Analysis

“Australian Defence Minister Brendan Nelson has admitted that securing oil supplies is a key factor behind the presence of Australian troops in Iraq.” This was how the BBC reported Nelson’s July 5 comments to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on the release of a review of Australia’s “defence strategy”.

“John Howard is more than happy to welcome war criminal George Bush to Sydney in September, but he won’t even give the time of day to struggling workers, such as Botany Cranes union delegate Barry Hemsworth, who is still on the grass more than 300 days after being unfairly sacked”, Socialist Alliance activist Pip Hinman told Green Left Weekly.

Pressure from unions over the exploitation of foreign workers employed under the 457 visa scheme for temporary workers has forced the Howard government to tighten some of the regulations.

PM John Howard and ALP leader Kevin Rudd have both attacked Unions NSW secretary John Robertson for comments, secretly recorded and leaked to the media, made at a Bennelong Your Rights at Work meeting in late June.

In last month’s elections in the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU), the Workers’ Rights team took all positions against a ticket led by an alliance between the union’s print and vehicle divisions. Some Workers’ Rights candidates received over 80% of the vote. In the Victorian branch, where most positions were strongly contested, 40% of members voted.

The 10th national Labour History Conference on June 4-6 delved into the labour movement’s past, but also featured interesting debates about present-day concerns.

Ali Humayun, the queer Pakistani locked up in Villawood Immigration Detention Centre, is suing VIDC management and the federal government for negligence of care.

A bill recently pushed through federal parliament has the potential to threaten state moratoriums on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) by granting new powers to the federal agriculture minister, a WA anti-GMO activist told Green Left Weekly.

Recent attacks on the organic food industry are about discrediting it to soften up the public to accept genetically modified (GM) crops, Dr Maggie Lilith of the Conservation Council of WA and the Say No to GMO campaign told Green Left Weekly.

Three years after extending its moratorium on the commercial growing of genetically modified (GM) crops, the Victorian ALP government appears poised to remove the ban when it expires in February 2008.

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