Analysis

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.
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.
Australia’s new Labor government is in denial on the seriousness of climate change. That much is shown by its inadequate target of reducing the country’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 60% by 2050. But more on that later.
In October 2007, with the federal election looming, and global warming generating a lot of tepid air in parliaments around the country, a diverse group of people in Adelaide established the Eco-socialist Network to attempt to generate more serious discussion of environmental issues. Green Left Weekly’s Leslie Richmond spoke to John Rice, activist, socialist, Greens member and one of the initiators of the network.
A group of Australian writers, academics, NGO workers and activists have written an open letter to incoming Prime Minister Kevin Rudd calling for Australia to increase its development assistance to East Timor (see above).
Prime Minister of Australia Mr Kevin Rudd, MHR [also to other ministers] January 2008 Dear Prime Minister Re: Australian and Cuban education assistance to Timor Leste We the following academics, writers, organisations and NGO workers observe these developments, on education assistance to Timor Leste:
Amid audible gasps of relief, on December 15 the US delegation to the United Nations climate change conference in Bali signalled that Washington would be part of the “Bali Roadmap” for combatting global warming. With the US on board, a two-year process of discussion would begin — hopefully to culminate in the adoption of a new pact to replace the Kyoto Protocol, due to expire in 2012.
Although 80% of current revenue from BHP Billiton’s Olympic Dam mine in South Australia comes from minerals other than uranium, recent drilling has shown that the site is home to the largest ore body of uranium in the world.
The Australian Education Union has called for a $2.9 billion investment into public education in order to support literacy and numeracy strategies. The AEU has called on Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to make this the first step in his so called “Education Revolution”.

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