Issue 757

Australia

Five thousand people attended the vibrant Climate Emergency Rally in Melbourne on June 5. Grassroots environment activists and groups came from all over Victoria to protest numerous environmentally destructive projects currently underway or proposed, demanding action instead be focused on renewable energy and public transport.

On June 26, NSW Nurses Association branches voted in favour of the pay and conditions offer and classification review offer made by the NSW health department. The first 3.9% pay rise will happen in early July. There are some improvements to conditions; notably, part-timers can choose to increase their contracted hours to the average actually worked over the preceding 12 months.

Truck drivers are planning a national strike if demands for changes to new transport reforms are not met by the federal government. Drivers from NSW, Victoria and Queensland will take action from midnight on July 27.

At its state council meeting on June 11, the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) strengthened its environmental policy, and pledged to support to the revolutionary process unfolding in Venezuela.

More than 200 people from across Australia turned anger into action at the Resistance National Conference, held in Sydney from June 27-29. Activists met to discuss everything from revolutions in Latin America to the next steps in the climate change campaign.

Three of the five Sydney residents who joined a May Day solidarity brigade to Venezuela reported back on their observations and experiences of the Bolivarian revolution to a meeting of 35 people on June 24.

One of the lawyers for Mohamed Haneef, the doctor charged with terrorism-related offences in 2007, told a 100-strong June 21 public meeting that the Howard government had “wanted Dr Haneef to be a terrorist — but he wasn’t”. The Australian Federal Police (AFP) case against Haneef spectacularly imploded.

On July 3, NSW public-sector delegates met at Unions NSW and unanimously endorsed a resolution calling for “a day of action on July 30th where members will be called upon to demonstrate the extent the public relies on services delivered by public sector workers”. Public sector workers will “withdraw their goodwill” on the day, Unions NSW secretary John Robertson said at a press conference on July 3, although he has ruled out any strike action.

On July 3, 95% of NSW Rail Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) members voted to take action on pay and conditions in the next 30 days, not ruling out disrupting World Youth Day.

While the NSW teachers have won some concessions, they are continuing to campaign against the state government’s abandonment of the state-wide staffing transfer system. The NSW Teachers Federation (NSWTF) decided at its June 14 state council meeting on a two-hour stopwork the week beginning August 25.

In Sydney, for the month of July, you can be arrested and charged $5500 for causing “annoyance” or “inconvenience” to others (but mainly to the pope, or his supporters) in more than 600 places across Sydney — including railway stations, schools and tourist icons, such as the Harbour Bridge.

Hundreds of building workers took their demand for the secretive Australian Building and Construction Commission to be abolished to its headquarters on St Kilda Road on June 26. The protest was timed to coincide with the compulsory hearing of four crane workers, all members of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU).

A public meeting on June 24 against the proposed desalination plant drew 500 people. The gathering, 12 months after a 700-strong public meeting that kicked off the campaign, vowed to continue the fight against the energy-inefficient and costly non-solution to Melbourne’s water crisis.

Indigenous communities have been underfunded and deprived of essential resources for decades because of faulty census data, a technical paper produced by Australian National University (ANU) academics has discovered.

Employees and Australian Workers Union (AWU) members at CSR’s Yarraville sugar refinery are in dispute with management over a log of claims for their enterprise bargaining agreement.

World

Two weeks ago, I presented a young Palestinian, Mohammed Omer, with the 2008 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism.

The last time I saw Aung San Suu Kyi, general secretary of Burma’s National League for Democracy (NLD), was in 1996.

There have been nationwide protests against the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government’s decision to raise the prices of petrol, diesel and cooking gas.

1942: Japanese invade Burma. The Burma Independence Army is under the command of Aung San, Aung San Suu Kyi's (ASSK) father.

1943: Aung San is Minister of War in formally independent but Japanese-occupied Burma.

1945: Burmese army, lead by Aung

On June 30, the collective agreements covering actors in the US television industry expired.

These are some of the corporations currently doing business with the Burmese military junta. For a full list, see the Burma Campaign UK’s “Dirty List” of corporations in Burma, http://www.burmacampaign.org.uk.

According to a July 2 Brisbane Times article, the Iraqi government is suing the formerly Australian government-owned AWB Limited, which has a monopoly over Australian wheat exports, over its alleged rorting of the United Nations’ oil-for-food program as part of UN-enforced sanctions against Iraq following the first Gulf War in 1991.

As Malaysian opposition parties and social activists, emboldened by advances in the March general elections, prepared to hold a giant protest against recent oil price hike (petrol up 41%, diesel up 67%) in Kuala Lumpur on July 6, a series of disturbing events unfolded.

On June 29, ZANU-PF’s Robert Mugabe was declared the winner by electoral officials of the presidential run-off vote on June 27, in which he was the only candidate. It was announced that Mugabe had won 2,150,269 votes against 233,000 for the leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Morgan Tsvangirai.

On June 24, more than 10,000 workers picketed a power loom factory in Sadhar Faisalabad for more than eight hours. They were demanding the arrest of the owner of the factory and his gangsters.

A political economist and activist who directs the Centre for Civil Society at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa, Patrick Bond was a featured guest speaker at the Green Left Weekly Social Change — Climate Change conference held in Sydney in April.

In full campaign mode, as Bolivia prepares to go to the polls again on August 10 to decide the fate of the president and nine departmental prefects [state governors] in recall referendums, Bolivia’s left-wing indigenous President Evo Morales took time out to speak exclusively to Argentinian journalist Pablo Stefanoni in the presidential palace.

Venezuela’s environment ministry has proclaimed sweeping restrictions on mining in the Imataca Forest, in Venezuela’s south-east, according to a June 27 Venezuelanalysis.com article. Despite this, negotiations over mining permits continue with affected companies.

The last month in Afghanistan has seen the anti-occupation Islamist Taliban forces stage a jailbreak of 1200 of prisoners in Kandahar, threats by the US’s puppet Afghan President Hamid Karzai to attack Pakistan (the major US ally in the region), the killing of 11 Pakistani soldiers in a border clash with occupation troops, pro-Taliban insurgents reach the Pakistani city of Peshawar and the highest number of casualties for both US and other occupation forces for any month since the October 2001 invasion.

On July 2, an operation by the Colombian military succeeded in freeing French-Colombian citizen Ingrid Betancourt from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), who had held her prisoner since 2002. Betancourt was the highest-profile FARC-held prisoner and the action, which also liberated 14 other prisoners, captured world headlines.

Around 80 people demonstrated under the banner of the National front for Indonesian Workers Struggle (FNPBI) outside the headquarters of ExxonMobil and the national parliament building to demand that the government cancel the increase in the price of fuel.

Bolivian President Evo Morales has expressed his support for the decision by coca growers in the Chapare region of Cochabamba to expel the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and reaffirmed that he would not “kneel down before the empire”.

There have been nationwide protests against the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government’s decision to raise the prices of petrol, diesel and cooking gas.

The following article is abridged from a June 26 post on http://peruanista.blogspot.com. The full article, along with a series of videos on the struggle, can be found at http://links.org.au.

Analysis

Professor Ross Garnaut’s draft review of climate change policy options for the Australian government was released on July 4, with climate change minister Penny Wong due to release a green paper canvassing policy options on July 16. Garnaut’s report looks at the “costs” and “benefits” of mitigating drastic climate change through a carbon polluting trading scheme. It suggests tax cuts and “welfare reform” to compensate low-income households, which will be hit hard by energy price rises.

The following statement has been issued by the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union.

The June 3 Apache Energy gas facility explosion on Veranus Island, 100 kilometres west of the port of Dampier in WA, is the latest in a long history of social irresponsibility in the global oil and gas industry.

On June 21, Indigenous affairs minister Jenny Macklin announced that her government would begin to end funding for infrastructure to remote Northern Territory (NT) Aboriginal communities that she deemed were “economically unviable”. This is the Rudd Labor government’s first major attack on Aboriginal land rights since taking power.

In Scandinavian folklore, a troll is a bogeyman. In the jargon of the Internet, it is someone who posts false and provocative information.

According to the official website for World Youth Day (WYD), Sydney will “look different” from APEC. Really? With 600-plus areas now officially “declared areas”, not to mention proscribed airspace throughout July, and officials with the right to decide who is annoying and who isn’t, it doesn’t seem very different. If anything, it’s worse.

Adelaide City Council’s zero-emissions solar electric bus, Tindo, which is the Kaurna Aboriginal word for sun, is a great example of what sustainable public transport looks like.

Letters

Against the split in the Aboriginal rights campaign

I am writing to protest the actions of those who walked out of the Sydney Aboriginal Rights Coalition (ARC) on June 23 to set up a rival group. This split is damaging to the movement against the

General

We live in precarious times. Consider these two announcements over the last week:

1. The Bank for International Settlements (the international organisation of the world's central banks) warned that a severe global economic downturn seems

Resistance!

This article is based on a talk given by Naomi Rodgers-Falk to the closing session of the Resistance National Conference, held at the University of Technology, Sydney, on June 27 to 29.

Culture

Censoring Science: Inside the Political Attack on Dr. James Hansen & the Truth of Global Warming

By Mark Bowen

Dutton, 2008

324 pages, $49.95 (hb)

A Northern Town — With a third of Kempsey's population made up of Aboriginal people, the town is a hotbed of covert and overt racism on one hand, and Third World poverty and oppression on the other. SBS, Friday, July 11, 7.30pm.

Message Stick:

David Rovics has been described as the musical voice of the progressive movement in the US. In this interview with Green Left Weekly’s Matt Clark, he explains his motivations, his influences and his take on politics today.