Issue 785


While two student unions have recently passed motions in solidarity with Palestinians, ALP students withheld quorum at a Sydney university Student Representative Council meeting set to vote on a similar motion on February 18.

Supporters of Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution gathered at the Queensberry Hotel on February 21 to celebrate 10 years of the revolution and the “yes” vote in the February 15 referendum. The referendum removed the constitutional barrier to President Hugo Chavez seeking re-election.

Pacific Brands — manufacturer of Bonds, Yakka, King Gee and other clothing brands — has decided to close a number of smaller brands and restructure its business, with the slashing of 1850 jobs over the next 18 months across Australia.

At National Tertiary Education Union meetings on February 23 and 24, Victoria University staff voted to take rolling strike action across all VU campuses.

On February 12, Foster’s Australia announced its decision to axe 115 maintenance jobs from its Abbotsford plant in Melbourne, where it makes a large proportion of its beer products, including Victoria Bitter and Carlton Draught.

The Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) has accused the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) of bullying tactics and using its coercive powers to attack press freedom, in a statement released on February 27.

The militant actions of the South African dock workers who refused to offload goods from Israeli ships during the Gaza massacre was an important boost for the international solidarity movement.

The Electrical Trades Union (ETU) is locked in dispute with rogue electrical contractor company John Goss, which is pushing a non-union agreement that locks in a four-year wage freeze for apprentices, offers only an 8% pay rise over four years to tradespeople, and tears up the 36-hour working week calendar.

The only hope for stopping climate change is the political movement fostered by the recent Climate Action Summit and the groups forming all over the country, according to author Clive Hamilton at a February 25 meeting at the University of Western Australia.

Inspired by the January 31-February 3 national Climate Action Summit in Canberra, on February 21 WA activists formed the Coalition for a Safe Climate.

The Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union has been blockading the site of the new children’s hospital construction project in Parkville. The blockade is a response to the sacking of Joe Angelino, a shop steward who is also a health and safety representative.


Prominent US ecosocialist and Marxist author, Joel Kovel, has has been informed that his teaching contract at Bard College will not be renewed when it expires in July this year. He has been a member of the faculty since January 1988.

Renowned Marxist economist Michael A. Lebowitz is a director at the Centro Internacional Miranda in Caracas, Venezuela. He is the author of Build it Now: 21st Century Socialism and Beyond Capital: Marx’s Political Economy of the Working Class, which won the Isaac Deutscher memorial prize in 2004. Lebowitz will be a keynote speaker at the World At A Crossroads conference in Sydney, April 10-12. Visit for the full conference agenda and registrations details.

Irish unions are threatening to escalate protests against proposals that would result in workers bearing the burden of paying for overcoming the financial crisis that has hammered the Irish economy while protecting business profits.

According to a February 25 AAP report by Ravi Nessman, conditions in Sri Lanka’s overcrowded war zone have “rapidly deteriorated”. The Sri Lankan government is attempting to crush the Tamil Tigers (LTTE), a group that has fought for self-determination for Tamils since 1976.

In October 2008, Ualberto Hoyos, a Colombian citizen, was shot through the head and killed by paramilitaries. Was this part of a drug feud? Was Hoyos a sympathiser of left-wing guerrillas?

At my hotel in Phnom Penh, the women and children sat on one side of the room, palais-style, the men on the other. It was a disco night and a lot of fun; then suddenly people walked to the windows and wept.

As the global economic crisis worsens, a February 17 opinion piece by Mike Whitney argued that as much as 40% of global wealth has been destroyed by the current global economic crisis. Governments in Eastern Europe have faced mass riots and demonstrations in the face of their attempts to foist the costs of the crisis onto the poor.

Eight Nigerian indigenous communities announced on February 19 that they are suing Shell, Chevron, Exxon Mobil, Agip and Nigeria National Petroleum for failing to cease gas flaring, which, they describe as “gross injustice and unfairness to host communities”.

A half century ago, a young doctor and Cuban guerilla sought to bring revolution to Bolivia and was brutally murdered for his efforts. Forty years after the death of Che Guevara, hundreds of Cuban doctors have been welcomed to assist Bolivians in establishing a fair and just society.

In a speech to military troops at Camp LeJeune, North Carolina on February 27, US President Barack Obama announced that most of the 142,000 US soldiers in Iraq will be withdrawn by August 2010, leaving behind a “residual force” of 50,000 troops.

After seven-and-a-half years of unjust imprisonment, on February 16, the brothers Hector and Antonio Cerezo were released.

Kavita Krishnan is a Central Committee member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist Leninist) and an editor of the Marxist magazine Liberation. Krishnan will be a keynote speaker at the World At A Crossroads conference in Sydney, April 10-12. Visit

Cuba is struggling to exit the “Special Period” — as the period of economic crisis that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union, its main trading partner, in the early 1990s is known — and the trade union movement is helping to chart the way forward, a leading Cuban unionist told Green Left Weekly in December.

The Israeli apartheid state, seemingly unconcerned by worldwide outrage and condemnation of its latest attacks on Gaza, has set about extending its domination over the occupied territories.

Most media commentary, for and against the process of change and deep-going transformation that the government of President Hugo Chavez is leading, focuses on Venezuela’s cities.


Since the intervention into Northern Territory Aboriginal communities began in 2007, Aboriginal people have been subjected to a national spotlight that has demonised the men and rendered the women virtually powerless.

The Rudd government’s proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) is not just bad, it’s dangerous.

Green Left weekly’s Kylie Moon spoke to Matt Wright from Beyond Zero Emissions, a Melbourne-based climate change activist group, about BZE’s campaign strategy and current activities for 2009.

On behalf of the Maribyrnong detainee community, we would like to gain your support as we have seen your efforts to fight for refugees’ rights and the organisation of support for asylum seekers and refugees.

On January 29 this year, NSW health minister John Della Bosca admitted his department owed $117 million in unpaid bills, but argued this was only a "small proportion" of the budget.

As the NSW Legislative Council inquiry into the privatisation of NSW prisons began on February 23, more than 200 prison officers went on strike at Goulburn Correctional Centre on February 25, in protest at the plan to privatise Parklea and Cessnock jails.

On February 14, Letty Marie Scott (nee Gibson) Nupanunga, of the Anmatyerre nation in Central Australia, passed away, aged 56. Letty was a lifelong campaigner for justice — especially on the issue of black deaths in custody, which touched her life indelibly.

Plastics manufacturer Nylex has been placed in the hands of receivers. Nylex is a well-known name — the company produces the iconic Esky, water tanks, wheelie bins, hose and garden fittings, and interior trimmings for car manufacturers.

One of the most prominent Murri campaigners in Brisbane, longtime social justice activist, Sam Watson, will contest Queensland Premier Anna Bligh’s seat of South Brisbane at the March 21 state election. Watson is running as the candidate for the Socialist Alliance.

Government has a responsibility to restore full employment by making an “unconditional job offer” at a liveable minimum wage to all who want to work.


Q&A’s two-party “balance”

The ABC’s Q&A’s format has predictably resulted in a deliberate search for Coalition supporters to achieve audience “balance”. The cause of this problem is the format of Q&A, which is built around politicians of the major parties. This is quite different from the predecessor program Difference of Opinion, which was productive of a much greater panel variety than the sterile two-party context.


Do you think this headline is too harsh? Do we still need to give these politicians time to act the way many hoped they would?


In 1972 the Australian Arbitration Commission finally made a ruling that confirmed equal work for equal pay, which required that women performing the same level of work be paid at the same level as men. Despite this legislation, women in Australia, like their counterparts around the world continue to find themselves in a subordinate position to men.

The song lyrics below are by the Newcastle-based hip hop group Dhopec.


Slumdog Millionaire

Directed by Danny Boyle and Loveleen Tandan

Written by Simon Beaufoy and Vikas Swarup

With Dev Patel and Anil Kapoor

In cinemas

At 10.30pm on February 22, the lights went out at the Corner Hotel in Richmond, Melbourne and a chant rose up. “Come, come, come to the sabbat, come to the sabbat, Satan’s there.”

The Henson Case

By David Marr

Text Publishing, 2008

149 pages, $24.95 (pb)

Ani DiFranco, one of the most inspirational singer-songwriters in the US, toured Australia in January and February.