Issue 766

News

Public discussion during Newcastle’s council election campaign has shifted to the left.
“Construction unions across Australia are running the Rights On Site campaign against the union-bashing ABCC [Australian Building and Construction Commission].
Ambre Energy’s proposed coal-to-oil project at Felton, a farming community 30 kilometres from Toowoomba, would be a disaster for the local community and environment, according to the newly formed Friends of Felton group.
“The news that nine Australian special forces soldiers have been wounded in Afghanistan — the largest number of casualties since the Vietnam War — reminds us that, as in any occupation, there will be resistance”, Alex Bainbridge, a spokesperson for Sydney Stop the War Coalition (STWC), told Green Left Weekly on September 4.
On August 29, Dr Mohamed Haneef was officially declared“no longer a person of interest” — after more than 12 months of “investigations” that included detention without charge, the then-federal Howard government revoking his visa, and continual insinuations of “support for terrorism”, at a total cost of over $8.5 million.
Fairfax journalists, photographers, artists and graphic designers returned to work on September 1 after a four-day strike. The strike affected the Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian Financial Review, the Age, the Illawarra Mercury and the Newcastle Herald.
On August 28, Gunns Limited announced to the Australian Securities Exchange that there is a possibility the controversial Tamar Valley pulp mill may not proceed.
“The state Labor government’s failure to honor its promise to pay $55.4 million in reparations to Indigenous stolen wages claimants [is] incomprehensible”, Queensland Council of Unions (QCU) general secretary Ron Monaghan said in an August 19 statement.
“The Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister have got it right on the ABCC [Australian Building and Construction Commission]”, wrote Wilhelm Harnisch, Master Builders Australia’s (MBA) chief executive officer, on August 28 on the ABC Unleashed website.
The overwhelming public opposition to electricity privatisation in NSW has claimed the political scalps of former premier Morris Iemma, hated treasurer Michael Costa and deputy premier John Watkins.
For construction union delegate Howard Byrnes, who is standing for the Socialist Alliance in the Marrickville council elections, the struggle over the privatisation of electricity, the alarming scientific news about climate change, and Labor’s cuts to services and wages have provided opportunities to talk up the need for a democratic, working-class party.
On August 27, education minister Julia Gillard tabled legislation enabling welfare recipients’ payments to be denied for up to three months if their children were regularly absent from school.
If the firm Altona Resources has its way, South Australia within five years will have a major new source of base-load electricity, set to feed into the power grid for many decades to come. Not only that, but the firm promises to supply the Australian market with as much as 10 million barrels per year of diesel fuel.

Analysis

On the 90th anniversary of Armistice Day this November, Adelaide was due to play host to the largest military corporations in the world, who would be displaying the most sophisticated weapons that have ever been created. The planned fair was cancelled on September 7 by the South Australian government on grounds of supposed “violent protests” being planned.
In the lead-up to last year’s federal election, the then-Labor opposition worked furiously to narrow the policy difference between itself and the Howard government.
Soubhi Iskander is a candidate in the September 13 Blacktown City Council elections. He is standing on a Socialist Alliance ticket, which includes fellow Sudanese activist Hassan Elnour Abaid and queer rights activist Rachel Evans.
Green Left Weekly’s Chris Williams spoke to Graham Larcombe, secretary of Wollongong Against Corruption, about the process underway in Wollongong to develop a new, democratic vision of local democracy.

World

Protests are continuing against the Victorian state government’s planned desalination plant at Wonthaggi.
Addressing an assembly of petroleum workers in Zulia on September 5, Venezuelan labour minister Roberto Hernandez explained that the “only way to guarantee the advance of the revolution is with the unity of the working class”.
On September 1, Bolivia’s National Electoral Court (CNE) ruled that it would not allow the proposed December 7 referendum on a new constitution to go ahead.
Even as Barack Obama and the Democrats headed to Denver for a four-day, nationally televised campaign commercial — stage-managed down to the final detail and paid for with vast amounts of corporate cash — the question reared its ugly head.
On September 2, Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej declared a state of emergency in response to the political crisis brought about by ongoing demonstrations and government buildings organised by the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), which has called on Sundaravej to resign.
The August 24 announcment by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to officially launch the social mission April 13, and the decreeing of 26 new and reformed laws on July 29, represent a further push to empower the poor communities.
“The maximum gusts of 340 kilometers per hour registered at the Paso Real Meteorological Center, San Diego, Pinar del Rio province, during the passing of Hurricane Gustav, is the highest recorded in Cuba”, a September 3 Granma article reported about the hurricane that hit Cuba’s western region on August 30.
On September 2, nine Australian soldiers were wounded — one left in a critical condition — in an ambush in southern Afghanistan. The Australian Defence Force (ADF) claims the Australian soldiers killed several of the alleged Taliban fighters responsible for the attack.
The landslide victory by opposition People’s Justice Party (PKR) leader Anwar Ibrahim in the August 26 Permatang Pauh by-election is welcomed in this commentary by Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj, the first federal parliamentarian of the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM). This is reprinted from http://asia-pacific-action.org.
On the call of the lawyers’ movement — which spearheaded the pro-democracy movement that brought down the dictator Pervez Musharraf — a two-hour long dharna (sit-in) was held at M A Jinnah Road, Karachi on August 28.
There was one good thing about George Bush’s recent visit to New Orleans — if he comes back, it won’t be as president.
Witness the massive padlock, tightly hugging its doors. That will tell you all you need to know about Hurricane Gustav and the federal US government’s carefully orchestrated response.
At least 18 people were killed on August 12 and 13 by police and military bullets in the Indian-controlled section of Kashmir. Among them was a senior political leader, Sheikh Abdul Aziz of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), a coalition of various pro-independence and separatist, but also pro-Pakistani, organisations based in Kashmir.
“A lady who’s a leader”, gushed the Weekly Standard’s William Kristol. “I would pull that lever”, declared James Dobson of the anti-choice and homophobic group Focus on the Family.
“Hey I have been down to their ‘convergence’ centre and they are really organised … specific plans and hand signals etc.”

Culture

The Thunder of Angels: The Montgomery Bus Boycott & the People Who Broke the Back of Jim Crow
By Donnie Williams with Wayne Greenshaw
Lawrence Hill Books, 2007
293 pages, $23.95 (pb)
Those who’ve gone to see an independent film lately might be familiar with an ad that warns against movie pirating. According to this ad, consumers (understandably sick of being gouged $14 to catch a movie) who download and burn movies are undermining the ability of the Australian film industry to grow and survive.
Gagadju: Timeless Land — Describes how Bininj and Mungguy cultures and customary laws underpin all tourism decisions in Kakadu. ABC, Sunday, September 14, 1.30pm. The Russian Revolution in Colour: Freedom and Hope — Explores the first four

Letters

Burqa or sexual display? Ema Corro's article (GLW #761) and the letters about it (Luke Vanni, GLW #763, Margarita Windisch, GLW #764) all contain valid points. We think that, while legislation plays a very effective role in certain arenas

Resistance!

The prescription of oral contraceptives to a 14-year-old without her parents’ knowledge has triggered a debate over adolescents’ access to confidential health care. The student of Bellarine Secondary College in Victoria was taken by a school nurse to a doctor, who prescribed the medication.
Young people “are the present … whether we have a future or not depends on what we as young people do or don’t do”, proclaimed student leader and minister for the presidency, Hector Rodriguez, speaking on August 22 to thousands of members of the youth organisation of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, the PSUV Youth (JPSUV).
The federal government’s climate adviser, Professor Ross Garnaut, told the National Press Club on September 5 that while climate change is “diabolical”, “intractable” and “daunting”, Australia is a “special case” and cannot be expected to cut greenhouse gas emissions to the same extent as other “wealthy nations”.