On March 12 this year the 1000th issue of Green Left Weekly will be published. We will be marking this significant milestone in the pages of the paper and through events in cities across the country. Come along to help make sure that Australia's most-read progressive media project remains in good shape.
As Green Left Weekly approaches its 1000th issue, more than 20 years after it first hit the streets, we will be looking back at some of the campaigns it has covered and its role as an alternative source of news. *** It’s February 1991. Bob Hawke is Prime Minister (though not for much longer). Average weekly earnings are just under $600, about half the average in 2013, but petrol is 70c a litre and a middy (285mL) of beer is $1.50. Interest rates are about 14.5%.
Journalists have confirmed that up to five boats carrying asylum seekers to Australia have been turned back to Indonesia since December 10.
Every day at 5.30am, residents and supporters gather in the Collingwood area around Alexandra Parade to protest against test drilling for the government's proposed East-West Link tollway tunnel. Keith Fitzgerald stands to lose the house he has lived in for 69 years if the tunnel is built. He told Green Left Weekly the protests are about more than just his home. “They've got no right to take our heritage, our history, our parks and our clean air away from us. These are the vital things that we're fighting for and will continue to fight for.
"Congratulations once again to Green Left Weekly. As I've often said to people all over the world when they ask what the press is like in Australia, 'Mostly owned by Murdoch and mostly unfree.' "But I always add quickly, 'There is one newspaper that is independent of powerful interests and that's Green Left Weekly'.
About 400 members of the National Union of Workers took a day's strike action on January 17, with a picket line at the Coles/Linfox warehouse facility in Truganina, on the western fringe of Melbourne. The strike action was in support of the union's demand for a site agreement, something other Coles warehouses have. The workers are asking for a range of improvements in conditions, including an extra paid rest break per shift and a fair pay rise. NUW delegate Mathew Davies told Green Left that the workers are demanding “fair pay for everyone.”
About 4000 people gathered at Cottesloe Beach on January 4 to protest against the Western Australian Liberal government's plan to cull sharks. This policy would have Perth’s beaches lined with drum lines and baited hooks a kilometre out from the coast and shark fishermen instructed to kill any tiger, great white or bull sharks spotted in the designated zones.
A lawyer, families, high school and university students, unionists and many long-time activists took part in a joint Christmas visit to the Villawood detention centre in Sydney’s west on December 21. Visit coordinator Rachel Evans told NewZulu.com that Serco, the private company that operates Villawood, tried to confuse and put off visitors, by insisting that forms be faxed to the office 24 hours before the visit, and even phoning some people who had submitted forms.
Lock the Gate released this statement on January 13 *** Protesters launched a blockade at the site of Whitehaven’s controversial Maules Creek coal project in North West NSW on January 13, turning back vehicles seeking to clear the forest for construction of rail infrastructure.
Five hundred construction workers walked off the job following the death of a young worker, who fell 30 metres from scaffolding at the Barangaroo construction site in Sydney on January 9. The NSW Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union (CFMEU) said emergency services were called to the site at 8.30am after Lend Lease construction workers reported that a man had plunged about 30 metres to the ground. Workmates on site attempted CPR, but the 26-year-old was pronounced dead when the paramedics arrived on site.
Campaigners for equal rights had their first win for 2014 as a Pakistani-born gay man, Ali Choudhry, obtained a temporary deportation reprieve just as nation wide protests began on January 7. A petition with 120,000 signatures was also handed to the Sydney office of immigration minister Scott Morrison. Later, about 50 protesters staged a "die-in" outside the department of immigration office in Sydney. A protest was also held outside the department of immigration office in Melbourne.
More than 4000 people protested against the Barnett government's plan to cull Great White Sharks -- a protected species -- on January 4.
The first of a number of rallies organised around Australia to protest a proposal of the Abbott Liberal-National federal government to introduce a $5-$6 "co-payment" for Medicare bulk-billed visits to the doctor was held on January 4 in Sydney. Organised through social media, about 500 attended on short notice. Rallies will be held in other major cities over the next week. These include: Perth 3:00 PM, Saturday, January 11, 2014 - Murray St Mall https://www.facebook.com/events/212272045625191/ Melbourne
One of the most extraordinary films about Australia is soon to be screed across Australia. This is Utopia, an epic production by the Emmy and Bafta winning film-maker and journalist John Pilger. Utopia is a vast region in northern Australia and home to the oldest human presence on earth. "This film is a journey into that secret country," says Pilger in Utopia. "It will describe not only the uniqueness of the first Australians, but their trail of tears and betrayal and resistance - from one utopia to another".
The Socialist Alliance released this statement on January 16. *** Aboriginal Australians have the oldest continuous cultures and languages in the world. The first peoples cared for country for thousands of years and have intimate knowledge of its unique environment. Instead of helping to protect, learn from and collaborate with this knowledge, the Coalition government continues to endanger and destroy Aboriginal culture.
The Bureau of Meteorology’s Annual Climate Statement issued on January 3 confirmed that last year was the hottest year on record in Australia. Average temperatures were 1.2 degrees above the long-term average. Every month of the year had national average temperatures at least 0.5C above normal. The previous record was set in 2005 when the long-term average was up by 0.17C.
Resistance and the Socialist Alliance held a joint educational conference called “How to Make a Revolution” for young people in Brisbane over December 13 – 15. About 80 people from around the country attended over the weekend, mostly young people wanting to discuss all things political, activism and more importantly what strategies socialists should be using in Australia to take the movement forward. Throughout the conference there was a running theme of mass action strategy, and the importance of forming alliances with the broadest layer of people to win demands.
Queensland Premier Campbell Newman recently hinted that his government’s controversial bikie laws were likely to be repealed after a mandatory review in three years. “Ultimately, in less than three years' time, these laws can disappear from the statute books in Queensland, because that's the intention of the government,” he said. Newman claimed he never wanted the laws, saying: “I didn't particularly want to see these laws implemented, but the sooner we can get rid of them the better.”
Kevin Anderson, professor of energy and climate change at Manchester University, said on October 29 last year: “Today, after two decades of bluff and lies, the remaining 2°C budget demands revolutionary change to the political and economic hegemony.” Anderson is one of Britain’s most eminent climate scientists. He is also deputy director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. Tyndall Centre senior research fellow and Manchester University reader Alice Bows-Larkin was more blunt in a November interview: “We need bottom-up and top-down action. We need change at all levels.”
A big attack on Medicare is on the cards after Prime Minister Tony Abbott refused to rule out forcing all patients to pay an upfront cost when they visit the doctor. Former health advisor to Abbott, Terry Barnes, has written a paper to the federal government's Commission of Audit recommending a $6 upfront fee to see a doctor. The commission was appointed by the federal government to propose business-friendly cuts to government spending before the May budget.
The Chilean Supreme Court issued a request on January 15 that the Australian government extradite a former agent of dictator Augusto Pinochet’s notorious secret police back to Chile to face charges of kidnapping and forced disappearances. The move comes after the revelation made public last September by SBS journalist Florencia Melgar that former National Intelligence Directorate (DINA) agent Adriana Rivas had been in Australia since 2010, despite bail conditions imposed following Rivas’s 2006 arrest prohibiting her from leaving Chile.
For decade, the People’s Party (PP) of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has believed it had a reliable political gun in its holster ― unbending opposition to any group or proposal that could be portrayed as linked to Basque Homeland and Freedom (ETA). ETA is the left-nationalist armed group responsible for more than 800 deaths in its 50-year-long fight against the Spanish state.
Now the centenary of 1914 has got going, we should do as British education secretary Michael Gove suggests and celebrate the First World War, instead of taking notice of “left-wing academics”, who complain it was a regrettable waste of life. But the other day, on the radio, they played an interview with Harry Patch, the last man alive who fought for the British in the war. Harry said: “Politicians who took us to war should have been given the guns and told to settle their differences themselves, instead of organising nothing better than legalised mass murder.”
Hundreds of protesters held a peaceful vigil outside Tottenham police station on January 11 demanding justice for Mark Duggan, who was shot dead by police in August 2011. The killing sparked nationwide rioting. More than 500 demonstrators gathered to protest against the “perverse” inquest decision last week that found police had lawfully killed Duggan when they shot him dead. Relatives of Duggan, including his mother Pamela, aunt Carole and brother Marlon, joined the vigil, which observed a minute's silence.
Residents in the urban poor settlement of San Dionisio in Barangay Cupang, Muntinlupa in Metro Manila, were woken on January 15 by a heavily armed police SWAT team. Brandishing a local government order that referred to an address in a different barangay (neighbourhood), authorities overrode objections of residents and started tearing down their homes.
Human rights conditions in Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara remain dire according to activists, even though the territory is once again open for business to European fishing companies. Despite Moroccan pledges to improve conditions for Western Sahara's indigenous Sahrawi, head of the Sahrawi Centre for Media and Communication Mohamed Brahim said the situation is getting worse under Moroccan rule. “Nothing seems to be improving,” Brahim told Green Left Weekly from Laayoune.
The ice storm that struck central and eastern Canada and northeastern United States, on December 20-22 should be viewed not only an important news event, but also a big climate change story. Not because the storm was a direct consequence of the Earth’s average warming temperatures. That would be a speculative claim. No, it’s because of the social crisis created by this weather emergency and what it illustrates about the challenges that are facing human society in a new and warming world. Power loss
A major rift has developed in the ruling class over the revelations by Edward Snowden of the huge spying by the NSA of every American and hundreds of millions worldwide. On December 16, Richard Leon, a conservative federal judge appointed by George W. Bush, ruled that the vacuuming up of phone “metadata” of US citizens was most likely a violation of the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution’s prohibition of unreasonable search and seizure.
The tributes and praise from various world leaders, including US President Barack Obama and Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt, for Israeli war criminal Ariel Sharon who died on January 11, are vile but sadly predictable. But probably the most distasteful of all comes from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who declared himself “saddened by the death of Ariel Sharon”.
An estimated 700,000 Cambodian garment, accessories and footwear workers (90% of whom are women) are among the lowest paid in this globalised industry. They produce fashionable products sold at high prices in the West under big brand names like Gap, Walmart, H&M, Puma, Nike, Adidas, Columbia and Levi Strauss. Major Australian retailers that source garments from Cambodia include Coles, Kmart, Target, Big W and Pacific Brands.
The tide of history sometimes surges out of the most unexpected places. Twenty years ago, the Zapatista indigenous uprising broke out in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas. Zapatismo, limiting itself to operating in Chiapas, may be an incomplete solution to the national rule of the capitalist class, but the Zapatista rising in 1994 was a big advance in Latin America’s liberation struggle.
Utopia Directed by John Pilger http://utopiajohnpilger.co.uk The latest documentary by Emmy and BAFTA award winning film maker and journalist, John Pilger, contrasts two very different worlds: one of white aspiration on Sydney’s northern beaches, and the other the Aboriginal community in the ironically named town of Utopia, located in central Australia. The town has been assessed as the most disadvantaged and poorest community in Australia. The distinction could not be more stark.