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The Flame, November-December 2009 -- Green Left Weekly's Arabic-language supplement

With the help of Socialist Alliance members in the growing Sudanese community in Australia, Green Left Weekly -- Australia's leading socialist newspaper -- is publishing a regular Arabic language supplement. The Flame will cover news from the Arabic-speaking world as well as news and issues from within Australia. The editor-in-chief is Soubhi Iskander, a comrade who has endured years of imprisonment and torture at the hands of the repressive government in Sudan.

“There are Arabic newspapers in Australia, but still all reflect the views of their editors and there is a great need to establish a progressive Arabic-language press which can frankly discuss the squalid condition of the Arab world due to submission and subservience to neo-colonialism”, Iskander explains. “At the same time, the Arabic-speaking communities in Australia need to read articles relating to the Australian government policy internally — articles which will unmask the pitfalls of these policies, and will expose the violation and the lies of the capitalist parties. The Flame, we hope, will be a powerful addition to Green Left Weekly.”

Australian and New Zealand socialists support Chavez's call for a new international organisation of the left

Socialist Alliance members in Caracas.

Dear comrades,

December 3, 2009 -- On behalf of the Socialist Alliance of Australia, we would like to send warm, socialist greetings to the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), thanking you once again for the invitation to participate in the International Meeting of Left Parties held in Caracas, November 19-21, 2009.

The outcomes of this event are already having an important impact on the world, particularly among left and progressive forces, and we are grateful that we could be part of it and contribute to its success in our own modest way.

Similarly, we believe that the PSUV’s Extraordinary Congress, which began on November 21, is of great significance, not just for revolutionary forces in Venezuela, but for the left internationally. We hope to follow the proceedings of the congress, particularly through the reports and articles that our members Kiraz Janicke and Federico Fuentes will be sending us from Venezuela, where they are currently based.

`Foro Social Latinamericano', Green Left Weekly's Spanish-language supplement launched

Green Left Weekly editorial

November 25, 2009 -- For environmentalists, Indigenous rights activists, feminists, socialists and all progressive people, Latin America is a source of hope and inspiration today. The people of Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador and El Salvador, among others, are showing that radical social change is possible and a better, more just society can be imagined and built.

The tide of rebellion and revolution now sweeping Latin America is posing a serious challenge to imperialism’s brutal global rule. For anyone who wants an end to war, exploitation and oppression, Latin America’s struggles to create alternatives are crucially important.

Australia's leading socialist newspaper Green Left Weekly is strongly committed to supporting the growing “people’s power” movement in Latin America. We are proud of the fact that GLW is the only Australian newspaper to have a permanent bureau in Latin America, based in Caracas, Venezuela. Through our weekly articles on developments in the region, GLW strives to counter the corporate media’s many lies about Latin America’s revolutions, and to give a voice in English to the people’s movements for change.

Australia: Elected socialist's goal of `campaigning' local council gained wide support

Sam Wainwright with Justine Kamprad.

Justine Kamprad is a co-convenor of the Fremantle branch of the Socialist Alliance, in Western Australia (WA), and was the party's campaign director for the October 17, 2009, Fremantle City Council election, which saw socialist Sam Wainwright top the poll and get elected with 33.44% of the vote. Wainwright is the first member of the Socialist Alliance to be elected to public office in Australia, and one of only two socialist party members currently in an elected local council position in the country. Jim McIlroy spoke to Kamprad about the successful campaign.

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What were the main aims of Sam Wainwright’s election campaign?

The main goals of the campaign were to engage the local community, and create the hope that their activism could be effective. That was a huge part of the campaign. When Sam announced he was going to run a number of people approached him about forming policy with him and actively engaging in developing community interest.

Statement Bersama: Hormati Hak Asasi Manusia – Bebaskan Para Pengungsi! Tolak “Solusi Indonesia” Buatan Australia!

[Klik di sini untuk artikel-artikel Links dalam Bahasa Indonesia]

Statement Bersama oleh Australian Socialist Alliance; Socialist Party (Australia); Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM); Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (JERIT), Malaysia; CWI Malaysia; Konfederasi Kongres Aliansi Serikat Buruh Indonesia (KASBI); Perhimpunan Rakyat Pekerja (PRP); Partai Persatuan Pembebasan Nasional (PAPERNAS); Front Nasional Perjuangan Buruh Indonesia (FNPBI); Socialist Worker New Zealand; Socialist Alternative (Australia); Partido Lakas ng Masa, Philipina; Transform Asia, Philipina; Labour Party Pakistan; Resistance (Australia); Militan-Indonesia; Socialist Appeal New Zealand; Partido ng Manggagawa, Philippines; Asia-Pacific Bureau of the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU)

5 November 2009 – Penghormatan terhadap Hak Asasi Manusia telah dibuang ke laut oleh pemerintah Australia, Indonesia dan Malaysia ketika mereka menolak gelombang baru pencari suaka Tamil yang melarikan diri menghindari perang dan penindasan di Sri Lanka dan malahan mengancam mereka seperti kriminal.

Joint statement: Respect human rights -- free the refugees! Reject Australia's 'Indonesian solution'! Welcome the asylum seekers

Australian Customs commandos with Oceanic Viking in the background. Photo: ABC.

Joint statement by the Australian Socialist Alliance; Socialist Party (Australia); Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM); Network of the Oppressed People (JERIT), Malaysia; CWI Malaysia; Confederation Congress of Indonesian Union Alliance (KASBI); Working Peoples Association (PRP), Indonesia; National Liberation Party of Unity (PAPERNAS), Indonesia; Indonesian National Front for Labor Struggle (FNPBI); Socialist Worker New Zealand; Socialist Alternative (Australia); Partido Lakas ng Masa, Philippines; Transform Asia; Labour Party Pakistan; Resistance (Australia); Militan-Indonesia; Asia-Pacific Bureau of the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU); Socialist Appeal New Zealand; Partido ng Manggagawa, Philippines; Solidarity (Australia)

Australia: Red councillors during the Cold War: Communists on Sydney City Council, 1953-59

 

 Sydney Town Hall in the 1950s.

Recent electoral victories in Australia by socialists at the municipal council level -- the Socialist Party's Stephen Jolly in Victoria and Socialist Alliance's Sam Wainwright in Western Australia -- have sparked renewed interest in the experiences of other socialists who have been elected to such bodies. With permission of the Rough Reds Collective, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal is publishing Beverley Symons' paper that examines the example of Communist Party of Australia members elected to the Sydney City Council in the 1950s. This article first appeared in the 2003 book A Few Rough Reds, published by the Australian Society for the Study of Labour History, Canberra Region Branch. The book is available online at http://www.roughreds.com.

* * *

By Beverley Symons

As is well known, the Communist Party of Australia (CPA) was represented in an Australian parliament only once, by Fred Paterson in the Queensland state seat of Bowen from 1944-50. However, the party's electoral successes in local government have attracted little historical attention. As far as I know, the only published material outside the communist press were two articles in 1985 and 1986 examining the CPA's 1944 victory in winning five of the eight seats on the Kearsley Shire Council in the northern New South Wales coalfields.

The Flame, October 2009 -- Green Left Weekly's Arabic-language supplement

October 21, 2009 -- With the help of Socialist Alliance members in the growing Sudanese community in Australia, Green Left Weekly -- Australia's leading socialist newspaper -- is publishing a regular Arabic language supplement. The Flame will cover news from the Arabic-speaking world as well as news and issues from within Australia. The editor-in-chief is Soubhi Iskander, a comrade who has endured years of imprisonment and torture at the hands of the repressive government in Sudan.

“There are Arabic newspapers in Australia, but still all reflect the views of their editors and there is a great need to establish a progressive Arabic-language press which can frankly discuss the squalid condition of the Arab world due to submission and subservience to neo-colonialism”, Iskander explains. “At the same time, the Arabic-speaking communities in Australia need to read articles relating to the Australian government policy internally — articles which will unmask the pitfalls of these policies, and will expose the violation and the lies of the capitalist parties. The Flame, we hope, will be a powerful addition to Green Left Weekly.”

Australia: Socialist Alliance celebrates its first electoral victory

October 18, 2009 -- Newly elected local municipal councillor Sam Wainwright summarised what he saw as the significance of his election to the Fremantle Council, in the state of Western Australia (WA): “It’s a victory for all those like me who believe that the council can and should play an active role in involving people in decision making, protecting the environment, campaigning for workers' rights and making a place in the community for people who are too often left out, such as Indigenous Australians and people with disabilities.”

Wainwright is a co-convenor of Socialist Alliance in Western Australia and an activist in the Maritime Union of Australia. He said, “I’m the first socialist elected to public office in WA for a long time, if not ever. Most candidates for council try to appeal to the middle ground and keep their political affiliations quiet. I don’t believe in that approach. I think it’s better to be upfront about your beliefs. Throughout the campaign I emphasised that I was a staunch socialist, unionist and environmentalist.”

He added, “I didn’t expect everyone to sign up to everything I stand for. But I did ask people to believe that I would be a hard working campaigner for their rights. I’m really grateful and humbled that so many people have shown their confidence in me and saw my background as a positive.”

Tom Keneally's `The People's Train': Steaming along the tracks of revolution

The People's Train
By Tom Keneally,
Vintage Books, 2009

Review by Phil Shannon

October 10, 2009 -- When Artem Samsurov first came to Brisbane in 1911, the Russian exile noted that the poor did not eat horse meat like they did in his native country and he wondered whether this did indeed make it true that Australia was a “working man’s paradise”? A diet that was no stranger, however, to rabbit, and bread and lard, suggested otherwise.

Tom Keneally’s latest novel, The People’s Train, follows the political and romantic adventures of Samsurov, a fictional character closely based on Fedor (``Artem'') Sergeyev, a Bolshevik who escaped from exile in Siberia after the crushing of the 1905 revolution in Russia and who was a political activist in Brisbane for six years. [See the Australian Dictionary of Biography's entry for Fedor``Artem'' Sergeyev below this review.]

In regular trouble with the Red-persecuting Queensland police, Sergeyev returned to Russia in 1917 in time to be elected to the central committee of the Bolshevik Party and play a leading role in the Russian Revolution.

Science and empire in the Pacific

Mai (aka Omai), the first Pacific Islander to visit Europe, with Joseph Banks in 1774. Painting by William Parry.

By Barry Healy

More than 240 years ago, on April 13, 1769, the peace of Tahiti was interrupted by the visit of Captain James Cook, supposedly observing the transit of Venus across the Sun, but really following secret orders to investigate the Pacific Ocean and its islands for the benefit of British colonialism.

Mainstream Australian history raises James Cook to a pinnacle because he established a white, British dominion on the Australian continent. However, at the time his fame was eclipsed because on board his ship was gentleman scientist Joseph Banks with a posse of staff.

Banks’ star outshone Cook’s because his work acquired the botanical treasures of Oceania for the British Empire, paving the way for Britain to dominate vital areas of science for its own benefit.

(Updated Sept. 28) International solidarity with the Honduran people's struggle for democracy

Solidarity demonstration, Sydney, September 24, 2009.

Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal below is publishing various solidarity statements and reports of actions in solidarity with the democracy struggle of the people of Honduras. More will be posted as they come to hand.

Socialist Alliance: `Australia must act for democracy in Honduras'

Below is an open letter from the Socialist Alliance to Australia's foreign affairs minister, Stephen Smith, calling on the Australian Labor government to act for the immediate and unconditional reinstatement of President Manuel Zelaya, and the restoration of democracy in Honduras.

Australian socialists demand `green jobs'

A worker welds a wind turbine mast. Photo from Greenpeace.

By the Socialist Alliance

[The following leaflet was distributed at the ``switch off Hazelwood'' power station protest in Victoria on September 12 and 13, attended by more than 300 people.]

September 13, 2009 -- The transition from a fossil fuel dependent society to renewable energy is perhaps the most urgent question facing humanity. The public debate about climate change has shifted from a discussion about the reality of global warming to a discussion focused on how to transition to renewable energy.

For people to people solidarity with Vietnam

RAAF Canberra bombers flew 11,963 sorties during the Vietnam War, dropping 76,389 bombs.

By Peter Boyle

September 1, 2009 -- There has been a lot of media coverage in Australia around the August 31 return of the remains of the last two Australian armed forces personnel – Canberra bomber pilots – who were missing in action in the Vietnam War. But none of the articles put this in the context of the death and damage inflicted on the Vietnamese people by the United States and its ally Australia.

Operating as part of the US Air Force's 35th Tactical Fighter Wing, Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Canberra bombers flew 6% of the wing's sorties but inflicted 16% of the damage. Overall, 11,963 sorties were flown by the Canberra bombers in Vietnam and 76,389 bombs were dropped. Two Canberra bombers were lost in the process.

Total Australian military casualties in the Vietnam War were 521 killed and 2398 wounded, but the numerous high-altitude bombing raids carried out by Australia's Canberra bombers alone would have inflicted much higher casualties.

Industrial action for peace: The Communist Party of Australia and antiwar activity before 1960

[Douglas Jordan was politicised in England in the late 1960s. After arriving in Australia he joined the Socialist Youth Alliance/Socialist Workers League/Socialist Workers Party, in which where he remained a member for 14 years. Today he is a community activist and co-presenter of the City Limits radio program on Melbourne's 3CR.

[After working as a tram conductor in Melbourne and Adelaide he was replaced by a ticket machine in 1998 and so lost his lifetime profession. He returned to study and is now writing his PhD thesis. The thesis -- of which this article is an excerpt -- is a detailed examination of the extent to which Communist Party of Australia union activists raised political issues in their unions.

[In particular it looks at the peace movement, attitudes to the post-war migration program and the Aboriginal struggle for human rights. There was been a general perception that Communist Party union activists were nothing more than industrial militants. The thesis aims to challenge this and show that CPA members often raised political issues and sought support for them from their co-workers.]

* * *

By Douglas Jordan

The Flame, August 2009 -- Green Left Weekly's Arabic-language supplement

With the help of Socialist Alliance members in the growing Sudanese community in Australia, Green Left Weekly -- Australia's leading socialist newspaper -- is publishing a regular Arabic language supplement. The Flame covers news from the Arabic-speaking world as well as news and issues from within Australia. The editor-in-chief is Soubhi Iskander, a comrade who has endured years of imprisonment and torture at the hands of the repressive government in Sudan.

“There are Arabic newspapers in Australia, but still all reflect the views of their editors and there is a great need to establish a progressive Arabic-language press which can frankly discuss the squalid condition of the Arab world due to submission and subservience to neo-colonialism”, Iskander explains. “At the same time, the Arabic-speaking communities in Australia need to read articles relating to the Australian government policy internally — articles which will unmask the pitfalls of these policies, and will expose the violation and the lies of the capitalist parties. The Flame, we hope, will be a powerful addition to Green Left Weekly.”

Green Left Weekly -- Support people's power media!

Green Left Weekly is a people's power alternative media project. It is Australia's leading socialist publication, with unmatched international analysis. The internet gives it a global reach, but unfortunately that doesn't pay the bills! Many of its readers and writers are brought together from many corners of the world. The level or support and respect that Green Left Weekly has generated over the years was on show with the many messages of congratulations it received during the celebrations of the paper's 800th issue. Please help write for, distribute and support it!

Australia: ABC TV's `Foreign Correspondent' program censors Venezuela's majority

By the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network

August 12, 2009 -- The Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Foreign Correspondent current affairs TV program screened on August 11, titled “Hugo Chavez: Total Control” did nothing to shore up the ABC’s reputation for well-informed, accurate reporting. Eric Campbell's report from Venezuela was riddled with inaccuracies, half-truths and transparent biases that need to be corrected.

The program’s main message –- that President Hugo Chavez is “the dominator… aiming for total control” in Venezuela -– is the stock-standard propaganda being peddled by a mainstream media that refuses to recognise or reflect the voices of the poor majority in Venezuela.

What  “evidence” does Foreign Correspondent present for Chavez’s supposed megalomania?

Public ownership of coal industry needed to move to 100% renewable energy and retain jobs

An open-cut coalmine in the Hunter Valley, NSW, Australia.

Graham Brown is a retired coalminer and a climate change activist. He’s also a member of the Upper Hunter branch of the NSW Greens party. The Hunter Valley, near the city of Newcastle, is a major source of Australia's coal exports. Brown is helping build a union and community alliance to create a “just transition” to a carbon-neutral economy. Such a transition would ensure workers in the coal industry move into alternative employment. Socialist Alliance's Zane Alcorn spoke to Brown.

How important is public ownership of electricity generation in a transition to a carbon-neutral economy?

It is definitely of the first importance. A private company is out to make a profit. When that profit starts to drop, it’ll move away. There’s no commitment to the community.

Public ownership is the reverse of that. It will enable the transition to carry through from start to finish. But it’s not going to finish, it’s going to be ongoing. Retrofitting power stations is a first step, but down the track, the best thing about renewable energy is that it is decentralised, and it will be owned by the public. Each community will have its own power generators.

Pacific islanders struggle for survival against global warming -- `Rich countries must slash emissions now'

Kiribati will be devastated by rising sea levels.

July 29, 2009 -- For Pacific islanders, climate change is not a threat looming somewhere in the future. Rising sea levels and unpredictable weather are having devastating effects right now. Climate change has already forced some communities to leave their traditional homes.Simon Butler spoke to two climate change activists from the Pacific about their campaign for immediate cuts to global greenhouse emissions.

Pelenise Alofa Pilitati is the chairperson of the Church Education Directors' Association in Kiribati. Reverend Tafue Lusama is the chairperson of the Tuvalu Climate Action Network. They are on an Australian speaking tour through July and August, which is co-sponsored by Greenpeace and Oxfam. For details of the tour go to http://www.greenpeace.org/australia/news-and-events/events/pacificvoicestour-300609.

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Simon Butler: What are you hoping to achieve with your speaking tour?

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