Issue 925


The Injured Workers Support Network released the statement below on June 12. * * * Injured Workers Support Network members will tomorrow take to the streets and join unions and community supporters at a rally at NSW Parliament House in protest of the O’Farrell government’s proposed slashing of workers compensation benefits to injured and ill workers.
Australians should be worried about the attempt to rush through the Philippines Senate the Philippines-Australia Status of Forces agreement visiting anti-bases activist Boyette Jurcales Jr told a Sydney meeting on June 7. Jurcales is the coordinator of the Philippines-based Ban the Bases and the meeting was organised by the newly-established anti-bases network Keep War from Our Door – Wave of Hope.
About 300 members of the NSW Teachers Federation (NSWTF) Council voted unanimously on June 2 to call upon the Barry O’Farrell government to provide guarantees for public school student learning conditions. If the O’Farrell government refuses to provide these guarantees the NSWTF will consider industrial action in the final week of June.
QR National announced on June 5 it would cut 500 rail jobs, to add to the 600 lost last year through voluntary redundancies. QR National is now Australia's largest rail freight company. It was was privatised in 2011 as part of the previous Labor state government's controversial public asset sales program. Rail Tram and Bus Union (RBTU) Queensland state secretary Owen Doogan told the June 6 Courier Mail that the redundancies were damaging: “We believe they will be outsourcing some of their work which means QR National workers will have been sold down the road.”
“One spill could kill our country” Muckaty traditional owner Penny Phillips told 100 people at the Crowne Plaza Hotel on May 30. The meeting was organised by Anti-Nuclear NT to condemn legislation passed by the federal government on March 13 that names Muckaty station, 200km north of Tennant Creek as the site for a proposed nuclear waste dump. The meeting was opened by Larrakeyah woman Donna Jackson whose traditional lands cover the East Arm Wharf, which is one area the waste could be taken through to get to the Muckaty site.
Despite bleak weather, about 50 people took part in a May 31 protest to call on the Australian government to “bring Julian Assange home”. The protest took part the day after the British supreme court ruled that Assange, WikiLeaks’ editor-in-chief, had to be extradited to Sweden. Rally chairperson Chris Jenkins said the protest was important because “Sweden has not ruled out handing Julian Assange over to the US” where he faces danger due to a sealed indictment with unspecified allegations.
Passersby were handed leaflets supporting striking Central Queensland coal mineworkers at a picket of the BHP-Billiton Brisbane office on June 1. The leaflet said the picket was being held “to show our solidarity with the striking coalminers in Central Queensland over their dispute with BMA company [BHP-Mitsubishi Alliance] concerning mine safety. This is a crucial fight for working rights and conditions, important for all Australian unionists right now.”
Julian Assange lost his Appeal against the UK Supreme Court on May 30th 2012. This means he could soon be extradited to Sweden and from there could be immediately flown to the United States under a process called "temporary surrender" to face trumped up charges of espionage and conspiracy. Supporters of Julian Assange protested at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Sydney to show their disgust.
Students from the only remaining full-time Auslan course in Victoria have been learning to sign the words “protest rally”, and “Parliament House”, Lana Schwartz told a 250-strong rally to save the course on May 30. Auslan is the sign language used by the deaf community, and Schwartz is a student in the Auslan diploma offered by Kangan Batman TAFE in Melbourne. But the TAFE announced the course would be axed at the end of the year.
Anger and concern is spreading as people become aware of the scale of the cuts to the TAFE sector. The Baillieu government said it would slash $300 million from the TAFE sector in Victoria. At a public meeting titled “TAFE Cuts, Education and the Capitalist Crisis”, the president of the National Tertiary Education Union’s University of Ballarat branch, Jeremy Smith said 57 courses were being totally axed at Ballarat TAFE.
Feminists caused a stir at the University of Western Australia (UWA) when posters and stickers appeared around the campus on May 31. Declaring “rape jokes are hate speech”, the posters and stickers were hard to miss. A sign with the same message appeared on a statue in the Swan River close to the campus. The same day, the main social club on campus was to hold a party to “celebrate and commemorate the contemporary culture of our fair university/city (As seen on PerthNow)”.
Two rallies were held in Brisbane on May 31 to support WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange following the British court decision to validate the extradition order, opening the way for him to be sent to Sweden, and probably from there to the US. The rallies, organised by Brisbane WikiLeaks Defence, were held outside the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) office in the city at lunchtime and in the afternoon peak hour.
About 160 people gathered at two actions on May 31 in Melbourne to call on the Australian government to assist Julian Assange.
Several thousand people rallied in King George Square on May 30 to defend same-sex civil unions and oppose cuts to the Queensland Healthy Communities program. The protesters marched through city streets to state parliament for a further rally. The emergency rally was called by Equal Love Brisbane under the theme, “Defend Civil Unions! Save Healthy Communities.”
“We are gathered here to support the 33 people who were arrested two weeks ago for defending the Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy in Musgrave Park,” Murri community leader Sam Watson told a rally outside the Magistrates Court on May 31. “Aboriginal people and their supporters were merely exercising their traditional rights in protecting the sacred fire in the park. “These rights are guaranteed by state and federal law. The raid by more than 200 police was a return to the Joh Bjelke-Petersen era by the Newman LNP government, harshly suppressing Aboriginal and democratic rights of citizens.
Hastie workers axed via SMS Victorian secretary of the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) Dean Mighell said up to 3000 workers at engineering company Hastie Group could lose their jobs, after the company went into administration on May 28. Many workers discovered their fate via text message.
Sydney Stop the War Coalition’s Pip Hinman gave the following speech on behalf of Stop the War Coalition to the 300-strong rally to defend Julian Assange outside the Department of Foreign Affairs in Sydney on May 31. * * * Stop the War Coalition adds its voice to the demand that the Australian government ask to secure Julian Assange’s release.   Julian’s role in spearheading the enormously important window to the truth – WikiLeaks – is obvious to all.  
Beyond Zero Emissions released the statement below on May 31. * * * Yesterday energy consultants EnergyQuest broke the news that wind power supplied 31% of South Australia’s electricity in the last quarter. Solar panels added another 3.5% to put renewable energy’s share in that state well above coal (26%) and getting close to gas (39.5%).
Perth City rangers were conspicuously absent as more than 60 people spoke freely in the Murray Street Mall on May 26. This speak-out was the first action called by new group Defend Free Speech Perth in response to a recent pattern of rangers harassing activist events. Organisations represented at the rally included the Nyoongar Tent Embassy, the Maritime Union of Australia and the United Motorcycle Council of WA.


The 'scoop' behind two pro-Palestine activists facing court in Perth, Australia. Miranda Wood and Alex Bainbridge were charged with trespass for singing modified Christmas carols in December 2011.
The Refugee Action Coalition Sydney released the statement below on June 5. * * * The Four Corners’ people smuggling program [“Smuggler’s Paradise”] has only added to the demonisation that surrounds the media and politicians’ portrayal of people smugglers.
Richard Downs, spokesperson for the Eastern Alyawarr people in the Northern Territory, released the statement below on May 24. * * * We the Leaders and Custodians from Ampilatwatja Community Australia give our full support to Yolŋuw Makarr Dhuni (Yolŋu Nations Assembly).
NSW unions are gearing up for “the biggest battle since Work Choices” to defend the rights of the state's sick and injured workers to receive just compensation. The Barry O'Farrell government has outlined cuts to WorkCover that mean workers would no longer be covered on their way to and from work. Payments to injured workers would fall after 13 weeks (rather than 26 weeks). All medical costs and payments for workers who are still sick or injured after two-and-a-half years would be cut. The government says that cutting benefits would “encourage” injured workers back to work.
Traditional owners across Arnhem Land will resist the federal government’s proposed 10-year extension of the Northern Territory intervention by refusing to surrender Aboriginal land through 40 year leases. When the five-year leases imposed by the government’s declared "emergency" end in August this year, the most respected Aboriginal leaders across the Top End will not enter into any new land lease agreements until the draconian and discriminatory Stronger Futures legislation is shelved.
Politics in this country can sometimes seem like a magic trick aimed at young children. “Look over there! Do you see? Those Boat People are taking all your taxes and your homes and your bread! Look! What an outrage!” And then Gina Rinehart jumps up behind our backs and nicks all our resources. And that stuff is non-renewable. Once the mining bosses have flogged it off to China to fill their bloated bank account balances, it’s gone for good. We’ll just be left with a bunch of holes in the ground.
What would Australia look like if Tony Abbott became the next prime minister? The Liberal leader is an outspoken climate denier, a hardliner on locking out refugees, determined to crack down on union and workers’ rights and wants to extend racist and draconian attacks on Aboriginal rights. Yet polls have consistently shown Abbott and the Coalition far ahead of the Julia Gillard Labor government, whose pro-business policies and internal scandals have made it deeply unpopular.
In what was an important milestone for the anti-capitalist community in Adelaide, Left Unity held its inaugural AGM on May 26. The group collected membership fees, elected an executive and established working groups. It also chose a new logo. The AGM culminates several months of careful discussion towards consolidating the organisation. Left Unity formed in May 2010. Its goal was to unite class-conscious radical left forces through common struggles against the ecological and social evils of our increasingly brutal and irrational economic and political system.
The rhetoric of homophobia is changing in our society. Those on the conservative side of the debate no longer make any mention of the Bible, morality or mental health. Instead, they claim they are motivated by love to oppress gay people. Recently, I sat in the NSW legislative council (in which Reverend Fred Nile, MLC, is the honorary chaplain of the house) and watched the debate on marriage equality.
The radical ecologist Murray Bookchin once compared populationism to a phoenix, the mythical bird that periodically burns up and is reborn from its own ashes. No matter how often the “too many people” argument is refuted, it always returns, making the same claim that people are breeding too much and consuming too much, devouring the Earth like a plague of locusts. The latest incarnation of the populationist phoenix is People and the Planet, a report published in April by the leading organisation of Britain’s scientific establishment, the 350-year-old Royal Society.
If Australia were a democracy and governments had no choice but to carry out the will of the majority, we’d be well on our way to a 100% renewable power grid. Recent polling organised by climate action groups around the country found that 94% of 12,000 people polled said they wanted big solar power stations built in Australia. And 93% of those polled said the government should invest public money to make that happen.
Private-detention centre operator Serco and the department of immigration have taken steadily more aggressive action to prevent refugees in detention from speaking out about their conditions. They have done this by moving to restrict and curtail visits to detainees, and have banned several individuals.
Bimblebox is an 8000-hectare nature refuge in the Galilee Basin in central-west Queensland. It is an important site of biodiversity and is being used as a site for many long-term research projects in land management. It also lies in the path of what is planned to be Australia’s largest coalmine. Nine huge mines have been proposed for the Galilee Basin. Waratah Coal, owned by billionaire Clive Palmer, has an exploration permit over the entire Bimblebox refuge.
These are interesting times in the uranium sector. The mining companies have had a few wins in the 14 months since the Fukushima disaster, but they've had more losses. Bill Repard, organiser of the Paydirt Uranium Conference held in Adelaide in February, put on a brave face with this claim: The sector's hiccups in the wake of Fukushima are now over with, the global development of new nuclear power stations continues unabated, and the Australian sector has literally commenced a U-turn in every sense.
How outrageous is this story? Just days after International Monetary Fund boss Christine Lagarde lectured Greek people to pay their taxes or not expect any sympathy from the rest of the world, the British Guardian revealed that her salary of US$467,940 a year, plus US$83,760 in additional allowances, is tax-free. What a bloody hypocrite. Like top United Nations officials and the Queen of England, the IMF chief enjoys tax-free status.
Guillaume Legault, a leading member of Quebec’s CLASSE student organisation, will join this year's Resistance national conference “A Time of Revolution” over July 20-22 in Adelaide. CLASSE — the Broad Coalition of the Association for Student Union Solidarity — is the most radical student association leading the student strike in Quebec against rising tuition fees. Hundreds of thousands of students and supporters have taken part in the strike and daily protests.
Victorian TAFE teacher and student Tashara Roberts released the open letter below on May 29. * * * Dear Mr Baillieu, I would like to tell you my story. I am of English, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent. I had an abusive childhood; my parents divorced when I was about 12 years old and we had moved around a lot until I was about 15. I went to 5 different primary schools and 2 different high schools.
The open letter below was released on May 29. * * * There have been many public statements made about WikiLeaks and its editor-in-chief Julian Assange that are factually inaccurate. For example, Prime Minister Julia Gillard: "It's illegal." Attorney General Nicola Roxon: "He fled Sweden" and the media generally: "Assange is charged/facing charges" (in relation to Swedish sex allegations).
The Sydney Stop the War Coalition released the statement below on May 29. * * * Foreign minister Bob Carr’s decision on May 29 to expel the Syrian Charge d’Affairs is lock step with NATO countries doing the same. It can only be read as the Australian government condoning steps towards overt foreign military intervention in Syria.
Australian Greens Senator Scott Ludlam released the statement below on May 31. * * * Around the country today we’re coming together to demand action from the Australian government to protect an Australian citizen from prosecution and from persecution. Yesterday’s verdict in the UK Supreme Court provides for another delay, another fortnight of legal limbo. It is another two weeks in which the important work of this publishing organisation stays on hold.
Who really runs this country? The announcement by the federal government that it has struck its first Enterprise Migration Agreement with the world's richest woman Gina Rinehart reveals just how eager our governments are to serve the mining millionaires. Youth unemployment in Kwinana, in suburban Perth, is at 26.4%. So why the skills shortage?
The 2012 Resistance conference, in Adelaide July 20-22, will feature international guests including from CLASSE in Quebec (the largest and most radical student organisation leading massive student strikes); the Socialist Party of Malaysia (hugely involved in the Bersih democracy uprising); and from the brave Palestinian People's Party.
The Socialist Alliance released the statement below on May 29. * * *

Training for young people and permanent residency for migrant workers: Not the 457 visa rip off!

Socialist Alliance statement May 29, 2012

The announcement by Immigration Minister Chris Bowen on May 25 that the Gillard Labor government has struck its first Enterprise Migration Agreement with mining billionaire Gina Rinehart reveals just how eager this government is to serve the mining millionaires.


Australian mining companies, already ravaging the traditional land of Indigenous peoples in the Philippines, are now pushing for ratification of a military agreement that would allow Australian troops to enter the Philippines for "combined training, exercises, or other activities mutually approved by the Parties". Protests broke out in Manila on June 6, 2012 as the Philippines Senate was deliberating the ratification of this controversial 'visiting forces' military pact with the Australian government, signed by the disgraced former President Gloria Arroyo in 2007.
Anti-war and progressive groups in the Philippines have requested Australian solidarity against a Status of Visiting Forces Agreement between Australia and the Philippines currently before the Philippines Senate for ratification. On June 6 there were two anti-war demos against this Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) which is seen as part of a US-led military build up in the Asian region aimed at China.
Germany's Die Linke (The Left) party elected a new leadership team at its June 2-3 congress. It came at a time of rising economic and social crisis in Europe, as well as losses for Die Linke in recent state elections. Die Linke was formed in 2007 as part of a unification of two parties, one with a base in the old eastern states (the PDS) and the other based in the western Germany (the WASG). Between 2007 and 2009, Die Linke achieved strong electoral results in federal elections and was represented in all state parliaments.
This photo essay by Tom Grundy, an activist-journalist based in Hong Kong, shows the 180,000-strong candlelight rally held in Victoria Park, Hong Kong on June 4 to commemorate the 23rd anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre in Beijing. It is republished with permission from his Hong Wrong blogsite.

The Goddess of Democracy statue.
Pro-democracy campaigners Republic continued their campaign against the monarchy with a protest outside St Paul's Cathedral on June 5. The Queen and her royal sidekicks were attending a service at the cathedral, which was the long-term site for the Occupy Movement camp in London. Members of Republic, unintimidated by taunts of God Save the Queen, held up placards saying: "9,500 nurses or one Queen?" and "Republic Now!"
A group of unemployed people slept on the streets last weekend before being coerced into working for free — at the queen’s jubilee. It is the latest shocking story of life under the Tories’ Work Programme. Up to 30 jobless people were bussed into London from Bristol, Bath and Plymouth to work as stewards. Workers from Bristol say they were dumped in London at 3am on Sunday. Some said they had originally been told they would be paid for the work. But when they got onto coaches they were told they’d be doing the work for free—or lose out on a chance of paid work at the Olympics.
On March 24, 1976, after a sustained period of economic instability and rising violence, a military coup led by General Rafael Videla overthrew the democratically elected government. Over the next seven years, thousands of Argentineans were kidnapped, tortured and assassinated by the country’s military and security forces. The Argentine Armed Forces set up clandestine concentration camps where people suspected of being opposed to the so called National Process of Reorganization were held without a charge, tortured and murdered by their captors.
The Venezuelan government has strongly denounced the “Human Rights Report” published by the US State Department on May 24. Venezuela's Attorney-General Luisa Ortega Diaz said the US lacks the moral authority to issue human rights reports on other countries. “How can they be issuing reports if the United States is the world’s leading military power and the protagonist of the principle wars that shake the planet?” she said on Venezuelan state channel VTV.
Gunfire erupted from helicopters provided by the US State Department and carrying Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) trainers and Honduran police on May 11. The shots killed four Hondurans described by locals as fisherpeople. Two of them were pregnant. Who did the shooting is unclear. US officials said the fisherpeople were caught in the crossfire of an anti-drug mission.
Who's the vindictive bastard who made Tony Blair give evidence to the Leveson Inquiry? This was heartlessly cruel, to all decent people who have tried to put Blair behind us and get on with our lives. But there he was again, tormenting us, making us feel like someone just coming to terms with their years in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp and then the bloke who used to electrocute us every morning comes on daytime television, justifying himself and leaving us screaming and dribbling and eating an eight-pack box of Toffee Crisps as all the memories come washing back.
Austin Mackell is an Australian journalist based in Cairo who reports on Egyptian politics, the labour movement and life on the street. In February, he was arrested in Mahalla el-Kubra while reporting on an attempted general strike. He spoke to Green Left Weekly's Patrick Harrison. A longer version of this interview can be found on here. * * *
Greece's Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) dramatically increased its vote in Greece's May 6 elections, to take second place on a clear platform of rejecting the savage austerity measures that seek to make Greek people pay for the capitalist crisis. Some polls show SYRIZA a clear first in the new June 17 elections, called after no party was able to form government.
The United Nations estimated in March that in the year since the Syrian uprising began, 9000 people had been killed, most by the regime of President Bashar Assad. However, the opposition’s share of the killing has been rising. Wthin the Syrian opposition, the non-violent intifada has been increasingly overshadowed by sometimes foreign-backed armed groups and religious extremists, who have begun carrying out suicide bombings.
In Russia, the winter of 2011-2012 was unusually stormy in the political sense. The results of both the parliamentary and presidential elections were clearly worked out in advance, and everything went as foreseen. President Vladimir Putin and his United Russia party were confirmed in power. But the meetings and demonstrations of tens of thousands of people that took place regularly in Moscow and elsewhere over months placed this order in doubt. Still more significant was the fact that, even after Putin’s win, the political struggle continued. In May, it intensified.
The political crisis in Papua New Guinea (PNG) has reached farcical new depths before elections later this month. Peter O'Neill was elected prime minister by parliament on May 30 for a third time since August. It was a bid to undermine a Supreme Court ruling on May 21 that again reinstated Sir Michael Somare as prime minister. However, the vote may be illegal, since parliament had already been dissolved before the upcoming election, Reuters said that day.
More than 100,000 people rallied in Santiago on May 16 in protest against Chile's wealth-based education system. The protest ― which included students, parents, teachers and unionists ― was part of an ongoing campaign that began in May last year. The movement has challenged Chile's education system, under which the quality of a person's education is determined by their ability to pay high fees.
Workers in the United States know they are losing ground in the current Depression, as they are watching the rich going in the opposite direction. A decline in real wages comes on top of stagnation of wages in the three previous decades. A new report issued by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) says: “The recent recovery in the United States appears unusual from a historical perspective … with a much stronger rebound in profits relative to labor income.
Active solidarity with the Quebec strike movement against fee hikes, which has lasted more than 100 days in the face of Premier Jean Charest's crackdown, is crucial for all struggles against austerity. The Quebec government is targeting the right to organise collectively. This means spreading the red square everywhere. The red square is the pervasive symbol of the Quebec student movement, whether pinned to clothing or used as a graphic on signs, leaflets, culture jams or websites.
”Nothing is working anymore in Quebec City.” So began the report on Radio Canada (French language CBC) of the collapse of negotiations between the Quebec government and the four associations of post-secondary students on strike. Around 4 pm on Thursday, Minister of Education Michelle Courchesne walked out of the talks.
Press freedom in Sudan is rapidly deteriorating, with confiscation of newspapers by the security agency becoming a norm. The scope of violations committed against publications and journalists by the Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) is widening by the day. Since early May, the NISS has confiscated more than 14 editions of different newspapers in Sudan, suspended more than 13 journalists from writing in newspapers, and identified about 20 taboo topics not to be tackled by the press.
Rupert Murdoch is a bad man. His son James is also bad. Rebekah Brooks is allegedly bad. The News of the World was very bad; it hacked phones and pilloried people. British prime ministers grovelled before this iniquity. David Cameron even sent text messages to Brooks signed "LoL", and they all had parties in the Cotswolds with Jeremy Clarkson. Nods and winks were duly exchanged on the BSkyB deal. Shock, horror. Offering glimpses of the power and petty gangsterism of the British tabloid press, the inquiry conducted by Lord Leveson has, I suspect, shocked few people.
On May 30, Britain's Supreme Court turned down the final appeal of Julian Assange against his extradition to Sweden. In an unprecedented move, the court gave the defence team of the WikiLeaks editor permission to “re-apply” to the court in two weeks' time. On the eve of the judgement, Sweden's leading morning newspaper Dagens Nyheter interviewed investigative journalist John Pilger, who has closely followed the Assange case. The following is the complete text of the interview, of which only a fraction was published in Sweden. See also


Fans of Aboriginal rapper Caper may see his failure to secure a record deal as a mystery. After all, he has made global news headlines, got his promo videos on national television, become a daytime radio favourite and even had an award-winning documentary made about him. But Caper, also known as Colin Darcy, sees plenty of reasons. "Man, it’s hard to make it as a rapper and it’s harder to make it if you’re a rapper who is Aboriginal," he tells Green Left Weekly.
Anti-Flag's Justin Sane and Chris (Barker) #2 dropped in to Martin Place on June 2 to show their support and perform a few songs for Occupy Sydney, including "1 Trillion Dollars" (above) and the Clash cover "Should I Stay or Should I Go" (below). Film by Green Left TV, subscribe to the You Tube channel at for more progressive, activist news. Contact us at,
Fans of Aboriginal rapper Caper may see his failure to secure a record deal as a mystery. After all, he has made global news headlines, got his promo videos on national television, become a daytime radio favourite and even had an award-winning documentary made about him. But Caper, also known as Colin Darcy, sees plenty of reasons. "Man, it’s hard to make it as a rapper and it’s harder to make it if you’re a rapper who is Aboriginal," he tells Green Left Weekly.
Students on strike Quebec have won public displays of support from Montreal-based rock band Arcade Fire and Quebecios actor and director Xavier Dolan. Hundreds of thousands of students have been on strike across Quebec for more than 100 days against fee hikes, defying intense government repression. said on May 21 that members of indie rock band Arcade Fire appeared on the May 19 episode of Saturday Night Life, hosted by Mick Jagger, sporting the red squares, that have become a symbol of the student struggle, on their outfits.
Too Much Luck: The Mining Boom & Australia's Future By Paul Cleary Black Inc., 2011 156 pages, pb, $24.95 Paul Cleary’s book Too Much Luck: The Mining Boom and Australia's Future, published last year, raises important questions, and provides much useful information for answers. But the real elephant in the room, coal mining, is largely left untouched.
On June 2 Justin Sane and Chris #2 from Anti-Flag dropped in to Martin Place to show their support and performed a few songs for Occupy Sydney.

We kid you not

India exports food while millions go hungry “At a time when [India's] total food stocks are likely to swell to a record 75 million tonnes by June 1, out of which nearly 25 million tonnes of the stocks will be piled up in the open for lack of storage space, the demand for allowing exports [of wheat, which is now banned] is already growing. Ministry of Commerce has already started an exercise to know how much quantity of wheat can be allowed for exports.