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Green Left Weekly is taking a short break. The next issue will be dated April 18.
Following a decision by Fiji’s interim government to cut public servants’ pay by 5% and reduce the retirement age from 60 to 55 years, a range of unions have conducted ballots for strike action. The Fiji Public Service Association and the Fiji Nursing Association voted in favour of the strike and the Fiji Teachers Association will soon conclude its ballot. On March 30, more than 90% of Fiji Post and Telecommunication Employees Association members voted in favour of a strike. Public Service secretary Taina Tagicakibau claims the government’s decision is non-negotiable and that any strike action would be illegal and result in job losses. The military has also threatened to intervene if the strike goes ahead.
SYDNEY — On March 31, the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network’s Sydney committee annual general meeting forged plans for expanding the campaign to invite Venezuela’s socialist president Hugo Chavez to tour Australia this year — an antidote to US President George Bush’s scheduled September visit. Guest speaker Venezuelan charge d’affaires Nelson Davila underscored the popular changes transforming Venezuela out of poverty and towards socialism. The meeting also decided to embark on monthly films, forums or street actions in support of Venezuela to build momentum towards the Latin American and Asia Pacific International Solidarity Forum being held in Melbourne this October. To get involved phone Kiraz on (02) 9690 1977.
The CFMEU ACT Rank and File Action Group met on March 14 to discuss the state of the ACT branch of the union. Reports were presented about the CFMEU federal office investigation of the branch, the group’s campaign for a clean and strong union that is accountable to its members and the state of industrial organising in the ACT.
According to Prensa Latina on March 24, Venezuela has replaced some 45 million incandescent light bulbs with white light thrifty bulbs, benefiting more than 4 million households. The move is part of an energy saving program, the Energy Revolution Mission. More than 3000 activists have been involved in carrying out the bub changes, and are aiming to replace about 54 million in total. The mission is also expanding renewable energy sources such as solar and wind and beginning to replace petrol with gas to supply cars. Prensa Latina points out that while Venezuela is the fifth-largest exporter of hydrocarbons, it is encouraging the use of less contaminating energy sources.
For a number of years Washington has been threatening Iran for its alleged pursuit of nuclear weapons. Until now, the consensus has been that to undertake military action against Iran was so crazy that even President George Bush would not attempt it. But whenever questioned about whether military action or the use of nuclear weapons is under consideration, Bush’s officials repeat that “all options” are on the table.
Esperance Port Authority workers and residents angry at the heavy metal contamination scandal affecting the town and Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) workers have banned handling lead through the port. More than 700 residents packed the Esperance Civic Centre on March 26 to hear reports of a pattern of bureaucratic buck-passing on the lead and nickel pollution.
'Disturbing' assistance? The March 21 South Florida Sun Sentinel reported that Republican presidential hopeful John McCain, warning against the "spread of socialism" in Latin America, attacked the governments of Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia while
With the 15-year resources-led boom stimulating the economy, inflation at about 3% and official unemployment at just under 5%, Australians should have little to complain about. But, according to Tony Vinson of Sydney University’s Department of Social Work, the social divide between the rich and poor is deepening and increasing.
HOBART — The Howard government has promised to spend $200 million on an international fund to halve the rate of deforestation in Indonesia and the Asia Pacific as part of Australia’s contribution to stopping climate change. However the government hasn’t mentioned putting an end to the 20,000 hectares of native forest that are clear-felled and burned each year in Tasmania. Greens leader Bob Brown highlighted this hypocrisy on March 30.
This is an account of an encounter I had with police officers on March 6 outside the federal Parliament House. At about 3.30pm that day, I went there with the intention of standing in the forecourt and holding up a “Bring David Hicks Home!” poster.
While all eyes have been focused on the terrible plight of David Hicks, Willie Brigitte has been convicted and sentenced in France, nine Muslim men are undergoing a committal hearing in Sydney, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed has allegedly confessed to a multitude of terror attacks and calls to ban the Muslim group, Hizb ut-Tahrir, in Australia have become more strident. This is all cause for concern, not because of a sinister threat by “terrorists”, but from the government-driven “war on terror”.