Issue 774

News

The Rudd government is proposing to make funding for vocational training “contestable”, the Sydney Morning Herald revealed on October 29. The proposal, effectively a privatisation of TAFE colleges, was drafted by state and federal bureaucrats and will be discussed at the November 17 Council of Australian Governments meeting.
On November 7, rallies in support of Lex Wotton took place around the country as Wotton was sentenced in Townsville to six years’ prison for “riot with destruction”.
Pat Dodson, a Yawuru man from Broome, Western Australia, used his Sydney Peace Prize acceptance speech on November 5 to slam the Northern Territory intervention. He described it as a “crude, racist and poorly considered policy”.
The Rudd government, elected to office promising to repeal the Howard government’s unpopular student unionism (VSU) legislation, is planning to introduce a voluntary $250 “student levy” in early 2009.
Activists have planned a civil disobedience action in response to anti-democratic moves by the City of Sydney to crack down on bill posters. From November 10, putting up posters on street poles could result in fines ranging from $320 to $1500 per poster.
The Sydney Stop the War Coalition has described the US people’s rejection of President George Bush’s war policies and the election of Barack Obama as “historic”.

Analysis

Workers across Australia are working longer hours, for less pay and with more job insecurity. These are the findings of a report released on October 29 and prepared by the Workplace Research Centre at the University of Sydney.
Morris Iemma and Michael Costa crashed out of NSW politics because they tried to ignore overwhelming public opposition to electricity privatisation.
Concern about the threat of climate change and environmental destruction has probably never been higher. Opinion polls consistently show that a big majority of Australians support serious action on climate change and a move away from an economy based on the burning of fossil fuels for energy.
In their first venture into local government elections, Geelong Socialist Alliance candidates Chris Johnson, Bronwyn Jennings and Lisa Gleeson are letting a fresh breeze into the stuffy room of Victorian municipal politics.
“We’re a listening government”, said Verity Firth, the NSW education minister and Labor MP for the now marginal seat of Balmain, when announcing the abandonment of the plan for a takeover by Sydney University of Callan Park in the heart of her electorate.
Many environmentalists believe that environmental destruction is a product of “overpopulation”, and that the world is already “full up”. So are population reduction strategies essential to solving the climate crisis?
Given the Earth’s atmosphere and its oceans are a closely interlinked natural complex, steeply rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide are having dramatic impacts on the seas as well.
In a double whammy for working parents, last week finance minister Lindsay Tanner indicated that paid maternity leave was in doubt as ABC Learning childcare centres went into voluntary administration.
Palm Island Aboriginal man Lex Wotton was sentenced to six years’ jail for “riot with destruction” on November 7 — just four days after 22 police officers received “bravery awards” for their role in the 2004 Palm Island protests.
John McCarthy, a veteran socialist and Queensland doctor, died at home on November 1 after a long struggle with cancer.
“Rats are loathsome beasts”, Paul Syvret of the Murdoch-owned Brisbane tabloid, the Courier Mail, remarked in his October 6 column. “Throughout millennia they have carried disease, pestilence, despoiled foodstuffs and caused untold misery.”

World

Following his article in the current issue looking at the factors behind the current crisis in the Congo, such as the role of the West and current response by Western media and governments, Green Left Weekly journalist Tony Iltis was interviewed by English-language Iranian station Press TV.
One month on from a corruption scandal that forced the resignation of Peru’s entire cabinet, the political crisis for President Alan Garcia continues unabated.
Having heard about the October 25, 2.5-million-strong, protest against the government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi while in Florence, I was disappointed that the timing of my visit to Rome was off by just a few days.
Twenty-seven members of the Colombian armed forces, including generals and other high-ranking officers, have been fired in connection to revelations that they had been involved with the abduction and murder of civilians.
First came two British soldiers, decked out in desert battle dress, leading a pair of Irish wolfhounds.
The front page of the San Francisco Chronicle the day after the historic November 4 presidential election provided this image: a full page color photo of Barack Obama with the quote, “Change has come to America”.
Despite Western media and politicians having largely ignored a decade of genocidal warfare that has cost 6 million lives, the recent upsurge in fighting in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has drawn not only media attention, but visits to the region by the British and French foreign ministers and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.
Machinists, represented by the Industrial Association of Machinists (IAM), at Boeing plants in the US voted on November 1 to end a 57-day strike and accept a new contract offer.
The article below has been translated by Federico Fuentes for Green Left Weekly from the November edition of Latin America-wide publication America XXI, and is reprinted with permission.
People all over the world have waited for the end of the hated far-right-wing administration of US President George Bush and his Vice-President Dick Cheney. However, what will an Obama presidency bring with it? US Socialist Worker held a round table with a range of activists and left-wing authors on this topic. Below are some heavily abridged excerpts of some contributions. All contributions, in full, can be found at http://socialistworker.org.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez released a statement congratulating US president-elect Barack Obama, declaring that, “We are convinced that the time has come to establish new relations between our two countries and in our region, based on the principles of respect for sovereignty, equality and true co-operation”, according to a November 6 Ultimas Noticias article.
Two-and-a-half million people marched through the streets of Rome on October 25 in opposition to the policies and corruption of the right-wing government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
The Kyoto Protocol’s “Clean Development Mechanism” (CDM), which was supposed to reduce emissions, is subsidising the fossil-fuel industry.
While celebrations over Barack Obama’s victory in the presidential elections dominated US streets, gay rights supporters rallied against the banning of same-sex marriage in California.
Globally, the campaign for serious action on climate change has been forced to confront the question of how to relate to the workforce in environmentally destructive industries.
The article below is abridged from a November 4 statement released by the Saharawi Journalists’ and Writers’ Union (UPES). For more information, visit http://www.upes.org.
According to an October 29 Papua New Guinea Post Courier report, the first 40 families from Carterets Island, a small atoll that is part of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville (ARB), are expected to move to mainland Bougainville by March next year.

Culture

“Now Or Never”
By Tim Flannery
Quarterly Essay, Issue 31
Black Inc, 2008
$15.95
Gone for a Song: A Death in Custody on Palm Island
By Jeff Waters
ABC Books, 2008
246pages, $24.95
Granny Albyn’s Complaint
By David Betteridge
Smokestack Books, 2008
65 pages, £7.95
Available from http://www.smokestack-books.co.uk
My name is truth; but you may know me as justice, honour or even common sense. @poetry = I don't know your individual names — there are just too many of you to remember. @poetry = You didn't listen when I told you they had decimated the
NAISDA Dreaming — Follows a group of young Indigenous dance students as their classroom is moved from urban studios to the bush and red earth of a remote homeland in northeast Arnhem Land. ABC, Sunday, November 16, 1.30pm. Haditha: The Rules of

General

There can be no doubt that the great majority of the 55 million US citizens whose votes made Barack Obama president want change.

Letters

Abolish the prisons! We think GLW's front page headline about Lex Wotton, "Jail cops that kill" (GLW #773) gives a wrong message. We want to draw attention to a radical position challenging the power of the state in the criminal justice

Resistance!

The following article is based on a speech given by Chere Bowman at the Wollongong Reclaim the Night rally on October 23. Bowman spoke as a member of Resistance.
Student travel concessions have come under attack from the NSW state government. The proposed removal of the subsidy for school students will affect 700,000 students. The $50 back-to-school allowance, initiated by former premier Bob Carr in 2002, is also set to be cut.