Issue 890

News

More than 200 people rallied outside the State ALP conference at the Country Club Casino in Launceston on August 6. Health workers, teachers, child protection workers and police protested against public service budget cuts. TAP into a better Tasmania protested against the pulp mill while Code Green called for the protection of native forests. The premier and other Labor ministers came out to talk to the crowd but did not back away from their plan to make drastic cuts to essential services.
Victorian planning minister Matthew Guy has taken control of planning issues at Fitzroy and Richmond housing estates, enraging Yarra Council and tenants. In the July 26 Melbourne Times Weekly, Alana Schetzer: “The Department of Human Services last week informed the council of the decision, which took effect immediately. Mayor Alison Clarke said the council was shocked, adding the decision removed community consultation on future planning applications. The Federal government is due to fund a $113 million redevelopment of the estates.”
Public opposition has prevented the expansion of coal mining in south-west Victoria. “More than 250 residents gathered in the Deans Marsh town hall last night to question the managing director of Mantle Mining, Ian Kraemer, over the plan to explore for brown coal, south-east of Colac,” the ABC said on July 28. “The company had wanted to explore a 500 square kilometre area in the region. However, residents feared mining would damage the environment and lower property values.”
The grassroots campaign for a community driven council in Wollongong is well underway, as the election approaches on September 3. Community Voice is standing a full ticket across all three local wards including Michael Organ, former Greens MP for Cunningham, for mayor. Organ is a local historian and environmental activist. He has been actively involved in campaigns to save Sandon Point and Wollongong's Regent Theatre. He is also part of the recent campaign to secure land at Hill 60 for preservation and public ownership.
Mark Goudkamp from the Sydney Refugee Action Coalition, Gleny Rae, a participant in the SBS series Go Back Where You Came From, and Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young addressed the biggest meeting supporting asylum seekers seen in Newcastle since the Howard era on August 4. Goudkamp said 54 asylum seekers, 19 of them children, had recently arrived by boat on Christmas Island. They had not yet been told they would be sent to Malaysia. “The media reports extra riot police have been sent there,” Goudkamp said. “But the government is saying they have counsellors on hand.”
Supporters of justice for former Guantanamo Bay prisoner David Hicks rallied outside the NSW Supreme Court on August 3 to condemn moves by the Department of Public Prosecutions to seize the proceeds of Hicks’ 2010 book Guantanamo: My Journey under “proceeds of crime” laws. Speakers at the rally included Stop the War Coalition Sydney’s Pip Hinman, NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge, and peace activist Donna Mulhearn.
About 50 staff and students gathered outside the University of Melbourne ERC Library on August 2 to protest ongoing cuts in the library workforce. Corey Rabaut, an industrial officer with the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU), said 13 University of Melbourne library staff members face losing their jobs due to upgrades underway in the Baillieu and ERC libraries.
Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) members in the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry held one-hour stopwork meetings at 40 sites around Australia on August 4. They are campaigning for a pay rise greater than the 3% a year offered by management. They voted to escalate their action in coming weeks, including work bans from August 11, if the employer does not make an improved pay offer. On August 2, delegates from all Australian Public Service departments rallied outside the Canberra office of the Australian Public Service Commission.
Around 200 people attended a "Unite Against Racism" rally in the King George Square on August 6. It was staged in opposition to a rally organised by the far-right Australian Defence League (ADL) attacking Islam and calling for a ban on the burqa. The tiny ADL rally was aimed at inciting hatred and violence toward Muslim people and refugees. After several speakers condemned attacks on Islam and refugees, the anti-racist rallygoers confronted a small group of around 20 racists as they tried to address passersby through a loudspeaker system.
Local residents made clear their opposition to plans for coal seam gas (CSG) drilling in Sydney’s inner-west at a heated public forum held in Leichhardt on Monday 1 August. Dart Energy told the crowd that it intention to drill was no longer immediate, but that exploratory drilling at the site could commence from mid-2012.
The annual Hiroshima Day rally and march, commemorating the US atomic bombing of the Japanese city of Hiroshima in 1945, was held in Brisbane on August 6. The rally, under the theme, "For a nuclear-free and independent Australia," attracted about 100 people to Brisbane Square, to hear speakers, and singers, including the Trade Union Choir.
Rising Tide Newcastle released the statement below on August 5. * * * This morning climate activists scaled a 15 metre high coal conveyor belt in Newcastle’s coal port and suspended a banner saying, “We’re sorry Somalia. Coal = climate change and starvation”. Their action comes as scientists this week have made the link between human-made climate change and the deadly drought affecting over ten million people across the Horn of Africa. Rising Tide spokesperson Naomi Hogan is at the scene.
The Darwin Asylum Seeker Support and Advocacy Network (DASSAN) released the statement below on August 3. * * * DASSAN today expressed concern about the increase of the number of children being detained in immigration detention centres in Darwin. As at August 3, figures provided by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship indicated that there are currently 180 children being detained in Darwin.
Conservation group South East Forest Rescue released the statement below on August 1 to coincide with its protest outside the headquarters of Forests NSW. * * *
The Australian Forests and Climate Alliance (AFCA) released this statement on August 1. * * * Forest conservation and climate action groups across Australia, joined by prominent conservationist Peter Cundall, today warned the Julia Gillard and Lara Giddings governments that their Tasmanian forest deal is a sham that will waste $250 million dollars of taxpayers’ money. “This sham deal can not deliver ‘peace’ in the forests,” said AFCA spokespersons [representing] more than 30 groups around the country.

Analysis

About 40% of new Disability Support Pension (DSP) recipients may be ruled ineligible as the federal Labor government updates the tables for the assessment of work-related impairment for DSP. Community services minister Jenny Macklin said on July 30 that the revised impairment tables will be implemented from January 1 next year and will apply to new recipients only. This is the first review of the DSP impairment tables since 1993.
John Bellamy Foster, the keynote speaker at the upcoming World At A Crossroads: Climate Change Social Change conference — to be held in Melbourne from September 30 to October 3 — is the co-author (with Fred Magdoff) of a newly published book: What Every Environmentalist Needs to Know About Capitalism.
Federal riot police have the go-ahead to use Tasers, tear gas, batons, capsicum spray and handcuffs to force refugees onto a flight to Malaysia from Christmas Island. Immigration officials say they will film the ordeal to put online as a “potent message” to other refugees. The first asylum seekers to undergo this ordeal arrived in Australian waters less than a week after the “Malaysia solution” came into effect. A boat carrying 55 Afghan, Iranian and Iraqi refugees was intercepted near Scott Reef on July 31. More than one third of the asylum seekers on the boat are children.
Nineteen-year-old Michael Delaney died after being run over by a truck in east London on a Saturday night in January 1987. An inquest jury found that he had been a victim of unlawful killing. But nobody has ever been prosecuted. Delaney had been among trade unionists picketing the Rupert Murdoch-owned News International plant at Wapping against the sacking of more than 5000 workers and the de-recognition of unions.
Dart Energy, the company that holds a licence to mine for coal seam gas in the Sydney basin, fronted a packed out meeting at Leichhardt Town Hall on August 1. But the CEO failed to convince the 250-strong crowd of the so-called green benefits of coal seam gas. The meeting, organised by the NSW Greens, also featured a health professional and community campaigners that said coal seam gas was bad for humans and the environment. They called for a moratorium on the industry — covering current and future mining — until more research had been done on the impacts of coal seam gas mining.
An Aboriginal youth, Rex Bellotti Jnr, aged 15 was run over by a police four-wheel-drive Holden Rodeo and more than two years have passed without any compensation, without any closure. When it comes to Aboriginal victims this is nothing new. Nyungar-Yamatji Maaman Rex Bellotti Sr and Nyungar Yorga Liz Bellotti, 42 and 40 years old, have spent their lives working very hard to ensure the likelihood of the personal advancement of their children, in the belief that Aboriginal advancement should be achieved by Aboriginal peoples.
Australian musician Olivia Newton-John released this open letter on July 31. * * * My fellow Australians: I love this country, its people, its rugged beauty, its rainforests, its vastness and unique wildlife. And, as a longtime advocate of the environment, I am greatly concerned for the continued health and wellness of Australia. My dream is that our children and grandchildren can enjoy the Australia that we all know and love. That is why I am horrified to learn of the extensive plans for coal seam gas and shale gas exploration in Australia.
The ALP is the party for ordinary Australians, right? Resistance members will often talk about the importance of political movements being independent of political parties, but what does this mean for the ALP? Isn’t the ALP Australia’s party of progress? And surely they are better then the Tories? Isn’t it our party? Well, it is a party that’s designed for progressives, unionists and activists, but that doesn’t mean that it's ours. If you look at its history, the ALP has attracted progressive people but rarely helped create change.
Conservation groups have criticised a new deal on Tasmania’s forest industry, saying it will not end the logging of old growth forests, it will hand millions of dollars to the logging industry and will not stop Gunns Ltd’s proposed pulp mill in northern Tasmania going ahead in the face of community opposition.
Friends of Palestine (WA) member Alex Bainbridge wrote the letter of complaint that appears below to the producers of The Bolt Report and Network Ten after a segment on the show tried to link the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israeli apartheid with the racist measures taken against Jewish businesses by the Hitler regime in the 1930s. Bainbridge said the claim was a dishonest attempt by opponents of Palestinian human rights to discredit the BDS movement as public interest and support for BDS continues to increase. * * *
Green Left Weekly coeditor Stuart Munckton spoke on a panel with independent journalists Wendy Bacon and Antony Loewenstein at an August 2 forum in Sydney. Below is an abridged version of Munckton’s talk, which discussed building alternatives to the corporate media. * * * In some ways the scandal around Rupert Murdoch’s media empire shows the potential crisis of the corporate media in a negative sense.
A coalition of groups in New South Wales came together in June to campaign against the federal government’s plan to introduce income management for welfare recipients in the Sydney suburb of Bankstown. The new coalition, called “Say no to government’s income management: not in Bankstown, not anywhere”, released the open letter below on July 27. * * * To ministers Tanya Plibersek and Jenny Macklin and to the local federal members for Banks, Blaxland and Watson.
Ten countries and nine jurisdictions in the world have recognised marriage equality since 2001. Many other parts of the world recognise civil unions, registration schemes or same-sex marriages performed outside of the respective country. Australians are ready to follow suit. Seventy-five percent of Australians expect same-sex marriage to be legalised, said a 2011 Galaxy Poll.
War criminal and former British PM Tony Blair had only just completed a lucrative commercial speaking tour of Australia when Australia’s federal Director of Public Prosecutions began court proceeding to prosecute former Guantanamo detainee David Hicks under “proceeds of crime” laws. Government prosecutors want to seize the profits from his book Guantanamo: My Journey, of which about 30,000 copies have been sold.

World

You've probably heard it said a dozen times today: "It's like 28 Days Later out there." Every thirty seconds, there's a new riot zone. I've rarely known the capital to be this wound up. It's kicked off in East Ham, then Whitechapel, then Ealing Broadway (really?), then Waltham Forest... It's kicked off in Croydon, then Birmingham, then (just a rumour so far) Bradford... The banlieues (outer-suburbs) of Britain are erupting in mass civil unrest.
At least 15 people were killed on August 5 by security forces cracking down on protests in cities and towns throughout Syria, the August 6 Gulf News said. Escalating protests and government violence have marked every Friday since the Arab Spring reached Syria in March. But government violence has escalated since the military’s July 31 assault on the city of Hama, whose streets had been under the control of protesters since June.
The Israeli ambassador to Spain, Raphael Schutz, has just finished his term in Madrid. In an op-ed in Israeli paper Haaretz’s Hebrew edition, he summarised what he termed as a very dismal stay and seemed genuinely relieved to leave. This kind of complaint now seems to be the standard farewell letter of all Israeli ambassadors in western Europe.
In early August, £500 billion was wiped off the value of the largest British companies. The United States stock market fell by the largest amount since the early days of the financial crisis in 2008. The panic has now spread to Asian markets. On August 5, British markets continued to slide. The banks, locus of the 2008 calamity, have been worst affected. Barclays, Lloyds Banking Group and RBS stopped trading in their shares after prices collapsed.
Speaking to CNN en Espanol on July 27, Bolivian President Evo Morales said “When presidents do not submit to the United States government, to its policies, there are coups.” His comments are backed by attempts by the US and Bolivia’s right wing to bring down his government. Recently released WikiLeaks cables prove the US embassy was in close contact with dissident military officers only months before a coup attempt was carried out in September 2008. But the close relationship between the US and Bolivia’s military has a long history. War on drugs
Thousands of West Papuans rallied for independence on August 2, despite attempts by the Indonesian government to scare people away. About 10,000 people protested across Indonesian-occupied West Papua, Radio Australia's Pacific Beat said on August 3. They demanded a referendum on independence from Indonesia. The largest protest took place in the capital Jayapura. Hundreds of heavily armed riot police and soldiers hindered protesters marching from Abepura and Waena who were trying to march into Jayapura, West Papua Media Alerts said on August 2.
On my first day in Cuba, in 1967, I waited in a bus queue that was really a conga line. Ahead of me were two large, funny females resplendent in frills of blinding yellow; one of them had an especially long bongo under her arm. When the bus arrived, painted in Cuba's colours for its inaugural service, they announced that the gringo had not long arrived from London and was therefore personally responsible for this breach in the United States' blockade. It was an honour I could not refuse.
For more news on the global boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel, see Electronic Intifada's BDS Beat South African students renew call to boycott Israel Representatives of South Africa’s oldest and largest student bodies in Johannesburg denounced an upcoming visit by a delegation of Israeli officials and propagandists to South African college campuses in an August 3 press conference, ElectronicIntifada.net said on August 5.
As the United States prepares itself for the approaching 2012 presidential election, voters in primaries to select the Republican candidate find themselves inundated by a selection of arch-conservative contenders vying for the opportunity to seize the nomination. Guided by “God”, free-market economics and corporate tax cuts, Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann, darling of the right-wing Tea Party, appears at the forefront of such arch-conservative efforts to enter the White House and set in motion an uncompromising far-right agenda.
The article below is an abridged August 2 editorial from Socialist Worker (US). * * * If your eyes are glazing over at the large numbers and the complicated mechanics of the deal to cut US$2.1 trillion from the United States federal budget over the next decade, here’s a short summary of the agreement: Screw the sick, poor and the elderly while imposing a permanently lower standard of living for working people, all while helping bankers and the rich grab a greater share of society’s wealth.

Culture

I wander in a city with hard games no fun and games no laughing matter (we don’t play we don’t laugh) life Russian roulette inside Russian dolls boxes within boxes within – built-up blocks of land building complexes buildings blocks of flats flats rooms where scattered other boxes food shut in metal plastic so efficient vitamins in boxes spell deficient feasts on screens a distant memory now tinned sofa merry- making sufficient. I take tablets for stimulation for sex and recreation in lovely colour pink and others for sedation
The Most Dangerous Man in the World By Andrew Fowler Melbourne University Press, 2011 271 pages, $32.99 (pb) Underground By Suelette Drefus & Julian Assange William Heinemann, 2011 479 pages, $24.95 (pb) WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy By David Leigh & Luke Harding Guardianbooks, 2011 340 pages, $24.95 (pb)
Special Treatment Starring Isabelle Huppert, Bouli Lanners, Richard Debuisne, Sabila Moussadek, Valerie Dreville Directed by Jeanne Labrune In cinemas now A comedy film about prostitutes and psychoanalysis? Surely only the French could do it, and so it is with this witty, not exactly hilarious, thought-provoking exploration of the overlap between the two professions.
Anima Mundi: Permaculture, Climate Change, Peak Oil & the Soul of the World Directed by Peter Downey Visit Animamundimovie.com Permaculture Pioneers: Stories from the New Frontier Edited by Kerry Dawborn & Caroline Smith Available from www.permacultureprinciples.com Sydney launch of Permaculture Pioneers & premier of Anima Mundi August 25, 7pm, Chauvel Cinema, Paddington Town Hall

Editorial

The NSW government was evasive for several days on whether it would allow uranium exploration and mining, banned since 1986. This followed the call by federal resources minister Martin Ferguson in May for NSW and Victoria to rethink their uranium mining bans. Premier Barry O’Farrell and resources minister Chris Hartcher finally said on August 5 they would not overturn the uranium mining ban. In mid-June, Hartcher met the chief executive of the Australian Uranium Association Michael Angwin, who is lobbying to overturn the ban, the Sydney Morning Herald said.

Fighting Fund

The double meaning in the popular slogan “White Australia has a black history”, sadly, still applies to federal, state and territory government policies. Governments may have apologised for past mistreatment but they are still destroying Aboriginal communities and stealing Aboriginal land. Official racism is as alive as ever. The Gillard Labor government’s Ministry of Truth must be working overtime to churn out titles for programs that say the opposite of what they actually deliver.

Letters

Australian detention harms asylum seekers Australia is confronted by the tragic phenomena of detention centre deaths, with five suicides in the last 10 months, over 1000 suicide attempts and thousands of self-inflicted injuries among asylum seekers. There have recently been two more suicide attempts at Darwin immigration centre. There will most likely be more to come. One Hazara man suffered a heart attack following efforts to rescue him from his suicide attempt.

Resistance!

The Refugee Advocacy Group (RAG) was recently formed by high school students in Geelong. The group organised a refugee rights protest in the city on August 13. Green Left Weekly’s Ben Peterson spoke to Max Hill, a year 11 student and founder of RAG. Tell us about RAG and how this all got started Max Hill: Basically, the group came about after [immigration minister Chris] Bowen planned to sign the "Malaysian solution".

We kid you not

United States: Land of the 1% “The upper 1 percent of Americans are now taking in nearly a quarter of the nation’s income every year. In terms of wealth rather than income, the top 1 percent control 40 percent. Their lot in life has improved considerably. Twenty-five years ago, the corresponding figures were 12 percent and 33 percent … “One response might be to celebrate the ingenuity and drive that brought good fortune to these people, and to contend that a rising tide lifts all boats. That response would be misguided.