Comment and Analysis

GLW Issue 947

NSW Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian announced on November 16 plans to sack albout 700 railway workers and split up RailCorp.

Green Left Weekly’s Fred Fuentes asked Socialist Alliance member and railway union activist, John Coleman about the motives behind these plans and what they will mean for Sydney’s public transport system.

The NSW government has said that the job cuts are mainly focused on cutting waste among middle-level management. Can you tell us what the cuts are really about?

Hundreds of childcare workers rallied on the steps of the Victorian state parliament on November 17. The rally was organised by United Voice as part of its Big Steps campaign, a national push to improve wages and conditions in the childcare industry.

After speeches from union delegates and the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the crowd marched to the Victorian Treasury gardens.

Adding to the list of punitive “law and order” measures that has been implemented in Victoria over the past few years is the latest installment of this agenda: the proposed “anti-bikie” laws, which are inspired in part by the federal “anti-terrorism” laws.

While popularly justified on the basis of combating “bikie gangs”, the Criminal Organisations Control Bill 2012 is better understood as a bill that can limit the ability of citizens to engage in democracy, civil society, and of citizens to associate with one another.

Simon Butler, coauthor with Ian Angus of Too Many People? Population, Immigration and the Environmental Crisis, gave the speech below to a November 17 seminar in Sydney, “Sustainable population: towards a meaningful dialogue,” organised by the Nature Conservation Society of NSW.

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Staff and students from across all six University of Western Sydney (UWS) campuses protested on November 21, in opposition to university management plans to axe several courses.

Among the courses to go are Arabic, Spanish, Italian, the Bachelor of Communication sub-majors in writing, performance and animation, and the entire Economics degree. Along with these, the jobs of 29 academics in the School of Business and a further 25 in the School of Humanities and Communication Arts will be cut.

The violence Israel has unleashed on the Gaza Strip is not a war.

On one side there is a highly militarised state, with one of the best equipped armed forces in the world, generously subsidised by billions of dollars in Western military and non-military aid. On the other side there are 1.5 million people, subjects of this state, which has herded them into a walled ghetto on which it imposes a starvation siege.

GLW Issue 946

Christine Assange discusses WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, her time in Ecuador, the nature of the United States, the Australian government's lack of support for the rights of her son, the mainstream media, the need for alternatives and more.

Christine Assange was in discussion with Green Left Weekly's Simon Butler, in front of 300 people at the November 10 solidarity dinner for GLW.

Film by Green Left TV - watch it, share it, film it, support it.

In last month’s Victorian local council elections, the Socialist Alliance’s Sue Bolton was elected to Moreland City Council in Melbourne’s north. Green Left Weekly’sSusan Price asked Bolton about her immediate plans for the council and what sets her apart from other councillors.

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We are going to organise a meeting in Moreland of members of Socialist Alliance, plus other people who supported the campaign or support the victory that we’ve had, to work out a plan of action.

The Julia Gillard government has committed Australia to closer war ties with the US, more US bases and billions for US defence contracts at the annual AUSMIN talks in Perth on November 16.

The Gillard government is well aware of the huge public opposition to the US-led wars in Iraq and now Afghanistan. It knows that a majority is critical of Canberra’s unquestioning policy of “all-the-way-with-Obama’s next wars”.

This statement was released by Socialist Alliance on November 16. Click here for details of protest rallies against Israel's war across Australia

“Civilians were the overwhelming majority of the more than 1400 people Israel killed in it’s 2009 assault on Gaza. Today, Israel is beginning another assault. A quarter of the Palestinians killed so far are children, including babies,” Sue Bolton, newly elected Socialist Alliance member of the Moreland City Council said.

A global survey of 27 of the most important cities in the world has ranked Sydney as fourth-worst for public transport. Sydneysiders also pay more for public transport than anywhere else.

The study was carried out by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

If this was not bad enough, the situation is set to worsen. The November 16 Sydney Morning Herald said a high-level RailCorp document outlined another 690 jobs to be cut in the train sector.

A community protest and picket has been set up for a second time outside the Little Creatures Brewing factory under construction in Geelong. The picket began on October 22 but was lifted after 7 days so that negotiations could take place. The talks broke down and the picket has been reimposed since November 14.

Up to 50 Geelong workers have protested every weekday about the use of “sham contracting”.

“In a war between the civilised man and the savage, support the civilised man.” So declared billboards on New York’s subways paid for by the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) early in August.

But, let’s face it, in these days of horrific mass slaughter, it can be difficult to determine who is who. So the AFDI ads spell it out: “Support Israel! Defeat Jihad!”

Reporting on the release of the mid-year budget update in the Canberra Times on October 22, Peter Martin wrote that “Tax collections from both wages and the GST are running ahead of projections. Dramatically lower company tax collections account for most of the $21 billion write-down.”

Included in that $21 billion is a revenue downgrade of $4.3 billion dollars over four years in resource rent tax from petroleum and mineral extraction from a projected $13.4 billion.

“You know how they say Lee Rhiannon is a watermelon,” newly elected Greens councillor Michelle Tormey tells Green Left Weekly, “I could probably relate to being a bit of a watermelon myself.”

“I don’t think capitalism is good and I probably lean more towards socialism. I believe that, at the very least, key public services like water, electricity, health care, dental care, are things that everyone should have access to.

“That’s what I think and I don’t care if anyone judges me on that.”

“The time has come for judgment to begin in the house of the Lord,” said the Apostle Peter to the early Christian Church (1 Peter 4:17). Very different issues were being faced then, but not too different. The church was facing intense public scrutiny and Peter said that the suffering would be a cleansing experience. Those who were guilty (murderers, thieves and criminals, v. 15) would be exposed for what they are, and the innocent (v. 16) would be vindicated.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced a federal royal commission into child abuse in Australian institutions on November 12. The announcement came after growing scandals about paedophilia within the Catholic Church had reached the point where it was politically untenable for the government to continue with inaction.

This article is republished from The Conversation.

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Burn it all. That is the plan in Australia’s new Energy White Paper.

Released yesterday by Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson, it talks about responding to climate change while planning the opposite.

GLW Issue 945

Messages of support for Julian Assange from some of the 300 people at Green Left Weekly's 'defend WikiLeaks' dinner in November 10. Special guest was passionate advocate Christine Assange, the mother of the WikiLeaks founder, who gives a warm message to her son.

An Iranian man known as Omid, who is held in the Nauru detention camp, has been on hunger strike for 33 days. Refugees said medical staff had told Omid his kidneys and brain were going to fail and he would be moved to hospital “in the coming days”.

The rest of the group decided to end their 13-day hunger strike this morning, said, after Amnesty International said it would visit the island on a fact-finding mission next week.

In last month’s Victorian local council elections, the Socialist Alliance’s Sue Bolton was elected to Moreland City Council in Melbourne’s north. Green Left Weekly’s Susan Price asked Bolton about the significance of the result for the Socialist Alliance and her goals as a socialist councillor.

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This month is the start of the wet season on the tiny island of Nauru, where more than 370 refugees are being detained in Australian army tents that leak and do nothing to keep mosquitoes out.
In these appalling conditions, more than 300 men are refusing food and some are refusing water in a bid to have the department of immigration hear their claims for asylum.
That’s right — people that came to Australia exercising their legal and moral right to seek protection are on a hunger strike because the Australian government has decided to make an example of them.

I have been reminded lately of that line from that famous song: “How many polls must an anti-capitalist win, before we call him a democrat?”

Did you think there is a housing bubble in Australia? Not so, according to the chairperson of Aussie Home Loans, John Symond, who said last month: “I am confident, notwithstanding a lot of hype from offshore analysts about a housing bubble, of Australia’s fundamentals.”

Symond wants us to trust him, not those offshore analysts, because it's not as if the owner of a home loans company has any interest in the maintenance of an overpriced property market.

A group of progressive union activists organised in the Progressive PSA group won control of the NSW Public Service Association (PSA) in union elections that closed on October 30. They won all positions on the 45-member central council and the top position of general secretary.

Lindsay Hawkins is a disability support worker in Wollongong and is one of the newly elected members of the central council. He spoke to Green Left Weekly about why the group decided to run and what changes they are planning to make.

The Infrastructure NSW chair, former Liberal premier Nick Greiner, delivered a vision for the state for the next 20 years on October 3. For the 4.5 million people living in Sydney, the State Infrastructure Strategy, titled First Things First, will mean more roads, more congestion and more transport frustration for years to come.

Refugees held on Nauru say more than 300 men are taking part in the indefinite hunger strike, which has now entered its second week. They say they will continue until Australia’s department of immigration guarantees them passage to Australia and an immediate starts on their asylum claims.

Immigration minister Chris Bowen told refugees last month that their claims for protection would not be heard for more than six months.

The Australian Secretariat of the 2012 International Year of cooperatives co-hosted a National Co-operatives Conference in Port Macquarie over October 24 and 25. More than 250 delegates attended, representing cooperatives of all shapes and sizes and across many different sectors, including agriculture, retailing, credit unions, building societies, housing, medical practices, automobile associations, renewable energy projects and food .

GLW Issue 944

Green Left TV brings you the words of a refugee, imprisoned by the Australian government on Nauru who is calling for freedom. He explains about the hunger strike on Nauru and the conditions that the refugees face. He also explains clearly that the Salvation Army restricted internet access to the refugees in response to their protest.

Last week, Green Left’s fledgling video project, Green Left TV, was forced to take down a video about protests by asylum seekers jailed on Nauru by the Australian government, because it was threatened with imminent legal action.

But we have persisted in getting out the desperate messages from these victims of a brutal and ultimately racist policy, as you can see in this week's issue and in a Green Left TV interview with a refugee from Nauru: “Nauru hunger striker calls for freedom.”