Analysis

In the afterglow of saying sorry to the Stolen Generations, the federal Labor government introduced its first piece of industrial relations legislation into parliament on February 13 — the Workplace Relations Amendment Bill. While the government claims that this legislation is the first step in dismantling Work Choices, in fact, it will leave most of Work Choices intact.
The following is the second part of an interview between John Parker, secretary of Gippsland Trades and Labour Council, and Green Left Weekly’s Zane Alcorn. The first part was published in GLW #737.
Around 200 union leaders from around Australia attended a trade union leadership forum organised by the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) in Canberra from January 30 to February 1. Many had a lot on their minds. First and foremost, many wondered how the Rudd Labor government’s new industrial relations systems would shape up and what the union movement will have to do to make sure it benefits workers? Unfortunately most walked away after three days asking themselves the same questions they arrived with.
A new report published by Friends of the Earth (FoE), Climate Code Red: The case for a sustainability emergency, warns that human-induced climate change is dangerously impacting on the planet and its people, and calls on the Rudd government to take real action to avert disaster from global warming.
[The following is a statement from the national executive of the Socialist Alliance.]
In addition to being the home of Bollywood, the Indian city of Mumbai can boast having Asia’s biggest slum, Dharavi. One million residents are crammed into a square mile of low-rise wood, concrete and rusted iron, reported the December 19 Economist.
In the lead up to the February 12 Indigenous rights convergence in Canberra, Green Left Weekly gathered statements from Indigenous activists around Australia. At the fore of people’s minds was the Northern Territory intervention, PM Kevin Rudd’s scheduled apology to the Stolen Generations and the issue of compensating those affected by that policy.
On the eve of December’s UN climate conference in Bali, the Indonesian government announced that it would plant 79 million trees in a single day to “offset” the emissions of the entire conference. But this world record-attempt could not mask the presence of another, less flattering, statistic in the 2008 Guinness Book of Records, which awarded the country the world record for the fastest rate of deforestation. From 2000 to 2005, an area of forest equivalent to the size of 300 football pitches was destroyed every hour in Indonesia, the key factor in its having the world’s third-highest rate of greenhouse gas emissions behind the US and China.
In 2001, newly-elected US President George Bush made international headlines when he announced changes to how international aid organisations were to be funded with US money. Known as the “Global Gag Rule”, aid organisations were informed that, in order to continue receiving US government funding, they could no longer provide any information about abortion to their clients.
On May 9, 2007 NSW Premier Morris Iemma announced that he had appointed Anthony Owen, Australia’s first professor of energy economics, to report on NSW’s future needs in electricity generation capacity.
Bruce Trevorrow, 50, was the first of the Stolen Generations to succeed in recieving compensation from a state government. His case is an argument for why PM Kevin Rudd should establish a national compensation scheme for the tens of thousands or so members of the Stolen Generations.
Although it stated at the last state election in 2006 that it would not go ahead with the construction of a desalination plant, the Victorian Labor government is now pushing for a desalination plant at Wonthaggi, on the South Gippsland coast. Before the environmental impact statement has even been completed, test drilling and compulsory land acquisitions have begun at the proposed site.
Indigenous Affairs Minster Jenny Macklin announced on January 30 that the federal government will make a formal apology to the stolen generations — the 13,000 Aboriginal children who were forcibly removed from their parents as part of a government policy of assimilation — on February 13, the day after the first sitting of the new parliament. Despite calls by Aboriginal groups to include a compensation plan, PM Kevin Rudd’s government has continued to rule out any national compensation fund to go with the apology.
The Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network (AVSN) is organising a 2008 May Day solidarity brigade to Venezuela for trade unionists and all other people interested in seeing first-hand the unfolding revolution in that country.
Four years ago, 17-year-old Aboriginal teenage Thomas “TJ” Hickey was impaled on a metal-spiked fence in Sydney’s inner-city Waterloo suburb after his bicycle was rammed by a police vehicle. Proper medical practices were not followed by the police and TJ died in hospital the next day, February 15. If proper practices had been followed, TJ would probably be alive today.
A key aspect of PM Kevin Rudd’s IR agenda is the creation of a national industrial relations system that would cover all private sector employees.

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