Analysis

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.
In early September, the NSW carbon trading scheme collapsed. Conspicuously absent from mainstream media coverage of this event, however, was any attempt to analyse the inherent problems of relying on market mechanisms to solve the global problem of climate change.
Sydney University students and staff rallied outside Fisher Library on September 6 to protest against plans, announced by vice-chancellor Gavin Brown to open a new ,that will cooperate with the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), in placing the university “firmly at the forefront of future developments in Australia’s nuclear related research”.
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.
In early August, NSW Premier Morris Iemma announced plans to build a new gas-fired baseload power station. He proudly stated that this power station would have lower emissions than the coal-fired alternative.
Independent journalist and film-maker John Pilger has just released a new film, The War on Democracy. Set in Latin America and the US, the film outlines the US-led destruction of democracy in successive Latin American countries since the 1950s and the significant reversal of that tide today. The film includes an exclusive interview with Venezuela’s socialist President Hugo Chavez. Green Left Weekly’s Emma Murphy spoke to Pilger about the issues raised in the film.

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