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Australia

Australia: 'Zoe's law' prepares ground for US-style attacks on women's right to choose

By Pat Brewer

April 8, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The New South Wales (NSW) parliament is due to debate the final passage of the anti-woman legislation known as “Zoe’s law” [Crimes Amendment (Zoe's Law) Bill 2013]. Originally introduced by the far-right Christian Democratic Party’s Fred Nile in the upper house (Legislative Council) and later taken up by Liberal Party MP Chris Spence in the lower house (Legislative Assembly), where it has already passed, it has yet to be voted on by the Legislative Council. As yet it has not been scheduled for a vote but it is likely to pass given the support it has among many members from both major parties, the Liberal Party and the Australian Labor Party.

Australia: How the Aboriginal people managed 'the biggest estate on Earth'

Review by Coral Wynter

The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines made Australia
By Bill Gammage

Allen & Unwin, 434 pp., 2012

March 13, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- This is an extraordinary book, one that will increase your appreciation of the country’s first people, as we begin to understand their amazing knowledge and sheer genius in the way they cared for the land, or as Bill Gammage calls it the “biggest estate on Earth”.

Gammage describes with many examples how the Aborigines looked after the land. No corner was forgotten, including deserts, rainforests and rocky outcrops, across the entire continent for at least 60,000 years until the colonisers began to destroy all this labour after their arrival in 1788.

(With video) Australia's premier socialist newspaper, 'Green Left Weekly', produces 1000th issue

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By Mel Barnes, Green Left Weekly editor

March 8, 2014 -- Green Left Weekly --  You can tell how good a newspaper is from the enemies it keeps. Rupert Murdoch's Australian wrote a sneering dismissal of the new Saturday Paper, launched last weekend, and used its ultimate insult by comparing the new paper to Green Left Weekly, calling GLW “ignorant, moralistic and simplistic”.

This is from a paper whose editorial line doubts the existence of climate change, claims locking up refugees in offshore detention centres indefinitely is the more humane option and promotes a “user-pays” system in health care, education and welfare.

It attacks GLW, which it has previously named the “best known radical left newspaper in Australia”, because it campaigns for the opposite position on almost every issue. But if GLW was as irrelevant as the Australian tries to make out, why would it bother attacking it so often?

In defence of Socialist Alliance’s strategy of mass action: a response to Socialist Alternative

For more on the transitional method, click HERE.

By Dave Holmes

[Text of a talk given to the Geelong branch of Socialist Alliance on December 3, 2013.]

December 4, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The unity discussions between Socialist Alliance and Socialist Alternative have come to an end. In a November 3, 2013, letter on behalf of the Socialist Alternative national executive, Mick Armstrong wrote: “The overall political projects of both organisations are not sufficiently similar to carry through a sustained and productive unity that could advance the cause of the revolutionary left in Australia and the broader class struggle.”[1]

Mass action key to winning change

Melbourne protest against Work Choices, September 2007.

By Sue Bolton

November 16, 2013 -- Green Left Weekly -- Over the years, I have heard many left-wing activists say that mass peaceful protests do not achieve anything. Rather, “militant actions” which “take it up to the ruling class” are more important.

But for smaller direct actions to have any real political significance, they have to be connected to a patient and democratic approach to building mass movements that can win reforms. Smaller direct actions that are not tied to this political aim are a posture.

In a period of relative political quiet, some on the left are being snookered into the false idea that demonstrations that insist on direct action and militancy are the only way to win reforms.

This is a failed strategy, because it rests on the notion that a tiny number of conscientious and outraged activists can frighten or shock the ruling class into delivering reforms or stopping cuts. This sort of idealism is dangerous, and ignores evidence of how social movements throughout history have grown and succeeded in their aims.

When I first arrived in Melbourne in 1993, I met a man at a tram stop who told me that Victorians supported then-premier Jeff Kennett because they had stopped protesting.

Brian Manning (1932-2013): Charlie India Echo Tango calling Timor Leste

On November 3, 2013, Brian Manning -- veteran Northern Territory communist, trade unionist, campaigner against racism, long-time activist for Indigenous people's rights and solidarity campaigner with the East Timorese people (among many other causes) -- died in Darwin, aged 81. Brian won enormous respect for his commitment to human rights and his unstinting dedication to changing the system.

As a tribute to Brian, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal highlights another important chapter in his inspiring political life: his important role in the building solidarity the struggle of the East Timorese people for national self-determination. (See also "Brian Manning and the Gurindji `walk offs’".)

The following chapter appeared in the 2003 book,  A Few Rough Reds: Stories of Rank and File Organising, published by the Australian Society for the Study of Labour History. This and others chapters are available at http://roughreds.com/rrone/index.html.

[Click HERE for more on Timor Leste. For more on the Communist Party of Australia, click HERE. ]

* * *

By Brian Manning

Brian Manning (1932-2013) and the Gurindji `walk offs’

Brian Manning addressed the Gurindji Freedom Day celebration to mark the 45th anniversary of the historic walk-off.

On November 3, 2013, Brian Manning -- veteran Northern Territory communist, trade unionist, campaigner against racism, long-time activist for Indigenous people's rights and solidarity campaigner with the East Timorese people (among many other causes) -- died in Darwin, aged 81. Brian won enormous respect for his commitment to human rights and his unstinting dedication to changing the system. As a tribute to Brian, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal highlights one important chapter in his inspiring political life: his important role in the historic struggle of the Gurindji people for their rights.

* * *

By Terry Townsend

[The following is an excerpt from The Aboriginal Struggle & the Left (Sydney: Resistance Books, 2009.]

In memory of Doug Lorimer

The photo above (Sydney, c 1975) shows (from left): Joy Ecclestone, Dave Holmes, Doug Lorimer, (obscured unknown) and Geoff Payne.

[For more by or about Doug Lorimer, click HERE.]

By Dave Holmes

[These brief remarks were delivered at a memorial meeting for Doug Lorimer in Melbourne on October 25, 2013, organised by Socialist Alternative.]

October 25, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal/Arguing for Socialism -- The July 27, 2013, Green Left Weekly carried an obituary for Doug Lorimer written by Pat Brewer. For comrades interested in the basic details of Doug's political CV I would recommend it.

I first met Doug in February 1971 in Adelaide. John Percy, myself and Dave Riley went over as a national investigating commission of the Socialist Youth Alliance (SYA). Two members of the local SYA branch were or had become Maoists and were causing us some political embarrassment. Doug Jordan was the branch organiser.

Western Australia: Socialist councillor re-elected in Fremantle

For more on socialists in municipal councils, click HERE.

By Alex Bainbridge

October 20, 2013 -- Green Left Weekly -- Socialist Alliance Western Australia's co-convenor Sam Wainwright was re-elected to the Fremantle municipal council on October 19. In the other wards, progressive councillors defeated conservative opponents, and Greens Mayor Brad Pettitt was also returned.

Wainwright won 58% of the vote in his ward compared to 33% at the 2009 poll. Wainwright's absolute vote also increased from 438 votes to 602 this year.

Over the last four years Wainwright has made a priority of organising and promoting community campaigns and supporting council initiatives such as a dramatic increase in the cycling budget. He has been a strong supporter of the Fremantle Road to Rail campaign and helped promote a community-owned wind farm at North Quay.

He introduced the Workplace Values policy which recognises the right of council employees to trade union representation and job security, and set a target for the employment of Indigenous people.

Wainwright has vigorously defended the Warrawee Women's Refuge which battles to maintain funding levels, and introduced policy to include and respect people with disabilities.

Rego date extended for 2013 solidarity brigade to Venezuela: Witness a people’s revolution!

September 10, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The registration date for those wishing to join the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network’s next brigade to revolutionary Venezuela has been extended to October 1, 2013. Don't miss out!

The solidarity tour, to run from December 4 to 13 this year, will be the first AVSN brigade since the election of President Nicolas Maduro following the death of Hugo Chavez.

Since 1998, when Chavez was first elected president, the Bolivarian revolution has achieved remarkable gains by putting control of Venezuela’s politics and economy back into the hands of the poor majority. Despite the challenges created by Chavez’s death, in particular the United States-backed opposition’s campaign to undermine the new president and government of Venezuela, this people power driven revolution continues to flourish, defying all attempts to destroy it.

'Rocking the Foundations' -- the story of Australia's pioneering red-green trade union

August 14, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- An outstanding historical account of the "Green Bans" first introduced by the communist-led New South Wales Builders Labourers Federation (BLF) in the 1970s in response to community demand to preserve inner-city parkland and historic buildings. One of the first women to be accepted as a builders labourer, filmmaker Pat Fiske in 1985 traced the development of a union whose social and political activities challenged the notion of what a union should be.

More on the BLF from the Green Left Weekly archives below.

Essential viewing for unionists and environmentalists

Review by Ben Courtice

[This review appeared in Green Left Weekly, March 12, 1997.]

This film, an old favourite of radical activists, charts the rise of the NSW branch of the Builders Labourers' Federation. Beginning as a corrupt bosses' union in the 1940s, by the 1970s it was a powerful force for progressive social change and is now famous for placing "green bans" on building sites that were environmentally and socially destructive.

The old, corrupt leadership of the union was voted out after a 10-year campaign by a group of rank-and-file members who then reoriented the union to establish a high level of accountability for officials.

Doug Lorimer, a life-long committed revolutionary, 1953-2013

Read some of Doug Lorimer's writings HERE.

By Pat Brewer

July 27, 2013 -- Green Left Weekly -- Doug Lorimer, a life-long committed revolutionary, died on July 21 in Sydney after a year of fighting deteriorating ill health and long-term hospitalisation.

Lorimer was born April 17, 1953 in Dundee in Scotland and migrated to Australia with his parents Connie and Bill when he was four years old to settle in the South Australian steel town of Whyalla.

Lorimer radicalised as a high school student. He first became involved in left politics through the Australian movement against the imperialist war in Vietnam, when he and his mother joined the moratorium marches in Adelaide in 1970.

Lorimer was recruited to the Socialist Youth Alliance — which later became the youth organisation Resistance — aged 16 in late 1971 in his final year in high school. He then went on to enrol in a science degree majoring in physics at Flinders University.

He dropped out of the degree during his first year as his commitment to building a revolutionary party grew. However, his interest in science never waned.

Malaysian socialists oppose Pacific free trade agreement

Anti-TPPA protest outside Malaysia's parliament on July 16.

The statement below was released by the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) on July 10, 2013.

* * *

The PSM is deeply concerned about the ongoing Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) free trade agreement. The 18th round is to commence in Kota Kinabalu in east Malaysia from July 15 until July 25.

Since its first inception as the United States-Malaysia bilateral Free Trade Agreement in 2006, the PSM has consistently protested the decision of the Malaysian government to enter into such negotiations. It was very clear since then, that the FTA is part of the agenda of US corporations to expand and control trade in the region.

Having failed to impose their interests via the World Trade Organisation, US corporations quickly lobbied Congress to start bilateral agreements with the countries in Asia.

Threatened by the growing economies of China and India, the US and European Union are competing to control trade for their respective interests. It is another form of imperialism that will negate our national sovereignty.

Now, after the fast track to negotiate the FTA during the Bush administration expired in 2007, the TPPA is a renewed approach for the same goals. TPPA is FTA on steroids.

Australia: Cuba's 'Yes, we can' literacy campaign success in outback

June 27, 2013 -- Green Left TV -- Bob Boughton speaks to GLTV's Linda Seaborn about his experience with the Cuban literacy campaign. Filmed in the GLTV studio at the Hobart Activist Centre.

This is an abridged transcript of an interview Linda Seaborn conducted with Dr Bob Boughton for Green Left Weekly. Boughton helped initiate a Cuba-supported literacy program in the New South Wales town of Wilcannia.

* * *

Tell us about the Cuban “Yes, we can” literacy campaign model.

I came across it while working in Timor Leste where the government had invited a group of Cubans to help with their national literacy campaign. They had a model they had developed back in 2000. There are three aspects to the model. One is they mobilise the whole community around the issue of literacy and they build a local campaign structure which drives the campaign.

The second aspect of the model is they have a pre-recorded set of DVDs on which there are lessons, and when you watch the lessons you are watching a class learn how to read and write.

The third aspect of the campaign is that when people complete the 64 lessons, the community or local government organise activities which allow people to continue to build their literacy.

Australia: Revolutionary unity to meet the capitalist crisis -- Socialist Alliance responds to Socialist Alternative

Socialist Alliance national convenor Peter Boyle speaks at Socialist Alternative's Marxism 2013.

[A response from Socialist Alliance to "What kind of organisation do socialists need?", published in the Summer 2013 issue of Socialist Alternative's Marxist Left Review. This article first appeared in Marxist Left Review, Winter 2013 and is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission.]

By Nick Fredman, Pip Hinman and Susan Price

Australia: History, strategy and revolutionary unity

Photo by Alex Bainbridge.

The following talk by Socialist Alternative member Jorge Jorquera was presented on June 9, 2013, part of the panel on “Socialism in practice: Bridging socialist theory and social movement struggles” with Socialist Alliance’s Dave Holmes. It was a session of the “Organising for 21st century socialism” seminar organised by Socialist Alliance and held in Sydney on June 8-9. The seminar also featured US socialist Paul Le Blanc. See also Dave Holme's contribution, "How should a united socialist party work?"

* * *

By Jorge Jorquera

Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Invariably some comment on the current period is a good place to start any conversation on the left. Both Socialist Alternative and Socialist Alliance generally concur on the basic contours of the Australian political situation.

Australia: How should a united socialist party work?

[This is a slightly edited text of a presentation made by Dave Holmes at the “Organising for 21st century socialism” seminar, held in Sydney, June 9, 2013 (pictured above, photo by Alex Bainbridge). Holmes is a leading member of the Socialist Alliance in Melbourne.]

By Dave Holmes

Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Today I want to talk about how socialists need to work to win mass influence and how that relates to the unity process between Socialist Alliance and Socialist Alternative.

On May 21, 2013, in Melbourne we held a very well-attended joint forum where our two organisations presented their views on the unity process. There is a report of the meeting in the May 29 issue of Green Left Weekly.[1]

I want to expand on some points touched on there and to raise some others. Hopefully most of what I say is uncontroversial but in any case I want to be clear and unambiguous on what I consider some key questions of socialist activity.

World in crisis

Our world has clearly entered what is arguably its deepest ever crisis.

Witness a people’s revolution in the making! Join the 2013 solidarity brigade to Venezuela

June 4, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Registrations are now open for the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network’s next brigade to revolutionary Venezuela.

The solidarity tour, to run from December 4 to 13 this year, will be the first AVSN brigade since the election of President Nicolas Maduro following the death of Hugo Chavez.

Since 1998, when Chavez was first elected president, the Bolivarian revolution has achieved remarkable gains by putting control of Venezuela’s politics and economy back into the hands of the poor majority. Despite the challenges created by Chavez’s death, in particular the United States-backed opposition’s campaign to undermine the new president and government of Venezuela, this people power driven revolution continues to flourish, defying all attempts to destroy it.

Bulgaria: Free Jock Palfreeman! Australian activist wrongly imprisoned

Jock Palfreeman interviewed by Tony Iltis, Sofia

May 17, 2013 -- Green Left Weekly -- “I’m in Villawood!”, Jock Palfreeman exclaimed, with the cheerful exuberance he displayed throughout an interview conducted through glass and wire-mesh partitions in the gloomy surroundings of the visiting room of Sofia central prison.

He told Green Left Weekly that it was the plight of refugees illegally detained in Sydney's Villawood detention centre by the Australian government that first radicalised him. His first protest, as a high school student in Sydney, was a blockade of the offices of Villawood’s then operator Australasian Correctional Management on May Day in 2002.

A year later he organised students at his school to attend the “Books Not Bombs” student walkouts to protest against the war on Iraq.

It was because of his seeming inability to ignore injustice that he is now serving a 20-year sentence in Bulgaria.

Australian socialists: `Take back the wealth! Put mines, banks and energy in the hands of the people!'

Election broadsheet of the Socialist Alliance, Australia

May 1, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Bring the mining industry, the big banks and the energy companies under public/community ownership and control, so that they can be run in a way that respects Aboriginal rights, the environment and social justice. The urgent need to address climate change alone demands that these industries be immediately taken out of the hands of the billionaires and their global corporations and operated as not-for-profit public services under the democratic control of the majority.

From Greece to Australia, the whole world has witnessed the moral bankruptcy of capitalism as it has destroyed the lives of billions of people through the wholesale privatisation of our collective wealth and socialisation of their losses.

We cannot afford to leave our future to the likes of Australian mining billionaires Gina Rinehart and Clive Palmer, and the faceless bankers. If we do so, we won’t have a future worth leaving to future generations.

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