Under the banner of the Lock the Gate Alliance, about 100 demonstrators assembled outside Brisbane’s Convention Centre for the Queensland Gas Conference and exhibition on October 9 to protest their exclusion from the Australian Petroleum and Production Association’s (APPEA) inaugural Coal Seam Gas (CSG) Conference and Exhibition.
Lock the Gate formally requested that its observers be permitted entry to the conference seminars concerning “social licence to operate”.
Sydney Stop CSG organised a human sign action at Sydney Park, St Peters, as its part of an Australia-wide week of action on this issue. A thousand people participated in this successful event.
Buswell lies to attack wharfies
The Maritime Union of Australia has slammed as false West Australian Transport Minister Troy Buswell's claims that maritime workers are striking for a 20% pay rise.
On October 11, MUA national secretary Ian Bray said the dispute was about safety of workers, noting last month's workplace death of Newcastle waterfront worker Greg Fitzgibbon, who was crushed by a 20 tonne pallet.
Bray said Buswell should "investigate the concerns of workers to avoid further fatalities on the Australian waterfront".
About 150 people rallied in Melbourne on October 10 to call for an increase in pensions for retired workers. The rally also called for better concessions, better transport and stronger access to health services.
The protest was organised by the Fair Go For Pensioners Coalition, which is made up of groups including the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, the Council of the Ageing and Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria.
A half-day strike by NSW public servants on October 8 featured a mass meeting of workers at Sydney Town Hall. A vibrant crowd of about 2500 filled the lower deck of the Town Hall. A further 1000 people outside were able to observe the events taking place inside via a large video screen.
More than 100 people rallied in Footscray in Melbourne’s western suburbs on October 11 to protest against the Victorian government's $300 million dollar cuts to the TAFE system. The rally was organised by community group “Friends of Victoria University”. Protesters included university staff, students and teachers and members of maritime, construction, textile, nursing and other unions as well as people from the wider community.
Fifteen hundred people rallied on September 30 in Adelaide to support solar thermal power in Port Augusta to replace the ageing coal stations, set to retire.
They welcomed about 80 people who walked the 328-kilometre journey from Port Augusta to draw attention to the issue. Protesters rallied to show their support for a switch to solar thermal and becoming a world leader in renewable energy, rather than replacing dirty coal with gas.
About 70 mental health clinicians and their supporters rallied outside the state government’s offices in Hobart on October 11 to call for the reversal of crippling budget cuts. The rally took place during Mental Health Week.
Unions say 42.5 frontline mental health positions have been lost or left vacant due to last year’s budget cuts. Most of these are frontline clinical positions, including case managers from the adult, child and youth and older person’s mental health community teams. Services are also compromised as clinicians are frequently not replaced when they take leave.
The petition below, initiated by Patricia Morton-Thomas and Paddy Gibson, is addressed to the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory, Terry Mills. To add your name to the petition, visit here.
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The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) released the statement below on October 11.
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West Australian Transport Minister Troy Buswell needs to take the time to learn the basic facts about the dispute between workers at Fremantle Port and their employer before making incorrect claims about the merits of workers’ claims.
MUA assistant national secretary Ian Bray said lives have been lost on the waterfront in recent times, including a tragic fatality only days ago in Newcastle, and the safety of workers needs to be prioritised.
Fifty people attended a meeting in Coburg on October 6 to protest against the installation of "smart meters" by electricity distribution companies in Victoria. Two similar meetings had already been held in nearby Brunswick.
The meters enable remote reading of electricity use every half hour, remote connection and disconnection of electricity, and differential charging at different times of the day, among other functions.
The Victorian Wind Alliance released the statement below on October 10.
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The Victorian Wind Alliance was launched today, with organisers calling on Victorians who support wind energy to use town meetings and social media to make their voices heard.
Victorian Wind Alliance member, Taryn Lane of Hepburn Wind, said: “The Victorian Wind Alliance is being formed in response to a call from communities across the state who support more wind energy.
A crowd of up to 200 protesters met in support of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at the “Rally for Assange and WikiLeaks: Don’t Shoot the Messenger” at Sydney Town Hall on October 6.
As well as an end to the persecution of Assange, protesters called for the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. This year marks 11 years since the US-led invasion and occupation of the nation.
Although drab weather did deter some, the strength of the crowd was still felt through the bellowing of a “WikiLeaks ballad”, which captured the attention of many passersby.
Forest protection group Groundswell released the statement below on October 3.
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A group of activists gathered at the federal government's community cabinet forum on October 3 in Launceston to send a clear message to the Labor government that the Tarkine needs an emergency world heritage listing.
Over the recent Labour Day weekend in Canberra, students from around the country came together at the EduFactory conference to discuss the current situation of Australian universities, to swap strategies and understanding and to foster links between campaigns and collectives.
The conference was the result of dedicated work by grassroots organisers and included current and former, undergraduate and post-graduate students from a wide range of political persuasions.
The Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney (STICS) released the statement below on October 1.
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STICS has renewed calls for the national income management system to be dismantled, following the release of a damning report by the NT Coordinator General for Remote Indigenous Services (NTCGRIS).
The report, which documents extreme waste on spending on bureaucracy, comes as the $120 million national expansion of income management is badly stalling, with few referrals and work bans on the scheme in NSW.
Residents of the Nad Ali district staged a demonstration on October 6 against NATO-led troops in Lashkargah, the capital of southern Helmand province, Pajhwok Afghan News said that say.
About 100 protesters accused the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) soldiers of killing innocent civilians during operations in the district, PAN said. District security was recently handed to Afghan forces.
The article said: “[O]ne tribal elder claimed Afghan and foreign forces killed his son during a nighttime raid two days back.
Nothing quite prepares you for a first visit to Venezuela ― especially when the country is polarised between two very different visions for the future.
This is how it was just before the October 7 presidential elections, which socialist President Hugo Chavez won with 55% of the vote in the largest turnout, more than 81%, in Venezuelan history.
Malalai Joya is an Afghan feminist and democracy activist who organised underground resistance to the Taliban regime and opposes the US-led occupation of her nation. Joya was elected to the Afghan parliament in 2005, and was undemocratically expelled from it for exposing the fundamentalist warlords in the US-backed Hamid Karzai regime.
In an October 13 statement, Joya responded to the Taliban's attempted murder of 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai for the crime of organising for women's rights.
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The petition for certification of Party of the Labouring Masses (PLM) as a national political party was approved by the Commission on Elections in September. With this approval, the fight for a national political party representing the marginalised sectors has escalated to new heights.
This is a confirmation of the PLM’s three-and-a-half years of existence and its expansion as a political party with a mass constituency and grassroots chapter-formations.
Tommy Docherty, the legendary wit and former manager of Manchester United, once quipped after his team had suffered a humiliating defeat, “We lost 4-0 and frankly we were lucky to get the nil”.
The Tories in Scotland know just how he felt, for they are so hated that out of 56 MPs they have just one, and they were lucky to get that!
The reality of the Vietnam War as a brutal, imperialist adventure has been carefully omitted from official ceremonies in the United States held to mark the 50th anniversary of the war’s beginning in 1962.
Starting this year, the government will implement “a 13-year program to honor and give thanks to a generation of proud Americans who saw our country through one of the most challenging missions we have ever faced”.
“Venezuela Elections 'Free, But Not Fair'”, was Germany’s Spiegel Online headline on a piece about Venezuela's October 7 presidential poll, won by socialist President Hugo Chavez by more than 55% of the vote. “Chavismo wins, Venezuela loses”, was The Wall Street Journal's take.
Compared with such headlines, the Sydney Morning Herald’s reprint of a New York Times article “Socialist Chavez hangs onto Power in Venezuela” by William Neuman might seem a reasonably balanced report. It is not.
Indonesia has further intensified its repression of West Papuan independence activists, in an apparent response to independence leaders speaking to foreign media.
Eight independence activists from the West Papua National Committee (KNBP) were arrested in Wamena on September 29 and accused of bomb-making and treason, West Papua Media (WPM) said on September 30. The operation involved the notorious Australian funded and trained Detachment 88 anti-terrorist unit.
There is a statue in revolutionary Havana of Don Quixote, the literary creation of 17th century Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes, who fought for his principles, even if he was crazy. I know I’m a bit crazy.
With less than a month to go before the US presidential elections, the farce we have been living through for more than a year becomes even more grotesque.
Hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent on advertisements for US President Barack Obama or Republican candidate Mitt Romney. Money has never been so awash in an election before.
At least 50,000 protesters rallied in Athens on October 9 to tell visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel she was not welcome.
Thousands of police officers cordoned off whole sectors of the city to prevent demonstrators embarassing Merkel, though police still detained more than 50 people during the day. Even in unrestricted areas pedestrians were stopped and searched.
But the crowds made their message clear, gathering outside parliament and chanting: “History is written by the disobedient.”
Two recent events dramatised the state of economy and politics in the Spanish state: the Red Cross announced that this year the takings of its annual Flag Day would go to fight poverty and social exclusion in Spain, and education minister Jose Ignacio Wert told the national parliament that changes to the national education syllabus were aimed at “Spanishing” students in Catalonia.
The Red Cross decision came as a shock across the country. People knew things were bad, but that bad?
Independent journalist, political activist and author Antony Loewenstein discusses his new book After Zionism, at Sydney's Gleebooks on October 2. In discussion with Peter Manning and the audience, Loewenstein covers questions of zionism, one or two state solutions, the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, Israel as an apartheid state, debates in Palestine, Israel and beyond, the Gaza flotillas, and much more.
The Daily Telegraph slammed those so-called asylum seekers once more on October 11 in a hard hitting front page expose by Gemma Jones entitled “Sell house and sail away to better lives”. Jones wrote: “Sri Lanka's navy revealed that most of the 2279 people arrested leaving on 52 boats this year from 24 locations were 'economic migrants' looking for a better life in Australia.”
NSW Coalition Premier Barry O’Farrell has been accused of lying about his pre-election promise to protect farmland and drinking water catchments from the burgeoning coal seam gas (CSG) industry.
The government finally released its Strategic Regional Land Use Policy on September 11. It outlines how the government will manage the CSG industry. After 18 months of promising to protect sensitive areas such as farms and bushland from the new industry, the policy revealed that no part of NSW has been ruled out for CSG mining and exploration.
Elections are coming up for local councils across Victoria. Many candidates are reflecting community campaigns, but others are reflecting the interests of developers and other business interests.
Because council ballot papers don’t identify candidates’ party affiliation, the Liberal and Labor parties often don’t endorse candidates. Instead, members of the Liberal and Labor parties run as “independents”.
On October 7, the Socialist Alliance adopted as a key focus for its next federal election campaign a call to bring the mining industry and the banks under public/community ownership and control, so they can be run in a way that respects Aboriginal rights, the environment and social justice. The urgent need to address climate change alone demands that these industries be immediately taken out of the hands of the billionaires and their global corporations and operated as not-for-profit public services under the democratic control of the majority.
Tasmania's upper house voted against equal marriage on September 26. The bill, co-sponsored by Labor Premier Lara Giddings and Greens deputy Nick McKim, passed the lower house on August 30.
But after a two-day debate, eight of the upper house's 15 MLCs voted against the bill, mostly fearing a High Court challenge and claiming that it was a federal and not a state issue.
Serious homophobia was also in play. Former Supreme Court chief justice William Cox said allowing same-sex couples to marry could also lead to same-sex surrogacy and adoption.
Uniting Church minister and prominent opponent of the NT intervention, Reverend Dr Djiniyini Gondarra, recently sent the letter below to the NSW Public Sector Association (PSA).
Last month, PSA members in government Community Services Centres began union bans against implementing income management for welfare recipients in Bankstown.
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To our courageous sisters and brothers in NSW,
In the past 11 years of the so-called war on terror, Australian troops have been sent to two US-led wars. The West has killed more than a million Iraqis and tens of thousands of Afghans, and displaced millions more. Our government backed the NATO intervention in Libya and is currently supporting everything short of military intervention in Syria.
Love & Capital: Karl & Jenny Marx & the Birth of a Revolution
By Mary Gabriel,
Little, Brown & Company 2011
707 pages, $39.99
The spectre of Karl Marx still haunts the capitalist world. Only 11 people attended his funeral in 1883 and the corporate press still loves to dance on his grave, constantly declaring that his ideas are irrelevant. Yet with every economic crisis all eyes return to Marx's masterpiece, Capital, to understand what is really going on in our economic system.
There is something incredibly frustrating about the fact that the Red Hot Chili Peppers played a concert in Israel, ignoring international pleas for them to cancel and observe the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS).
Admittedly, I wasn’t even quite aware of just how much their decision stung until the day after their appearance at the Pic.Nic festival in Tel Aviv.
Islamophobia and the Politics Of Empire
Author Deepa Kumar says Liberal Senator Brett Mason is “so wrong” for moving a motion in the Australian Senate to condemn Green Left Weekly for its criticism of the NSW police.
But Kumar, an associate professor of media studies and Middle East studies at Rutgers University in New Jersey, says Senator Mason’s actions “should not surprise us”.
I constantly scan the internet for breaking news, but I first found out that Prime Minister Julia Gillard's speech mercilessly lambasting opposition leader Tony Abbott for being a misogynist was going viral from my 16-year-old daughter.
She temporarily disconnected from the multiple social media she inhabits to call out to me: “Dad, have you seen that AWESOME Julia Gillard speech? EVERYBODY is talking about it!”
An hour later it was in the news headlines: PM's speech goes viral.