Comment and Analysis

The Australian Education Union has called for a $2.9 billion investment into public education in order to support literacy and numeracy strategies. The AEU has called on Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to make this the first step in his so called “Education Revolution”.

Although 80% of current revenue from BHP Billiton’s Olympic Dam mine in South Australia comes from minerals other than uranium, recent drilling has shown that the site is home to the largest ore body of uranium in the world.

The following statement was issued on January 25 by Brisbane Indigenous community leader and Socialist Alliance member Sam Watson for the January 26 Invasion Day commemorations.

On January 22, 1973, abortion was made legal in the US when the Supreme Court overturned a Texas interpretation of abortion law. The decision in the case known as Roe v Wade overrode state laws limiting women’s access to abortion during the first trimester — finding that they infringed upon women’s constitutional rights. While laws still remain on the books banning abortion in some US states, Roe v Wade prevents the enforcement of these laws.

On January 9, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission released its report into mainland immigration detention facilities, based on HREOC visits to detention centres in August and November. The report noted a number of improvements in the system of immigration detention. However, there was yet another death in detention just days after the report was released.

The unforgettable tabloid headline “Greenie granny goaled” accompanied a picture of a smiling, backpack-toting Betty Downie being led away by two policemen from the Franklin River blockade sums up the fighting spirit of this wonderful activist. Betty died, aged 95, in a retirement home in Launceston on December 5, 2007.

There are two starkly different election processes underway right now, but most readers will probably have only been reading about one of them: the US presidential elections, which Forbes magazine estimates will likely cost as much as US$3.3 billion all up! In Cuba, just 145 kilometres from the coast of Florida, a very different election process is taking place.

The world is teetering on the brink of unstoppable climate change. Many now recognise the need for serious change in the way we produce and use energy, our transport systems, food production, urban design and forestry practices. Yet politicians are still mouthing platitudes while allowing corporations to continue to profit from polluting our atmosphere and destroying our ecosystem.

In 1997 at Kyoto, Al Gore bamboozled negotiators into adopting carbon trading as a central climate strategy in exchange for Washington’s support — which never materialised.

During a December 21 visit to Iraq, newly elected Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced that Australia’s “battle group” of 515 combat troops would be withdrawn from the country by June 2007.

A long standing activist of anarchist persuasion, Peter had been a lecturer in media studies at the University of Western Sydney (UWS) until his retirement in 2005.

The 23rd Congress of the Democratic Socialist Perspective (DSP), a Marxist tendency in the Socialist Alliance in Australia, reaffirmed its commitment to broader left regroupment.

On January 7, Indigenous activist Christine King made a statement to ABC Radio on behalf of the Stolen Generations Alliance. She called on the Rudd government to put its money where its mouth is and provide a national fund of $1 billion to compensate the stolen generations.

In the last instalment of a recent exchange that was sparked by Green Left Weekly’s interview with Eva Golinger (GLW #716, June 28, 2007), Professor Steven Zunes accused me of having made a “series of false accusations and major leaps of logic” in my critical assessment of the links that the non-profit International Centre on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC) maintains with the United States’ leading democracy manipulators. (Online edition only: http://www.greenleft.org.au/2007/727/37727). Taking into account that Zunes currently chairs the ICNC’s board of academic advisors, his distress over the facts I have revealed is understandable. Thus, in an effort to address all of Zunes’ unfounded concerns with my last article, I will work through each of the points he has raised concerning my critique of the ICNC.

As an orgy of consumerism descends upon the Western world to commemorate the birth of Christ, it is poignant to consider the relationship between Christianity and the left. It is a common misconception that socialists are atheists and are opposed to all forms of religion. Indeed, many socialists are atheists, and the abhorrence of organised religion by some can be traced back to the role of the church in siding with regressive conservative forces at various stages throughout history (and indeed itself being at times a highly repressive institution). However, socialism is opposed to all forms of discrimination — be it based upon gender, ethnicity, sexual preference, or indeed religious belief.

Delegates from more than 180 countries began meeting on the Indonesian island of Bali on December 3 at the United Nations Climate Change Conference. The gathering is meant to begin the process of negotiating an agreement on climate change for the period after 2012, when the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol expires.

Kevin Smith, a researcher for Carbon Trade Watch, participated in the December 3-14 United Nations Climate Change Conference held in Bali, Indonesia. Smith spoke to Green Left Weekly’s Zoe Kenny about the campaign against carbon trading.

The first days of the December 3-14 Bali meeting on a post-Kyoto framework for tackling climate change showed that the US-led call for a “comprehensive new agreement” that would require Third World countries that are big greenhouse-gas emitters to commit to emission reductions had the support of most First World government delegations. This push would reverse one of the most valuable aspects of the Kyoto Protocol, which is due to expire in 2012.

Greens leader Senator Bob Brown has called on the new Rudd Labor government to scrap the pulp mill that has been approved to be built in northern Tasmania. Brown has pointed to the strong Greens vote that helped the ALP regain all lower house seats in Tasmania as a mandate to stop the mill.

In his election night acceptance speech, PM Kevin Rudd said that all of Labor’s policy now becomes a “plan of action” for the incoming Labor government. As to Labor’s oft repeated promise to “tear up Work Choices”, their plans — as far as they actually go — are detailed in the Forward with Fairness: Policy Implementation Plan, released by the then Labor opposition in August.

Lex Wotton has been portrayed by the Queensland police, government and mainstream media as the ringleader of the so-called “riot” that occurred on Palm Island on November 26, 2004. A police station and residence were destroyed after a police report on the death of community member Mulrunji Doomadgee that concluded that his death was an accident was read at a public meeting. Wotton will face court in April 2008. He continues to be vilified in the media. He spoke to Green Left Weekly’s Hamish Chitts.

Kevin Rudd is a prime minister in a big hurry. Only a fortnight has passed since the Howard government was thrown into the dustbin, and the new Labor cabinet is already scurrying about its work.

Following the election of the new federal Labor government, ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope announced that a third attempt would be made to introduce same-sex civil unions in the ACT. Legislation currently before the ACT Legislative Assembly will be voted on early next year.

In September 2006, Roger Harris, a teacher at Chisholm Institute of Technology (Victoria) and an Australian Education Union member for 23 years, was stood down by the Chisholm management. Harris had been an active union member, playing a central role on the sub-branch executive for 16 years and has served on the AEU’s TAFE sector council for 10 years.

Worldwide, building construction and use accounts for around 40% of greenhouse gas emissions (materials, actual construction, heating, cooling, lighting etc.). The use of green building materials and construction techniques must be a key element in the drive to curb global warming.

The defeat of the Howard government in the November 24 federal election was “a great victory for the Australian working class”, Sam Watson, leading Aboriginal activist and Queensland Senate candidate for the Socialist Alliance, told Green Left Weekly. “John Howard has been cast out, senior ministers defeated, and many Coalition seats now made marginal. This represents a realignment of working-class forces in the country”, Watson added.

Ecology is often seen as a recent invention. But the idea that capitalism degrades the environment in a way that disproportionately affects the poor and the colonised was already expressed in the 19th century in the work of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels.

On November 16, NSW deputy coroner Dorelle Pinch ruled that five journalists from Australia’s Seven and Ten commercial TV networks who died in the East Timorese town of Balibo on October 16, 1975, were not killed by crossfire (which is what Australian authorities have previously maintained) but were deliberately murdered by invading Indonesian forces, on orders from above in what Pinch ruled to be a “war crime”.

“Now that Labor has decisively won the federal election, it is urgent that Australian troops be withdrawn from Iraq as soon as possible”, Jim McIlroy, the Socialist Alliance candidate for Kevin Rudd’s seat of Griffith, said after the announcement that Labor had defeated the Howard government. McIlroy also called for an end to Australian support for the war in Afghanistan. “All Australian forces should be brought home by Christmas.

Kevin Rudd’s election provides an opportunity for Australia and Aboriginal people to repair the damage caused by the Howard years. Rudd’s intention to apologise to the Stolen Generations already indicates a positive change of national policy towards Aboriginal people and should he remove the NT emergency laws, Aboriginal reconciliation will be further enhanced.

Despite opposition from farmers and consumers, big-business biotech companies scored a major victory on November 27 when both the New South Wales and Victorian governments gave the green light to the commercial cultivation of genetically modified food crops. This opens the gate for pro-GM groups to lobby other states which have not yet agreed to commercial production of GM crops.

The first round of official talks to negotiate a global climate change agreement to follow on from the Kyoto Protocol in 2012 will be held in Bali, Indonesia, on December 3-14. Representatives of 130 countries will attend, ostensibly to begin a two-year negotiating process.

Bernie Banton, the widely-recognised face of the legal and political campaign to achieve compensation for the many sufferers of asbestos-related conditions, which they contracted after working for the James Hardie company, died on November 27, at the age of 61.

The November 24 electoral victory of the ALP was based largely upon public opposition to the Howard Coalition government’s Work Choices laws. But in the Northern Territory, opposition among Aborigines to PM John Howard’s “emergency intervention” into their communities was a major factor in boosting support for Labor.

Prime Minister-elect Kevin Rudd’s phone call with US President George Bush on November 25, the day after the election, was a reminder about the incoming Labor government’s commitment to the Australia-US military alliance. The government may have changed, but Canberra’s commitment to Australia’s participation in foreign wars and occupations hasn’t.

The November 24 rout of the Howard government owed much to the work of the organised labour movement. Of the marginal Coalition seats targeted by the Your Rights at Work (YRAW) campaign, 20 of 24 have fallen to Labor (including John Howard’s own seat of Bennelong); the other four remain in doubt. Most of those who voted for Labor did so believing that Labor would abolish Work Choices, as promised by Kevin Rudd on October 14, the official start to the election campaign. Yet Labor’s industrial relations policy — Forward with Fairness — promises only minimal changes, replacing the Coalition’s legislation with “Work Choices Lite”.

The first negotiations between the state government and Victorian teachers following a 10,000 strong November 21 stop-work meeting bore no fruit according to a November 30 press release by the Australian Education Union’s (AEU) Victorian branch.

“It’s time for a new page to be written in our nation’s history” — Prime Minister-elect Kevin Rudd, November 24.

The Socialist Alliance "Howard Overboard" election night party in Green Left Weekly's offices in Sydney spontaneously spilled into the streets when John Howard conceded defeat. Jubilant activists celebrated with chants, whistles and pots and pans in a lap around the block which drew out people from their homes. A right-wing government that has plagued Australia since 1996 has been defeated and we have much to celebrate.

The following article was written by Migrante Australia, an organisation dedicated to organising and mobilising Filipino migrants and protecting their rights and welfare.

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