Duncan Roden

GLW author Duncan Roden

Australian-pushed 'free trade' screws Pacific Islands

Despite its secrecy and lack of appropriate media coverage, many people have heard about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the huge free trade agreement being negotiated by some of the biggest economies on the Pacific rim.

Some of it details have been leaked by WikiLeaks, exposing the behind-closed-doors machinations of governments and large corporations.

But very few people have heard about PACER-Plus, a free trade agreement that will include the small island states at the heart of the Pacific.

Millers Point faces ‘social cleansing’

Community Services Minister Pru Goward announced that 293 public housing in Millers Point and The Rocks on Sydney's harbourside would be sold. The billions gained would be used to invest in public housing in the rest of the state, Goward said. But the sell-off would come at a human cost — the destruction of the close-knit working-class community that has existed there for hundreds of years.

Pacific activists: 'Say not to GMO'

New Caledonia, a French-administered archipelago in the south-west Pacific, passed a law on February 13 banning the importation of genetically modified seeds for cereals and fruits.

Vegetables, however, are exempt from the law. A proposal for mandatory labelling of GMO products is still to be approved by the Congress.

Biennale win: Refugee rights not corporate profits

Luca Belgiorno-Nettis resigned from his position as chair of the board of the Biennale of Sydney on March 7. Biennale organisers announced it was cutting ties with major sponsor Transfield, of which Belgiorno-Nettis is a director.

The divestment was the result of pressure from artists boycotting the Biennale, because of Transfield's connection to the detention of asylum seekers. The company has a $1.2 billion contract to run the Nauru and Manus Island centres.

Pacific free trade deal fails to make headway

Four days of talks in Singapore for the proposed TransPacific Partnership (TPP) ended inconclusively on February 25.

It is clear big disagreements still exist between the negotiating countries. Combined with unease among the populations in negotiating countries, this is likely to prevent the deal being finalised this year.

Pacific region a victim of Australian colonial interests

Many see Australia as a small power dependent on British and then US power for protection, but it is important to note that Australia has its own imperialist agenda it pushes the Pacific region.

From the late 19th century to today, Australia's ruling class has been finding ways of extending its influence on nearby countries. It has even succeeded, if only temporarily, in gaining colonial possessions.

This began even before federation in 1901, as the new capitalist class, having accumulated capital from the gold rushes in the mid-19th century, was looking for outlets for investment.

West Papua: Regional betrayal sets back freedom fight

The West Papuan independence movement's hopes of of gaining a foothold in the international community were set back when foreign minsters visiting West Papua pledged non-interference with Indonesia.

Last June, the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Leaders Summit met in Noumea, New Caledonia, and discussed a membership application from the West Papua National Council for Liberation (WPNCL). The summit postponed the decision until a ministerial delegation visited West Papua to determine the legitimacy of the group and to assess the situation in the occupied country.

How Australia steals East Timor's oil

East Timor has taken Australia to an international court in an effort to take control over large oil and gas reserves in the Timor Sea.

But this isn't the only time the Timorese have come up against Australia ― which has sought to impose its interests on the former Portuguese colony in recent decades.

The Portuguese had a presence in Timor from 1509, trading sandalwood, converting Timorese to Catholicism and fighting against the Dutch for control. In 1859, the Treaty of Lisbon finally stopped the colonial conflict, dividing the island into the Dutch western half and Portuguese east.

WikiLeaks exposes Pacific trade deal's environmental failure

Having leaked the disturbing details in the chapter on intelectual property rights in the secret proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) last year, WikiLeaks released the TPP's environment chapter on January 15.

Newman concedes to bikie law anger

Queensland Premier Campbell Newman recently hinted that his government’s controversial bikie laws were likely to be repealed after a mandatory review in three years. “Ultimately, in less than three years' time, these laws can disappear from the statute books in Queensland, because that's the intention of the government,” he said.

Newman claimed he never wanted the laws, saying: “I didn't particularly want to see these laws implemented, but the sooner we can get rid of them the better.”

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