Issue 752

News

Victorian Premier John Brumby announced on May 5 that a deal had been struck with the Australian Education Union. While Mary Bluett, AEU branch president, described it as “the deal we were fighting for”, many union members are furious with the agreement made on their behalf.
MAdGE (Mothers Against Genetic Engineering) took its opposition to genetically modified food to the streets on May 21, to coincide with a May 21-22 GM crops summit in Melbourne.
Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) president Professor Ian Lowe called on Australians to “mutiny” against government inaction on climate change, at a public forum on May 17. Forty people attended the event organised by Friends of the Earth (FoE).
On May 22, 40,000 public school teachers in NSW took 24-hour strike action in opposition to the Labor state government’s refusal to negotiate with the NSW Teachers Federation (NSWTF) over the way teachers are allocated to public schools.
Only 35 of the 7500 Aboriginal children examined as part of the federal government’s Northern Territory “intervention” have been referred to child authorities for suspected abuse, according to figures released by the federal health and reported in the May 19 Brisbane Courier Mail.
According to a May 21 Australian article, Dr Paul Mees, senior lecturer in transport and land use planning, intends to sue Melbourne University. Mees’s pay was cut after a university inquiry found him guilty of making insulting remarks about a state government official.
A rally against a ban by the Gold Coast City Council on demonstrations in the city’s parks is being held on May 26 outside the Gold Coast council chambers in Surfers Paradise.
Anti-desalination plant campaigners rallied at the Victorian Labor Party conference in Melbourne on May 24. They were protesting against the state ALP government’s construction of a large desalination plant at Wonthaggi on the South Gippsland coast.
The opening night of the first conference of the Aboriginal Rights Coalition (ARC), held in Australia Hall on May 23, drew 170 activists from around Australia.
The Combined Rail Unions in NSW are recommending industrial action to force the NSW Rail Corporation (Railcorp) to back away from plans to cut 400 jobs on stations, along with rail workers’ conditions of work.
The Connex ticket inspectors, who already have a reputation for violent and thuggish behaviour, are pushing for the right to carry handcuffs. Julian Burnside QC, president of Civil Liberties Victoria, has described the plan as “insane”.
On May 6, five major construction unions met in Brisbane to plan a national campaign to abolish the draconian Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC).

Analysis

The Pacific Calling Partnership (PCP) is a response to the calls of people on low-lying islands in the Pacific about the ravages of climate change — more storm surges, longer droughts, tides rising higher, shores eroding, coral reefs bleaching, water supplies and soils becoming contaminated by salt water, breadfruit and banana trees dying and taro pits being destroyed.
Labor’s first federal budget in 13 years was well received by much of the welfare lobby, despite its shortcomings. “The Brotherhood of St Laurence welcomes the Rudd Government’s first Budget because of its focus on helping disadvantaged Australians to overcome poverty and achieve their aspirations”, Tony Nicholson, BSL executive director said in a media release on May 13. “Robin Hood may have just fired off his first humble arrow”, said Dr John Falzon, CEO of the St Vincent de Paul Society, in his statement on the budget.
With his May 15 announcement that legislation to enable electricity privatisation will be introduced into the June session of parliament, NSW Premier Morris Iemma started the countdown to the most decisive days of the struggle to date.
The Victorian Aboriginal Health Service (VAHS), based in Fitzroy, and started by Koori activists in 1973, is threatened by funding shortfalls.
Ali Humayun, a queer Pakistani, was recently granted permanent residency after spending more than three years locked up in Villawood Detention Centre. He made the following statement to Green Left Weekly on May 23.
The following abridged statement was initiated by participants at the Climate Change — Social Change conference, hosted by Green Left Weekly in Sydney, April 11-13, 2008.

World

Despite the April 27 death of Lance Corporal Jason Marks, the fifth Australian soldier killed in Afghanistan since the 2001 US-led invasion, and subsequent allegations of the mistreatment of Afghan prisoners of war by Australian troops, the there are no plans to withdraw any of the 1000 Australian troops from Afghanistan.
A pile of bags and clothing on an old shopfront verandah on Cuff Road in Singapore’s Little India is “home” to a group of about 50 migrant workers who have been spat out by an economy that relies heavily on so-called “guest workers”.
On March 1, the Colombian military (with US Special Forces help) illegally attacked a Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP) rebel camp inside Ecuador.
Cuban officials have produced letters that demonstrate “irrefutable evidence” of the channelling of funds from a convicted anti-Cuban terrorist to Cubans the US has termed “dissidents” and “independent journalists”.
According to a May 19 report by Latin American TV station Telesur, Venezuela’s defence minister Gustavo Rangel Briceno, denounced the fact that a US fighter jet violated Venezuelan airspace — around the La Orchila island, which houses a Venezuelan military base — two days earlier.
The report below is based on accounts posted to the blog of the Indonesian National Liberation Party of Unity (Papernas). Visit http://papernas-international.blogspot.com.
In recent times, capitalist interests have financially supported two types of revolution — helping fund the “neoliberal revolution” and supporting/hijacking popular revolutions (or in some cases manufactured “revolutions”) in countries of geo-strategic importance.
According to a May 22 Sydney Morning Herald report, "Britain has forged landmark new rights" for gay and single women when the House of Commons "unexpectedly" voted against proposals that would have would have required fertility clinics to consider a
A May 19 statement by the International Trade Union Confederation reported that Zimbabwe’s High Court had granted Z$20 billion bail to Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions president Lovemore Matombo and ZCTU general secretary Wellington Chibebe. The two were are facing charges of “inciting the public to rise against the government and communicating falsehoods”. As part of the bail conditions, the two were being barred to “address any political gathering until this matter is finalised” and ordered to reside at their given home addresses. The ZCTU leaders were charged after they told workers gathered at Dzivaresekwa Stadium on May 1 that people were being killed during the current wave of political violence in the country.
Silicon Valley janitors, mostly immigrants from Central America, walked out of Cisco Systems and Yahoo buildings in the first day of a Bay Area-wide strike intended to force building service contractors to sign a new agreement with their union,
Ideas become a material force when they grasp the minds of masses.
Below is an abridged sign-on statement initiated by the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador, http://cispes.org. To add you organisation, please email sistercities@gmail.com The context for the violence is the increasing likelihood of a victory in the elections for early next year of the left-wing Farabundo Marti Liberation Front.
Below is an abridged statement released on May 15 by participants in the People’s Social Summit in Lima, denouncing the decision of ETI and Telecom Italia to demand that the New York State Court freeze the accounts of the National Telecommunications Company (ENTEL). This action is part of a strategy of aggression against the government of Bolivia, which has nationalised ENTEL. Visit http://boliviarising.blogspot.com for the full statement with signatures.
The Irish referendum on the European Union Lisbon Treaty will take place on June 12. The Dublin government, media and all the major political parties, with the exception of Sinn Fein, are calling for a “Yes” vote for “jobs, the economy and Ireland’s future in Europe”.
“It is a sad day for South Africa when we see our brothers and sisters from other countries being attacked, killed and injured in our communities and streets”, a May 21 statement by the South African Anti-Privatisation Forum (APF) stated, in response to the wave of violent attacks against foreigners in the townships and working class suburbs around Johannesburg.
According to the World Health Organisation, 50% of the drugs sold online are fakes.
In an unexpected ruling, the California Supreme Court overturned a state law banning same-sex marriage on May 15, opening the door to marriage equality for gays and lesbians in the biggest US state.
Crispin Beltran, died on May 20 from an accident in Manila, Philippines. He was 75.

Culture

Christy Moore is a powerful vocalist, song interpreter, and a passionately political person and performer. To many he may be simply a folk singer, but Moore is a voice for the voiceless.
Shostakovich: A Life
By Laurel E. Fay
Oxford University Press, 2005
458 pages, $47.95 (pb)
Songlines of a Mutti Mutti Man
Produced by Ilbijerri Theatre
Devised by the Edwards Family Collective
Directed by Kylie Belling
Arts House, North Melbourne Town Hall
May 26-31
Bookings 03 9639 0096

General

The Democratic Socialist Perspective (DSP), the group that initiated Green Left Weekly in 1991 as a broad left newspaper, has suffered a political split with minority critical of its continuing support for the Socialist Alliance as a new party project. This follows a nearly three-year internal debate in the DSP.
“Macquarie Bank bosses’ pay cut after profit cut warning”, was the headline of an article by Michael Sainsbury and Katherine Jimenez, in the May 21 Australian.