Comment and Analysis

When 72-year-olds take their shirts off in anger on a cold winter’s day in Melbourne, you know something is wrong. Seriously wrong.

In a country where the balance of power is tipping away from bosses and towards ordinary workers, Venezuela\'s annual May 1 labour celebration holds great significance. It has been declared a national holiday.

Like many others, I cut my activist teeth during the Franklin River campaign of the early 1980s. Like thousands of others, I joined the blockades in south west Tasmania and, like hundreds of others, was arrested for my troubles and spent a week in Risdon Jail.

Joseph Bryan, Kevin Rudd’s, politicians, tax cuts, Stolen Generation, Northern Territory, 2020 Summit

NSW teachers are not only against the Labor government’s staffing changes in public schools: they oppose the Department of Education’s (DET) move to strip union representatives from selection panels determining teacher transfers.

Melbourne is drowning in cars and choking on petrol fumes. At the same time, the privatised public transport system is in serious crisis.

Organised racism scored a win on May 27, when Camden Council voted unanimously to reject a proposal to build the 1200 student Al Amanah Islamic College in the south-western Sydney suburb.

The federal government’s intervention into remote Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory has largely failed to produce significant improvements in health or housing, an NT health department employee told Green Left Weekly on May 29.

When one sees a modern city from the air, especially at night, it is a truly awe-inspiring spectacle. The immensity of the project is a testimony to the power and creativity of human beings. However, on the ground and actually living and working in this wonder, things are quite different: the social and ecological problems crowd in and fill your view. The truth is that our cities have always been dominated by the rich and powerful, and built and operated to serve their needs rather than those of the mass of working people who live and toil in them.

Petrol prices have sky-rocketed in the last six months. The cost per litre now pushes $1.60, with predictions in some quarters of a $2 per litre price by the end of the year.

“Beautiful”, “haunting”, “dark”, “evocative” or “revolting”, “indecent”, “exploitative” and “pornographic”? The May 22 seizure of 20 photographs by Australian artist Bill Henson from Sydney’s Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, and the subsequent NSW police investigation, have provoked an extreme response.

The following abridged statement was initiated by participants at the Climate Change — Social Change conference, hosted by Green Left Weekly in Sydney, April 11-13, 2008.

Ali Humayun, a queer Pakistani, was recently granted permanent residency after spending more than three years locked up in Villawood Detention Centre. He made the following statement to Green Left Weekly on May 23.

The Victorian Aboriginal Health Service (VAHS), based in Fitzroy, and started by Koori activists in 1973, is threatened by funding shortfalls.

Labor’s first federal budget in 13 years was well received by much of the welfare lobby, despite its shortcomings. “The Brotherhood of St Laurence welcomes the Rudd Government’s first Budget because of its focus on helping disadvantaged Australians to overcome poverty and achieve their aspirations”, Tony Nicholson, BSL executive director said in a media release on May 13. “Robin Hood may have just fired off his first humble arrow”, said Dr John Falzon, CEO of the St Vincent de Paul Society, in his statement on the budget.

The Pacific Calling Partnership (PCP) is a response to the calls of people on low-lying islands in the Pacific about the ravages of climate change — more storm surges, longer droughts, tides rising higher, shores eroding, coral reefs bleaching, water supplies and soils becoming contaminated by salt water, breadfruit and banana trees dying and taro pits being destroyed.

With his May 15 announcement that legislation to enable electricity privatisation will be introduced into the June session of parliament, NSW Premier Morris Iemma started the countdown to the most decisive days of the struggle to date.

The battle over the privatisation of NSW electricity continues. A power industry delegates’ meeting on May 15 condemned the state ALP government’s push to privatise the retail electricity providers and generators and reaffirmed its “total rejection” of the government’s plans.

A casual glance at the ALP’s federal budget would have you believe that there will be a net loss of 1224 public sector jobs over the next financial year. That figure, derived from an actual cut of 5061 jobs, balanced by 3837 new jobs, belies what will happen.

“First World countries are the leaders in carbon emissions, and it is the Third World who faces the consequences”, Bangladeshi Professor Anu Muhammad told a crowd of 50 at public forum on May 14. “A one-metre rise in sea level would displace 40 million people and would submerge 30% of our country.”

The Rudd government’s first budget, touted as a “Robin Hood” budget, takes very little from the “rich” and gives practically nothing to the poor and disadvantaged. In its fundamentals, it continues on from where the former Howard Coalition government left off.

I’m writing on May 13 at 5:19am from the city of Wanzhou, Chongqing Municipality, China. I’ve just re-entered my apartment after the latest aftershock sent everyone onto the streets once more. It’s been a long 15 hours since the initial earthquake yesterday afternoon that so devastated Wenchuan and surrounds, such as the beautiful city of Chengdu. At this moment, my understanding of the scope of this disaster is only what I have been able to garner from international news websites and secondhand reports from my Chinese friends.

The following statement is from the Climate Camp organising committee.

Since beginning its first parliamentary term with the symbolic apology to the Stolen Generations, the Rudd Labor government has promised a shift away from the hostility towards Indigenous Australians shown by the previous Howard government.

The coal industry is planning to replace oil by turning coal into liquid fuels and into feedstocks for the chemical industry. Of course they are also planning to burn ever-more coal to produce electricity. If these plans materialise, green chemistry and renewable solar energy will both be sidelined for the rest of this century.

The federal Labor government says it is not homophobic. Yet it agrees with its Coalition predecessor that marriage is a “union between a man and woman”. Regardless of opinion on marriage, the legal rights afforded this institution should be available to all couples regardless of gender.

Ground-breaking new research findings posted on the internet in April have confirmed what many scientists and climate activists have already concluded — that the goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions embraced by the European Union and Australia’s Labor government are gravely inadequate.

“What the hell is happening in NSW”, interstate callers have been asking the Socialist Alliance national office in recent days. Many are former activists in NSW left politics, and remember with bitterness the days when “Sussex Street” (headquarters of Unions NSW and the ALP administration) could be relied upon to stifle any protest movement threatening the stability of NSW Labor in government.

A new report released on May 5 by Greenpeace, False Hope: why carbon capture and storage won’t save the climate, puts the case against governments’ obsession with a technology they calculate will breath life into the dirty fossil fuel industry.

“[On] the question of [civil unions] legislation … it’s always been our view, as the Labor Party, [that] that lies properly within the prerogative of the states, and that remains our position.” This was then opposition leader, now PM, Kevin Rudd’s view quoted by ABC News on December 7. It was a promise that, unlike the Howard Coalition government, federal Labor would not overturn civil unions legislation in the ACT.

Colonel Moe Davis, former chief prosecutor at the US prison Guantanamo Bay, has finally told the world that David Hicks was never a serious terror threat and that his pursuit was politically driven. Davis has also now said that evidence was obtained through prisoner abuse.

The plan for the privatisation of electricity in NSW is like the mythical creature the hydra, which had multiple heads. It had to be “killed” many times before it would actually die — and every time it was “killed” it could bite back apparently unharmed.

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh and state mines and energy minister Geoff Wilson were on hand in early May to celebrate Rio Tinto’s announcement that the company would double exports of coal from Queensland in the next seven years.

In presenting the state budget on May 6, Premier John Brumby announced that “doing business in Victoria will become even easier”. The ALP government’s pro-corporate measures will cut almost $1.5 billion from taxes and costs for the big end of town.

Nuclear analyst Mycle Schneider noted in “Climate Change and Nuclear Power”, published in April 2000 by the World Wide Fund for Nature, that countries and regions with a high reliance on nuclear power also tend to have high greenhouse gas emissions. Following is an extract from his findings.

On April 2, federal environment minister Peter Garrett gave the green light to Gunns to start bulk earthwork operations on the site of their proposed pulp mill in Tasmania’s Tamar Valley.

Nuclear power must be rejected as a climate change abatement strategy for three major reasons: a doubling of nuclear power would reduce global greenhouse emissions by no more than about 5%. A much larger expansion of nuclear power would deplete conventional uranium reserves in a few decades.

In an interview with Melbourne’s Joy FM on April 24 ACT chief minister Jon Stanhope announced he intended to pass the ACT Civil Partnerships Bill through the Legislative Assembly before the October 18 territory election.

On April 28, Labor PM Kevin Rudd’s government began to deport asylum seekers, beginning with a Chinese woman. The next day, two Indian men were placed in stage 1 of the Villawood immigration detention centre for preparation for deportation. One of the men has been held in detention for six years. He was also among the 61 long-term detainees whose cases Labor immigration minister Chris Evans had promised to review by the end of April.

The following statement was initiated by the participants in the Climate Change|Social Change conference, held in Sydney, Australia on April 11-13, 2008. Anyone who agrees with it is welcome to add their signature, and an updated list of signatories will be issued on a regular basis. The statement is being distributed to environmental, trade union, Indigenous, migrant, religious and community
organisations to help build the movement against global
warming

Links to all audio and video recordings from the conference can be found at href=\"http://socialisteducation.blogspot.com/2008/04/audio-and-video-guide-to-cliamte-change.html\">http://socialisteducation.blogspot.com/2008/04/audio-and-video-guide-to-cliamte-change.html

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