Issue 745

News

Federal parliament passed the Workplace Relations Amendment (Transition to Forward with Fairness Bill) on March 19. The bill — which the corporate media falsely claims has brought an end to Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs) — became law on March 28.
The WA Aboriginal Rights Coalition (ARC) has demanded that the state government allocate adequate resources to the Aboriginal Legal Service (ALS) to deal with the thousands of compensation claims from members of the Stolen Generations.
Fifty people gathered outside of the Crown Casino on March 18 to protest Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s support of a gala dinner of the United Israel Appeal — Refugee Relief Fund (UIA), a Zionist organisation.
The Tullamarine toxic waste dump is likely to be closed permanently after the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) announced that from February 18 no more waste would be accepted at the site, pending an inquiry.
On March 20, a 40-strong community picket blocked trucks from entering the Coburg plant of Visy Industries, the world’s largest packaging and recycling company. The picket was to protest the sacking of George Kyridis, a member of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) Visy is owned by the Pratt family and employs about 8000 people in Australia, New Zealand and North America.
On March 13 the Victorian Legislative Assembly passed a bill to establish a relationships register, which will allow couples, regardless of gender, to be formally recognised under Victorian law. However, concerns have been raised that the proposals contain a number of serious shortcomings.
Members of the Stolen Wages Working Group (SWWG) walked out of a meeting with Queensland Indigenous affairs minister Lindy Nelson-Carr on March 25 when they were told that $21.2 million in promised extra compensation payments would be redirected to
On February 26, Forestry Tasmania, the state-government-run corporation that manages Tasmania’s forests, revealed that it had signed a 20-year deal to supply wood to Gunns Limited’s proposed Tamar Valley pulp mill.
The seven-member Bass Coast Shire Council, on whose land the Victorian Labor government plans to build a $3.1 billion desalination plant, voted on March 19 to drop its support for the project. In a March 20 media release, council CEO Allan Bawden
The March 25 Sydney Morning Herald reported that the site of a planned supermarket development in the northern NSW town of Moree is an Indigenous burial site.

Analysis

As part of the former Howard government’s Northern Territory “intervention”, the Community Development Employment Program (CDEP) was abolished. The Howard government had planned to abolish it across other states on July 1 this year.
Global warming, General Motors’ vice-chairperson of global product development Robert A. Lutz told reporters in a closed-door meeting in January, is “a total crock of shit”. Within hours the remark was reported on the internet, and spread, as Lutz subsequently lamented, “like ragweed”.
When the outside world thinks about Australia, it generally turns to venerable cliches of innocence — cricket, leaping marsupials, endless sunshine, no worries. Australian governments actively encourage this. Witness the recent “G’day USA” campaign, in which Kylie Minogue and Nicole Kidman sought to persuade people in the US that, unlike the empire’s problematic outposts, a gormless greeting awaited them Down Under. After all, George Bush had ordained the previous Australian prime minister, John Howard, “sheriff of Asia”.
On March 20, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that federal immigration minister Chris Evans had agreed to “speed-up” the processing of 457 visas, which allow bosses to hire skilled workers from overseas to fill alleged skill shortages.
Channel Seven boss Kerry Stokes’s HRL Ltd and China’s Harbin Power Engineering Company are to build a $750 million “clean coal” power station in the Latrobe Valley that, when operational from the end of 2009, will add significantly to Victoria’s greenhouse gas emissions.

World

On March 6, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) member of parliament K. Sivanesan was killed by a claymore mine while driving through a village in northern Sri Lanka on his way home from a parliamentary sitting in Colombo. Sivanesan had voted against a further extension of the state of emergency currently in place.
Within days of Washington’s war on Iraq entering its sixth year, the White House confirmed news reports that the US troop death toll had passed the 4000 mark. Associated Press reported on March 23 that “the grim milestone” came after “a roadside bomb killed four US soldiers in Baghdad”.
Below is an abridged March 19 statement by Human Rights Watch, .
It is not an overstatement that the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela is a shining beacon of hope for struggling masses around the world.
On March 18, Peter Boyle, the national secretary of the Democratic Socialist Perspective — a Marxist tendency in the Socialist Alliance — interviewed S. Arutchelvan, the secretary general of the Malaysian Socialist Party (PSM), about the PSM’s electoral successes in the March 12 general elections. This interview was originally published by socialist e-journal Links at .
“Percy Schmeiser’s decade-long legal odyssey has finally come to an end — and he’s got a cheque for [C]$660 to prove it”, the March 20 Toronto Globe and Mail reported.
Below is an abridged statement by the International Trade Union Confederation
March 17 and 18 were bad days for the US government and the corporate interests it represents, as it suffered two blows to its campaign to undermine the growing movement in Latin America towards regional integration to challenge US domination.
Kathy Black recently took part in a speaking tour of Australia at the invitation of Sydney’s Stop the War Coalition. Black is one of six national conveners of US Labor Against the War and is also the Philadelphia president of the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW), a group affiliated to the AFL-CIO union federation. She spoke to Green Left Weekly’s Margarita Windisch about some of the gender and race issues that US unions have to tackle.
On March 19, JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon joined Bear Stearns CEO Alan Schwartz to face a group of 400 stunned Bear executives. Five days earlier, Bear Stearns, one of Wall Street’s five largest investment banks, had lost $17 billion of wealth, triggering the biggest financial panic since the Great Depression.
A demonstration by Buddhist monks in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, on March 10 to commemorate the anniversary of China’s crushing of the Tibetan independence movement in 1959 triggered protests for self-determination that, by March 14, had escalated into anti-Chinese riots in which 19 people were killed.
The Prague City Court rejected an appeal from the Czech Communist Youth Association (KSM) against an official banning order, the German JungeWelT reported on March 27. The interior ministry prohibition order was originally issued in October 2006.
Venezuela's Bolivarian revolution, led by President Hugo Chavez, is an ongoing process aiming at the transformation of Venezuela to overcome poverty and empower the poor majority — as well as lead a process of Latin American integration to break
Sickly and malnourished, Kirana Kapito began his working life on a large commercial tobacco estate in Malawi’s northern region. Such farms sell their produce on the country’s auction floors directly to international corporations, including Limbe Leaf Tobacco (majority-owned by the Swiss-registered Continental Tobacco Company), and US-based Alliance One Tobacco.
The European Commission is increasingly annoyed by its inability to foist unwanted, unnecessary and unsafe genetically modified crops onto European consumers and some member-state governments.

Culture

Message Stick: Talking Stick — Filmmakers discuss the Indigenous Unit at the Australian Film Commission. ABC, Friday April 4, 6pm. Muddy Waters: Life and Death on the Great Barrier Reef — By 2030, half of the Great Barrier Reef may be gone.
Cold Tea for Brandy — A Tale of Protest, Painting & Politics
By Joan Coxsedge
Vulcan Press, 2007
$39.95 or $30 + postage from the author, (03) 9857 9249
The Soviet Century
By Moshe Lewin
Verso 2005 416 pages, $73.56 (hb)
Cold Tea for Brandy — A Tale of Protest, Painting & Politics
By Joan Coxsedge
Vulcan Press, 2007
$39.95 or $30 + postage from the author, (03) 9857 9249

General

“It was lunchtime in one of Haiti’s worst slums, and Charlene Dumas was eating mud. With food prices rising, Haiti’s poorest can’t afford even a daily plate of rice, and some take desperate measures to fill their bellies. Charlene, 16 with a 1-month-old son, has come to rely on a traditional Haitian remedy for hunger pangs: cookies made of dried yellow dirt from the country’s central plateau.

Letters

Palestine I GLW #743 carried a front cover headline "End Gaza Holocaust", to which I object. There is no justification, factually or ethically, to abuse the memory of the victims of Nazi genocide by describing Israel's actions as a holocaust. This

Resistance!

In December 2006, when Kevin Rudd was elected leader of the federal Labor Party, he held a press conference about his personal values where he stated the obvious: “I am not a socialist. I have never been a socialist and I never will be a socialist.” His argument against socialism was basic — it is a “19th-century arcane view”.