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Australia

Melbourne, August 28-29: Latin America Solidarity Conference 2009

People´s Power is changing the world
Latin America Solidarity Conference 2009
August 28-29, 2009 - Victorian Trades Hall, Melbourne, Australia

Major cracks are appearing in the global capitalist system – cracks that are being forced open by the tide of rebellions and revolutions across Latin America.

Australia: Global warming and the ‘Big Dry’— What prospects for the Murray-Darling river system?

By Renfrey Clarke

July 20, 2009 -- From desert-fringe villages and drowning atolls, global warming is predicted before long to set climate refugees on the move. But arguably, the first climate refugees to reach Australia’s major cities are arriving already. And the places from which they have come are not exotic — rural towns like Mildura, Renmark and Griffith in Australia’s south-east.

In settlements throughout the Murray-Darling, residents are quietly deciding the irrigation-based economy has no future. For many orchardists and viticulturalists, allocations of water in recent years have been too low to keep plantings alive.

When barely a trickle is coming down the rivers, farmers are concluding it’s best to sell the next-to-meaningless water rights, accept a government exit package, bulldoze the trees and vines, and walk away.

Unprecedented drought

The record of the Australian Labor Party: high hopes and big disappointments

Gough Whitlam campaigning in 1972.

[This talk was presented at the A Century of Struggle Laborism and the radical alternative: Lessons for today conference, held in Melbourne, Australia, on May 30, 2009. It was organised by Socialist Alliance and sponsored by Green Left Weekly, Australia’s leading socialist newspaper. To read other talks presented at the conference, click HERE.]

By Jeremy Smith

Why have we scheduled this talk? First, I want to mark part of the historical memory of the working class in a modest way. Second, it helps pull apart the myths of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) and Laborism. Third, it addresses a century-long debate which goes back to the Victorian Socialist Party (VSP) and the Wobblies (Industrial Workers of the World, IWW); a debate which remains unresolved. The high hopes held for Labor when it has been elected and the bitterest of disappointments felt after its failure to deliver leave for us lessons too easily forgotten. We need to remind ourselves of those lessons.

`Proud to stand with Palestine' -- The Flame and Green Left Weekly respond to anti-Arab attack by Murdoch press

Sydney protest against Israel's attack on Gaza, January 18, 2009. Photo by Peter Boyle.

By Soubhi Iskander, Stuart Munckton and Emma Murphy

July 4, 2009 -- Green Left Weekly -- On July 1, the Rupert Murdoch-owned national daily the Australian carried an extraordinary attack by Ilan Grapel on Green Left Weekly and its monthly Arabic-language insert the Flame titled “A willing ally to Hamas’s hatred”. The Flame and Green Left Weekly are guilty of a “radical anti-Israel stance”, Grapel said.

Grapel is a researcher with the Australian/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council.

Grapel alleges that the Flame, “unbeknown to its English readers”, also “supports terrorist groups and promotes violence”, and through the Flame, GLW is “openly promoting extremism”.

Jean Hale, 1912-2009 -- Farewell to a `most revered activist'

Jean Hale.

By Sylvia Hale

June 13, 2009 -- Jean Hale (nee Heathcote) was born on July 29, 1912, in Brisbane. Her grandfather, Wyndham Selfe Heathcote, was an Anglican clergyman who opposed the Boer War. His opposition to the Anglican Church's social policies and his opinions, such as this from one of his essays -– “The death of Jesus, as a social reformer using direct action, has been transmuted into the death of a God dying for the world” –- found him at loggerheads with the church and resulted in his leaving to become a Unitarian minister. His public speaking skills, which Jean inherited, were considerable. In October 1916 the Woman Voter reported that, “despite the large seating capacity of the building, thousands of people were turned away” from a debate between himself and Adela Pankhurst (the youngest member of the British suffragist family).

Australia: Damage on many fronts in false charge of slavery in Western Sahara

Fetim Sallem.

A documentary on Western Sahara refugees marks a low point, Kamal Fadel writes.

July 1, 2009 -- Last month in Sydney, the notion of democracy took a pounding. The launch of the documentary Stolen at the Sydney Film Festival marked a low point in local film culture, and signified the tenuous grip on truth we now have in contemporary society. That such a film should be financed with about A$350,000 of public money –- through Screen Australia -– and accepted by the prestigious festival raises questions about the nature of reality and on how it is depicted in mainstream media, such as through the medium of the film documentary.

The film purports, in a sensationalistic way, to reveal widespread evidence of racially based slavery in the Saharawi refugee camps on the Western Sahara-Algeria border. Central to the apparent scoop is an interview with Fetim Sallem, a 36-year-old mother of four. She was in Australia to explain her story, which is significantly at odds with the film's take on it (so much so that Fetim requested unsuccessfully to have her interviews removed from the film).

Can carbon trading save our forests?

By Susan Austin

June 26, 2009 – Hobart, Tasmania -- Along with over 400 other people, I turned up to the Wrest Point Casino here to attend the premiere of The Burning Season on June 1. I had the film’s headline --  “As inspiring as The Inconvenient Truth was frightening” in the back of my mind, hoping for a good news story. Instead I sat through a well-orchestrated promo for a carbon trading company, set up by a young Australian-based millionaire whose message was that it is possible to make money and save the environment at the same time.

By setting up a carbon trading company called Carbon Conservation, and brokering high-level deals between big banks and provincial Indonesian governors, the film’s “star”, young entrepreneur Dorjee Sun, was able to secure the protection of large areas of forests that may otherwise have been logged or burnt.

Australia's Green Left Weekly celebrates its 800th issue

Congratulations on reaching the 800th issue. It is not easy these days for independent left journals to sustain themselves, when they are so badly needed. Look forward to hearing about the 1000th.

-- Noam Chomsky, radical US activist, writer and intellectual

As so much of the corporate media becomes a parody of itself, the agents of power not of people, we need the view from ground more than ever and Green Left Weekly more than ever.

-- John Pilger, journalist and documentary maker

For the most up-to-date list of solidarity messages, please visit Green Left Weekly's greetings page.

June 28, 2009 -- The need for a radical green and left alternative to the monopolised corporate media is even greater today than when the first issue of Green Left Weekly came out in February 1991. From the outset we knew this non-profit project could survive only with the dedication and support from those inspired by a vision of democratic and ecologically sustainable socialist change.

Socialist Alliance: In solidarity with the people of Iran

June 26, 2009 (amended June 30) -- Socialist Alliance stands in solidarity with the millions of Iranians who are bravely demanding their rights in the streets despite huge state-sanctioned repression. These are the biggest protests in Iran since the 1979 protests in which the US-backed Shah was deposed.

Millions of people, old and young, ethnic and religious minorities, have taken to the streets, day in and day out since the disputed election on June 12. They have bravely defied the repressive regime of Mahmoud Ahmedinejad to demand the most basic of rights: the right to freely and transparently elect their representatives.

Some 27 people, including a young woman Neda Agha-Soltan whose death was captured on video, have been killed in the crackdown on protests. Several hundred have been injured, and a leading student activist is in a coma. Government officials on June 24 announced that there had been a total of 645 arrests in Tehran since June 13, 2009. Activists say that several hundred more, including journalists, editors, students, professors, party officials and unionists have also disappeared.

Australia: Towards a history of the Communist Party of Australia

[These articles were first published in Green Left Weekly in 1995 to mark the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of Australia.]

By John Percy

September 27, 1995 -- Seventy-five years ago, under the impact and inspiration of the October 1917 Russian Revolution, the Communist Party of Australia was founded. It was a modest beginning, but an historic event. The CPA formed in 1920 finally dissolved in 1991, but for most of its life it was the dominant party on the left in Australia and an important force in the workers movement.

There are many proud chapters in its history -- the numerous trade union struggles led; organising the unemployed, women, Aborigines, young people; important civil liberties fights; and solidarity with international struggles, in Spain, Indonesia, Vietnam, South Africa and East Timor, to name a few.
The CPA's founders had a vision of socialist revolution in Australia, and this was the goal of most of its rank-and-file members over the years. The party inspired dedication and commitment from thousands of men and women, and organised the most militant, idealistic, self-sacrificing section of the Australian working class.

But it was also a history of mistakes, of betrayals, of lost opportunities.

To mark this important anniversary, Green Left Weekly will be carrying a series of articles on the history of the CPA.

Communism in Australia

By Dave Holmes

[This talk was presented at the A Century of Struggle Laborism and the radical alternative: Lessons for today conference, held in Melbourne, Australia, on May 30, 2009. It was organised by Socialist Alliance and sponsored by Green Left Weekly, Australia’s leading socialist newspaper. To read other talks presented at the conference, click HERE.]

The Industrial Workers of the World in Australia: achievements and limitations

The IWW's newspaper Direct Action campaigned opposed capitalist war in 1914.

[This talk was presented at the Laborism and the radical alternative: Lessons for today conference, held in Melbourne, Australia, on May 30, 2009. It was organised by Socialist Alliance and sponsored by Green Left Weekly, Australia’s leading socialist newspaper. To read other talks presented at the conference, click HERE.]

* * *

By Verity Burgmann

DSP reiterates support for the right of self-determination for the Tamil people

Democratic Socialist Perspective (Australia) statement in response to the United Nations Human Rights Council resolution on Sri Lanka

June 12, 2009 -- The Democratic Socialist Perspective (DSP) -- a Marxist organisation affiliated to the Socialist Alliance of Australia -- supports the right of Tamils to self-determination. We have campaigned in solidarity with the Tamil people for several decades. For example, at the time of the 1983 massacre the DSP worked with the Tamil community in Australia to organise protests. This year too, the DSP, Socialist Alliance and Resistance worked closely with Tamil communities, including helping organise rallies, to highlight the calls for a ceasefire and for self-determination.

Uniting the socialist left: the Australian experience

Peter Boyle is national secretary of the Democratic Socialist Perspective (DSP), a Marxist tendency in the Socialist Alliance in Australia. He was interviewed by Socialist Voice (Canada) co-editor Roger Annis.

 * * *

Socialist Voice: The Australian left founded a project of left unity and activism in 2001. Can you describe the early years of that project and what it achieved?

Peter Boyle: The Socialist Alliance was formed in 2001 on the back of great optimism about the prospects for left revival in the wake of the rise of a movement at that time against capitalist globalisation. Some 20,000 people had participated in a three-day long blockade of a summit of the World Economic Forum in Melbourne the previous year. That was Australia’s “Seattle” [1] and it was followed up on May 1, 2001 with mass blockades of the stock exchanges in all the capital cities of the country.

Assaults on Indians in Australia: Globalisation, recession and renewed racism

Students protest against racist attacks and police inaction in Melbourne.

By the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation

June 4, 2009 -- The continuing spate of attacks and violence against Indians and Indian students in particular in Australia has once again exploded the much-touted myth that globalisation promotes and respects pluralism and multiculturalism. The response of the Australian government has been shockingly muted, trying to cover up and even deny the racist dimensions of the attacks, terming them as just routine robberies and muggings. If so, why do Indians constitute a disproportionate share of the victims –- 30% in Melbourne?

Brian Senewiratne: Genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka while Australia looks on

A Tamil community protest in Sydney,April 27, 2009. Photo by Jamie Kim.

Sign open letter in support of Tamil rights in Sri Lanka. Go to http://fastuntoaction.wordpress.com/sri-lanka-crisis-statement-of-support

* * *

Dr Brian Senewiratne

May 7, 2009 -- Socialist Alliance (Australia) -- I am a Sinhalese from the majority community in Sri Lanka, not from the brutalised Tamil community. I have campaigned for some five decades for the right of the Tamils to live with equality, dignity and safety in the country of their birth.

I am releasing this media briefing as a concerned Australian (here for 32 years), and as a member of the Socialist Alliance, the only non-Tamil organisation [in Australia] to support the struggle of the Tamils for justice.

Australian agriculture -- a carbon-neutral future?

By Renfrey Clarke

May 8, 2009 -- With its belching cows and giant diesel-powered tractors, the farm sector is widely understood as an important contributor to Australia’s impact on climate change. Just how important, however, is not often recognised.

In its latest National Greenhouse Gas Inventory, for the year 2006, the Australian Greenhouse Office calculates the share of national greenhouse gas emissions coming from agriculture and stock-raising at 15.6 per cent, expressed as carbon dioxide equivalent. Though substantial, this figure is much less than the 49.9 per cent attributed to “stationary energy”, which consists mainly of power station emissions.

But scientists are increasingly recognising the figure of 15.6 per cent for the farm sector as misleading –- and only partly because the official greenhouse data count the tractors and other farm machinery under the headings of stationary energy.

Australia: Has PM Kevin Rudd taken `a significant step forward on climate change'?

By David Spratt

May 5, 2009 -- Kevin Rudd's announced changes to the proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) has again split the climate movement, and this time it's very serious, with three large, rusted-on-to-Labor [Party] groups running cover for an appalling policy that won't guarantee a reduction in Australian emissions for decades.

The grassroots movement which gathered in Canberra in January 2009, with 500 people and 150 groups, for the first national Climate Action Summit and unanimously opposed the CPRS legislation, appears uniformly angry. Sixty-six climate action groups have written to the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd saying that: “We believe that you have abandoned your duty of care to protect the Australian people as well as our species and habitats from dangerous climate change.”

Left activists discuss solutions at World at a Crossroads international socialism conference

Photos by Alex Bainbridge. Individual pictures can be viewed here.

By Simon Butler

Sydney -- April 18, 2009 -- Green Left Weekly -- Several participants at the World at a Crossroads conference, held in Sydney on April 10-12, remarked that the conference could not have been better named.

As the world economy lurches into a deep recession, and the looming climate emergency reaches a crisis point, the world truly is at a crossroads. The future will be decided in the conflict between the greedy capitalist elites and those around the world fighting for a far better world — a world free of racism, war and environmental plunder.

Sydney, April 10-12, 2009: `World at a Crossroads' 21st century socialism conference day-by-day agenda

 

World at a Crossroads: Fighting for socialism in the 21st Century
Easter 2009, April 10-12, Sydney

Venue: Sydney Girls High School

World At A Crossroads is a conference that brings together hundreds of socialists, progressive activists and Marxist thinkers from around Australia, Latin America, Asia-Pacific and North America in dozens of panel presentations and workshops dealing with the urgent questions that confront us all: war, imperialism, food security, racism, workers' rights, sexism, the media and culture. Feature sessions and streams will include:

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