Issue 765

Australia

On August 28, federal environment minister Peter Garrett announced the expansion of the Beverley uranium mine, situated in South Australia’s far north-east.

In a breakthrough for the WA anti-uranium movement, Premier Alan Carpenter has promised to legislate to ban uranium mining in the state if his government is re-elected at the September 6 state poll.

On August 27, outside a "Defence White Paper community consultation", Stop the War Coalition held a protest. Inside, peace activists made up about 40% of an audience of about 100.

A county court judge reduced the sentences of four G20 protesters on appeal on August 28. The four, along with other activists, received severe penalties last April in relation to altercations with police at a protest against the G20 meeting held in Melbourne in November 2006.

A busload of “Save the Mary River” activists from Brisbane will join an expected 1000-plus protesters to form a human chain at the location of the planned Traveston Dam on the Mary River on September 6. The rally will be part of GetUp’s climate torch relay, in support of actions to address climate change.

The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) has finalised the first agreement in a new round of collective bargaining in universities. The University of Ballarat agreement gives a 10.9% pay increase over 15 months.

The NSW Greens have called for moratorium on the issuing of water licenses in the Murray-Darling Basin until a thorough independent study of the cumulative impact of mining on water resources in the basin has been made.

“People are eating mainly bread, flour, milk powder and sugar, and deriving a huge proportion of their energy from these foods that cost the least but are going to fill people up and divert hunger”, Julie Brimblecombe told ABC Radio National’s The World Today on August 25.

Up to 5000 Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union members in Victoria’s building industry unanimously endorsed an enterprise agreement that guarantees a 15% pay rise over the three years of the agreement.

A Rudd government plan to punish parents dependent on welfare with up to three months’ loss of income if their children play truant has been condemned as “elitist and out of touch” by Tasmanian Aboriginal leader Michael Mansell.

Fifteen hundred electricity workers walked off the job on August 29, just 24 hours after the NSW cabinet voted to sell off electricity retail in NSW.

“Archbishop [John] Bathersby must have solved all Brisbane problems of homelessness, of abuse, of refugees … if he wants to focus on such idiotic matters”, a St Mary’s parishioner told a 500-strong packed gathering at the South Brisbane church on August 25 in response to the archbishop’s threat to shut the popular, progressive parish down.

Teachers in Victoria have been dealt another blow, with greater powers being handed to the Victorian Institute of Teaching as part of a review of the VIT launched mid-2007.

Building unions, legal representatives and building workers met with ALP parliamentarians in Canberra on August 25 to lobby for the abolition of the Australian Building and Construction Commission.

The Queensland branch of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union has called statewide stop-work actions and rallies on September 12, the day Victorian CFMEU official Noel Washington faces an initial hearing in Geelong over charges brought by the Australian Building and Construction Commission.

Journalists at Fairfax publications walked off the job after mass meetings on August 28. The journalists, members of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA), struck for a pay increase and against the announced sacking of 550 staff from Australian and New Zealand Fairfax operations.

World

Below is the text of the resolution of the
National Coalition for Change (CONALCAM) meeting held in Cochabamba on August 22-23. It is reprinted from Bolivia Rising, &http://bolivirarising.blogspot.com.

CONALCAM brings a together the United Union Confederation of Peasant Workers of Bolivia; the Confederation of Indigenous Peoples of Bolivia; the National Federation of Cooperative Miners; the Federation of Neighbourhood Councils of El Alto; the National Council of Ayllus and Markas of Qullasuyu; the National Federation of Bolivian Peasant Women Bartolina Sisa; and the National Confederation of Small and Micro Businesses.

Two international activist boats successfully broke the Israeli blockade on the Palestinian Gaza Strip enclave on August 23.

Peruvian President Alan Garcia suffered a major political setback on August 22 after Congress voted 66-29 in favour of repealing controversial presidential decrees that would have facilitated the privatisation of communal indigenous lands.

On August 20, Uruguay’s sole union confederation, the Inter-union Plenary of Workers–National Convention of Workers (PIT-CNT), organised its first 24-hour general strike since the centre-left President Tabare Vasquez, from the Frente Amplio (FA), was elected in 2005.

Under pressure from Iraqis opposed to the ongoing occupation of their country, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamil al Maliki released a statement on August 25 calling for the complete withdrawal of all foreign forces from Iraq by 2011.

A Rwandan judicial commission of inquiry into the role of France in the 1994 genocide, in which around 1 million Rwandans were killed in 100 days, has called for the indictment of 33 high-ranking French political and military leaders.

Announcing on August 29 a decree to organise a referendum to be held on December 7 on the proposed new constitution, Bolivian President Evo Morales declared: “We must advance in the re-founding of Bolivia to guarantee a state for multiple ethnic groups.”

An international campaign is underway in defence of 21 workers facing trial for their involvement in a labour dispute following the unfair dismissal of nine workers at the Fundimeca fan assembly plant in Valencia.

The following is a heavily abridged talk by Mario Masuko at the Zimbabwe-Swaziland Solidarity Conference held in South Africa, August 10–11, 2008. Masuko is president of Peoples United Democratic Movement (Pudemo). A longer version can be found at http://www.links.org.au/node/586

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has intervened in a land dispute in the Sierra de Perija region, near the country’s north-western border with Colombia, where the Yukpa indigenous people have occupied 14 large estates to demand legal title to their ancestral lands.

Four thousand people turned out for a campaign rally for independent presidential candidate and long-time anti-corporate and consumer rights activist, Ralph Nader in Denver, according to an August 29 CQpolitics.com report.

Afghanistan lives in fear of US-sponsored warlords.

On August 27, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced the end of negotiations with former owners Ternium over the nationalisation of the Sidor steel factory, stating that the government would “take over all the companies that it has here”, insisting Ternium “can leave”.

Analysis

Among the crowd of some 2000 protesters in front of South Australia’s Parliament House on August 1, eco-activists in jeans and windcheaters mingled with people in Akubra hats and Driza-Bone jackets. Mentions of Labor Party Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, federal water minister Penny Wong and South Australian Premier Mike Rann drew sustained jeers.

David Spratt co-wrote Climate Code Red: The Case for Emergency Action with Philip Sutton. The book has been recently published and a review can be read in GLW #764. Spratt spoke to Green Left Weekly’s Ben Courtice about the need to move beyond “business as usual” immediately if we’re to avert climate catastrophe.

The Business Council of Australia (BCA) — representative of the 100 largest companies in Australia — has threatened that its members will be “forced” to relocate offshore if the federal government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) is implemented.

Toni Warden, the Greens WA candidate for Kalamunda in the September 6 Western Australian elections, is a founding member of the Stop the Eastern Terminal Substation Action Group (SETS) and a member of the Hills Climate Action Group. She told Green Left Weekly that the main issues in the election are the climate emergency and social inequities exacerbated by WA’s resources boom.

An arrogant ALP state government, with only the approval of cabinet, announced on August 28 it would start selling off NSW energy retailers as well as public land to energy corporations for future power stations.

Julie Gray, a laboratory worker in the health sector and an active trade unionist, is contesting the North Metropolitan Legislative Council seat for the Socialist Alliance in the Western Australian elections on September 6.

On August 7, the Western Australian ALP government called an early election for September 6.

Are our national parks in need of a facelift to attract the tourist dollar? Should our wild places be better at catering for those wanting some luxury and pampering?

On September 9, the Victorian parliament will start debating the Abortion Law Reform Bill 2008. The bill will make abortions up to 24 weeks of gestation lawful.

Letters

Educational feudalism

Julia Gillard sure wants to take the neoliberal stick to public education and parents.

Firstly, impoverished parents who find it difficult to send their children to school every day will become even more impoverished by

General

Every now and then the mask slips and we see the true face of the corporate dictatorship that Every now and then the mask slips and we see the true face of the corporate dictatorship that pretends to be democratic Australia.to be democratic Australia.

Resistance!

Students from Melbourne’s Collingwood College protested on August 21 in defence of a student who was threatened with suspension for wearing a "Free Tibet" T-shirt.

The University of Western Sydney Student Association (UWSSA) has launched a new campaign for better quality education, with speak-outs, information stalls and open forums that are drawing many students into action.

On August 21, deputy PM Julia Gillard announced that the federal government would change how student services at universities are funded. However, there appears to be no intention to abolish the Voluntary Student Unionism (VSU) laws introduced by the former Howard government.

Culture

Flat Earth News: An Award-winning Reporter Exposes Falsehood, Distortion & Propaganda in the Global Media

By Nick Davies

Chatto & Windus, 2008

408 pages, $54.95 (hb)

Black Coffee: Gold in Your Cup — Coffee drinkers are questioning the origin of their coffee, the living conditions of those who produce it, and the misery of the slaves who were in the original coffee trade. SBS, Friday, September 5,

The role of music in the early civil rights movements is fairly widely known.