Analysis

While all eyes have been focused on the terrible plight of David Hicks, Willie Brigitte has been convicted and sentenced in France, nine Muslim men are undergoing a committal hearing in Sydney, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed has allegedly confessed to a multitude of terror attacks and calls to ban the Muslim group, Hizb ut-Tahrir, in Australia have become more strident. This is all cause for concern, not because of a sinister threat by “terrorists”, but from the government-driven “war on terror”.

In the lead-up to the April 27-29 ALP national conference in Sydney, a number of federal Labor frontbenchers and state premiers have declared themselves in favour of scrapping the party’s “no new mines” policy in favour of an unrestricted expansion of uranium mining. This push — which ignores the views of a majority of Australians and the extreme dangers inherent in uranium mining and the nuclear cycle that it is part of — reflects booming prices for the mineral on the world market. However, a number of trade unions have opposed the policy change and vowed to fight it at the conference.

On the grass outside an abattoir on the Western Plains of New South Wales, in the dark, cool air, a few workers are forming the late-night shift of a picket. Some journalists are hanging around, talking to them. It is less than a week after the federal government’s new industrial relations legislation, known as Work Choices, has taken effect. The men are outside the Cowra abattoir, not inside, because they have received termination notices. Twenty-nine have been sacked from their jobs for “operational reasons”.

Ten years ago, Australia led the world in voluntary euthanasia legislation. On September 22, 1996, Bob Dent became the first person in the world to receive a legal, lethal, voluntary injection. His peaceful and dignified death occurred under the Rights of the Terminally Ill Act (ROTI) of the Northern Territory.

When former naval officer and NSW opposition leader Peter Debnam began his campaign to overthrow the NSW Labor government there were hopes in the Liberal camp that the scene was set for a repeat on March 24 of the party’s last win — Nick Greiner’s 1988 walloping of the Barrie Unsworth administration.

On March 21, in a speech to mark the fourth anniversary of Australian troops being dispatched to Iraq as part of an illegal US invasion responsible for the deaths of more than half a million Iraqis, Prime Minister John Howard conceded that despite the “surge” in the occupiers’ troop numbers “success is by no means assured”.

Below is an abridged account by Tim Davis-Frank of the police raid on his home and his arrest in Sydney on March 14. His “crime” was to take part in the protests outside the G20 meeting in Melbourne last November. Davis-Frank is the University of Sydney student representative council’s global solidarity officer. Four G20 protesters from Sydney went to court on March 19, and will face court again in Melbourne on May 11.

On February 14, readers of the Weekly Times, a local Ryde paper that covers Bennelong, PM John Howard’s electorate, couldn’t believe their eyes when confronted with the headline: “Global Warming? Climate Change? Bulldust!” The article, written by editor John Booth, dismissed global warming as “scaremonger propaganda” put forward by “Armageddon pedlars”.

As the ALP’s electoral fortunes lift with each new poll, unionists want to know exactly how a federal Labor government would carry out its promise to “tear up” the Coalition’s anti-worker Work Choices laws.

Palestinian community leader and activist Shaher Hussein El-Mashni (Abu Nasser) died on March 1 in Melbourne. His memorial service, on March 18, was attended by more than 200 people, including representatives of Australian Palestinian groups and the Palestinian head of delegation to Australia, Izzat Abdul Hadi, who gave condolences on behalf of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.

Pages

Subscribe to Analysis