Analysis

Whether you admire him or hate him, Venezuela’s recently re-elected president, Hugo Chavez, is starting to attract a lot of attention in Australia, and around the world. The man who calls US President George Bush “the devil”, and the “new socialism for the 21st century” that he and his government are creating in Venezuela, are stirring hope in the hearts of many people — and fear in a few.
When the NSW police minister condemned magistrate Pat O’Shane two weeks ago for throwing out a case involving spitting at traffic cops, her response was: “There is an election coming up”. The same answer could well be given for the bipartisan barrage of Muslim-bashing from senior NSW politicians in the countdown to the March state election.
George Paris, convener of Save Our Rail (SOR), has congratulated Susan Price, a Socialist Alliance candidate for the NSW Legislative Council in the March 24 election, for a “worthwhile policy” on rail and public transport. SOR has been campaigning for the retention of electric rail services to Newcastle against repeated attempts by the Labor government to close the line.
George Paris, convener of Save Our Rail (SOR), has congratulated Susan Price, a Socialist Alliance candidate for the NSW Legislative Council in the March 24 election, for a “worthwhile policy” on rail and public transport. SOR has been campaigning for the retention of electric rail services to Newcastle against repeated attempts by the Labor government to close the line.
The Australian writer Donald Horne meant the title of his celebrated book, The Lucky Country, as irony. “Australia is a lucky country run by second-rate people who share its luck”, he lamented in 1964, describing much of the Australian elite as unfailingly unoriginal, race-obsessed and in thrall to imperial power and its wars.
Sheikh Isse Musse, Imam of the Virgin Mary Mosque and spiritual leader of Melbourne’s Horn of Africa Muslim community, condemned the US bombing of his native Somalia and its instigation of the invasion by Ethiopian troops inlate December. He also expressed hope that out of the current conflict Somalia might regain its sovereignty and national unity after years of anarchy and violence.
On January 18, the Australian ran a story on a leaked report commissioned by the Peter Beattie Labor state government on the shocking living conditions for Aborigines in Queensland (see accompanying article). Green Left Weekly asked Sam Watson, Murri leader and member of the Socialist Alliance, about this and the ongoing struggle for justice for Indigenous people in Australia.
The decision by a full bench of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) on appeal to deny a Victorian cinema manager access to unfair dismissal laws because he was sacked for “genuine operational reasons” is another blow to attempts to hold unfair employers to account.
Tamworth, 595 kilometres north of Sydney, each year welcomes more than 50,000 people to its music festival. The town boasts it is the Australian equivalent of “Nashville”, albeit on a small scale.
The case of Melbourne man Jack Thomas should be ringing alarm bells over the use of the so-called anti-terror laws in Australia. Thomas’ case demonstrates that these laws can be, and are being, misused for political purposes against someone who is not a terrorist.

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