrant communities back the Socialist Alliance (1) One notable feature of this election campaign has been the growth in support for the Socialist Alliance from migrant communities and their organisations and activists. The past three years of
Voting Howard out on November 24 will not be enough to defeat Work Choices. However, on the choice of alternative governments, it is important that we preference Labor ahead of the Coalition, to elect a Labor government. And if we vote for the Socialist Alliance first and the Greens second, we send the most powerful message that any vote can, that we want all of Howard’s IR laws abolished, not just tinkered with. But even the election of a Labor government will not be the end of it. If we are to finally bury Work Choices once and for all, we will have to continue the struggle.
With the ALP likely to form the next federal government, it’s important to scutinise its promises and policies. After 11 years of conservative neoliberal rule, Labor wants our vote even though it promises more of the same.
Here are a few words to get you thinking: Malcolm Turnbull. Marginal seat. Queer rights. Hot potato. Yes, these words may seem slightly obscure but are guaranteed to be nowhere near as confusing as political stances towards gay rights issues in the fast approaching elections.
Charges against Izhar Ul-Haque have been dropped after a judge found on November 12 that ASIO officers had deliberately committed the offences of false imprisonment and kidnapping. This comes after a series of abusive charges against several people, with a senior police officer saying that police were instructed to charge as many people as possible to test the limits of new terrorism legislation.
The Climate Change Coalition is a new political party. Green Left Weekly’s Zane Alcorn spoke to CCC candidate Dr Karl Kruszelnicki, who is running for the Senate in New South Wales.
During the federal election campaign, the corporate media has transmitted an implicit condemnation of trade unionism and an implicit endorsement of the neo-liberal ideas promoted by organisations like the H.R. Nicholls Society. Ignoring the Liberal Party’s well-established links to these extremist anti-union forces, the media has instead decided to emphasise Labor’s union connections. This selectivity is yet another example of the corporate propaganda filter through which news passes to reach the public.
Rob Stary: Vote for a party that 'has principle as its guiding light' If people want to explore a true and genuine alternative party that represents the interests of labour, then Socialist Alliance is always going to be a good party that should be

World

Day seven passed without my arrest despite several attempts by the police. During the last three days, we were able to hold a meeting of the leading members of Labour Party Pakistan (LPP), gave interviews to private television channels and to a private team working for CNN. We were able to fax daily news to most of the newspapers in Pakistan.
Farooq Tariq is the secretary general of the 3000-member Labour Party Pakistan (LPP). The following is an abridged version of an interview with Tariq conducted by Ron Jacobs. Tariq is currently operating underground, being hunted by the regime. THe full version of this interview was posted on the Counterpunch.org website on November 11.
On July 29, three leaders of a 29-month factory occupation in the city of Chongqing, in China’s southwest Sichuan province, were each sentenced to suspended prison sentences of 18 months.
The US-backed right-wing campaign to destabilise the democratic revolution in Venezuela, lead by socialist President Hugo Chavez, is escalating again. The upcoming December 2 referendum on proposed amendments to the constitution is prompting a new drive from US-backed capitalist elite to undermine the elected Chavez government. Crucially, the international corporate-owned media’s distortion of events is reaching new heights, with false allegations of government repression of opposition protesters a key component of the campaign to demonise Chavez and the process of change his government is leading.
While Pakistan’s dictator General Pervez Musharraf has justified his November 3 imposition of emergency rule with the supposed threat of Islamic terrorism, the brunt of the crackdown has been felt by students, trade unionists, the left, the mainstream opposition parties, civil society and the movement of advocates (lawyers) — who have been in the forefront of resistance to the regime since March.
The Metropolitan police commissioner Sir Ian Blair is under severe pressure to resign after a court found the police force guilty of violating health and safety legislation in the shooting of innocent Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes in July 2005.
Local battalions of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) have been meeting every weekend since August, aiming to organise the 5.7 million aspiring members who enrolled between April and June to join the party-in-formation. Spokespeople and heads of commissions elected by the more than 14,000 battalions have gone on to form socialist circumscriptions, grouping 10 battalions in a given local area, to elect delegates to the party’s founding congress.
The 17th Ibero-American summit, held in Santiago, Chile, on November 8-10 brought together Latin American nations as well as Spain and Portugal. It was also the scene of a diplomatic incident that gave fresh fodder to the current campaign in the international corporate media aimed at demonising the government of Venezuela’s president, Hugo Chavez.
Following Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s call to not “leave the streets for one single day” of the campaign to approve the proposed constitutional reforms in a referendum on December 2 that would significantly deepen Venezuela’s transformation towards socialism, the “Yes” campaign has kicked into gear.
This month marks the third anniversary of the massive US military assault on the rebel Iraqi city of Fallujah, 55 kilometres west of Baghdad. A year after the US assault, the New York Times described Fallujah as “virtually a police state”. Little has changed in the two years since. The October 14 Chicago Tribune described Fallujah as a “place under 24-hour lockdown, surrounded by berms and barbed wire”.
On November 9, two days after Mikheil Saakashvili, the former Soviet republic of Georgia’s pro-US president, ordered riot police to club and tear-gas anti-government protesters in the capital Tbilisi, Georgian officials issued arrest warrants for two opposition leaders on charges of “espionage”. Hospitals reported that nearly 600 protesters sought medical treatment after the police assault.
Striking French rail workers voted on November 16 to extend the open-ended strike begun three days earlier, according to a Reuters report that day. This continues the campaign begun one month earlier, when strikes across France on October 18 paralysed the country’s rail, bus and subway systems for 24 hours in the first major confrontation between unions and President Nicolas Sarkozy.
A strike of 12,000 writers in Hollywood under the jurisdiction of the Writers’ Guild of America (WGA) is resisting the corporate greed of the large film and television studios. The strike is now in its second week, and is continuing to gain momentum.

Culture

Cuba: An African Odyssey — From Che Guevara's military campaign to avenge Lumumba in the Congo, up to the fall of apartheid in South Africa, 300,000 Cubans fought alongside African revolutionaries. SBS, Friday, November 23, 2.30pm. Heaven On
Iraq — The Logic of Withdrawal
By Anthony Arnove
The New Press, 2007
178 pages, $26.00 (pb)
Buda’s Wagon: A Brief History of the Car Bomb
By Mike Davis
Verso, 2007
228 pages, $39.95 (hb)

General

Come Saturday night, most political parties in Australia will be winding up their public campaigning until the next elections. The rank-and-file members who did their stint of letterboxing and polling booth duty will mostly retreat into inactivity, leaving “politics” once again to the professional politicians. No wonder so many people are cynical about politics — in their experience, it’s about politicians doing it by themselves and largely for themselves.

Letters

Palestine For a self-proclaimed committed leftist, Philip Mendes (Write On, GLW#730) displays a remarkable right-wing capacity for slander and muddying the waters of debate. Presumably, the leftist Mendes does not supported the Frech colonialists

Resistance!

Resistance has been actively challenging PM John Howard’s agenda at every step along the way — from protesting his racist attacks on refugees and Muslims to leading student walkouts against the Iraq invasion in 2003 and the introduction of Work Choices in 2006. A defeat for the Howard government on November 24 will be a victory for all the movements that have defended workers’ rights and the environment and stood up to his pro-war policies.
History is in our hands Climate change isn't going to go away — not after this election, and certainly not before I get the chance to vote! It is an issue of the future. We have forced our government to acknowledge that climate change is a
There is no time to waste in the fight against climate change. The national Walk Against Warming (WAW) protests on November 10-11 mobilised thousands of people. In most major cities they were joined by sizeable “youth blocs”.