Issue 960

News

The Refugee Action Collective released this statement on April 11. *** The Refugee Action Collective (RAC) and refugee supporters will begin an ongoing vigil, with tents to stay overnight, outside a detention centre in Broadmeadows from 6.30pm on April 11. Long-term refugee visitors are growing increasingly concerned for the welfare of the hunger strikers, two of whom have now been taken to hospital by ambulance. One has now been returned to the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation detention centre (MITA) after having refused medical treatment.
About 80 protesters made their voices heard from outside Sydney's Intercontinental hotel as the former Australian Prime Minister John Howard gave his “no regrets” on Iraq speech, hosted by conservative think-tank the Lowy Institute on April 9. The protest was organised by Stop the War Coalition and a network of concerned groups and individuals.
Sydney Stop the War Coalition released this statement on April 9. *** Ten years after the invasion of Iraq, John Howard has been invited by the conservative think-tank the Lowy Institute for International Policy to present his views. It will be yet another “no regrets” speech. This is despite the horrifying evidence, over the last 10 years, of Iraq’s devastation by the Coalition of the Willing.
The Refugee Action Coalition Sydney released this statement on April 8. *** At 2am on April 8, 28 ASIO-negative refugees — 24 Sri Lankan, two Iranian and two Rohingyas — began a hunger strike at the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation (MITA) detention centre. They have gathered on the playground inside the detention facility.
About 70 people attended a community forum in Adelaide on March 27 to learn more about plans for unconventional gas extraction in South Australia.
Refugee rights activists from around Australia will converge on the Yongah Hill detention centre near Northam on April 26-28. Yongah Hill is near Northam, about an hour and a half from Perth. Protesters will be highlighting the fact that thousands of refugees locked in detention centres around Australia are being denied their basic human rights. The decisions to reopen detention centres at Nauru and Manus Island have made this situation worse.
On March 9th, 2013, around 400 people gathered in Melbourne to say no to violence against women.
A fortnight after the NSW Liberal government announced policy changes to coal seam gas (CSG) mining in NSW to ban drilling within two kilometres of some residential areas, about 400 local residents met at Springwood Civic Centre on March 24 for the “Coal seam gas — it still stinks” public forum. Speakers explained the continuing threat to the environment, residents’ health and the world heritage values of this area posed by the CSG industry.
“While ALP politicians are fleeing in terror from factional and media accusations about using ‘class war rhetoric’, the reality is that there is an ongoing class war that is about to be dramatically escalated if Abbott wins the September 14 elections,” says Peter Boyle. Boyle was preselected on April 3 by the Socialist Alliance to run in the federal seat of Sydney. He is a national co-convenor of the Socialist Alliance and has been an active socialist since the early 1970s, becoming radicalised around war, race and class issues. He has two daughters and two grandchildren.
About 200 people rallied in Melbourne against media baron Rupert Murdoch in Melbourne on April 4. Murdoch was speaking at the 70th anniversary dinner of the Institute of Public Affairs, a right-wing think tank dedicated to preserving and strengthening a pro-big business, neoliberal agenda. Attendees at the $400-a-head dinner included former prime minister John Howard, Murdoch-columnist Andrew Bolt, Opposition leader Tony Abbott, conservative shock jock Alan Jones and Catholic Archbishop George Pell.
National co-convenor of the Socialist Alliance, Peter Boyle, addresses the opening night session of the Marxism 2013 conference. Marxism 2013 has been organised by Socialist Alternative and supported by Socialist Alliance, Green Left Weekly & the Revolutionary Socialist Party. This talk discusses some of the challenges and prospects of left unity in Australia.
Socialist councillor Sam Wainwright has vowed to run a fierce campaign for the seat of Fremantle aimed at winning public support for confiscating the wealth of the mining billionaires and the big banks. “The mining boom reveals starkly the manifest inequality of capitalism in Australia today,” Wainwright told Green Left Weekly. “On the one hand, we have Gina Rinehart — who has become the richest person in Australia — and on the other hand we have homeless people on the streets of Fremantle.
On March 30, Students for Palestine organised a rally against Australian university complicit in Israel's crimes. BAE Systems is a defence company worth $US38 billion. They make everything from assault rifles, missiles, tanks, drones, nuclear weapons, and even the shackles used in Guantanamo Bay. BAE has been targeted because of the horrifying weapons systems it sells to Israel.
Speakers Viv Moore and Trevor Grant addressing protesters inside the National Gallery of Victoria on April 4. The occasion was the 70th anniversary of the right wing think tank the Institute of Public Affairs. It featured Rupert Murdoch and Andrew Bolt and Gina Rinehart and Tony Abbott were in attendance.
The annual Western Sydney fundraising dinner was held on March 23. In a great start to the year, organisers filled Granville Town Hall and raised more than $1600 for the Green Left Weekly fighting fund.
Bernie Rosen really was a man for the people. He battled for the rights of the exploited and oppressed, from being a teenager before WWII, right to the very end of his life. I have a collection of letters from Bernie, each in his increasingly spindly handwriting and each packed in a little envelope. Every letter is an encouragement to his comrades to carry on the struggle and advice on how we should do so.
Income support for single parents has been slashed by up to $140 a fortnight as part of a new “fair incentives to work” bill adopted last year, similar to a 2006 law designed by the former John Howard government. Insidious in nature, the new rules will move many sole parents onto Newstart once their youngest child turns eight. The federal government says this will encourage parents to find work. But it may conflict with state-based child protection laws.
Photos by Ali Bakhtiarvandi.
A capacity crowd of about 350 people filled the room for the opening night of the Marxism 2013 conference in Melbourne on March 28. The forum, called "Uniting the left to resist austerity, war and crisis", heard from six speakers, including Australian unionist Bob Carnegie, striking airline union PALEA president Gerry Rivera, US teacher and socialist Brian Jones, Socialist Alliance co-convener Peter Boyle, Socialist Alternative national executive member Vashti Kenway, and the Revolutionary Socialist Party's (RSP) Kim Bullimore.
Sydney University staff have successfully shut down campus as part of their ongoing enterprise bargaining campaign today (March 26). The two-day strike, by members of the National Tertiary Education Union and Community and Public Sector Union, is continuing tomorrow.
Lock the Gate have launched a new campaign our Call to Country that calls for national reforms on coal and gas ahead of the 2013 federal election. As part of the launch on March 7, members will be visiting every electorate office in the country. Our Call to Country Together, we share this one continent that holds us safe. An island home as vast as it is diverse, as wild as it is beautiful, from its red heart to its golden beaches. Our place of endless summers and easy laughter, of hard work and happy chances.

Analysis

WikiLeaks has announced it will form a party to contest the Australian federal elections in September this year. Julian Assange has confirmed he will stand for election in the Victorian senate, with other WikiLeaks candidates in Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia to be announced soon.
For many years the Manningham council in Melbourne’s northeast, which consists of 10 suburbs, the largest being Doncaster and Templestowe, has been advocating for some form of mass rail transport. Manningham is the only Melbourne metropolitan municipality without train or tram services. At the 2011 census, Manningham had a population of 111,300 people, 41% of whom are classified as low-income earners — a higher percentage than Melbourne’s average.
When the Murdoch-owned Australian starts attacking students who took to the streets on March 27 as part of the National Union of Students’ (NUS) protest for free education, it is evidence that student activism makes conservatives very nervous.
“The future is uncertain for more than 400 Shell employees,” ABC.net.au said on April 4, “after the company announced it is selling its refinery in Geelong in Victoria.” Shell's Clyde refinery in NSW and Caltex's Lytton refinery in Queensland are both closing, at a cost of 1080 jobs.
Twelve years ago, with the support of the United Nations, world leaders agreed to work together to achieve universal education, promote gender equality and halve extreme poverty by 2015. Known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the initiative has been described as the “most successful global anti-poverty push in history”. But how much have the goals really achieved? Five years after they were adopted, their achievements were discussed at the World Social Forum held in Brazil in 2005.
The Northern Territory women’s policy minister, Alison Anderson, told a gathering at the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne that “domestic violence has reached a crisis point”, the ABC reported on April 4.
It seems that everyone in Australia can now agree that a class war has erupted. Former Labor Party leader Simon Crean, recently sacked by Prime Minister Julia Gillard said: “The Labor Party has always operated most effectively when it has been inclusive, when it’s sought consensus, not when it has sought division, not when it has gone after class warfare.”
For anyone who knows the science, it’s settled — fossil fuels need to be banished fast from our energy mix. But how do we achieve it? Can we rely on renewable sources such as wind and solar? Or must humanity turn to nuclear power? That’s a controversy that has bubbled away for years among people who all accept the dangers of global warming. Now, from the energy sector in China, there’s hard new evidence bearing on this debate. The experience in China shows that as a way of quickly replacing greenhouse-polluting fuels, renewable energy wins against nuclear, hands down.
A picture of a 1938 Daily Mail article titled "German Jews pouring into this country”, circulated social media networks last week and drew comparison with Australia's “stop the boats” obsession. “The number of Jewish aliens entering this country through the 'back door'” was “an outrage” and “a problem to which The Daily Mail has repeatedly pointed,” the article said.
The overwhelming majority of the 1140 people who attended some part of the Marxism 2013 conference would have agreed with Socialist Alternative national executive member Vashti Kenway at the opening session: “I am feeling extremely hopeful of developments here in the left in Australia.” The hopes for closer unity of the revolutionary left infused the conference with excitement in the wake of the March 28 merger of the Revolutionary Socialist Party and Socialist Alternative and the participation in and endorsement of the conference by the Socialist Alliance and Green Left Weekly.
The ongoing strike at Sydney University attracted national media attention on March 26 when strike-supporting students were dragged from a lecture theatre by riot police. The students were engaged in a “roaming picket” that was disrupting one of the few remaining classes held that day when police intervened. This sparked debate as to whether student supporters used appropriate tactics to make their presence heard.

World

In recent weeks, there has been a dramatic wave of violence and repression in Guatemala that has led to the deaths of many human rights activists. Among them are peasant leaders, trade unionists, journalists and indigenous peoples. In light of this, the Guatemala Peace and Development Network (RPDG) has sent out an urgent request for support and solidarity from around the world to bring pressure to bear on the Guatemalan government to halt this repression.
SinnFein.ie reported: Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams commenting on the death today of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said: “Margaret Thatcher did great hurt to the Irish and British people during her time as British Prime Minister. "Working class communities were devastated in Britain because of her policies.
The corporate media will eulogise Margaret Thatcher, and criticise those who dare use her death to point out her many terrible crimes. But among her many crimes that will go unmentioned was the support her government gave in the 1980s to the genocidal Pol Pot-led Khmer Rouge. Below is an article by independent journalist John Pilger on the support the West, including Thatcher, gave the Khmer Rouge. It was first published on April 17, 2000 in the New Statesman. Visit www.johnpilger.com for more articles. * * *
United States President Barack Obama’s trip to Israel and stopover in the West Bank was designed to emphasise Washington’s approval of the status quo, and to reassure Israelis of his firm support for their policies. His vague statements in favour of a Palestinian state were cynical in the face of ongoing Israeli actions on the ground, and his own silence on any proposals to achieve a Palestinian state.
The leader of Greece's Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Alexis Tsipras spoke in London on March 15 at a meeting organised by SYRIZA's London branch. SYRIZA came close to winning elections last year in Greece on a platform of rejecting austerity and making the rich, rather than working people, pay for capitalism's crisis. Below is abridged from the question and answer session after the meeting. The full version can be found at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, as can Tsipras's speech.
At the third national congress of the Left Party (Parti de Gauche) held in Bordeaux from March 22 to 24, France’s newest and fastest-growing socialist group seemed to come of age. Only four years old, the Left Party was born after its leading figure, Jean-Luc Melenchon, long-time leader of left currents in the Socialist Party (SP), abandoned it after the tendencies in the SP opposing neoliberal austerity mustered only 19% support at its 2008 congress.
The results of Venezuela's presidential elections in a few weeks may well predictable, with polls showing socialist candidate Nicolas Maduro well ahead of his right-wing opponent. But we are going through a fragile, vulnerable period, with a future that is less predictable. These elections, as the start of the era of the Bolivarian revolution without its historic leader Hugo Chavez, have special characteristics and factors that go beyond the vote. Unity and leadership
As tensions rise and threat of war seems to be grow on the Korean Peninsula, most media portrayals can make it seem be entirely the fault of an out-of-control militarist North Korean regime. Missing from the story are the actions of the United States in militarising the region and repeatedly threatening the North.
Former chair of the US National Intelligence Council, Thomas Fingar, received the 2013 Sam Adams Award for Integrity in Intelligence in January for his role overseeing the 2007 US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran. The NIE report found that all 16 US intelligence agencies judged “with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program”, and has since been credited with stopping a US-Israeli war against Iran.
US International Socialist Organisation member Brian Jones speaking at the opening night of Marxism 2013. This snippet from his speech deals with the hypocrisy and current contradictions in US capitalism including the fights by teachers for justice in education.

Culture

A selection of the past week's celebrity news... Because space for Cultural Dissent articles in the print version of Green Left is limited, this round-up is intended to point to things happening culturally in which Green Left readers might also be interested. It may also give activists a window on popular culture and help engagement with the wider public. However, it may be that Green Left readers do not agree. Please leave comments, here and on social media.
Silence The World Adept March 22, 2013 Panic & Action Records www.adeptofficial.com Swedish post-hardcore band Adept put plenty of politics into their punk, but never forget how to party, wherever they are in the world. Green Left’s Mat Ward spoke to vocalist Robert Ljung about their new album, the melodic metalcore masterpiece Silence The World. ***
The strike of musicians at the San Francisco Symphony has already had an immediate impact on the institution. Only a few days after walking out, management called off a large East Coast tour. For the Symphony, which has posted a deficit for each of the past four seasons, this will hurt.