Issue 733

News

Speakers at a 100-strong rally supporting the November 17 national day of action for Indigenous rights condemned the Howard Coalition government’s “emergency” intervention into Northern Territory Aboriginal communities and expressed disappointment with the ALP for its “me-too” approach
The Wilderness Society (TWS) has lost its Federal Court appeal, in which it argued that then-federal environment minister Malcolm Turnbull’s assessment of the Tamar Valley pulp mill was inadequate. The appeal was dismissed by three judges on November 22, but TWS spokesperson Greg Ogle said the it would not give up campaigning. “The pulp mill is no closer to being built today than it was yesterday”, he said.
Members of grassroots climate change action group Rising Tide chained themselves to a coal train on November 19 to stop the train reaching the port of Newcastle, the world’s largest coal export port, with a record 80.8 million tonnes being shipped in the 2006-07 financial year.
A struggle to reignite, restore and respect Aboriginal community control is being waged in Fitzroy, a place of historical significance to the contemporary Indigenous rights movement.
On November 21, up to 10,000 Victorian teachers went on strike, travelling from around the state to fill the Vodafone Arena in Melbourne. Around 150 schools were closed as a result of the industrial action. The teachers are calling for a 10% per annum pay rise over the next three years.
Three members of Iraq’s Olympic soccer team and one of the team’s assistant coaches announced their intention to apply for asylum in Australia after an international game in Gosford on November 17. They are currently on three-month temporary visas as athletes, and as such are not being sought by the immigration department.

Analysis

The Socialist Alliance "Howard Overboard" election night party in Green Left Weekly's offices in Sydney spontaneously spilled into the streets when John Howard conceded defeat. Jubilant activists celebrated with chants, whistles and pots and pans in a lap around the block which drew out people from their homes. A right-wing government that has plagued Australia since 1996 has been defeated and we have much to celebrate.
Fighting social exclusion? (1) On November 22 Labor deputy leader and industrial relations shadow minister Julia Gillard announced that a Rudd Labor government would set up an "office of social inclusion" within the Department of the Prime
The following article was written by Migrante Australia, an organisation dedicated to organising and mobilising Filipino migrants and protecting their rights and welfare.
On November 18, PM John Howard announced that the federal government would consider extending the welfare quarantine currently in place for all Aboriginals on welfare in the NT to all welfare recipients convicted of drug offences. “It’s not right that people should have control of taxpayer money when they have been convicted of such offences”, he told ABC News. “This will mean that they will not be able to spend the money on those sorts of drugs, or indeed, for that matter, on alcohol and tobacco.”
This year there has been a series of drug-related scandals in Australia’s two major football codes, the Australian Football League (AFL) and the National Rugby League (NRL). The scandals have nothing to do with “performance enhancing” drug, or even anything to do with the game of football at all. These scandals have been beaten up by a media circus, which has itself fed a frenzy of moral hypocrisy, led by the (now-former) federal Coalition government, with the “me-too” Labor Party chiming in.
Despite the fact that the November 24 federal election was supposed to be a “climate-change election”, the release on November 17 of the fourth and final report from the UN’s Intergovernental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) barely garnered manstream media attention.
Brian Senewiratne: “I have been a strong supporter of the left in my native Sri Lanka since I was 16 years old. I am now 76, and remain convinced, even more so, that it is the capitalist policies, first under the colonial British and later the Brown Sahibs of my ethnic group, the Sinhalese, that have taken that country to its condition of failing state.
The fourth report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, released on November 17, concludes that there is “unequivocal” evidence that human-induced global warming is already under way and, if left unchecked, will lead to rising sea levels, more fierce storms, and more floods and droughts.
Protesting journalists in Pakistan were beaten by police on November 21. I travelled to Pakistan earlier this year, and I wish to show my solidarity with the brave struggle for justice being waged against General Pervez Musharraf’s dictatorship.
Building support in Aboriginal Australia (1) One Indigenous community to organise a meet-the-candidates forum during the election campaign was the Illawarra Aboriginal Community (NSW south coast). It drew more than 60 people, including prominent
Protesting journalists in Pakistan were beaten by police on November 21. I travelled to Pakistan earlier this year, and I wish to show my solidarity with the brave struggle for justice being waged against General Pervez Musharraf’s dictatorship.
The dismissal on November 12 of the charges against alleged terrorist Izhar Ul-Haque after NSW Supreme Court judge Michael Adams ruled on November 2 that ASIO officers had “committed the criminal offences of false imprisonment and kidnapping at common law”, have led to calls for increased oversight over ASIO.

World

The split in the English anti-war party, Respect — The Unity Coalition, which has scored the most successful electoral results for forces to the left of Labour since World War II, saw two conferences by the different sides of the split held simultaneously on November 17. One side are those backing Respect MP George Galloway, including some left-wing Muslim leaders and other independent socialists. On the other is mainly the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), the largest socialist group in England, which has played a leading role in the anti-war movement and been a key component of Respect from its inception.
Indonesian activists in the National Liberation Party of Unity (PAPERNAS) continue to face government-sponsored thuggery and have appealed for support from Australian activists to help them defend their democratic rights.
Two conferences of the English anti-war party, Respect — The Unity Coalition, were convened on November 17 in London. Both were attended by around 350 people. The “Respect Renewal” forces were led by MP George Galloway and 19 other non-Socialist Workers Party members of Respect’s national council. The SWP convened its own conference across town.
Rail workers from the German train drivers union, the Gewerkschaft Deutscher Lokomotivführer (GDL), have repeatedly brought the country to a standstill in recent weeks, with rolling strikes against the state-owned rail company Deutsche Bahn AG.
More than 200 prominent individuals from the arts and showbusiness in the United States have signed a letter addressed to President George Bush expressing their support for cultural relations between the US and Cuba.
A nationwide train strike that had crippled France for nine days in protest against right-wing President Nicholas Sarkozy’s attack on the rail workers’ pension system began to end on November 23. News agencies reported that day that rail workers were voting throughout the country to return to work.
“A US military convoy opened fire on a column of cars Sunday morning, killing at least two Iraqi civilians in southern Iraq and igniting a new round of anger over the apparent loss of innocent life”, the US McClatchy Newspapers chain reported on November 18. “Police charged that the shootings were unprovoked and said six people, including two Iraqi policemen, died in a barrage of bullets.”
Green Left Weekly’s Bronwyn Jennings, spoke with Vaughan Gunson, an activist with Socialist Worker (Aotearoa), which actively participates in the Residents Action Movement, about RAM’s activities in defence of peoples’ rights and against corporate greed.
The special court established to try the former leaders of the Khmer Rouge held its first public sessions on November 20 and 21. The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) is a Cambodian tribunal assisted by international judges, lawyers and administrative officials. It was established by agreement between the Cambodian government and the United Nations.
The International Labor Organization (ILO) denounced the Venezuelan government on Thursday, accusing it of abusing the rights of business owners to freely organise. At the same time, Colombia was praised for its progress in the protection of labour leaders. Venezuelan authorities rejected the statements, accusing the ILO of manipulating the truth for political reasons.
More than 4,000 striking members of the Writers Guild of America and their supporters rallied on November 9 outside of Fox Studios. The crowd was fired up as strikers came together for the first time in one place since the WGA’s strike against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) began on November 5.
On November 22, Pakistan’s Supreme Court ruled that General Pervez Musharraf’s re-election as president (by his hand-picked National Assembly in October) was legitimate, despite his role as head of the armed forces. This ruling is hardly surprising given that, after declaring “emergency rule” on November 3, Musharraf sacked the judges then in the Supreme Court, putting them under house arrest and stacking the court with his stooges. Musharraf has stated that once his puppet Supreme Court had legitimised his re-election, he would resign from the armed forces to become a “civilian” president.
In a May 1 statement, Socialist Worker-New Zealand hailed the developing revolution in Venezuela, arguing it would have a profound impact on not just world politics, but on the international socialist movement. It urged all socialists to relate to the mass revolutionary movement headed by President Hugo Chavez, and in particular expressed solidarity with the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), a party of revolutionary militants being constructed to advance the revolution. SW-NZ urged socialists around the world to build solidarity with the revolution and seek to use the inspiration and example of the gains in Venezuela to advance the global struggle for “socialism of the 21st Century”.
Late on November 21, Colombian President Alvaro Uribe put an end to the efforts of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to achieve a humanitarian agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) for the release of FARC-held hostages in exchange for the freeing of FARC prisoners, Ingrid Betancourt, Senator Cordoba Piedad, Manuel Marulanda,
student protests two weeks ago against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s proposed constitutional reforms, more than 50,000 students marched in favour of the reforms in Caracas on November 22. The reforms aim to facilitate the massive deepening of the revolutionary process lead by the Chavez government that has already made significant inroads into reducing poverty, in order to open the transition to a ‘socialism of the 21st Century”. The reforms, which have been widely debated throughout society and have been adopted by the National Assembly, will be put to a referendum on December 2.
“Iran has provided sufficient access to individuals and has responded in a timely manner to questions, and provided clarifications and amplifications” about its past nuclear activities that “are consistent with … information available to the agency”, Mohamed ElBaradei, director-general of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency, stated in a 10-page report distributed to the IAEA’s 35-member governing board on November 15.

Culture

The media memorialised Norman Mailer after his death on November 10 with accolades about his stature as a literary giant, two Pulitzer Prizes, larger-than-life celebrity persona and reputation as an egotistical curmudgeon. But the substance of his ideas and his life beyond the image and the awards got little attention.
Down to This: A Year Living with the Homeless
By Shaughnessy Bishop-Stall
University of Queensland Press, 2007
475 pp, $32.95 (pb)
21 Up South Africa — 21 Up South Africa offers insights into the social and political changes occurring throughout the country since the fall of Apartheid. SBS, Sunday, December 2, 9.25pm. Gough Whitlam: In His Own Words — Examines Whitlam's

General

I became a grandfather last week. The much-anticipated first grandchild arrived at 11.42pm. That’s worse than it sounds because she was born in Perth and I live in Sydney — two hours ahead. I groggily answered the phone but my eldest daughter’s excited voice woke me up quickly and the memory of the birth of my younger daughter just 11 years ago came rushing back.

Letters

Preferences I While voting at the pre-polling booth in Katoomba, I was handed a flyer entitled "How to vote for Your Rights at Work" in the Macquarie electorate. As a strong supporter of the Your Rights at Work campaign, who has letterboxed for it

Resistance!

Two years on, the full impact of “voluntary student unionism” (VSU) is now being felt at Australian universities. Legislation to implement VSU was introduced in 2005 by the Howard government, despite the opposition of much of the student population. Its intention was to defund student organisations and cripple their ability to take effective political action in support of their members’ interests.
For over a decade now, Australian universities have been under attack. PM John Howard’s whittling away at the public funding of tertiary education came to a head in 2005, with the implementation of the Nelson Review. The review promoted a shift away from government funding of universities, which meant that they had to seek funding elsewhere — fee-paying students and big business.