Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Reclaim the Night 30 October 2009


Reclaim the Night represents a claim for women’s basic human right to live in freedom from the fear of violence.
On Friday 30 October we protest for women to have the right to walk freely at night, free from the threat of rape and sexual violence. Gather at the Wellington St exit of Perth Train Station at 6.30pm. March starts at 7.00pm sharp, finishing at Stirling Gardens for speakers, performers and entertainers.

The oganising collective has determined that this march and rally are for women and children only. Their explanation is that "this policy was not made with the intention of excluding men, but rather to ensure the inclusion of ALL women."

To get involved contact Amanda on 0421 137 672 or email

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Socialist Alliance member Sam Wainwright elected to Fremantle Council

Socialist Alliance WA co-convenor Sam Wainwright was elected to the Fremantle Council in the October 17 poll. He is the first Socialist Alliance member to be elected to a local government position in Australia.

Wainwright polled over 33% (438 out of 1310 valid votes). His nearest competitor, an ALP member, polled 337 votes (25.7%). Under the new, undemocratic first-past-the-post local government electoral laws in WA, Wainwright was elected as the candidate with the most votes.

We believe that Wainwright is the first socialist elected to public office in WA for a long time, if not ever.

In a media statement, Wainwright said: "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.”

Wainwright thanked the diverse range of people that supported his campaign, “Active support came from all sorts of places: members of Socialist Alliance, the Greens and the ALP all pitched in; many unionists and community activists helped out; and last but not least, everyday residents who don’t wear a political label but want to see the sort of change that we talked about in the campaign. The election result belongs to these people and I know that the hard work now begins.”

In the mayoral poll of six candidates, Greens member Brad Pettit triumphed with over 45% of the vote, well in front of two fellow Greens Michael Martin and Jon Strachan. Both Pettit and Strachan were endorsed by the Fremantle Chamber of Commerce.

Of the six new councillors elected there is one ALP member, two Greens, two independents and one Socialist Alliance. However under WA electoral law local government candidates can not formally run for political parties and Wainwright was the only candidate to declare his political affiliations in his campaign material.

Official election results are here.

Leave a message of congratulations:

Initial Green Left Weekly report (more next week):

Sam's media statement:

This election victory is an important milestone in the process of building a socialist alternative to capitalism. However, it is only one step. And to take more steps forward, we need more people to join up and become involved.

Join the Socialist Alliance:

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Friends of Palestine: Israeli Apartheid vs International Law

Israeli Apartheid v International Law

Public Forum

Tues Oct 27, 6.30pm

University of WA Social Science Lecture Theatre.

From teargas to arrest...
Perth local Sarah Haynes will share her story of defending Palestinian homes in the occupied territory. Sarah will share what she learned while working in Palestine with the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions during her recent trip to the region.

For more info, contact Friends of Palestine WA:
Phone: 0407 850 962


See the Friends of Palestine Website:

New booklets on Aboriginal rights

The struggle for Aboriginal rights . . .

Resistance Books

New from Resistance Books!

The Aboriginal Struggle and the Left by Terry Townsend. 104pp, $15. Over many years, some of Indigenous Australia’s best leaders cut their political teeth within, or in close collaboration with, the Communist Party, the only party (until the late 1960s) that seriously and unfailingly fought for the rights of Indigenous people and against racism, raising virtually all the demands of the modern movement, often decades earlier.

They and many other Indigenous activists gained their political and organising experience and confidence as activists within, or working closely alongside, the left-wing and militant trade unions, most of which were led or heavily influenced by members of the CPA, sometimes in alliance with ALP socialists. This very accessible book argues convincingly that each significant gain won by the Indigenous people's rights movement has been achieved through a powerful 'black-red alliance'. (To order online see Resistance Books.)

Resistance Books

New from Socialist Alliance!

Charter of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Rights. Socialist Alliance policy. 30pp, $3. Product of the Socialist Alliance's long-term involvement in Indigenous Australia's struggles for justice, this Charter of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Rights is the Alliance's Indigenous policy (adopted at its Sixth National Conference in December 2008). The Charter is also a contribution from the Socialist Alliance to the vital job of building a more powerful movement for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights, one that can root out injustice, discrimination, poverty and underdevelopment once and for all. (To order online see Resistance Books.)

Resistance Books

Bludgers in Grass Castles Native Title and the Unpaid Debts of the Pastoral Industry by Martin Taylor. 36pp, $3.95

This powerful account shows how the pastoral industry in Queensland was built on the brutal dispossession of the Indigenous population. It is also enormously ecologically destructive, minimally productive, and is only economically viable because of large state subsidies. Essential background reading for understanding the struggle over native title today. (To order online see Resistance Books.)

Above items plus a wide range of left and progressive books, pamphlets, t-shirts, flags, badges, and stubby holders are available online at Resistance Books and at the Resistance Bookshop (see below).

Drop in to the Perth Activist Centre and talk to activists involved with Green Left Weekly, Socialist Alliance and Resistance: 15/5 Aberdeen St, East Perth (next to McIver station). Ph 9218 9608. Email:

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Film screening: Rethink Afghanistan Thurs 15 Oct

Rethink Afghanistan
special preview film screening of the new film by Robert Greenwald (director of Outfoxed & Iraq for Sale)

6.30pm, Thurs 15 Oct
Perth Activist Centre
15 / 5 Aberdeen St, East Perth (next to McIver station)

Recommended donation: $8/$4

Ph 9218 9608, 0413 976 638.

What cost conquest?

Review by Mat Ward
22 August 2009

Rethink Afghanistan
Directed by Robert Greenwald
DVD for sale in October, visit

Australia has 1550 soldiers in Afghanistan. It is likely to send more. Why? US director Robert Greenwald’s latest film, Rethink Afghanistan, does not say why. Instead it asks, why indeed?

With the fast-paced editing that has become Greenwald’s trademark — no shot seems to last more than 15 seconds — Rethink Afghanistan tackles aspects of the war in 10-minute segments.

Greenwald split the film into YouTube-sized chunks so people could get to see it online as soon as each segment was finished. As he told the New York Times, no distributor “moves at the speed of YouTube”.

The first 10-minute segment looks at how effective US president Barack Obama’s troop surge in Afghanistan may be.

It is pointed out that half a million Soviet soldiers could not bring the country under control and Afghanistan is known as “the graveyard of empires”.

Dying To Win author Robert Pape tells the camera: “You need a ratio of something like one combat soldier for every 40 people in the country and what that equates to in Afghanistan is well over 250,000 Western combat forces.”

After Obama’s latest surge of 21,000 US soldiers, supposedly to enforce security during the August 20 election, the number of US soldiers in the country has almost doubled, to about 50,000.

The second segment looks at how Pakistan is involved in the war. Simple graphics show how nuclear-armed India, through its involvement as a US ally, has its nuclear-armed foe, Pakistan, surrounded in a pincer movement.

Overthrow author Stephen Kinzer tells the camera: “Right now Pakistan is the most dangerous country in the world. Therefore it should be engraved on the minds of every American diplomat everywhere in the world: Do nothing that will further destabilise Pakistan.”

It seems we’re sitting on a nuclear time bomb.

A poll published on August 18 showed most Americans have already turned against the war. But ending the conflict may not come down to morals, motives or misgivings. It may come down only to money. That is the subject of Rethink Afghanistan’s third segment — the cost of war.

Linda J. Bilmes, co-author of The Three Trillion Dollar War, says the Afghanistan war will be far more costly than that in Iraq. “In Afghanistan you have a country which is mostly rural, which is mostly mountainous, which is not desert.”
CNN pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr says: “It now costs about $775,000 a year to put a soldier or a marine into the war in Iraq or Afghanistan. That’s about three times as expensive as any war the US has ever had.”

Then there’s the human cost. George W. Bush and Tony Blair wheeled out their wives to trumpet a victory for women when the Taliban were supposedly crushed by the US invasion after 9/11. But Rethink Afghanistan paints a different picture.

The Wall Street Journal’s Afghanistan correspondent, Anand Ghopal, tells the camera: “Many women say they wish the Taliban were back in power, because although they were also imprisoned in their houses then [as they still are now], they were at least kept safe from bombs and house raids. Most civilian casualties are women.”

Civilian casualties are the subject of Rethink Afghanistan’s fifth segment. Greenwald cut his teeth directing Hollywood stars in films with a social conscience (Martin Sheen in Shattered Spirits, about alcoholism; Farrah Fawcett in The Burning Bed, about wife-battering). He is at his most emotive when telling the stories of individuals. Here, he goes into a refugee camp in Kabul, whose mud huts and shabby tents are home to more than 235,000 Afghans.

A distraught farmer, who has been bombed off his land, points at his toddler standing shoeless in the cold, grey mud and says: “What can I do? There is no food I can put in her mouth. I have nothing. For God’s sake I am poor; otherwise I wouldn’t give her for one million. I know nobody wants to sell their daughter, but I have to.”

We learn that the child later died.

As Rethink Afghanistan unfolds on the web — segment six was released on August 18 — we may learn more about the motives for the war.

In the meantime, the theories have varied. Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid, who features in the film, says in his book Taliban that Afghanistan is the ultimate strategic prize: it is a way to get oil and gas from the former Soviet states north of Afghanistan to the Arabian Sea, without having to go through Iran.

Adam Curtis, in his film The Power of Nightmares, says because politicians have realised they can no longer sell idealistic dreams, they instead sell the idea that they are protecting voters from nightmares. Afghanistan, with its supposed threat of terrorists, fits that bill.

Noam Chomsky has pointed out that the US spends about the same on defence as the rest of the world put together. When recently asked about the war in Afghanistan, he said: “It’s like the old joke — if you have a hammer, everything you see is a nail.”

From: Cultural Dissent, Green Left Weekly issue #808 26 August 2009.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Protest the war in Afghanistan

Stop the War in Afghanistan

Protest speakout to mark the 8th anniversary of the invasion

Sat 10 Oct
12 noon, Wesley Church corner
(corner Hay & William Sts, Perth)

Afghanistan: Eight Years Of War — Bring The Troops Home

Socialist Alliance members will be participating in protest events - including rallies, speak-outs and marches - across the country to mark the eighth anniversary of the US-NATO war and occupation of Afghanistan. We will be joining the call on the Rudd government to withdraw the 1550 Australian troops.

The protests across Australia form part of an international month of action on Afghanistan, with rallies and protests being organised in the US, Britain and Europe.

There is consensus among the major parties - Labor and the Coalition - that Australia has to support this so-called "good war". But polls show that a majority of Australians disagree with the two parties of war. The recent election fiasco, in which the puppet president Hamid Karzai was "re-elected" by a minority, the huge number of civilian casualties, and the clear wish of democratic Afghan people, such as MP Malalai Joya, for the foreign troops to leave, have all contributed to a shift in public opinion.

There is also a growing concern that the White House will send up to 40,000 more troops to join the already 68,000 US-NATO troops already in Afghanistan. This will lead to more devastation and loss of life in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The White House’s quest for greater political and economic influence in the region has not wiped out al-Qaeda — the reason given for going to war. If anything it has assisted the cause of the fundamentalists, while inflicting devastating losses — both on Afghan civilians and the occupation forces.

Clearly too, the foreign troops have not curbed the influence of the Taliban. In fact the opposite has been the case, as poor farmers and others seek protection and struggle to sustain themselves and their families. The move to counter-insurgency tactics also allows the warmongers to spread by stealth into Pakistan.

The case against the war can also be made by scutinising the social indicators, all of which have worsened over the last eight years. Just 31% of households have access to water; adult literacy is just 24%, and 50% of children are malnourished. Nor have the invasion and occupation not liberated women.

The Rudd government’s commitment to the Australian-US alliance means that, if asked, it is likely to send more troops. Foreign minister Stephen Smith is studiously taking orders and avoiding a public discussion about Australia’s involvement in this war. Meanwhile, as a result of domestic pressure, several countries are talking of pulling their troops out (including Holland and Italy). The German left party, Die Linke, increased its support in recent elections after campaigning on the demand that troops be withdrawn.

The mood shift against Australia’s involvement in this war is reflected in the numbers of endorsees for the Melbourne and Sydney protest rallies. Significantly, in Melbourne, a number of unions and Victorian Trades Hall council and the Geelong Trades Hall Council have signed on, some after some debate. In NSW the Greens have also endorsed the protest.

Socialist Alliance is calling on all members and supporters to spread the word and attend these important rallies:

Sydney: October 8, 5.30pm, Sydney Town Hall;

Melbourne: October 10, 12 noon, City Square;

Perth: October 10, 12 noon Wesley Church corner;

Hobart: October 13, 5.15-6pm Newtown High School (outside Rudd community cabinet meeting).

In addition, the Socialist Alliance will continue to campaign for the Rudd government to:

  • Immediately and unconditionally withdraw all Australian troops, military personnel, bases, contractors and mercenaries from Afghanistan and Iraq;
  • End all Australian support for the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the ongoing siege of Gaza and the Palestinian people;
  • End Australian support for sanctions, threats of war and attacks against Iran, North Korea, Somalia or any other nation whose right to self-determination is under assault from the US. We also oppose interference in the internal affairs of these and other countries targeted by the US for political destabilisation. We condemn the Australian government for being one of only a handful not to speak out against the coup in Honduras.
  • Investigate allegations of Australian citizens being tortured in Egypt and Guantanamo. The government must repeal, not strengthen, the terror laws which unjustly target people of Middle Eastern background and rely on hearsay as evidence despite no terror acts having been committed.
  • The Socialist Alliance supports the right of all oppressed nations and peoples to self-determination, whether in the Middle East or in other parts of the world.

    Socialist Alliance stands in solidarity with working people and demands that the billions spent on wars and the military be diverted into the shift to renewable sustainable energy, including retraining and the creation of masses of new green jobs, and maintaining and expanding urgently needed social programs.

    For further information on rallies:



    Contact: Pip Hinman, Socialist Alliance anti-war spokesperson: 0412 139 968