Issue 929

Australia

HOBART — To mark the end of NAIDOC week, Aboriginal people and their supporters marched through the streets and rallied at Tasmania’s parliament house lawns on July 6 to show that they always have been and always will be a sovereign people.

Speakers at the rally included the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre’s (TAC) Nala Mansell-McKenna, TAC's Legal Secretary Michael Mansell and Aboriginal activist Jim Everett.


About 500 Toll warehouse workers at Somerton in Melbourne’s northern suburbs have voted for an indefinite strike in their campaign for a new enterprise bargaining agreement.

The warehouse is a Coles distribution centre, but Coles outsources the workers to Toll Logistics. This has resulted in workers getting up to 20% less pay than other Coles warehouse workers.

The pending approval for the liquefied natural gas (LNG) hub at James Price Point in Broome has come under fire after four of the five Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) board members responsible for assessing the project stood aside due to conflicts of interest. Two of the EPA board members hold shares in Woodside Petroleum, the operator of the $35 billion project.

The Lock the Gate Alliance released the statement below on July 6.

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Coal seam gas companies are 'getting away with blue murder' despite mounting evidence from around the country of the environmental damage they are causing, according to Lock the Gate Alliance.

Lock The Gate has responded with dismay to news today that Santos and Eastern Star Gas have been fined only $3,000 for breaking environment laws in the Pilliga forest by polluting a local creek system with coal seam gas waste water.

Latest NSW gov't sackings could pass 10,000

A leaked document on the 10,000 public sector jobs flagged for cuts in last month's NSW budget may have been understating the sackings to come.

The June 12 email from a NSW Treasury official said “there is no floor or cap on redundancies”. The government on July 3 conceded the numbers were not capped, and there were no guarantees that more jobs would not be lost.

The 10,000-plus job cuts add to 5000 jobs axed in September.

Sudanese Communist Party (SCP) members, friends and supporters joined a commemoration at Granville Town Hall on June 30 for five leaders and activists who passed away in recent months.

Those remembered were Mohamed Ibrahim Nugud, the SCP general secretary from 1971 until his death; Al Tijani Al Tayeb, founding SCP member and editor of the party’s newspaper for five decades; trade union leader Min Alla Abdel Wahab; popular revolutionary singer and songwriter Mohammed Wardi; and Mohamed Al Hassan Salim Homid, a revolutionary poet.

In the first construction worker rally in years, up to 10,000 workers marched through Melbourne on July 4, telling the state government to dump its new building code.

Premier Ted Baillieu’s Coalition government began to implement its Code of Practice for the Building and Construction Industry on July 1.

Unions say the new code is all about attacking unions. Building companies that fail to comply with the code on any site will be thrown off the government tender list.

For the 2.5 million people living and working in Sydney’s western suburbs, the future looks very grim unless serious action on climate change begins immediately.

A Climate Commission report released last month,  The Critical Decade, reveals that rising temperatures in western Sydney will impact adversely on many aspects of residents’ lives, from the water supply to mental health and crime levels.

The Support Assange and WikiLeaks Coalition released the statement below on June 29.

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Julian Assange has sought diplomatic sanctuary and political asylum with Ecuador. Why? Because he has finally given up hope that the Australian government will defend him and WikiLeaks from a relentless US-led campaign of intimidation, including:

The Brigidine Asylum Seekers Project released the statement below on July 5.

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The most significant individuals lost in last week’s furious parliamentary debate were asylum seekers.

As members of the Brigidine Asylum Seekers’ Project, we talk to many asylum seekers, both in immigration detention centres and in the community.

World

In a split decision the United States Supreme Court largely upheld the health insurance law, the Affordable Health Care Act, passed by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama.

The key provision upheld by the nine robed reactionaries in a five-to-four split decision mandated that all US citizens have to buy health insurance from the private insurance companies beginning in 2014, or pay a penalty.

This approach was originally proposed decades ago by right- wing think tanks as an alternative to national health insurance for all.

Paraguay’s new government, which came to power in a “parliamentary coup” that removed elected President Fernando Lugo, has cut relations with Venezuela after accusing it of meddling in Paraguay’s internal affairs.

However, several Latin American diplomats and media sources have cast doubt on the allegations.

Paraguay's foreign ministry announced the withdrawal of its ambassador to Venezuela and declared Venezuela’s envoy to Asuncion a “persona non grata” due to “serious evidence of intervention … in the internal affairs of the Republic of Paraguay” by Venezuelan officials.

The combined Eurozone and European Council summit held in Brussels on June 28-29 was a “breakthrough” that produced “real progress”, the mainstream media insisted, because German Chancellor Angela Merkel “backed down”.

For a few days post-summit, this reading was supported by market euphoria and sharp falls in the risk premium on Italian and Spanish public debt.

However, once fund managers took a closer look at the decisions of the 19th gathering of European leaders since the crisis broke in 2008, they realised these won’t put the euro out of danger ― even in the short term.

A poll released in May by the Israel Democracy Index has revealed most Israeli's hold deeply racist attitudes. The findings come in the wake of race riots and a crackdown on the rights of Palestinians.

The poll found 52% of respondents agreed with interior minister Eli Yishai that Africans were “a cancer on the body” of Israel, the June 7 Times of Israel said.

Yishai was quoted in the June 3 Maariv as saying most “Muslims that arrive here do not even believe that this country belongs to us, to the white man”.

Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate for Egypt's presidential elections, was sworn into office on June 30. But confirmation of Morsi's win was overshadowed by protests and sit-ins at Cairo's Tahrir Square and around the country.

Protesters are demanding the elected parliament be restored and extra constitutional powers the ruling junta has granted itself be rescinded.

The electoral comission announced on June 24 that Morsi had beaten old-regime candidate Ahmed Shafiq in the June 16 and 17 poll with 51.7% of the vote.

Greek archaeologists have launched an angry campaign to prevent their cultural and archaeological heritage from being destroyed by austerity measures. The campaign has attracted global support not just from archaeologists, but other anti-austerity campaigners and trade unionists.

The final official results in Mexico's July 1 presidential election were published in the early hours of July 4, claiming Enrique Pena Nieto had won. However, his victory had been proclaimed within just a few hours of the voting centres being closed and 1% of the ballots counted.

Pena Nieto, the candidate from the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), was declared the winner with a 6.5% margin over progressive candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

Throughout June, the United States was hit by freak storms, intense heatwaves, prolonged drought, huge floods and out-of-control bushfires that have burnt out more than 2.1 million acres.

On June 28, after two days of fighting, the three main towns of Azawad ― a west African nation mostly occupied by Mali ― were captured by Salafi Islamist militias.

The towns Gao, Timbuktu and Kidal had been captured on April 6 by the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA). It unilaterally declared the independence of Azawad from Mali, a move met with hostility by regional and global powers.

The Islamist groups ― the Defenders of the Faith (Ansar ad-Din) and the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MOJWA) ― are opposed to the independence of Azawad.

Coalminers in north-west Spain have maintained a large-scale strike against government plans to cut subsidies to the industry. The cuts could result in thousands of job losses and the destruction of communities.

The strike began on May 29 when the Asturias region's 8000 miners voted to walk off the job indefinitely. A small number of miners locked themselves underground for weeks, while many others occupied public spaces.

Miners have come under intense attack by police and civil guard, who used tear gas, rubber bullets and batons to break up the strike.

Sudan’s new uprising, which began on June 16, has continued with daily protests around the country, revealing the widespread and deep-seated hatred of the National Congress Party (NCP) regime. This anger stems from more than two decades of war, tyranny, corruption and poverty unleashed on Sudan’s people by the government.

Analysis

The London Olympic Games kick off on July 27 and already British authorities have pretty much everything in place.

Socialist Alliance National co-convener Peter Boyle spoke alongside NSW Greens MLC John Kaye at the opening session of Green Left Weekly’s Climate Change Social Change conference in Parramatta on June 30. His speech is below.

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I want to dedicate this little presentation to our Pakistani comrade Baba Jan — who has been imprisoned and tortured since August last year for standing up for the rights of his people from the Hunza Valley after their villages and farmlands were flooded in 2010.

With impeccable smiling customer service staff motioning to myki readers and swarms of grinning, armed, uniformed officers pursuing passengers for a chat, the Victorian Liberal government hopes to win support for its public transport agenda.

Public Transport Victoria stopped selling weekly, monthly and yearly Metcards on July 2. More than 80% of Metcard machines have been removed from train stations. The expensive and unpopular myki system will soon take over.

A Senate committee recommended on June 25 that Australian parliament make marriage equality law after almost 60% of 46,000 submissions were in favour. A report tabled for the lower house on June 18 also had overwhelming support, but did not support or reject the two marriage equality bills before parliament.

The lower house committee received a record 276,000 responses during its inquiry, with more than two-thirds in support of gay marriage.

Labor and Coalition MPs have shed thousands of crocodile tears claiming that Australia needed to “stop the boats” to “save lives” by making offshore processing of asylum seekers government policy.

Labor backed a private members bill put by independent MP Rob Oakeshott that would allow Australia to expel refugees to any country that was part of the Bali Process, including Malaysia.

In 2006, Alternet's Joshua Holland coined the “zombie lie”: an untruth that returns from the dead to haunt us, despite already being demolished by arguments and evidence.

Politics is dominated by zombie lies. “Asylum seekers are 'queue jumpers' arriving here illegally” is a classic example. Over the past few decades, zombie lies have helped legitimise paternalistic, punitive welfare reforms. They still shape debates about how to treat poor and unemployed Australians.

In the early hours of June 29, the Australian Senate passed legislation that is expected to entrench assimilation, disadvantage and racism for another decade in the Northern Territory.

Aboriginal leaders across the NT declared a period of mourning after the new laws – called Stronger Futures – were passed as they reel from the decision, take stock and plan to up the ante in their fight against the latest neoliberal assault on their communities.

Australian historian Humphrey McQueen gave the speech below at a forum held by Canberra Friends of Wikileaks on June 27.

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Once more, I have the honour of sharing a platform with Christine Assange. Since we were at the Sydney meeting in February, she has come through five tortuous months. Her calm yet loving commitment to keeping us up to date with the legal and extra-judicial proceedings inspires us all.

The Brumby’s Bakery chain has apologised after its managing director was caught out telling franchisees to jack up prices and “let the carbon tax take the blame”. Brumby’s parent company distanced itself from the scandal, telling the stock exchange it was just an “isolated incident”.

WikiLeaks co-founder Daniel Mathews gave the speech below to a July 1 protest in Melbourne, organised by the WikiLeaks Australian Citizens Alliance.

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Thank you all for coming here today. Being a founding member of WikiLeaks, though not involved for many years now, I want to say something about the background and history of WikiLeaks and where we are today.

Some of you here today may be coming to a rally for the first time. Some of you, maybe for longer; some involved for a long time.

Click here to make a donation online. Keep reading to find out how your financial support will help us, and what you will receive in return.

For 20 years Green Left Weekly has been bringing you the news that the mainstream media won’t. Australia has the most concentrated media ownership in the Western world — and it’s getting worse.

The Socialist Alliance released the statement below on July 5.

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The Socialist Alliance extends its unwavering support to the Yolngu Nations and all other clans and nations across the Northern Territory, as they mourn the passing of the Stronger Futures legislation.

Against the repeated wishes of Aboriginal people, the federal Labor government, supported by the Coalition, slipped the legislation through the Senate at 2am on June 29.

The President of the Uniting Church in Australia Assembly, Rev. Alistair Macrae, released the statement below on June 29.

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Over the last few months, thousands of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians have raised their voices in opposition to the discriminatory aspects of the “Stronger Futures” legislation.

Human rights lawyer Lizzie O’Shea spoke at a July 1 rally in Melbourne organised by the WikiLeaks Australian Citizens Alliance. Her speech is below.

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These are dangerous times: when speaking truth to power has the potential to cost you your freedom.

There can be no doubt that the US is planning to get their hands on Assange — we may not know exactly how or exactly when. But anyone who dismisses this as paranoid is foolish at best and willfully blind at worst.

Australia is the world’s first murdochracy. US citizen Rupert Murdoch controls 70% of the metropolitan press. He has monopolies in state capitals and provincial centres. The only national newspaper is his. He is a dominant force online and in pay-TV and publishing. Known fearfully as “Rupert”, he is the Chief Mate.

Four Muckaty traditional owners — Penny Phillips, Jeannie Sambo, Kylie Sambo and Delvine Spiteri — visited Melbourne on June 25 to attend a federal court hearing concerning the nomination of Muckaty, 120 kilometres north of Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory, for a national nuclear waste dump.

Culture

Deep Green Resistance: Strategy to Save the Planet
Aric McBay, Lierre Keith & Derrick Jensen
Seven Stories Press, 2011

In its March-April issue, Canadian Dimension magazine featured a very positive review of Deep Green Resistance. The reviewer said it “made me a better strategist,” and endorsed author Derrick Jenson’s assertion that “this book is about winning.”

Ghosts of Dier Yassin
Phil Monsour
www.philmonsour.com

Brisbane-based singer-songwriter Phil Monsour has just released his latest CD, Ghosts of Dier Yassin. As those familiar with the struggles of the Palestinian people may recognise from the title, many songs convey the hopes and spirit of the Palestinian people longing for freedom and security.

A Breath Of Stale Air
Local Resident Failure
Pee Records
Released June, 2012
peerecords.com

Newcastle punks Local Resident Failure are heavier than Clive Palmer, tighter than Gina Rinehart and have just dropped a motherlode of a debut album.

But the analogies with Australia's mining fat cats end there. A Breath Of Stale Air spits gobfuls of bile at right-wingers, from the mainstream media to racist rednecks - not least on "Every Day's A Holiday On Christmas Island", the band's scathing condemnation of xenophobia.

Standing Strong
Yung Warriors
Payback Records
Released April 2012
http://www.yungwarriors.com.au

"We wanted to do everything on this album," Tjimba Possum-Burns tells Green Left Weekly. He is talking about Standing Strong, the aptly-titled second album by Yung Warriors.

On the record, the Aboriginal hip hop crew he fronts with his cousin, Danny "D-Boy" Ramzan, take listeners on a journey from hard-hitting politics to straight-up party tracks.