Analysis

The recent storms that devastated much of the NSW Central Coast and the Hunter Valley were described by some as a mini cyclone. The fierce gales led to dramatic floods — the most severe since the 1970s, the deaths of several people and the beaching of a coal freighter on a Newcastle reef.
Electrical Trades Union Victorian secretary and union militant Dean Mighell was forced to resign from the ALP after a tape recording of an internal union meeting became public. Labor leader Kevin Rudd and his industrial relations spokesperson Julia Gillard slammed Mighell as a union “thug” for swearing about bosses and talking up a pattern-bargaining agreement in which ETU members received a particularly good deal. Green Left Weekly’s Sue Bolton spoke to Mighell about Labor under Rudd, its backflips on IR and how the unions can defend workers’ rights.
The public gallery of the Northern Territory Supreme Court erupted into applause on June 15 when Justice Sally Thomas handed down the sentences for the “Pine Gap Four” — Christians Against All Terrorism members Bryan Law, Jim Dowling, Adele Goldie and Donna Mulhearn — who had the previous day been found guilty of 14 charges under the Defence (Special Undertakings) Act of 1952.
It has become clear in recent weeks the extent to which the NSW and federal governments want to block protests at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Sydney in September.
The NSW government is planning to give police extraordinary powers of arrest and detention around the time of the APEC summit in Sydney in September. Activists planning the protest when US President George Bush is in town say the new powers are about intimidation, not public safety.
Since community opposition stopped plans for a national nuclear waste dump in South Australia, John Howard seems determined to now go for a site in the Northern Territory — despite promising not to and opposition from Indigenous custodians.
The ABC’s 7.30 Report on June 11 reported that 200 miners at BHP Billiton’s iron ore mine at Mount Newman in Western Australia had signed a petition complaining about “an atmosphere of intimidation and victimisation” of workers on individual agreements (AWAs). The workers’ petition complained that management was forcing them to work in unsafe conditions and warned that a serious accident was likely.
The Howard government’s so-called fairness test for all new workplace agreements (individual contracts and collective agreements) is destined to become law, with Labor Party support, before the end of June. The legislation, which purports to guarantee “fairness” to workers who trade off their entitlement to penalty rates, overtime pay and holiday leave loading, passed through the House of Representatives on May 29.
In recent years there’s been a concerted campaign by right-wing Vietnamese exiles around the world to resurrect the defunct flag of the old Saigon regime.
Under pressure to prove his government has answers to the global warming crisis, on June 3 PM John Howard backed the corporate polluter-friendly recommendations of his Task Group on Emissions Trading, set up on December 10.
The Australian government has recently come under fire for the inefficiency of its overseas aid programs, particularly in the Asia Pacific. The June 4 Sydney Morning Herald reported that more and more aid destined for the region was being lost in administrative costs or dished out to private corporations in the name of “development”.
The trial of the “Pine Gap Four” in Alice Springs is continuing with the Crown lawyer arguing that the jury should not be determining the reasonableness of the activists’ actions. Michael Maurice QC argued that, “Engaging in activities to disrupt the implementation of public policy can never be reasonable”.
Global warming, workers’ rights and opposition to the Iraq war are key campaigns this year, a Socialist Alliance state conference on May 19 decided.
Green Left Weekly is committed to social justice and environmental sustainability, speaks out against capitalism, and sides with the marginalised and oppressed. But it is silent on the plight of the most oppressed group of all — non-human animals, notably those exploited by the animal agriculture industry.
Having just visited Cuba — and as a former head of public health for the Perth east metropolitan region and former chairperson of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners — it was obvious to me that the 45-year US trade embargo against the island-state has seriously affected its ability to provide health services to its people.
The ALP deserves to be re-badged the “Anti-Labour Party” as historian Humphrey McQueen suggests, and the ALP’s public dressing down and forced resignation of Victorian Electrical Trade Union (ETU) secretary Dean Mighell reinforces this view.

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