Analysis

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.

As Green Left Weekly goes to print David Hicks is on his way back to Australia — to Yalata prison in South Australia. But Lady Justice is sailing off in the other direction.

On May 7, the Melbourne Magistrates Court denied bail to two men arrested under “anti-terror” laws for raising funds for tsunami relief in the Tamil areas of Sri Lanka.

A young woman working in a juice bar is fired and rehired at a casual rate significantly less than her former wage. She is forced to sign an AWA (Australian Workplace Agreement — individual contract) to get her job back. A young man, aged 13, is fired after retaliating against his manager who assaulted him in a South Australian fast food business.

The shambles of the Airline Partners Australia (APA) private equity takeover attempt for Qantas demonstrates the greed and rapaciousness of this rotten capitalist system. All parties involved in the grubby business have shown up the irrationality of capitalism.

On May 7, New Matilda published an article by Antony Loewenstein, titled “Cuba: paradise left”, in which he reports on his impressions of Cuba. Loewenstein describes Cuba as a “police state” with “no freedom of speech”. He takes issue with Australian academic, Tim Anderson whom, he wrote, “ought to know better” for arguing that Cuba has more democracy than the US, (see http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=5609). Below is Anderson’s reply to Loewenstein’s article.

While there are treatments to slow the progression of AIDS, adding decades to sufferers’ lives, access to them is a case study in the vast gap between rich and poor nations. Few deny that HIV/AIDS is a massive health crisis. What is now clear is that it is also a social one, exacerbated by the contradictions of a world dominated by the wealthy minority of First World countries.

Treasurer Peter Costello's May 8 federal budget was aimed at investing in the future of big business. It cements the government's privatisation agenda, further running down already neglected public services and throwing money at private-profit alternatives. It fails to even begin to address global warming, and contains a further major hike in military spending. At the same time, the government feathered its re-election bid with a rash of small to middling tax cuts.

I held such hope for the Sydney Coroner's inquest into the death of Brian Peters, one of the Balibo Five in East Timor in 1975, because we were promised an open court. But now the rules have been changed to allow vital evidence to be given "in camera", which gives Commonwealth bureaucrats the opportunity to censor that evidence.

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