Issue 920

Australia

Stop CSG Illawarra released the statement below on May 1.

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Stop CSG Illawarra members will join others from across the state today with a message for the NSW government: protect our land and water from coal seam gas (CSG) and irresponsible mining.

The rally — called by the NSW Farmers Association — is supported by the Country Women’s Association, Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders, GetUp, the Hunter Valley Wine Industry Association, the Nature Conservation Council and Lock the Gate.

The Socialist Alliance Western Australia released the statement below after its members took part in an April 30 meeting organised by the United Motorcycle Council of WA to oppose the government's proposed "anti-association" laws.

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The annual Green Left Weekly Twilight River Cruise set sail successfully on the Brisbane River on April 29. More than 60 people came aboard for an evening of sumptuous food, drinks, live entertainment and guest speakers, all while enjoying spectacular views along the river.

Flautist Hannah Reardon-Smith, singer-guitarist Carrie (from Carrie and the Cut Snakes), and bass player Dom Hale provided music on the night. Speakers included Socialist Alliance co-convenors Ewan Saunders and Jim McIlroy, and SA candidate for Sandgate in the recent Queensland elections Mike Crook.

About 500 people took part in the Sydney part of the Global Bersih 3.0 actions, which were held in 85 cities outside Malaysia to coincide with a 250,000-300,000-strong mass mobilisation for free and fair elections in Malaysia on April 28.

See also:

The Lock the Gate Alliance released the statement below on April 29.

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The Lock the Gate Alliance has warned the New South Wales Coalition that it risks losing the support of much of the rural vote it received at the last election if it continued to pursue its current policies on mining and coal seam gas.

Members of the Tamil community and Socialist Alliance joined Geelong Trades Hall secretary, Tim Gooden, in raising the Tamil Eelam flag over the Trades Hall on April 20.

This was the first official raising of the flag in the southern hemisphere outside of Tamil Eelam. Spokesperson for the Tamil community, Sabsh Sanmugam, described how the flag has come to represent the aspirations of many Tamils around the world in their desire to break free of oppression.

Queensland public service union Together has called a stopwork rally on May 1 over the new Liberal National Party (LNP) government's threat of forced retrenchments.

ABC Online said on April 25, Together had launched a new campaign to give workers a voice in the government's “restructure of departments”.

The ABC reported that Together secretary Alex Scott said the LNP had said before the election there would be no forced retrenchments.

More than 1000 building unionists rallied in Emma Miller Place on April 27 to mark International Workers' Memorial Day. Protests and commemorations also took place on the same day in Canberra, Melbourne and Perth, and on April 28 in Sydney and Adelaide.

Organised by the building unions and the Queensland Council of Unions, the Brisbane action was billed as a time to “remember those who have been injured or killed at or through their work and to renew our commitment to fight for the living”.

Independent filmmaker and anti-fracking activist Zeb Parkes has been fined $500 by the City of Perth for taking part in a rally against gas fracking on April 21. Parkes intends to defend the matter in court rather than pay the fines.

A protest organised by the Refugee Advocacy Group (RAG) brought about 100 students, teachers, politicians and activists to rally in opposition to mandatory detention on April 21.

Marking 20 years since the introduction of a dehumanising system of discriminatory detention for asylum seekers who arrive by boat, the student group led a march through Geelong to raise public awareness of their ongoing campaign.

The Victorian government said last year it would introduce its own version of the Australian Building and Construction Commission if the ABCC was weakened.

Now, on April 3 Premier Ted Baillieu and finance minister Robert Clark announced the Implementation Guidelines to the Victorian Code of Practice for the Building and Construction Industry.

The guidelines focus on ensuring workers aren’t “forced” to join unions, and that employers are forbidden from agreeing to union demands for over-award or site payments.

Students and staff at the University of Sydney ramped up the campaign against management's proposed staff cuts last week, after management ignored a deadline set by the rally and occupation on April 4 to withdraw the cuts by the end of the Easter break.

Four hundred students rallied on the university's front lawns on April 24. Students from more than eight classes walked out to join the rally. In one case, a lecturer emailed her students in advance to tell them to walk out of their class and join the protest.

The Wilderness Society released the statement below on April 27.

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Koalas must be included on the national threatened species list as part of Environment Minister Tony Burke’s 30 April announcement, especially in NSW’s Gunnedah region and the Pilliga Forest where they face the additional threat of expanding coal mining and coal seam gas operations, according to the Wilderness Society.

Equal marriage rights supporters rallied at Margaret Court's Victory Life Centre on April 24. The centre hosted an anti-equal marriage event that evening.

Local bus services in the City of Whittlesea in Melbourne’s outer north may be thrown into chaos due to the opening of the South Morang rail extension on April 22.

Rather than serving the new station and surrounding housing estates with new bus services, the Baillieu Liberal state government intends to re-route most of the existing Epping and Mill Park bus services to South Morang without public consultation and with little information to the public.

The Student Environment Action Collective (SEAC) of the University of Sydney hosted a public forum titled “Our Water, Our Land, Our Future” on April 19. The forum discussed the effects of coal seam gas (CSG) mining and the campaign against it in Sydney and NSW. Speakers included the NSW Farmers’ Federation’s Brianna Casey and Charles Thomas, along with Jacinta Green of Stop CSG Sydney.

Under the theme "Racism has got to go!", Aboriginal protesters and supporters held a rally against police violence outside the Queensland parliament on April 24.

About 70 people attended the rally, which coincided with the Sydney march against police assaults on Black youth in that city.

Speakers at the Brisbane rally expressed solidarity with the Aboriginal community in Sydney and said similar police racism was rife in Queensland.

One activist said police had provoked him many times in the past and taunted him to fight them.

The Injured Workers Support Network released the statement below on April 22.

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The Injured Workers Support Group met in Bathurst with a key agenda item being the announcement of an inquiry into the NSW workers compensation scheme by the Barry O’Farrell NSW government.

Injured and ill workers voiced their concerns about Premier O’Farrell’s recent announcement to “reform” the workers compensation system in NSW.

Sahrawi human rights advocate and trade unionist Malak Amidane will visit Australia this month to share her experience of campaigning for justice in her homeland.

Previously a Spanish colony, Western Sahara was invaded by Morocco and Mauritania when Spain withdrew in 1975.

Today, 80% of the territory land is controlled by Morocco.

Amidane will meet with politicians and union leaders to lobby for greater support for Western Sahara.

She will also present a public lecture in Adelaide on May 3 at 5pm, at the University of Adelaide, Lower Napier, room G03.

Media statement by Ray Jackson, Indigenous Social Justice Association.


Emergency rally: Tuesday April 24, 1.30pm, NSW Parliament House, Macquarie St, Sydney.

Facebook event: http://www.facebook.com/events/340152409380043/

On Tuesday, April 24 at 1.30pm we will be holding a rally outside the NSW Parliament House to protest the violence and abuse of the NSW police as exampled by the circumstances at Kings Cross and five police-related deaths in custody so far this year already.

World

More than 8000 people demonstrated in Auckland on April 28 against the privatisation and give away of public assets in Aotearoa (New Zealand). A few days earlier, a Hikoi (walk) began from Cape Reinga in the far north of New Zealand's north island, headed for the capital, Wellington.

The Labour Party of Pakistan has reported that LPP member Baba Jan and other activists in Gilgit district jail were severely beaten and tortured by dozens of Rangers, Police and Frontier Constabulary in the early morning of April 28.

In response, an international campaign is being organised for the release of Baba Jan and other activists jailed last year for campaigning for compensation for flood victims.

After devastating floods swept the Atta Abad Lakes region of Pakistan last year, police opened fire on a demonstration of people demanding compensation. Two people were killed.

The Occupy movement in the United States relaunched itself on May 1 when thousands of people rallied in more than 130 cities across the country to mark May Day — the international day to mark working people's struggles.

The May Day events were billed as a test of strength for the movement that exploded onto the streets in September last year. Occupy Wall Street (OWS) arose to protest against inequality and undemocratic rule by the super-rich — the “1%”.

S. Arutchelvan, secretary general of the Socialist Party of Malaysia, is a veteran of many demonstrations. But the Bersih 3.0 mobilisation, which he estimates was between 100,000 and 150,000-strong, was the biggest he's been a part of in the country. “It was a huge success” he told Green Left Weekly, “and it terrified the Barisan Nasional [BN] government.

“The BN government sees Merdeka Square as its Tahrir Square. They do not want to see – and for the public and the world to see – images of it being occupied by democratic movement. It is their political survival.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s April 17 speech to the Council of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute was widely reported in the global media as announcing an early withdrawal of Australian troops from Afghanistan.

But the April 20 Australian Financial Review said government ministers had reassured Australia’s allies in the US-led multinational occupation of Afghanistan that the speech did no such thing.

Self-employed and informal sector workers in Venezuela are to be included in the nation’s social security system, after an announcement by President Hugo Chavez on April 21.

The Law of Social Security will be changed to allow informally employed workers to register with the Venezuelan Institute of Social Security (IVSS) and make social security payments.

After a hostage crisis in which one of armed group Shining Path's (Sendero Luminoso – SL) factions abducted gas workers employed by a major multinational, a counter-insurgency operation was launched in the Apurimac-Ene River Valley (VRAE).

The stand-off was reported by the international media. But what has been largely ignored are the human rights abuses against VRAE civilian communities are being committed by the Peruvian military.

The Aotearoa Is Not For Sale hikoi drew an estimated 3000 people as it passed through Auckland on April 29 on its two-week journey from Cape Reinga to Wellington.

Protesters are opposed to the planned sale of up to 49 per cent shares in the state owned energy companies: Mighty River, Genesis Power, Meridian Energy and Solid Energy.

A statement from organisers said today's hikoi would also highlight plans to mine sand on the West Coast.

The results of the first round of the French presidential elections on April 22 shone a powerful spotlight on a society polarised by economic crisis and the austerity regime of president Nicolas Sarkozy and his ruling Union for a Popular Movement government.

As in the 2002 presidential poll, candidates to the left of the Socialist Party, including Europe Ecology-The Greens (EELV), won more than 15% combined. The far-right National Front (National Front) of Marine Le Pen registered its highest vote ever ― 17.9% (up 7.5% from the 2007 presidential poll).

See also

On April 28, up to 8000 people marched in Auckland against the threatened sell-off of public assets by New Zealand National Party Prime Minister John Key. A few days earlier, a Hikoi (walk) began from Cape Reinga in the far north of New Zealand's north island, headed for the capital, Wellington. Arriving in Auckland in time to coincide with the event, participants in the Hikoi marched from Victoria Park to Britomart, where they met up with the assembling protest. The crowd then made its way up Queen Street to Aotearoa Square.

Yasin Malik is the chairperson of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front, a secular nationalist organisation formed in 1977 to struggle for the independence of Kashmir.

Since 1947, Kashmir has been divided between Indian and Pakistani occupied areas. Both claim the whole of Kashmir and have fought three wars over the country.

The JKLF launched an armed struggle in 1988, but changed tactics to non-violent struggle in 1994.

The people of Greece will go to the polls on May 6 to replace the unelected government of Prime Minister Lucas Papademos imposed by the Greek and European elites on November 10.

The imposed government was a three-party coalition, consisting of the social-democratic Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), traditional right-wing New Democracy (ND) and extreme-right Popular Orthodox Alert (LAOS). LAOS left the government in February.

A crowd estimated at 250,000 people or more wound its way through Montréal April 22 in Quebec’s largest ever Earth Day march.

They raised many demands: an end to tar sands and shale gas development, opposition to the Quebec government’s Plan Nord mining expansion, support for radical measures to protect ecosystems, and other causes.

The Bahrain government's attempts to use the April 22 Formula One race to portray the country as harmonious have backfired badly.

The world's media were forced to focus on the ongoing protests against the ruling al-Khalifa dynasty over demands for democracy and justice for those who have suffered human rights abuses.

The government marketed the race with the slogan "UniF1ed", in a brazen attempt to whitewash the protests and suggest the country had returned to normal.

The most fun part of the news at the moment is these interviews with the government of Bahrain. Because they start: “You have stated that you're moving your country towards democracy. Is that true, Crown Prince Imperial Grand Emperor O Flawless Being of Gorgeous Holy Succulent Mightiness?”

Presidential elections in France are a media spectacle rivalled perhaps only by those in the United States. In day-to-day life, there is also a real buzz as people argue and discuss the race on worksites, the street and, habitually, in cafes.

Streets are plastered with posters of candidates and clever activist propaganda (over the top of some street signs here, activists have put up “Impasse Sarkozy”).

It's been a lively couple of months for Russia's opposition. After last December's parliamentary elections, the country was hit by the largest demonstrations since the 1990s.

Defying freezing temperatures, tens of thousands gathered in Moscow alone to protest against election irregularities and the victorious United Russia party of Vladimir Putin and Dmitri Medvedev.

The huge rise in turnout, compared with any demonstration in recent memory, surprised everyone, especially the opposition.

Analysis

On the eve of Julian Assange's 500th day under house arrest, Sam from the WikiLeaks Australian Citizen's Alliance sat down with author, political commentator and Crikey's Canberra correspondent, Bernard Keane to talk about Wikileaks, Julian Assange and the rise of the surveillance state.

On the eve of Julian Assange's 500th day under house arrest, Kaz from the WikiLeaks Australian Citizens Alliance sat down with Australian Lawyers Alliance President Greg Barns to talk about Julian Assange, Wikileaks and the state of our democracy.

The Medical Association for Prevention of War released the statement below on May 1.

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The Medical Association for Prevention of War has released a statement (reproduced below) signed by 45 medical doctors calling on uranium mining company Toro Energy to stop promoting the view that low-level radiation is beneficial to human health.

The start of a major campaign. Instead of cutting jobs, create a million new ones to lower carbon emissions and kick start the economy. The full 33 minute version, plus seven more films, are on Reel News 27 - available at www.reelnews.co.uk



Communities throughout NSW are battling an expanding coal seam gas (CSG) industry and new government guidelines that allow coal and CSG mining in most of the state.

The battle over “unconventional gas” mining, which includes CSG, shale and tight gas, is also spreading across Australia, as companies and governments try to cash in on the gas rush. Federal minister for regional Australia Simon Crean said last year that Australia will become “the Saudi Arabia of gas”.

People seem to know about May Day everywhere except where it began, here in the United States of America. That’s because those in power have done everything they can to erase its real meaning. For example, Ronald Reagan designated what he called, “Law Day” — a day of jingoist fanaticism, like an extra twist of the knife in the labour movement. Today, there is a renewed awareness, energised by the Occupy movement’s organising, around May Day, and its relevance for reform and perhaps eventual revolution.

In the early hours of April 22, police officers risked the lives of hundreds in Kings Cross by opening fire on the unarmed occupants of a stolen car, shooting the 14-year-old driver twice and a 17-year-old passenger in the neck.

Police then smashed the passenger's head on the road and body-slammed him on the curb, which left him in a coma. Police do not normally shoot unarmed teenagers in the middle of a crowded night spot. But this was different, possibly because the boys were Aboriginal.

A letter written by a 10-year-old girl in detention in Darwin drew national attention on April 24 and voiced the “sad, depressing and hopeless” lives children and young people experience in detention.

The note, hand-written in Vietnamese, was given to a local community visitor from the Darwin Asylum Seeker Support and Advocacy Network.

It said: “As each day passes, we feel heavy-hearted and lacking any sense of hope. We have no way of knowing what our future holds for us.”

After the riveting TV that was Nick Minchin assembling his crew of climate deni... ah, sceptics to take on the stifling orthodoxy that is the mere theory of human-caused global warming, the ABC is going to continue its dedication to balance with a new show called “I can change your mind on the Holocaust”.

A Holocaust believer will travel the world with a Holocaust sceptic, assembling arguments for and against, in a bid to change the other one's mind on the theory that millions of people perished in a Nazi-organised genocide.

Nineteen Palestine solidarity protesters face court on May 1 for their involvement in a protest on July 1 last year in support of Palestine.

At the July 1 protest outside a Max Brenner chocolate store, the police ran wild, viciously attacking peaceful protesters.

Max Brenner is owned by Israeli conglomerate the Strauss Group, a company that provides “care rations” for the Israeli military forces in occupied Palestine, including the Golani and Givati brigades.

Australia’s shadow treasurer, Joe Hockey, has declared to the world his crusade against entitlements. He argues the “age of entitlement” in the West must be brought to an end by governments winding back the role of the state. Absent this measure, the West will not stay economically competitive in the Asian century.

By entitlements, Hockey means welfare spending — the system of income transfers designed to distribute income to achieve such things as social security.

Queensland climate activist David White gives six reasons why he will not tune in to the ABC show I Can Change Your Mind About Climate.

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1. It is well and truly past the time for debating whether or not anthropogenic [human-caused] climate change is occurring.

2. Continuing to debate the issue gives the contrarians’ [deniers] viewpoint a validity and respectability that it should not have. It just encourages those with delusions and paranoia to continue to promote their fantasies.

This article is republished from Overland magazine.

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Anzac Day celebrates forgetting.

Its revival, the transformation of a ceremony nearly extinct in the 1980s into today’s turbocharged festival, coincides with the excision from national consciousness of the most important aspects of the Great War.

The immigration department ordered 22 asylum seekers be taken to Sydney’s Silverwater jail after protests in Villawood detention centre last Easter. But the department did not keep a complete record and failed to follow its own procedures or visit the detainees within the 24 hours required.

On the advice of federal police, the Iranian and Kurdish asylum seekers were forced out of Villawood in the early hours of April 22 last year, accused of being the “ring leaders” of the spate of protests that took place over the Easter weekend.

If you are thinking of challenging a mining development in the courts, be prepared to go through the financial wringer. You might think you have an open-and-shut case, that the federal government has shirked its responsibilities under environmental legislation. But if the finding goes against you, the government and the mining industry will see you bankrupt.

The article below is based on a speech by Socialist Alliance national co-convenor Peter Boyle at the April 24 emergency rally called by the Indigenous Social Justice Association to protest the recent police shooting and bashing of two unarmed Aboriginal teenagers in Sydney’s Kings Cross.

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Culture

The Brisbane branch of the socialist youth group Resistance has linked up with Occupy Brisbane and Stop CSG Brisbane to pull off two successful fundraising gigs. Dominic Hale and Alice Jenkins, from Resistance's cultural committee, spoke to Green Left Weekly's Hannah Reardon-Smith about political gigs.

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What was the idea behind your approach to these Resistance gigs?

NT Consultations Report 2011: By Quotations
Published by Concerned Australians
72 pages, hard cover, $15
www.concernedaustralians.com.au

NT Consultations Report 2011: By Quotations, published in February 2012, is an important sequel to the highly regarded This Is What We Said (February 2010) and Walk With Us (August 2011).

Pussy Riot is an anonymous Russian feminist punk band. Its anonymous members, whose identities are concealed by their costumes, formed in October last year as a feminist music collective that performs public “flash mob” gigs to protest the rule of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The band performed a “punk prayer” at the altar of the Christ the Savior cathedral in Moscow on February 21, before being removed by security guards. The video went viral in the days that followed and a criminal investigation into Pussy Riot began. Three alleged Pussy Riot members are being held by police.