Comment and Analysis

GLW Issue 949

Hundreds of Aboriginal West Australians who had their wages withheld from successive state governments could miss out on a reparations payment, after the Barnett Liberal government refused to extend the deadline.

The Stolen Wages Reparations Scheme was announced earlier this year, offering a $2000 ex-gratia payment in exchange for the millions of dollars in Aboriginal wages and entitlements withheld within a system of trust accounts from 1905 to 1972.

The withholding of wages and pensions compounded the disadvantage and poverty of Aboriginal people throughout Western Australia.

Trevor Grant, former cricket writer for The Age, makes the case for boycotting Sri Lankan cricket. Grant maintains the website What's the Score, Sport?.

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For all its international posturing about human rights these days, Australia has a sordid history of being a denier, or passive follower, rather than a leader in protecting the most vulnerable people in our world.

There is one exception, which makes this attitude all the more damning.

Sam Wainwright is a Socialist Alliance councillor in Fremantle. Below is a talk he gave on the topic of how to achieve social change in Australia.

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It's pretty obvious for anyone that cares to look that capitalism is a socially destructive and ecologically unsustainable system.

Based on the unequal distribution of wealth, it condemns billions to living in poverty worldwide.

This is the last issue of Green Left Weekly for this year. Our small staff which works very hard, week after week, to get out this publication will take a much-needed break after a hectic political year, and get ready to relaunch in mid-January.

The 2012 Green Left Fighting Fund has now raised about $193,000 so we have to try to raise a further $57,000 by the end of the year to get to our $250,000 target — or as close as we can get.

Several recent scientific reports on climate change have warned we are headed for disaster, giving frightening evidence of just how bad things could get. It’s just as frightening how little world governments intend to do about it.

But it’s maddening to think how easy it would be to take serious action on climate, and staggering to add up the benefits of doing so.

Resistance is an activist youth organisation that is involved in campaigns for the environment, for queer rights, feminism and anti-racist issues.

Sometimes it can be useful for even the most experienced activists to renew our skills and examine what, how and why we do things. To do this, Resistance is holding an activist skills camp in Melbourne from January 21 to 23. Workshops covering practical activist skills and socialist theory will be held over three days.

For a brief moment last month, as the bombs fell and destruction spread, Gaza was a lead story for the world's media. But now the plight of 1.5 million people living in an over crowded open-air prison, routinely attacked and denied essential medicines, has made way for a far more important story: an English aristocrat is knocked up.

Where to start with an analysis of the mining boom in Australia?

Perhaps ironically, with the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC). It is now holding an inquiry into the dealings of former NSW resource minister Ian Macdonald, his mate and Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid, and another mate, John Maitland, former president of the Construction, Mining, Forestry and Energy Union (CFMEU), and part owner of the new coalmine in Doyle's Creek, to the tune of $9.8 million.

Once again the question of left unity is on the agenda in Australia. There have been exploratory talks between the Socialist Alliance and Socialist Alternative and also between the Socialist Alliance and the Communist Party of Australia (CPA).

The Socialist Alliance and the CPA worked together in a Housing Action election ticket in the Sydney City Council elections this year.

GLW Issue 948

The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) released this statement on November 27.

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"The WA branch of the Maritime Union of Australia is proud to declare its support for the proposed Fremantle Community Wind Farm," said MUA Assistant Branch Secretary Will Tracey. He said the union and its members had given the matter careful consideration.

"The proposal was discussed by the executive and then presented to port workers themselves to consider. Motions of support for the proposal were unanimously endorsed at all meetings of workers from QUBE, Patricks, Ativo and Fremantle Ports."

The Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney released this statement on November 26.

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The Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney (STICS) will hold a major forum on the NT intervention to mark Human Rights Day on December 6.

The meeting will also mark 20 years since Paul Keating gave his famous "Redfern Speech" which recognised the destructive impact of colonisation on Aboriginal people.

Australia’s decision on November 29 to break its support for US and Israel and abstain on the vote to allow Palestine observer status at the United Nations represents a win for pro-Palestine forces.

Of the 193 nations in the UN General Assembly, 138 voted in favour, nine against and 41 abstentions for the resolution to change Palestine from an observer “entity” to observer “state”.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) — led by Mahmoud Abbas — submitted a proposal for UN observer status last year, after it appeared the Security Council would veto a bid to become a full member state.

An article published by Socialist Alternative titled “Jill Meagher, Reclaim the Night and the political right” on November 22 said: “The horrible rape and murder of Brunswick woman Jill Meagher has been successfully used by the media and authorities to promote a right wing political agenda.

Federal independent MPs, Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott, have put pressure on the Julia Gillard's government to raise the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and to slash so called “middle class welfare” entitlements.

It is a common refrain, repeated in Facebook memes and exploited in any number of corporate ads: “Be yourself! Celebrate who you are!” Which is all well and good, but what if you are a bastard?

For instance, I don't actually think Alan Joyce should keep on “being himself”. The union-bashing Qantas CEO, who last year locked out his entire workforce, just can't seem to control his anti-worker impulses — announcing in recent weeks that 400 more engineering jobs would be slashed.

A recent speech by a leading member of the US International Socialist Organisation, Sharon Smith, represents an important contribution the discussions of socialists and activists on women’s liberation.

The struggle for socialism is a unifying struggle that encompasses many other movements to end all forms of oppression and exploitation. All progressive struggles are the business of socialists and socialist parties. At the same time, all struggles are strengthened by Marxist-educated, highly conscious activists.

It's just about impossible to watch a commercial TV channel anywhere in Australia without being assaulted by slick mining company ads telling us how good they supposedly are for the community. Incredible amounts of money are being spent on these brainwashing campaigns.

One set of these advertisements more specifically targets communities that are resisting the onslaught of the coal seam gas (CSG) miners, particularly in precious water catchment areas and prime food producing regions. These ads are often more targeted in their messaging, but they have been caught out lying.

The mining industry in Australia has boomed from about 4% of GDP in 2004 to about 9% today. Mining exports in the year to March last year were worth $155 billion, or 53% of Australia's total exports. Mining profits in 2009-10 amounted to $51 billion, and the estimated pre-tax profits over the next 10 years will be about $600 billion. 

But who is the wealth benefiting and what are the costs of mining? And who makes the decisions about if, where and under what conditions mining takes place, and how the wealth is distributed?

Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon spoke in parliament on November 27 to mark the the Tamil day, “Maaveerar Naal”, and detail the ongoing struggles of Tamil people to achieve justice and equality.

Her full speech is published.

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November 27 marks a very important and hauntingly sad day for Tamils all around the world including in Sri Lanka.
 
In Tamil the day is known as “Maaveerar Naal”.  Veerar means "warrior" or "hero". Maa means "great". Naal means "day".
 

Green Left Weekly has been flooded with pleas for help and support from several men on hunger strike in the Nauru detention camp. The two letters below are from 35-year-old Iranian Omid Sorousheh, who has been refusing food the longest, and Amin, who was on his fifth day of hunger strike on November 26.
 
Both men say they will refuse medical treatment until Australia accepts they have a right to asylum.
 
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Dying asylum seeker sends plea to world
 

Hunger-striking refugee 35-year-old Omid Sorousheh's desperate plea to be recognised as a refugee in Australia has been treated with contempt by immigration minister Chris Bowen, despite clear indications that he was close to death.

Omid has been on a hunger strike for 50 days on November 30. That day it was reported he had been finally airlifted from Nauru and returned to Australia.

Green Left Weekly spoke to Evan McHugh, the co-organiser of the first Equal Love rally in the Albury-Wodonga area that took place on November 17.

Why did you organise this protest?

GLW Issue 947

Shawan Jabarin is the director general of Al Haq, the first human rights organisation in Palestine, formed in 1979. Jabarin has won many human rights awards, was Amnesty's first Palestinian prisoner of conscience, and has been denied travel outside the West Bank for many years.

Groups campaigning to stop the roll out of coal seam gas (CSG) mining have slammed federal resources minister Martin Ferguson for his attack on two Southern Cross University scientists who released results of their research into the CSG industry’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Britain is a signatory to the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. But despite its international legal obligations as signatory to this and other human rights conventions, the reception granted to those knocking on Britain’s door in hope of protection is far from welcoming or humane.

In fact, Britain appears to be doing everything in its power to keep its doors tightly closed to those often referred to as “scroungers,” “terrorists,” “economic migrants,” or other “bogus” refugees hiding behind a smokescreen of asylum ― adding deadbolts by the day.

In the dead of night on November 22, 100 containers of concentrated rare earth ore mined in Western Australia began to be transported, under heavy police escort, through the port of Kuantan to a new refinery built by Australian company Lynas.

This took place just two days after 19 local residents travelled to Sydney to protest at the company's annual general meeting and while another group of protesters were on a 300 kilometre protest march to Malaysia's capital Kuala Lumpur over the issue.

Calls for greater transparency for the Victorian legal system have been issued after it was revealed a 16-year-old Aboriginal boy was locked in solitary confinement for almost four months in an adult prison.

Following an escape attempt from Parkville Youth Justice Precinct in July, the boy was transferred to Port Phillip Prison. He was held in a cell for 22 hours a day, and allowed only two hours in the exercise yard while handcuffed.

The treatment is in breach of the Victorian Human Rights Charter.

Socialist Alternative has sparked a debate about whether socialists should be involved in feminist campaigns in an article published on its website on November 22 "Jill Meagher, Reclaim the Night and the political right"

Labor is making a full-scale assault on the right of refugees to seek protection, as it continues to fill the Nauru detention camp, forcibly deport hundreds back to Sri Lanka before hearing their claims for asylum and keep thousands in perpetual limbo in the name of “deterrence”.

Now, the federal government has revealed its plans for the almost 8000 people that have arrived seeking asylum by boat in recent months. The plan is worse than the extreme temporary protection visas introduced by the former John Howard Government.

Jews Against the Occupation (JAO) respond to their critics on everything from claims that 'Israel is a democracy' to 'you are not real Jews', from why they support BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) to why they see Israel as an 'apartheid state'.

They also explain where their anti-occupation stance came from and why they started to question Zionism (support for an exclusively Jewish state).

Contact Jews Against the Occupation at jao.org.au