Analysis

The Socialist Alliance supports the struggle for democracy in Burma, and stands in solidarity with the democracy movement activists, political prisoners and exiles bravely defying its military dictatorship.
On September 23, federal environment minister Malcolm Turnbull and industry and resources minister Ian Macfarlane announced a new national “clean energy target”.
The federal government announced on September 23 that it has — for the first time — adopted an actual target for energy generation from “clean” sources. Under the plan, 15% of Australia’s electricity would be generated from such sources by 2020, including renewable energy like wind and solar, as well as “clean, green” nuclear power and “clean coal”. Prime Minister John Howard heralded the plan as “a major cost saving and regulatory breakthrough”.
In February this year, a boat carrying 83 Tamil asylum seekers from Sri Lanka was intercepted by the Australian Navy. After being detained on Christmas Island for a month, the Tamils were transferred to Nauru.
On September 8, Tim Gooden spoke to Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) Sydney branch secretary Warren Smith for the Geelong Trades Hall’s Union Air community radio program. The interview took place at the protest that day against the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit and US President George Bush.
A damning report on the impact of Work Choices on workers in the retail and hospitality industries in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria — Lowering the Standards, released on September 13 — documents how quickly employers have acted to legally strip wages and conditions of workers in these sectors, even though the government claims many of these conditions are “protected by law”.
In an interview with the Australian Financial Review on September 17, Jeff Lawrence, the new secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), said that under a Rudd Labor government, unions would seek to engage constructively with businesses and employer groups. “There won’t be any targeting of employers who have used AWAs [individual contracts] … I specifically rule that out”, he said.
Having previously written a critique of the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict which examined it’s “democratic” associations (GLW #722), I was amazed to discover that Professor Stephen Zunes presently serves as the chair of their board of academic advisors. Amazed because this information was news to me as the ICNC’s academic advisors are not available on its website, and also that a progressive academic like Zunes would become associated with the ICNC.
Following a meeting in Alice Springs on September 12-14, attended by some 100 Aboriginal people from across Australia, a new, independent political body for Aboriginal Australians is being established, the National Aboriginal Alliance.
The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union’s Western Australian branch has been organising Filipino workers employed in WA on section 457 visas. Joel Asphar, the AMWU organiser responsible for this work, told Green Left Weekly that “the campaign to recruit and organise these workers was not something we decided to do. It was out of necessity. I was responsible for the workshops south of the Swan river and there were 550 Filipino workers on 457 visas.”

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