Analysis

The deepening of Australia’s drought- and global-warming-driven water crisis has thrown into sharp relief the historical and current inadequacy of the Liberal-Labor political establishment to put the needs of working people before those of big business.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) could not be clearer: “The right to strike is one of the essential means available to workers and their organisations for the promotion and protection of their economic and social interests” (1983).

John Howard was awarded the Jerusalem Prize for his “friendship and commitment” to Israel at a gala dinner at Melbourne’s Crown Casino on May 20. The award, by the Zionist Federation of Australia, the State Zionist Council of Victoria and the World Zionist Organisation, includes the “John Howard Negev Forest”, which will be planted by the Jewish National Fund (JNF) over an ethnically-cleansed Bedouin village.

Tom — not his real name — became a “person of interest” after taking part in the G20 protests in Melbourne last November. This softly spoken 24-year-old, a postgraduate student at Sydney University, is one of the latest victims of the police-state laws that seem designed to intimidate activists from organising, or attending, protests.

The May 15 death of right-wing evangelist and Moral Majority founder Reverend Jerry Falwell has provided an opportunity for many people to comment on the influence of the Christian right on American politics and culture. Falwell relentlessly attacked Hollywood, blaming it for the decline of “traditional values”.

May 27 marks the 40th anniversary of the overwhelming victory of the 1967 referendum, in which almost 91% of the Australian people voted to give the federal government the constitutional power to override the brutal, degrading racist laws of the states under which Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders were tormented. The federal government now had the power to make specific laws in respect to the Indigenous people. The Australian people had sent a clear signal that it was time for Canberra to make laws, introduce programs and provide the necessary resources to end the racial oppression of Indigenous Australians.

The 1967 referendum on Aboriginal rights — in which more than 90% voted in favour of including Aboriginal people in the census and giving the federal government the power to override racist state laws and legislate for Aboriginal people — has “enormous importance for Aboriginal people and our struggle”, Queensland Indigenous leader Sam Watson told Green Left Weekly.

On May 29, an unpredictable drama will begin. Attorney-General Philip Ruddock will try to overcome a series of embarrassing blunders by the entire Australian chain of command at the joint Australia-US Pine Gap spy base in the Northern Territory, and four activists will face trial in Alice Springs for entering a prohibited site.

The following letter was sent by Green Left Weekly on May 16 to the editor of the Australia/Israel Review, the journal of the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council.

If watching the ABC TV’s drama Bastard Boys is the only information that you have about the Maritime Union of Australia lockout of 1998, then you would probably conclude that the dispute was won by the brilliant tactical skills of Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) secretary Greg Combet and former Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) national secretary John Coombes, and the legal talents of union lawyers.

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