Issue 770

Australia

An official visit to Australia by Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, beginning October 13, is aimed at boosting economic and trade relations between the two countries. Australian companies have direct investment projects worth more than US$1 billion in the country Australia once invaded alongside US forces.

On October 8, around 500 workplace delegates and occupational health and safety representatives attended a meeting called by the Victorian Trades Hall Council (VTHC).

Ron Guy and Garry Holliday, trade union activists with the Australian Workers’ Union (AWU), and Margarita Windisch, a member of the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) and Socialist Alliance candidate for the Maribyrnong council elections, will be part of a delegation attending the 6th congress of the Western Saharan trade union UGTSARIO.

On October 7 a group of students from Chisholm, Bendigo, Kangan Batman and Victoria University TAFE campuses demonstrated their opposition to proposed TAFE reforms at Parliament House. Their cries were for education for everyone, not just the rich.

Carrying the views of thousands of people who oppose the construction of a dam on Queensland’s Mary River, Steve Posselt will kayak from Brisbane to the Sydney office of federal environment minister Peter Garrett to deliver their petitions.

“It is important that this book is being released at this time. It allows us to better understand the reality of the Venezuelan revolution”, Nelson Davila, Venezuelan Charge d’affaires, told a meeting in Wollongong on October 4. Davila was launching Voices from Venezuela: Behind the Bolivarian Revolution, a new book by Green Left Weekly correspondents Jim McIlroy and Coral Wynter.

On October 10, 200 people attended “This is an emergency: an introduction to the real science of global warming”. The public forum was also the official launch of a new environmental organisation in Adelaide, the Climate Emergency Action Network (CLEAN).

After much debate, mounting pressure from the Catholic Church and attempted legislative amendments, the Victorian Abortion Law Reform Bill was passed unamended by the Victorian Upper House on October 10.

Trade-offs agreed to by the NSW Public Service Association (PSA) are now coming to light, weeks after the union signed off on a 12% pay rise — 4% a year for three years — on September 17.

Public sector workers across Queensland demonstrated in large numbers on September 30. Public servants are seeking a minimum 5.1% annual pay rise, simply to keep pace with inflation.

Noel Washington, vice-president of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) Victorian branch, has been charged by the Australian Building and Construction Commissioner with new offences under the Building and Construction Industry Improvement Act.

Professor Ross Garnaut delivered his final report on impacts of — and responses to — climate change to Australian federal and state governments on September 30.

World

Peru’s entire cabinet tendered their resignations to President Alan Garcia on October 9 in the wake of a corruption scandal involving kickbacks in return for oil contracts.

Many people are understandably frustrated when they try to make sense of the world financial crisis based on what they read in mainstream newspapers.

Britain’s most senior military commander in Afghanistan, Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith, told the British media about the US/NATO occupation of Afghanistan that “We are not going to win this war”.

The next move, presumably, will be to nationalise the country’s gambling debts.

The statement below was released on October 8 by Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES). The delegation’s report can be downloaded at http://www.cispes.org.

The below October 1 article was written by Mumia Abu Jamal, a political prisoner currently on death row in a US prison. Mumia is a radical African American journalist and activist who has been wrongfully imprisoned since 1981 over the shooting of a police officer. He writes weekly columns from death row. For information on his case, and to get involved in the campaign for his freedom, visit http://freemumia.com.

“The right of self-determination is important because it’s part of the pure principle of democracy”, Jacob Rumbiak, foreign affairs co-ordinator of the West Papua National Authority (WPNA), explained to Green Left Weekly during the national conference of the Australia West Papua Association (AWPA) on September 13-14.

An overlooked order by the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) lead lawyer this summer dealt a serious blow to the rights of US workers to protest government policies.

“The idea that markets were always right was mad”, right-wing French President Nicolas Sarkozy stated, according to a September 29 Businessweek.com article. “The all-powerful market that always knows best is finished.”

Late on the evening of October 6, the ultra right-wing fascist mob that calls itself the Peoples Alliance for Democracy (PAD) laid siege to the Thai parliament.

On September 28, 65% of Ecuadorian voters approved the country’s 20th and newest constitution — strengthening the mandate of left-wing President Rafael Correa.

On October 8, Prensa Latin reported that the Second International Congress of Indigenous People of America (Abya Yala) had begun in the Venezuelan state of Zulia, focusing on imperalism. The multi-national event, to be run until October 12, will also debate topics related to the strengthening of Indian-American peoples sovereignty.

Canada’s largest media group is suing Palestinian solidarity activists who created a parody version of the Vancouver Sun newspaper.

More than 26,000 members of the International Association of Machinists (IAM) working at Boeing commercial plants in the US began strike action on September 6. The strike, which was supported by 87% of IAM members, followed Boeing’s insistence that a new contract include significant contract concessions. Boeing offered only an 11% wage over three years increase to workers; Boeing’s lowest paid workers receive just US$10 an hour.

A popular uprising in Bolivia is defending its government and democratic institutions against US-inspired minority violence.

The political rupture in South Africa is being presented in the outside world as the personal tragedy and humiliation of one man, Thabo Mbeki. It is reminiscent of the beatification of Nelson Mandela at the death of apartheid.

The Wall Street crisis seems light years away from the side streets of Manila’s urban poor slums.

Analysis

The Reserve Bank (RBA) of Australia announced on October 7 that they would cut the official interest rate by 1% — the largest single cut since 1992 — in response to the US financial crisis.

“Meltdown” is a word that one hears a lot on the news these days.

There has been intense media speculation on the fate of New South Wales infrastructure plans following the “discovery” of a supposed $20 billion dollar “black hole” in the NSW budget, announced by departing treasurer Michael Costa on September 5.

The campaign against the jailing of tramways union leader Clarrie O’Shea, in Melbourne in May 1969, for refusing to pay fines imposed under the infamous anti-union penal powers of the time is rich with lessons for today’s campaign against the Australian Building and Construction Commission’s (ABCC) witch hunt of construction unionists.

Millions of tonnes of the potent greenhouse gas methane have apparently begun leaking from the seabed beneath wide areas of the Arctic Ocean, the British Independent reported on September 23.

Letters

In defence of civil liberties

Colin Mitchell's article, "Terror trial: criminalising speech", and the column of the Socialist Alliance, "We won't be silenced by terror laws", (both GLW #769), on what has been happening pursuant to Australia's

General

Miranda Devine is usually the first to turn a ridiculous right-wing rant into a newspaper column.

Green Left Weekly is launching a campaign for an extra 350 subscriptions before the end of 2008. Every new subscription helps build a people-powered movement for change and you can help us!

Resistance!

The following article is based on a speech Resistance member Kimberly Yu gave to an October 4 rally in Melbourne.

On September 15, Resistance kicked off our competition to determine who is Australia’s worst environment minister. Resistance members in Melbourne headed down to 50 Lonsdale Street to present Gavin Jennings, Victoria’s environment minister, with the illustrious award of Australia’s Worst Environment Minister.

Culture

Der Krieg [War]

An exhibition of Otto Dix’s anti-war prints

Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney

Until October 26

Rogue Economics: Capitalism’s New Reality

By Loretta Napoleoni

Allen & Unwin, 2008

292 pages, $29.95 (pb)

Looking back on the political movements of the ’60s and ’70s is now a fairly well trodden path in the form of fiction, history and memoirs alike.