Issue 895

Australia

One hundred and twenty people packed out Gleebooks in Sydney on September 1 for the launch of Walk with Us — the latest book from the Aboriginal solidarity group Concerned Australians.

The book documents the detrimental impact of the Northern Territory intervention on Aboriginal people and features a call out from Aboriginal elders to Australians, asking them to walk with them in their quest for justice.

About 300 activists protested in Melbourne on September 9 against chocolate company Max Brenner’s sponsorship of elite Israeli military units, as part of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign (BDS) against Israeli apartheid in Palestine.

Indigenous rights activist Robbie Thorpe told the rally: “Every struggle we see is about human life, their struggle is the same as ours because this is illegally occupied land too.”

Trade unionist Dave Kerin said: “The only right solution is democratic, equal representation of all inhabitants of Palestine.”

Chanting “shame Barry, shame”, 35,000 people from dozens of unions and their supporters rallied in Sydney’s Domain on September 8 to oppose savage cuts to public services and job conditions.

Contingents of teachers, nurses, firefighters, police, rail and bus workers, and public sector workers swelled the ranks of the protest, the largest union rally in the state in 20 years.

The rally, held just two days after the O’Farrell government handed down its budget, was almost double the size predicted by Unions NSW.

Last month the Remuneration Tribunal awarded massive pay rises to the heads of the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA), the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

About 160 people gathered at The Gap State High School on September 8 for a community forum on the potential impacts of the coal seam gas industry.

Gubbi Gubbi elder Nurdon Serico gave a welcome to country, saying he had seen what mining can do to country and community, and highlighting that this industry will lead to the destruction of sacred Aboriginal sites as well as farming land.

Fundamentalist Christian street preachers faced stiff opposition from activists who rallied against their public sermons in Adelaide’s Rundle Mall on September 2.

Members of the right-wing religious group found themselves surrounded by a large crowd of activists who rallied for more than five hours.

The rally’s theme was “love not hate”.

The rally aimed to show solidarity for those who have received verbal abuse and suffered violence, particularly homosexual youths often targeted by the fringe Christians.

The Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union (CFMEU) has slammed the Queensland Labor government over its decision to approve a 100% fly-in, fly-out workforce for the Caval Ridge coalmine near Moranbah, central Queensland.

The union has about 10,000 members in the state’s coalmines. It said it would fight the Bligh government's decision in the lead up to the Queensland election, due early next year.

“We will ensure our members and the communities they live in are not left behind,” said CFMEU state secretary Jim Valery, the September 7 Courier Mail reported.

Sixty people rallied outside Western Australia’s Parliament House on September 8 in a protest organised by the homeless rights supporters. The rally called on the Barnett Liberal government to provide proper funding to the state’s homeless people and support and shelter all year round.

The state government has set aside $112,500 for temporary accommodation and meals for homeless people during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in late October.

The Refugee Action Collective Sydney released the statement below on September 6.

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Frustration is again boiling over in the Darwin detention centre. There have been six attempted suicides in the last two days — five on Monday, and one on Tuesday.

Yesterday, Tuesday, fellow asylum seekers followed one man onto the roof of one of the compounds and physically prevented him from attempting to hang himself.

There have been reports of up to 15 attempted suicide and self harm attempts a day in the past few days.

To: All the female and male Chilean students, and to their families.

In the face of the attacks on education by the Chilean government and the accompanying pressures of national and international financial corporations, a strong, sizeable and inspiring student movement exists.

Student activists are doing everything possible to protect public education because education is a right for everyone and should not be sold.

We state that:

We sympathise with and we fully support all Chilean students.

Education should be free and accessible.

The Lock the Gate Alliance, a national alliance of more than 105 community, industry and environmental groups concerned with the damage caused by coal and coal seam gas mining, released the statement below on September 6.

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World

Baba Jan, a federal committee member of the Labour Party Pakistan (LPP), surrendered himself to an "anti-terrorist court" in Gilgit Baltestan in early September.

He had been on the run after police opened fire on a demonstration demanding compensation for those affected by the Atta Abad Lake floods last year, killing two

Jan has since been taken from jail and the LPP fears the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) is torturing him.

Jan’s “crime” was to organise rallies and demonstrations against the police killings.

Last year's floods were the worst in Pakistan's history. Twenty million people were affected and about 2000 lost their lives.

Now there is record flooding for the second year in a row.

“This is not a natural disaster”, Farooq Tariq , the national spokesperson for the Labour Party Pakistan, told Green Left Weekly. He was referring to widespread and unprecedented monsoonal flooding that has hit Pakistan over the last few days, already killing hundreds of people and making nearly a million homeless.

And this is just the beginning of the monsoon season.

Tens of thousands of Egyptians reclaimed Tahrir square from police on September 9, demanding an end to military trials of civilians and for judicial freedom.

Security forces withdrew from the square on the day before. It had been under guard since a sit-in was broken up on August 1.

Groups of youth immediately started organising the September 9 rally. They marched through the streets of downtown Cairo demanding an end to the rule of the military council and calling for Cairo's residents to join the protest.

Thousands of Swazi people marched through Mbabane on September 5, burning images of Swaziland's absolute monarch King Mswati III.

Protesters sung freedom songs and chanting slogans against his agenda of pay freezes and cuts to student allowances.

Striking public-sector staff, who took part in the rally, called for increased taxes on the monarch and his wealthy cronies instead of welfare cuts.

The rally kicked off the Swaziland United Democratic Front's Global Week of Action. Over the next six days, workers planned to stage a series of strikes.

After the overthrow of Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak in February, a new chapter in Egyptian history is being written and its authors are the people themselves.

Anything could happen and everything is up for grabs given the profound political, social and economic crisis in which Egypt's neoliberal system finds itself in.

See also:
Cairo eyewitness: Fresh protests demand real change

While the mainstream media have focused on the fall of Muammar Gaddafi's regime in Libya, democracy movements in Yemen, Syria and Bahrain have deepened despite severe repression.

Hundreds of thousands of people rallied in Yemen's capital Sana'a on September 4, MorningStarOnline.co.uk said the next day. They demanded the removal of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Thousands were prevented from rallying by military roadblocks. Five protesters were wounded when government troops opened fire on the rally.

Elections in the eastern German state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania on September 4 resulted in another humiliating defeat for the conservative government of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
 
Merkel's centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) had already suffered five election defeats this year.
 
The Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania defeat was particularly galling for Merkel because the state includes her own constituency.
 

In Spain the signs are unmistakable: a “hot autumn” of political and social conflict is brewing in the run-up to the November 20 general election.

Polling night will reveal how much the growing social resistance, brought onto the streets since May largely by the 15-M movement of “indignants”, has shaken up the political scene.

As things stand, the most likely result is a repeat of the wipe-out suffered by the governing Spanish  Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) at the May elections for local council and regional governments (known as “autonomous communities”).

Since May, Chile has been rocked by sustained protests, occupations and strikes by students and their supporters in a huge struggle for free, public education.

The fight is part of the struggle to overturn the legacy of the 1973-'90 Pinochet dictatorship.

From the very beginning, students and educators were an important target for the dictatorship.

General Augusto Pinochet led a US-backed military coup against the elected left-wing government of president Salvador Allende on September 11, 1973.

Despite widespread condemnation of Israeli policies by the United Nations, other international bodies, human rights organisations and internationally respected lawyers Israel continues to deprive Palestinians of their rights of freedom, equality, and self-determination.

Israel’s ethnic cleansing, racial discrimination and aggressive expansion through colonisation are well documented.

See also:
Rallies say you 'can't sweeten apartheid'

The article below is an abridged editorial from US progressive magazine Against The Current.

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The decade opened with the attacks of September 11, 2001 may have symbolically closed with the elite US death-squad assassination of Osama bin Laden.

But the turmoil of these post-9/11 years, notably the self-inflicted wounds of US capitalism, have exceeded the terrorist mastermind’s wildest dreams.

There are the wars that George W Bush, with the support of congressional Democrats, launched in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The decision by leaders of the Sub Central of the Indigenous Territory and National Isiboro Secure Park (TIPNIS), to initiate a 500-kilometre protest march on Bolivia's capital of La Paz capital has ignited much debate about the nature of Bolivia’s first indigenous led-government.

The Sub Central of TIPNIS unites the 64 indigenous communities within the park.

See also
Poverty, inequality in Bolivia -- some stats

Analysis

British-based multinational corporation Serco Group is bidding for more contracts with Australian federal and state governments. Worth £4.3 billion ($6.6 billion), Serco markets itself as a “solution to government”, which takes over government services and runs them for profit.

It has run Australia’s disastrous and increasingly unstable refugee detention centres since 2009, owns two Australian super-prisons and took over Western Australia’s court security and custodial services in June.

Australia’s media, already saturated with gas and mining company propaganda, are about to be bombarded with more “good news” about coal seam gas (CSG).

A campaign called “We want CSG” was launched on September 4. It includes television, radio, newspaper and online advertisements.

It is backed by some of Australia’s largest energy companies, including AGL, Santos, and Origin Energy, under the banner of the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA).

British-based economist, activist and writer Derek Wall is a member of the Green Party of England and Wales and is the author of several books on ecology and politics.

Wall will speak via video link at the Climate Change Social Change activist conference in Melbourne over September 30 to October 3. He maintains the ecosocialist blog Another Green World.

Australian Solicitor-General Stephen Gageler, who defended the government’s Malaysia solution in the High Court, confirmed the court’s decision “cast doubt” on all offshore processing, immigration minister Chris Bowen said on September 4.

Bowen and Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s response has been to seek support for changing the Migration Act to circumvent the ruling.

See also:
Protests, suicide attempts shake Darwin detention centre

Rodney Augustine is from the Nyulnyu and Jabirrjabirr people. He is a spokesperson for the “Walmadan Country is Calling” group and is a member of the “Keep the Kimberley” group, both based in Melbourne.

He will speak at the Climate Change Social Change activist conference in Melbourne, over September 30 to October 3.

Will NSW’s Liberal-National state government follow its Victorian colleagues and block the development of wind energy in the state?

Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu announced new planning laws on August 29 that ban wind farms from large areas of the state. The laws put so many hurdles in the way of new wind developments that most wind companies are now talking of abandoning further developments in the state.

The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) will take place in Perth at the end of next month. It is a gathering of the government leaders of the 54 Commonwealth countries.

The Commonwealth today has direct links to the earlier structures of the British Empire in which colonialists of a previous era used to boast that the “sun never sets” on the places where they were killing and oppressing people.

Nicole Watson, a research fellow at the University of Technology Sydney’s Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning, gave the address below at the Sydney launch of Walk With Us: Aboriginal Elders Call Out to Australian People to Walk with them in their Quest for Justice at Gleebooks, Sydney, on September 1.

* * *

At the outset I would like to pay my respects to the traditional owners of the land, the Gadigal people.

The “Say No to Government’s Income Management: Not in Bankstown, Not Anywhere” campaign coalition released the petition below in August.

To sign the petition, visit www.sayno2gim.info.

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To the honourable president and members of the senate in parliament assembled:

We the undersigned are opposed to the federal government’s income management system, which quarantines between 50% to 70% of Centrelink payments so they can only be used to buy “priority items” at government-approved stores.

Community Action Against Homophobia released the statement below on September 9.

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In August, Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young wrote an opinion piece in The Age arguing that “the fight for marriage equality should be above party politics, which is a vital reason to give members of parliament a conscience vote on the matter”.

For many years we were regular contributors to Green Left Weekly and proud supporters of the paper. We’ve now decided to resume writing for GLW and we urge other former contributors to consider doing the same.

In May 2008, we and about 50 other former members of the Democratic Socialist Perspective (DSP) launched the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) and the monthly paper Direct Action (DA) following a bitter internal dispute in the DSP that centred on the Socialist Alliance.

The Central Land Council released the statement below on August 26. It was delivered by Ngarla Kunoth-Monks, CLC executive member, and Rob Roy, CLC member, at the 45th anniversary celebrations of the Wavehill walk-off at Kalkaringi, the Northern Territory.

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Kalkaringi, NT — We are the Central Land Council and we have been elected to speak for our Land, our Law and our Culture.

We demand that the government permits us to take the future in our hands.

The sign-on statement below was initiated by the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS). To add your name or organisation to the statement, visit the ACOSS website.

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Letters

Emissions rise under carbon price

Labor proposes a carbon price plan to “tackle climate change” and create what it calls a “clean energy future” by an implied decrease in greenhouse gas pollution.

However the Australian government-endorsed Treasury modelling report, “Strong growth, low pollution”, shows that under the carbon price plan, Australia’s domestic greenhouse gas pollution will increase to 621 million tonnes of CO2-equivalent in 2020, bigger than now or in 2000.

Resistance!

Resistance is a co-sponsor of the Climate Change Social Change activist conference in Melbourne over September 30 to October 4. Green Left Weekly asked some Resistance members about their thoughts on this major event.

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Hannah Reardon-Smith, Brisbane

To me, events such as the Climate Change Social Change conference are essential for reigniting my enthusiasm and my energy for the good (but long) fight.

Culture

You can see that western Sydney Aboriginal rapper Sesk has turned his life around when he holds his head up high.

Not only does it give him an air of self-esteem - it also reveals that the large tattoo across his neck reading "GUILTY" has another word inked above it: "NOT".

"It was actually just 'GUILTY' first," he says. "I was getting a few weird looks, so I put a 'NOT' there.

"I don’t really have regrets, but if I had the chance to rewrite my life, I would. I would focus more on my schooling and would not treat my parents and family the way I did."

Downfall: The Tommy Sheridan Story
By Alan McCombes,
Birlinn 2011
326 pages, pb £9.99

In the elections to the Scottish parliament in May 2003, the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) polled just under a quarter of a million votes and won six seats.

By any stretch of the imagination this was a remarkable achievement for a party well to the left of Labour. It was a beacon of hope and inspiration for socialists the world over.

By 2011, the SSP’s vote had slumped to below 9000. It failed to regain any of the six seats it had lost in 2007.

Fighting Fund

When Liberal leader Tony Abbott promised in the last federal election campaign that the notorious anti-worker “Work Choices” laws of the former Howard Liberal-National government were “dead, buried and cremated” very few people believed him.