Comment and Analysis

When the NSW police minister condemned magistrate Pat O’Shane two weeks ago for throwing out a case involving spitting at traffic cops, her response was: “There is an election coming up”. The same answer could well be given for the bipartisan barrage of Muslim-bashing from senior NSW politicians in the countdown to the March state election.

Whether you admire him or hate him, Venezuela’s recently re-elected president, Hugo Chavez, is starting to attract a lot of attention in Australia, and around the world. The man who calls US President George Bush “the devil”, and the “new socialism for the 21st century” that he and his government are creating in Venezuela, are stirring hope in the hearts of many people — and fear in a few.

Al Gore’s film An Inconvenient Truth has helped dramatise the enormity of the global environmental crisis. The scale of the threat posed by industrially induced global warming, and the short time in which to take meaningful action to prevent catastrophic consequences, makes the question of how to combat global warming arguably the most urgent one facing humanity.

Annette Peardon was nine years old when she and her brother were forcibly removed from their family on Cape Barren Island. They spent their youth in a series of foster homes and institutions around Tasmania. Last November, Tasmania’s parliament passed the Stolen Generations of Aboriginal Children Bill 2006, the country’s first compensation law. Green Left Weekly’s Susan Austin spoke with Peardon about the significance of this law, and her struggle for justice.

At a meeting in Brazil on April 26, 2006, plans moved ahead between Venezuela, Bolivia, Argentina and Brazil for a major transcontinental oil pipeline. The pipeline would be 10,000 kilometres long and would link the four countries plus Paraguay and Uruguay.

George Paris, convener of Save Our Rail (SOR), has congratulated Susan Price, a Socialist Alliance candidate for the NSW Legislative Council in the March 24 election, for a “worthwhile policy” on rail and public transport. SOR has been campaigning for the retention of electric rail services to Newcastle against repeated attempts by the Labor government to close the line.

George Paris, convener of Save Our Rail (SOR), has congratulated Susan Price, a Socialist Alliance candidate for the NSW Legislative Council in the March 24 election, for a “worthwhile policy” on rail and public transport. SOR has been campaigning for the retention of electric rail services to Newcastle against repeated attempts by the Labor government to close the line.

Sheikh Isse Musse, Imam of the Virgin Mary Mosque and spiritual leader of Melbourne’s Horn of Africa Muslim community, condemned the US bombing of his native Somalia and its instigation of the invasion by Ethiopian troops inlate December. He also expressed hope that out of the current conflict Somalia might regain its sovereignty and national unity after years of anarchy and violence.

The Australian writer Donald Horne meant the title of his celebrated book, The Lucky Country, as irony. “Australia is a lucky country run by second-rate people who share its luck”, he lamented in 1964, describing much of the Australian elite as unfailingly unoriginal, race-obsessed and in thrall to imperial power and its wars.

The case of Melbourne man Jack Thomas should be ringing alarm bells over the use of the so-called anti-terror laws in Australia. Thomas’ case demonstrates that these laws can be, and are being, misused for political purposes against someone who is not a terrorist.

Tamworth, 595 kilometres north of Sydney, each year welcomes more than 50,000 people to its music festival. The town boasts it is the Australian equivalent of “Nashville”, albeit on a small scale.

The decision by a full bench of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) on appeal to deny a Victorian cinema manager access to unfair dismissal laws because he was sacked for “genuine operational reasons” is another blow to attempts to hold unfair employers to account.

On January 18, the Australian ran a story on a leaked report commissioned by the Peter Beattie Labor state government on the shocking living conditions for Aborigines in Queensland (see accompanying article). Green Left Weekly asked Sam Watson, Murri leader and member of the Socialist Alliance, about this and the ongoing struggle for justice for Indigenous people in Australia.

Three more people, including a teenager, have been charged following the November 19 protests against the G20 financial ministers’ summit in Melbourne, bringing the total number of participants charged to 11. The following is an abridged version of a statement Resistance issued in response to the arrests.

For the first time since the foundation of the National Union of Students (NUS) 15 years ago, Labor’s right-wing student faction, Unity, was ousted from the office of general secretary at the NUS annual conference, held in Ballarat on December 4-7.

Woodchipping giant Gunns Ltd’s proposed $1.4 billion pulp mill in northern Tasmania continues to be the subject of controversy. Gunns has expressed impatience over the delays in the assessment process and threatened to axe the project if government approval is not given within six months.

Pro-choice activists are angry that the federal government has subcontracted parts of its $51 million National Pregnancy Telephone Hotline contract to anti-abortion groups.

While starving Australia’s public education and health services of funding, the Coalition government is planning to spend well over $200 million on the annual talk shop dressed up as a “leaders’ summit” of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) scheduled for Sydney this September.

The carbon offset industry was all about growth in 2006. The high-profile, Britain-based CarbonNeutral Company reported an annual turnover of £2.7 million, while the global market sold an estimated £60 million, and this figure was estimated to increase five times over in three years.

With climate change posing as one of the gravest threats to capital accumulation - not to mention humankind and our environment - in coming decades, it is little wonder that economists such as Sir Nick Stern, establishment politicians like Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown and US Democrat Al Gore, and financiers at the World Bank and in the City of London have begun warning the public and, in the process, birthing a market for carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

With the advent of the industrial revolution society underwent significant changes. The age of steam had arrived and a huge new source of energy was unleashed upon society. The immediate effect of this new source of energy was to bring about a qualitative change in the productive forces. The method of production became social in character.

Activists from Sydney-based Community Action Against Homophobia (CAAH) went to Melbourne to form a queer bloc for the November 18-19 G20 protests. The bloc called for money for AIDS care not war.

Commissioned by the British government, the October 2006 Stern report on global warming was greeted sceptically by PM John Howard, and lauded by the ALP and green organisations. But does the Stern report go far enough, or is it an unholy compromise between the science of climate change and the economics of responding to global warming while trying not to rock the foundations of capital’s global order?

“Reproductive rights embrace certain human rights that are already recognised in national laws, international human rights documents and other consensus documents. These rights rest on the recognition of the basic right of all couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing and timing of their children and to have the information and means to do so, and the right to attain the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health.

UNSW redundancies I

Your article "Student organisation imposes AWAs" (GLW #691) contained a glaring inaccuracy. The UNSW Student Guild did not give staff 24 hours notice of their redundancies as reported. If you had checked the enterprise

Jim Casey was elected senior vice president of the NSW Fire Brigade Employees Union (FBEU) in its May elections. Casey, a socialist, was part of a left ticket of four, running with an ALP member, a syndicalist and a rank-and-file unionist with a history in of activism in the Maritime Union of Australia. The team decided to run an executive ticket of four people, with recommendations for the other nine positions on the committee of management.

Despite increasing recognition about the problem of violence against women, most refuges, community and non-government organisations devoted to helping women and children in crisis, allocate a good deal of their stretched resources to writing submissions for limited funding. This is because both the state and federal governments have a piecemeal, short-term approach to the problem.

Across Australia on November 30, hundreds of thousands of workers answered the Australian Council of Trade Unions’ call to protest against Work Choices. The ACTU estimated that around 270,000 people took part, the majority hooked up to the Sky Channel broadcasts from the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).

On November 20, a meeting initiated by the NSW Greens marked Transgender Remembrance Day. Below is an abridged presentation by Rachel Evans, co-convener of Community Action Against Homophobia, National Union of Students female queer officer and NSW Socialist Alliance upper-house candidate.

As annual negotiations on the Kyoto Protocol were about to begin on November 7 in Nairobi, Kenya, Senator Ian Campbell, federal environment minister, claimed that the Kyoto signatories had agreed that a new agreement was necessary as the old agreement was not working. Campbell asserted that Australia would be going to Nairobi to begin negotiations on a “New Kyoto”.

December 9, the fifth anniversary of David Hicks’ capture by the US, will be marked by national protests calling for his immediate return.

The old adage “one step forward, two steps back” encapsulates the experience of the refugee movement in 2006. Despite some positive changes to refugee policy, the result of consistent campaigning by refugee rights activists and organisations over a number of years, the Howard government has pushed on with its regressive immigration agenda, especially the treatment of refugees.

Last Friday, as I sat down to write this, a progress report on the Green Left Weekly fighting fund was emailed in from Will who heads our small but serious finance team. More than $16,000 came in from our supporters the previous week (donations and fund raising events), taking the total raised this year to $203,815.

The federal government’s Uranium Mining, Processing and Nuclear Energy Review, released on November 21, had only one real purpose — to provide John Howard with “evidence” for championing the nuclear power cycle.
What other conclusion can we come to, when the review made its assessments while ignoring Australia’s most spectacular renewable energy resource — the “hot dry rock” geothermal energy of the Cooper Basin and other regions.

A year after the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, which involves 166 countries and commits 36 industrialised nations to binding CO2 emission cuts of 5.2% by 2012, global emissions are rising faster than ever. This is because Kyoto promotes carbon trading as the key mechanism to reduce CO2 emissions. Today the global carbon market worth US$22 billion is being called a “green goldrush”.

Mick “Hoppy” Rangiari, one of the last surviving members of the historic 1966 strike by Aboriginal pastoral workers at Wave Hill Station in the Northern Territory, died on November 12.

Dick Nichols was elected national coordinator of the Socialist Alliance (SA) at its 5th national conference held in Geelong at the end of October. Green Left Weekly interviewed him about the challenges and opportunities for the SA in the year ahead.

In their article “No to carbon trading: make the polluters pay” (GLW #691), Tim Stewart and Pip Hinman argue against the use of carbon pricing in general, and emissions trading in particular, as an important tool for reducing Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The Stern report makes recommendations that will allow for a temperature rise of around 3°C, but this is likely to be devastating for the planet. George Monbiot says that, “Two degrees is the point at which some of the most dangerous processes catalysed by climate change could become irreversible”.

Question: How do we bring our troops home? Answer: In the same planes and ships we took them in!

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