Comment and Analysis

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

The 2020 summit was two days of political theatre for the new Rudd government. For 48 hours over April 19-20, film stars brushed white-board markers with Australia’s richest, and politicians mixed with Indigenous people, unionists and youth delegates.

The following is an abridged version of a talk given by Terry Townsend at the recent Climate Change — Social Change Conference in Sydney. Townsend is a long-term member of the Democratic Socialist Perspective and the managing editor of Links online journal (<http://links.org.au>).

The recent decision by World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the Climate Institute to support carbon sequestration and storage (CCS) will set back Australia’s efforts to confront climate change, as well as increasing the costs of doing so.

The protests and arrests in Lhasa and the demonstrations and counter-demonstrations around the Olympic torch relay has re-focused the world on the plight of Tibetans. This has, in turn, sparked a debate on the left about whether the Tibetan struggle is a just one, or not what it seems.

An advertisement published in the Australian on March 12 rightly condemned an Australian parliamentary motion that celebrated the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel.

Aboriginal delegates to the 2020 summit, chaired by PM Kevin Rudd, expressed anger that it failed to agree on a treaty between Black and white Australia. They are also dismayed that there was no clear recommendation to form a new Indigenous representative body to oversee government policy.

I’m not going to yet another ritualised May Day march this year. But neither is anyone else in Sydney!

The April 11-13 Climate Change-Social Change conference ended with the production of a statement that tries to specify the elements of a strategy against global warming that would actually have a chance of success.

The detail of the federal Labor government’s plan for its new industrial relations system, to come into force in January 2010, is beginning to come to light. On April 9, the Australian Financial Review reported that it had obtained a copy of a letter sent by workplace relations minister Julia Gillard to a range of unions and businesses. It canvassed their opinion on issues including the scope of allowable content in workplace agreements, the scope of individual “flexibility” clauses to be mandatory in all awards and enterprise agreements and regulation of industrial action during a bargaining period for a new enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA).

John Bellamy Foster, author of Marx’s Ecology: Materialism and Nature and an editor of the prestigious US-based socialist journal Monthly Review (), was a featured speaker at Green Left Weekly’s April 11-13 Climate Change — Social Change conference in Sydney. He spoke to GLW’s Renfrey Clarke.

Green Left Weekly caught up with some of the Climate Change — Social Change conference participants. Here’s what they had to say.

This April is the 10th anniversary of the mass sacking of hundreds of waterside workers around Australia by the giant Patrick Stevedores. The drama surrounding this event stirred fierce passions, generated mass protests and polarised society on a scale seldom witnessed.

In an obvious attempt to silence political dissent, on April 14, 10 G20 protesters who had pleaded guilty to charges of common law riot, criminal damage and recklessly causing injury received severe sentences in Melbourne’s Magistrates court.

Ruth Coleman, veteran ALP senator and feisty leftist died peacefully of cancer in her home in Bassendean, Perth, on March 27. She was the last of a generation of left-wing ALP members whose example shames the current neoliberal crop of Laborites.

Glenn Stevens, the governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, has argued that working people should be forced to absorb the cost of higher power bills when a carbon emissions trading scheme is introduced in 2010. Speaking to the April 5 Sydney Morning Herald, Stevens argued that “the policy would need to be well explained to consumers to head off calls for higher wages”.

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a technique to remove carbon dioxide from industrial pollution — and especially from power stations — and compress, transport and store it perpetually in secure underground structures such as expired gas and oil fields and other geological formations.

“The union movement can fight back and grow overall in the next period”, Tim Gooden, secretary of the Geelong Trades Hall Council, told Green Left Weekly on April 18. He was responding to reports in the mainstream press highlighting figures indicating a further fall in national union membership last year.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Palestinian al Nakba (the Catastrophe) — the razing of up to 418 Palestinian villages and the driving of 700,000 Palestinians from their homes by Zionist forces to create the State of Israel.

At 11pm on April 7, 1998, Patrick Stevedores locked 2000 waterside workers out of their jobs. Following months of speculation, the “leasing” of Webb dock in Melbourne to the National Farmers Federation in late January and the abortive “Dubai affair” — where former soldiers were trained in secret in Dubai as strike-breaking scabs — Patrick opted for a frontal assault on the workers and their union.

Overwhelmed by the greenhouse debate? Bamboozled by all the competing claims that renewable energy sources cannot supply 24-hours-a-day power (“base load”)? Depressed by the unending vastness of “the literature” on global warming and renewables?

In 2007, the 90th anniversary of the New South Wales general strike was ignored by mainstream politicians and media sources — a silence that contrasted markedly with the extensive coverage allotted to the 90th anniversary of the Gallipoli landing in 2005.

Where in the world could a jury find in favour of someone, only to have a judge deliver a decision opposite to the jury’s finding? Well, this has happened in NSW and the victim is Mamdouh Habib, best known for being imprisoned by the US military without charges at its Guantanamo Bay naval base, before being released and flown home to Australia in January 2005.

After decades of “greenies versus jobs” propaganda, it is high time unionists and environmentalists started working together on the looming threat of catastrophic climate change. Sadly, the Australian Council of Trade Unions’ (ACTU) policy on global warming released in March barely strays from what is acceptable to the government and big business.

Dave Holmes is a veteran leader of the Democratic Socialist Perspective, a Marxist tendency in the Socialist Alliance. He co-wrote the pamphlet Change the System Not the Climate (Resistance Books, 2007) and will be participating in the upcoming Climate Change — Social Change Conference. Green Left Weekly’s Peter Boyle spoke to him about the key issues the conference needs to address.

The World Bank’s long-running identity crisis is proving hard to shake. When efforts to rebrand itself as a “knowledge bank” didn’t work, it devised a new identity as a “green bank”. Yes, it’s true.

Chinese authorities had detained more than 1000 Tibetans by April 3 in the wake of protests and riots calling for self-determination that started on March 10, the BBC reported on April 4.

Global warming, General Motors’ vice-chairperson of global product development Robert A. Lutz told reporters in a closed-door meeting in January, is “a total crock of shit”. Within hours the remark was reported on the internet, and spread, as Lutz subsequently lamented, “like ragweed”.

As part of the former Howard government’s Northern Territory “intervention”, the Community Development Employment Program (CDEP) was abolished. The Howard government had planned to abolish it across other states on July 1 this year.

On March 20, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that federal immigration minister Chris Evans had agreed to “speed-up” the processing of 457 visas, which allow bosses to hire skilled workers from overseas to fill alleged skill shortages.

When the outside world thinks about Australia, it generally turns to venerable cliches of innocence — cricket, leaping marsupials, endless sunshine, no worries. Australian governments actively encourage this. Witness the recent “G’day USA” campaign, in which Kylie Minogue and Nicole Kidman sought to persuade people in the US that, unlike the empire’s problematic outposts, a gormless greeting awaited them Down Under. After all, George Bush had ordained the previous Australian prime minister, John Howard, “sheriff of Asia”.

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