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Australia

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.

Long live May Day! Workers of the world unite!

May Day message from the Socialist Alliance, Australia

May 1, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- As workers around the world take to the streets to celebrate May Day, we are sharply aware that the capitalist system has reached a point of development where it threatens the habitability of the planet on which we all live.

Last month, for the first time in 3 million years, the carbon concentrations in the Earth's atmosphere reached 399.7 parts per million (ppm) at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii. In several other parts of the world that day, the reading exceeded 400 ppm.

When CO2 concentrations were last above 400 ppm it was the Pliocene era, when temperatures were 3-4 degrees Celsius and sea levels were 5-40 metres higher than they are today. Capitalism is throwing our planet into dangerous climate change.

Sadly this is no surprise. Capitalism has already devastated the lives of billions of people through exploitation, war and poverty.

The problem of relative privilege in the working class

"Waterside worker', by Noel Counihan, 1963.

By Chris Slee

March 18, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In his article entitled “Is there a labour aristocracy in Australia? (published in the Socialist Alternative magazine, Marxist Left Review) Tom Bramble criticises the concept of the “labour aristocracy” on a number of grounds.

IWD 2013: Still being fought for -- equality, justice and freedom from violence for women

[See also "Why socialists need feminism". For more discussion of feminism, click HERE.]

International Women's Day 2013 statement by Socialist Alliance

March 8, 2013 -- Socialist Alliance/Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The demands of the first-ever International Women's Day Rally in Australia, in 1928, were: equal pay for equal work, an 8-hour day for shop assistants, the basic wage for the unemployed and annual holidays on full pay.

A lot has been won through struggle since 1928 yet women in Australia today still have to struggle some of these issues:

`Foro Social Latinamericano', Green Left Weekly's Spanish-language supplement, March 2013 issue

March 2, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Providing facts and analysis, and publicising and organising Latin America solidarity activities in Australia, Green Left Weekly and Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal has sought to promote greater understanding and solidarity between the people of Australia and Latin America.

We are therefore delighted to publish Latin America Social Forum (Foro Social Latinamericano), a Spanish-language supplement produced regularly by the Latin America Social Forum in Sydney.

We hope the supplement will help build stronger links and solidarity between the Spanish-speaking communities in Australia and all those involved in the urgent struggles for the people and the planet. In the words of Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez: “Time is short. If we don’t change the world now, there may be no 22nd century.”

GLW and Links congratulates the Latin America Social Forum for this important publication, and looks forward to continuing to help build solidarity in Australia, and around the world, with Latin America’s movements for freedom, democracy, sustainability and justice.

* * *

Ten years since the biggest protests in history

February 22, 2013 -- Green Left TV -- The Green Left Report hosts a roundtable discussion and debate on the millions-strong protests prior to the US war on Iraq, held around the world on February 15, 2003. The roundtable includes some key activists at the time who reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of the protests in Australia and lessons for progressive struggles today.

Pip Hinman was a leader of the anti-war movement in Sydney at the time; Nick Deane convened a local peace group; and Jim McIlroy, who has been an anti-war activist since the Vietnam war, was part of the Brisbane protests. Also featured is an interview with Simon Butler, who led Books Not Bombs protests of high school and other young people opposed to the war. Hosts are Mel Barnes and Peter Boyle. Footage of the 2003 anti-war marches in Sydney by John Reynolds and Jill Hickson of Actively Radical TV. The episode ends with Carlo Sands critiquing the notion of the "lesser evil".

Produced by Green Left TV -- media for the 99%. Watch it, share it, film it, support it

Australia: Socialist Alliance perspectives for 2013

February 22, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The following document was adopted by the Australian Socialist Alliance at its 9th national conference, held January 18-20, 2013. It first appeared in Alliance Voices, the public discussion bulletin of the Socialist Alliance..

* * *

1. The international capitalist economic crisis is creating a wave of austerity across Europe and the advanced capitalist economies. Austerity measures, dictated by the international financial institutions (the IMF and World Bank) or carried out by governments on behalf of corporate interests, are driving millions into poverty, cutting welfare, slashing public spending on health and education, and slashing jobs and wages. So great is the crisis that millions of young people see no future in this inhuman system.

2. According to reports, the World Bank's Food Price Index, which tracks the price of internationally traded food commodities, was 6% higher in July 2012, compared to the same time in 2011, and 1% over the previous peak of February 2011.

'They will make splendid allies': The Communist Party of Australia and its attitude towards migrants

European migrants to Australia aboard the ship SS Derna on their arrival in Melbourne in November 1948.

February 22, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Below are two chapters from Australian socialist Douglas Jordon's thesis on the Communist Party of Australia. They deal with the CPA's sometimes inconsistent attitude to migration and racism within the Australian working class. As such issues continue to feature heavily in Australian politics and trade union activity, something the left must always deal with, these chapters provide useful lessons and experiences for socialists today. The chapters are availabe for download as PDF files or can be read on screen below the introduction.

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.

Anti-fracking movement goes global, climate-change mafia warns

More than 2000 people protest against coal seam gas in the Illawarra, NSW, Australia, October 2011.

By Farida Iqbal

February 10, 2013 -- Green Left Weekly -- The shale gas industry-commissioned white paper, The Global Anti-Fracking Movement: What it Wants, How it Operates and What’s Next, makes for some very interesting reading. It was produced late last year by Control Risks, an “independent, global risk consultancy specialising in helping organisations manage political, integrity and security risks in complex and hostile environments”.

The white paper focuses on shale gas, but it also discusses coal seam gas. Shale gas is what features in the film Gasland by Josh Fox, which details the destructive effects of “fracking” on communities in the US.

A global movement has emerged to combat the risks to water and air quality, health and farmland that shale gas mining poses. Australia has both shale and coal seam gas reserves.

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