Issue 988

News

Stop CSG Illawarra released this statement on November 12. *** Chris Hartcher, the NSW Minister for Resources and Energy, announced a temporary moratorium on coal seam gas (CSG) exploration and mining in Sydney's drinking water catchment “Special Areas” on November 12. This will be in place until the outcome of the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer's review of CSG activities in NSW — currently expected in late 2014. Stop CSG Illawarra spokesperson Jess Moore said: “This is welcome announcement and a win for the campaign.
Young Socialist Alliance and Resistance activists and their collaborators will be heading to Brisbane over December 13-15 for the education conference “How to make a Revolution”. Green Left Weekly spoke to some of those that plan to attend about what they hope to get out of the conference.
About 100 Aboriginal people and their supporters gathered at Hyde Park fountain in Sydney on November 1 to protest against the continued desecration of Aboriginal sites across NSW by coal and coal seam gas mining companies Boggabri Coal, Whitehaven Coal and Santos. The rally was organised by Gomeroi people from Gunnedah in north-west New South Wales. People of all ages were present, from young children to elders. Steve Talbott spoke to the crowd informing them of the cooperation between the state government and mining companies.
Jahangir Hosseini has been on hunger strike outside the immigration offices in Melbourne since September 19. He has been joined by his wife and five other Iranians. He is drinking water but is refusing all food. Hosseini feels dizzy and has lost a significant amount of weight but he is determined to remain on hunger strike until seven Iranian hostages being held in an Iraqi jail have been freed. Hosseini told Green Left Weekly this is his fifth hunger strike.
WA Greens Senator Scott Ludlam was officially re-elected on November 4 after an historic recount of WA Senate votes from the September federal election. He and the Sports Party’s Wayne Dropulich won over the ALP's Louise Pratt and Dio Wang from the Palmer United Party. Before the recount, a 14 vote difference between the Christian Democrats and the Shooters and Fishers Party led to a preference flow that supported Pratt. After the recount, a 12 vote margin favoured Ludlam.
Photo: Alex Bainbridge A large gathering of people from the Vietnamese and Catholic communities - alongside supporters of refugee rights - gathered at the St Mary's Cathedral in Perth on November 8 to highlight the situation of Vietnamese refugees in the Yongah Hill Detention Centre. About 700 Vietnamese refugees have arrived in Australia in recent years complaining about religious persecution in Vietnam.
About 50 people attended a Latin American forum and cultural night at the Spanish Centre in Brisbane on November 2 to hear a panel of speakers discuss various aspects of Latin American politics and history. The forum was co-sponsored by Australian Solidarity with Latin America in Brisbane and the Sydney-based Latin American Social Forum. Talks focused on issues in five countries of the continent: El Salvador, Guatemala, Chile, Colombia and Uruguay. Links to Australia were also highlighted in some presentations.
The Victorian government has released the East West Link Comprehensive Impact Statement (CIS). Public comment has been sought until December 12. The consultation process ends in July next year. The proposed East West Link is an 18-kilometre road project, including a multilane tunnel, which would extend from Hoddle St to the Western Ring Road at Sunshine East. The CIS covers the eastern section of the proposed road, extending from Clifton Hill through Parkville to the Port of Melbourne precinct.
Members of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) and supporters picketed the Bankstown campus of the University of Western Sydney (UWS) on October 30 during a half-day strike, as part of their campaign for a new enterprise bargaining agreement at UWS. This followed a similar strike and picket of the university's Parramatta campus on October 23.
Unionists at the Woolworths warehouse in Barnawartha, northern Victoria, have won an 8.3% wage rise and other benefits after an eight-day strike that ended on November 1. The 350 members of the National Union of Workers (NUW) went on strike on October 25 due to pay rates much lower than Melbourne employees doing the same job. A NUW statement said management had offered a raise of 74¢ per hour for Barnawartha workers, compared to $1.04 for Melbourne employees. Members at the Barnawartha warehouse already earned $203 a week less than workers in Melbourne.

Analysis

Under the guise of “law and order” and protecting the community from “criminal bikie gangs” Queensland Premier Campbell Newman has passed new laws that have implications for the civil rights of the wider community. The Liberal-National Party used their majority to rush the laws through parliament on October 17. The Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment Bill, Tattoo Parlours Bill and the Criminal Law Amendment Bill specifically target bikies.
It was nice of former prime minister John Howard to let us know he was still alive and spending his politician's pension wisely by flying to Britain to give a talk insisting the threat of climate change was “exaggerated”. Howard gave the keynote address at the Global Warming Policy Foundation on November 5. The foundation was set up by climate “sceptic” and former chancellor in Margaret Thatcher's government Nigel Lawson.
The company responsible for running many of Australia’s refugee detention centres, Serco, has been accused of ordering asylum seekers not to speak to the media as the federal government moves to deport more asylum seekers to their country of origin. Asylum seekers in the Darwin Airport Lodge (DAL) detention centre have been subject to intimidation and several have been moved to Christmas Island after speaking to the media.
There is one obvious answer to the climate change crisis that is rarely up for discussion — the government has to take the lead with a huge green public investment drive.
In mid-October, principals in Victorian public schools told their staff they had been instructed to identify underperforming teachers and education support staff (ES staff) by the end of that month. These staff members would not immediately be told they were underperforming, but would only receive a letter in March next year informing them they would not receive a pay rise. Some staff might even be fast tracked out of the profession. The government told principals that between 20% and 40% of staff were to be identified as underperforming.
Top officials from the John Howard government's Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) have been appointed to head its successor, the Fair Work Building Industry Inspectorate (FWBII). The ABCC was never completely abolished under the recent Labor government, but instead had most of its functions transferred to the Inspectorate. Employment minister Eric Abetz appointed former ABCC deputy commissioner Nigel Hadgkiss as director of the inspectorate, and former ABCC commissioner, John Lloyd, as chair on October 17.
The same-sex marriage bill passed in the Australian Capital Territory on October 22 was the most important victory of the equal marriage rights campaign so far. It is the first time queer people have had the right to marry in Australia and follows a seven-year campaign in the ACT, and a nine-year struggle nationwide. Prime Minister Tony Abbott is likely to do everything in his power to overturn the legislation. The federal government will be taking it to the High Court next month.
In December last year, a pink-haired complex systems researcher named Brad Werner made his way through the throng of 24,000 earth and space scientists at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union, held annually in San Francisco. This year’s conference had some big-name participants, from Ed Stone of Nasa’s Voyager project, explaining a new milestone on the path to interstellar space, to the film-maker James Cameron, discussing his adventures in deep-sea submersibles.
Unity negotiations between Australia's two largest socialist organisations, the Socialist Alliance and Socialist Alternative, ended after the latter's National Committee decided on October 26-27 that the unity process had “reached an impasse and consequently we are for ending the negotiations with the Alliance”. Over the past few months there were tactical disagreements between the two groups over how to advance the movements for the rights of asylum seekers and for women's liberation.
The Australian mainstream media publishes a “substantial amount” of articles critical of the scientific consensus on climate change, says a report from the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism. The report has found that Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp publications have a high rate of climate change scepticism, which leaves a large section of Australia without information on climate change science.
This is the Lucky Country, right? The Lucky Country that escaped the recession after the global financial crisis. The Lucky Country where a mining heiress’s wealth grows by $650 a second. Where banks break new profit records, year after year. Not so “lucky” for some though. An ongoing Roy Morgan survey found 2.41 million people in Australia (19.3% of the workforce) were unemployed or underemployed in October. An estimated 1.33 million (10.7% of the workforce) of these were unemployed.
On November 3, Brian Manning, one of the Northern Territory’s most respected activists and trade unionists, passed away surrounded by friends and family at the age of 81. He was a long-time member of the Communist Party of Australia and the Search Foundation. This obituary was written by the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA). *** Manning was a wharfie and staunch MUA member up until his retirement in 2002. He continued to be very active in the trade union movement until his passing.

World

“We have two Filipino traits -- Bayanihan, solidarity, community spirit, and Bahala na, daring, grit & luck,” said Sonny Melencio, chairperson of the Party of the Labouring Masses (PLM). “These will guide our People’s Caravan.” The People’s Caravan initiative is organised by the PLM (a national political party of the marginalised), the transport workers' union PMT and the Support Tado campaign (a networkt to support TV personality Tado Jimenez for elections in Marikina).
The following statement is from the Student Union of Los Herran, a public school in Vitoria-Gasteiz in the Basque Country. * * * Thousands of high-school students and teachers walked out of class all across Spain on October 26. The strike was in protest against the Legislation for Improving the Quality of Education (LOMCE) reforms proposed by the Spanish education minister Jose Ignacio Wert. Further strikes are planned.
Anti-austerity protests hit Britain Westminster was at the centre of a tornado of anti-austerity protest on November 5 that began in the early hours and tore across Britain as the day went on, The Morning Star said the next day. The day of action co-ordinated by the People's Assembly movement swept small-scale guerilla activism through northern and southern England.
Malaysia's Belum-Temengor rainforest is a place of amazing natural wonders. More than 130 million years old, this 300,000 hectare forest is home to a vast number of species of animals and plants, many of which cannot be found anywhere else in the world. This pristine forest remains one of the largest untouched forest reserves in Peninsular Malaysia. It is home to 14 threatened species and may lead to the discovery of more new species.
Obama boasts he is 'really good at killing people' “This will not go over well for the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner. “According to the new book 'Double Down,' in which journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann chronicle the 2012 presidential election, President Barack Obama told his aides that he’s 'really good at killing people' while discussing drone strikes ...
Having virtually all the money in the world often means you can buy silence, you can buy time, and you can buy lies. Chevron has demonstrated this time and again in its decades-long battle to evade accountability for deliberately dumping 18 billion gallons of toxic wastewater into the Ecuadorian Amazon. The problem is that this time, what Chevron has bought is a bag of lies in the form of false testimony from a thoroughly disreputable source, and it isn't able to hide the price tag.
On October 20 last year, I did stand up at a party in Chelsea, Manhattan, for the book I had just written called America's Got Democracy! The joke that got the biggest laugh, which I will now ruin by writing it out, was about how the supposedly “stark choice” between Democrats and Republicans around global warming isn't the different things they're going to do about it, but the different ways they say they're not going to do anything about it.
About 1000 people rallied on November 11 in front of the US Embassy in Manila to demand climate justice after the aftermath of Super Typhoon Yolanda (as Typhoon Haiyan is known in the Philippines). The demonstrators care from various sectors of Filipino society. Farmers, urban poor, women, workers, and youth marched from Bonifacio Shrine to the T.M. Kalaw demanding that the US immediately and radically cut its emissions and pay its climate debt -- to assist with the costs of adapting to climate change and for loss and damages caused.
Recently, an organised criminal group called “Roastbusters” were exposed as a gang-rape organisation who targeted intoxicated and underage girls, then publicly shamed them online. The police knew about this group’s action since 2011 but failed to stop them. Police claimed they were powerless to act because none of the girls who were raped are “brave enough” to lay a formal complaint. It has since transpired that four complaints were ignored.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has announced a slew of policy reforms aimed at combating speculation and hoarding. New government institutions are also being created to regulate trade and oversee foreign currency exchange. “We have to make real decisions for the benefit of the economy and society, whatever the cost and whatever happens,” Maduro said on November 6. Describing the package of reforms as an “economic offensive”, Maduro pledged to “strike hard” at speculators and hoarders.
Below is an open letter and petition to governments of the rich industrialised nations, initiated by the Philippines Movement for Climate Justice. The PMCJ is a broad movement consisting of 103 national networks and local groups representing many grassroots communities across the Philippines. Please add your name here. You can also donate to grassroots relief work via http://transform-asia.org/. * * *
The statement below was released by the Party of the Labouring Masses (PLM, a Filipino socialist party) on November 10 in response the huge humanitarian disaster caused by Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda. Details on how to donate to the PLM's relief efforts at at the bottom. You can also sign a petition initiated by the Philippines Movement for Climate Justice. * * * Let Our People Live! Save Lives, Redistribute Food, Stop the Economic and Environment Plunder! Climate Justice Now!
If you were asked to pick a TV network in Spain least likely to be occupied and managed by its workers, you would probably choose Radio and Television Valencia’s (RTVV) Channel Nine. Worker control over this mouthpiece for the corrupt People’s Party (PP) government of Valencia would seem about as likely as worker control of Australia's Nine Network. Yet, at the time of writing, in response to a bid to close down the station, RTVV Channel Nine is being run by its employees.
“It’s a far cry from a revolution, but socialists had a surprisingly strong showing in two city council races on Election Day, November 5,” MSNBC.com said the next day. “In Seattle, Kshama Sawant picked up 46% of the vote while challenging 15-year Democratic incumbent Richard Conlin. And in Minneapolis, Ty Moore is only 131 votes behind Democratic candidate Alondra Cano.”
Recent mid-term elections in Argentina revealed three key tendencies: a continued decline in support for President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and her Peronist-allied Front for Victory (FPV), the reemergence of new forces to its right, and what many have dubbed a “historic” vote for the Trotskyist left. At stake in the October 27 national elections were half of the seats in the Chamber of Deputies and one third of the Senate, along with several elections for state parliaments and local councils.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) was established in 2002 at The Hague in the Netherlands to prosecute individuals alleged to have committed war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of genocide. From the ICC’s inception, the US objected to the possibility that its nationals could be subject to the court’s jurisdiction.

Culture

In a hard-hitting interview on October 19 for Le Mur a des Oreilles, a program on Belgian station RadioPanik, Palestinian actor Saleh Bakri delivered his clearest statement yet of his political commitment and rejection of the Israeli state’s use of cinema as a propaganda tool. In the interview, the star of films such as When I Saw You and describes his childhood desire to be a painter, his initial reluctance to act, and his family’s major position in Palestinian theatre and film.
Big Coal: Australia’s Dirtiest Habit Guy Pearse, David Mcknight, Bob Burton Newsouth Publishing, 2013, 257 pages, $34.99 (pb) You don’t have to look far to see why Australians are locked in an absurd and vicious circle of climate change, burning more coal to, for example, run more air conditioners to cope with the more severe heat waves from the global warming resulting from burning more coal.
As an inveterate film fan, I turn to the listings every week and try not to lose hope. I search the guff that often passes for previews, and I queue for a ticket with that flicker of excitement reminiscent of matinees in art deco splendour. Once inside, lights down, beer in hand, hope recedes as the minutes pass. How many times have I done a runner? There is a cinema I go to that refunds your money if you're out the door within 20 minutes of the opening titles. The people there have knowing looks. My personal best is less than five minutes of the awful Moulin Rouge.

Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

Socialist strategy and 'left reformism' Ed Rooksby writes that there has been a significant revival of interest among the radical left in “big picture” questions of socialist strategy that represents a return to “important debates of the left largely absent over the last three decades. 'Growth imperative' versus 'climate imperative'