Issue 735

News

At a November 30 state council meeting, Victorian Australian Education Union (AEU) officials attacked the Teachers Alliance, a rank-and-file grouping, for distributing a leaflet at a November 21 stop-work meeting that warned of the dangers of compromises by the officials who are engaged in negotiations with the Victorian state government about a new agreement for teachers.
“In the new year, the progressive community needs to take up the cudgels for all those who continue to suffer human rights abuses in this country”, Sam Watson, Murri activist and Socialist Alliance Senate candidate in the recent federal elections, told a speak-out for International Human Rights Day on December 7. He condemned the attacks on Aboriginal rights inherent in the former Howard government’s invasion of the Northern Territory, and the infringement of civil liberties represented by the mandatory detention of refugees and the “anti-terror” laws.
Workers at the Foster’s brewery at Yatala, south of Brisbane, have stepped up their campaign for a union agreement, following a victory over the latest attempt by the company’s management to impose a non-union agreement on the work force at the plant. Scott Wilson, Electrical Trades Union (ETU) organiser for the site, told Green Left Weekly that the Yatala workers had voted by 154 to 120 to reject management’s third offer of a non-union agreement, which provides wages and conditions significantly below those of workers at other breweries in southern states.
Victorian unions have begun discussing the next stage of the campaign to rip up all of Work Choices.
A bill legalising aspects of brothel operation is being debated by Western Australia’s parliament. The Prostitution Amendment Bill 2007 would change the current legislative approach to brothels from one of “containment” (brothels, while technically illegal, are regulated by the police), to one where brothel managers and owners could be formally registered.
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.
An Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) spy told a NSW Supreme Court judge on December 4 that Australian counter-terrorist authorities had no evidence that Mamdouh Habib had engaged in terrorist-related activities in Afghanistan and Pakistan before he was abducted by US authorities in October 2001.
The November 27 decision by the Victorian Premier John Brumby’s Labor government to lift a moratorium on commercially-grown genetically-modified canola has drawn sharp criticism from scientific researchers and environmental activists. Labor MPs declared that the decision had been made secretly, and should have been open to debate.

Analysis

In the last instalment of a recent exchange that was sparked by Green Left Weekly’s interview with Eva Golinger (GLW #716, June 28, 2007), Professor Steven Zunes accused me of having made a “series of false accusations and major leaps of logic” in my critical assessment of the links that the non-profit International Centre on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC) maintains with the United States’ leading democracy manipulators. (Online edition only: http://www.greenleft.org.au/2007/727/37727). Taking into account that Zunes currently chairs the ICNC’s board of academic advisors, his distress over the facts I have revealed is understandable. Thus, in an effort to address all of Zunes’ unfounded concerns with my last article, I will work through each of the points he has raised concerning my critique of the ICNC.
Worldwide, building construction and use accounts for around 40% of greenhouse gas emissions (materials, actual construction, heating, cooling, lighting etc.). The use of green building materials and construction techniques must be a key element in the drive to curb global warming.
The first days of the December 3-14 Bali meeting on a post-Kyoto framework for tackling climate change showed that the US-led call for a “comprehensive new agreement” that would require Third World countries that are big greenhouse-gas emitters to commit to emission reductions had the support of most First World government delegations. This push would reverse one of the most valuable aspects of the Kyoto Protocol, which is due to expire in 2012.
Kevin Smith, a researcher for Carbon Trade Watch, participated in the December 3-14 United Nations Climate Change Conference held in Bali, Indonesia. Smith spoke to Green Left Weekly’s Zoe Kenny about the campaign against carbon trading.
Delegates from more than 180 countries began meeting on the Indonesian island of Bali on December 3 at the United Nations Climate Change Conference. The gathering is meant to begin the process of negotiating an agreement on climate change for the period after 2012, when the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol expires.
As an orgy of consumerism descends upon the Western world to commemorate the birth of Christ, it is poignant to consider the relationship between Christianity and the left. It is a common misconception that socialists are atheists and are opposed to all forms of religion. Indeed, many socialists are atheists, and the abhorrence of organised religion by some can be traced back to the role of the church in siding with regressive conservative forces at various stages throughout history (and indeed itself being at times a highly repressive institution). However, socialism is opposed to all forms of discrimination — be it based upon gender, ethnicity, sexual preference, or indeed religious belief.
In September 2006, Roger Harris, a teacher at Chisholm Institute of Technology (Victoria) and an Australian Education Union member for 23 years, was stood down by the Chisholm management. Harris had been an active union member, playing a central role on the sub-branch executive for 16 years and has served on the AEU’s TAFE sector council for 10 years.
Following the election of the new federal Labor government, ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope announced that a third attempt would be made to introduce same-sex civil unions in the ACT. Legislation currently before the ACT Legislative Assembly will be voted on early next year.
Lex Wotton has been portrayed by the Queensland police, government and mainstream media as the ringleader of the so-called “riot” that occurred on Palm Island on November 26, 2004. A police station and residence were destroyed after a police report on the death of community member Mulrunji Doomadgee that concluded that his death was an accident was read at a public meeting. Wotton will face court in April 2008. He continues to be vilified in the media. He spoke to Green Left Weekly’s Hamish Chitts.
In his election night acceptance speech, PM Kevin Rudd said that all of Labor’s policy now becomes a “plan of action” for the incoming Labor government. As to Labor’s oft repeated promise to “tear up Work Choices”, their plans — as far as they actually go — are detailed in the Forward with Fairness: Policy Implementation Plan, released by the then Labor opposition in August.
Greens leader Senator Bob Brown has called on the new Rudd Labor government to scrap the pulp mill that has been approved to be built in northern Tasmania. Brown has pointed to the strong Greens vote that helped the ALP regain all lower house seats in Tasmania as a mandate to stop the mill.
Kevin Rudd is a prime minister in a big hurry. Only a fortnight has passed since the Howard government was thrown into the dustbin, and the new Labor cabinet is already scurrying about its work.
Ecology is often seen as a recent invention. But the idea that capitalism degrades the environment in a way that disproportionately affects the poor and the colonised was already expressed in the 19th century in the work of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels.
The defeat of the Howard government in the November 24 federal election was “a great victory for the Australian working class”, Sam Watson, leading Aboriginal activist and Queensland Senate candidate for the Socialist Alliance, told Green Left Weekly. “John Howard has been cast out, senior ministers defeated, and many Coalition seats now made marginal. This represents a realignment of working-class forces in the country”, Watson added.

World

John Riddell and Suzanne Weiss traveled to Venezuela at the end of November, as participants in a tour organized by the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network (<http://www.venezuelasolidarity.org>. The authors are members of the editorial team of Canadian publication Socialist Voice (http://www.socialistvoice.ca).
@intro =”The United States government cheered the outcome of Venezuelan’s constitutional reform referendum of December 2, which prompted Venezuela’s Ambassador to the U.S. to accuse the Bush administration of a ‘double standard’ because of its criticisms of the referendum shortly before the vote”, Kiraz Janicke wrote in a Venezuelanalysis.com article on December 4.
Bolivia’s indigenous, left-wing President Evo Morales has announced plans to hold a referendum on whether or not he will continue in office, according to a December 5 New York Times article. The aim is to overcome the stalemate the country has faced between the right-wing elite — opposed to the process of change pushed by Morales — and the poor and indigenous majority that put Morales in power. The vice president and nine state governors will also a vote on continuing in office.
The jammed crowd of marchers on December 6 in Cochabamba took an hour and a half to walk past the window of our office, from start to finish. By the time that the dense snake of supporters President Evo Morales wound its way through the city centre and gathered as a single throng in the Central Plaza, it easily numbered 10,000 or more. It was the largest gathering I have seen in the plaza since the high tide of the “water revolt” in April 2000. It was also completely peaceful.
On November 20, two unidentified thugs use butchers’ cleavers to brutally attack Huang Qingnan, an organiser of the Dagongzhe Centre in the south China foreign capital haven of Shenzhen, leaving him seriously injured. The assault came on the heels of the October 11 and November 14 attempts to ransack the workers’ centre by an unidentified gang, leaving behind extensive property damage.
On November 29, Ecuador’s new constituent assembly sat for the first time, beginning the process of rewriting the country’s constitution as part of self-described socialist President Rafael Correa’s project of refounding the country through a “citizen’s revolution”.
On the night of March 25, 1971 the Pakistani army began a campaign to murder and rape thousands of Bengalis in an attempt to curb the rise of the Bengali national independence movement in what was then East Pakistan — Bangladesh today.
With the defeat of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s proposed constitutional reforms, aimed at “opening the path to socialism” in the referendum on December 2, by a tiny margin of 50.7% to 49.3% with 90% of the vote counted, many Venezuelans and supporters of the Bolivarian revolution internationally are asking “what happened?”.
The US troop death toll in Iraq in November — 37 — was the lowest since March 2006, when 31 US troops were killed. Nevertheless, 2007 has been the deadliest year on record for the US occupation forces, with 878 troops killed by the end of November — 56 more than last year.
Dita Sari, who is head of the advisory council of the National Liberation Party of Unity (Papernas) and also a member of the advisory council of Indonesian National Front for Labour Struggles, spoke to Green Left Weekly during the Latin America and Asia Pacific International Solidarity (LAAPIS) forum, held in Melbourne from October 11-14, about the struggles of Indonesian workers.
On November 29, a number of soldiers led by Captain Antonio Trillanes, who were on trial for their role in a 2003 popular uprising against Filipino President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, walked out of court accompanied by the soldiers who were supposed to be guarding them.
[This is a statement released by the Australia Western Sahara Association (Victoria) on December 4.]
A new US intelligence report released on December 3 “not only undercut the administration’s alarming rhetoric over Iran’s nuclear ambitions but could also throttle Bush’s effort to ratchet up international sanctions and take off the table the possibility of preemptive military action before the end of his presidency”, the December 4 Washington Post reported.
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. This article, by John Riddell, is part of an ongoing series on the history of the Comintern.

Culture

The First Zionist Bunny — In a country where women have long been soldiers and prime ministers, is being a Playboy Channel hostess the ultimate post-feminist success? SBS, Friday, December 14, 10pm. India’s Ladyboys — Follows a group of Hirjas, those who were born hermaphrodites and those who were born men and have since been castrated, who are still considered outsiders in their own country. ABC, Monday, December 17, 12:10am. Cutting Edge: Spying on the Home Front — In a permanent war against a hidden enemy, how far has the government gone in hunting terrorists by watching us? SBS, Monday, December 17, 1.30pm. Energy War — Describes the geopolitical consequences of the dependency on fossil fuels. SBS, Tuesday, December 18, 8.30pm. Crude Impact — Examines the future implications of “peak oil”, the point in time when the amount of petroleum available worldwide begins a steady, inexorable decline. SBS, Tuesday, December 18, 10pm. Summer of Love — San Francisco’s hippy movement was born out of youth who’d grown up with post-WWII affluence but were now dealing with Vietnam, racism, and the threat of nuclear annihilation. SBS, Wednesday December 19, 8.30pm,. Waste Equals Food — In the early ’90s, the US “green” architect William McDonough and German “green” chemist Michael Braungart teamed up to realise the Waste = Food principle in human-made products. SBS, Thursday, December 20, 1.30pm. Days that Changed the World: The Storming of the Bastille — Looks at the infamous date, July 14, 1789: The French revolution which began in Paris with the storming of the Bastille. SBS, Friday, December 21, 2.30pm. Dirty War — Against a geo-political backdrop of war, terrorism, and shifting global alliances, this is the struggle between a group of poisoned Filipino peasants and allegedly one of the largest, and certainly most powerful, polluters on the planet — the US military. SBS, Saturday, December 22, 12.50am. The Butterfly Effect — Terri Janke is a Sydney-based Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property lawyer, whose firm is the only one in the country dealing with the issue of ICIP rights for Indigenous people. ABC, Sunday December 23, 1.30pm.
In New South Wales
bridges tell the tale
of life’s travail
for the not so beautiful elite @poetry = The homeless out of work
share a space of dirt
beneath your bridges
under the souls of your feet @poetry = There’s no dreaming here
romance is out of date
beauty is the sadness
of a quintessential fate @poetry = Mums ’n kids share
8 x 2 tin cans with lids
and wait for that day of the meek
but it won’t be this week @poetry = There communards
sleep by streets
on a park bench
where the soup kitchen meets @poetry = Real jobs have gone
old industries fled
and the rest of youse
have left us for dead @poetry = In New South Wales
histories tell the tale
of a social elite
with mud at their feet @poetry = and egos that never skip a beat
@poetry = Someone is crying in the dark,
She lost her son (a monk who stood up for people)
Someone had woken up in the middle of the night,
She longs for her rights as a human being. @poetry = Someone had been beaten to death on the road,
For he was holding a signboard. @poetry = Someone is praying in Insein jail,
He was arrested and tortured all day. @poetry = They have sacrificed for their country,
But their country has not been freed. @poetry = We have to hand over their works,
If you dare to fight for their rights! @poetry = We have to follow their way,
Which they’ve walked with hope, love and prayers. @poetry = We will fight to reach our goal, @poetry = Don’t wait until tommorrow!
Journey
Music from Archie Roach
Liberation Music, 2007, $30
Push Comes to Shove
Music by John Hammond
Only Blues Music, 2007
12 tracks, $23.99
The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine
By Ilan Pappe
Oneworld Publications, 2006
313 pages, $39.95 (hb)

General

The next issue of Green Left Weekly will be dated January 23, 2008. Thanks for all your support.
When I switched on the TV on the day after the federal election, this message hit me: the election is over, now we can get on with Christmas shopping!

Letters

Global warming A vexing problem before negotiators at the December 3-14 UN climate change conference in Bali is how to convince poor countries to invest in renewable energy to power their development, when most renewable sources are significantly

Resistance!

Throughout history, young people have often been in the forefront of struggles for social change. The enthusiasm and energy of young people engaging in political protest can inspire and give confidence to the wider population. That is why Resistance is a socialist youth organisation. We know that it will take ordinary working people of all ages to change society, but by being part of a youth organisation young people have the space to develop confidence as political activists and to help lead others in struggle.
With the Howard government gone, now is the time to remove Work Choices once and for all. Unfortunately, the new Rudd government has decided to maintain key sections of the laws, such as maintaining Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs — individual contracts) and limiting unfair dismissal laws.