Thursday, November 26, 2009

Darlington Review column: Let the Polluters Pay!

Arguments in mainstream Australian politics around climate change are increasingly narrow.

Neither major party is prepared to force the big profiteering polluters to pay for the transition to sustainability.  They are both focused on making ordinary people carry the burden, while subsidising the polluters.

Both parties are hoping that a conservative, hip-pocket-nerve backlash from suburbanites like Darlington residents might allow them to go even softer on dealing with the climate emergency.

Added to this is a trend towards nationalism, xenophobia and racism among climate sceptics.  Talk about refugees is intruding into discussions of climate change and assertions that China is responsible for the carbon crisis.

Both arguments are specious.  There is no national solution for climate change; it is international.  And people who are worried about refugees had better get used to them; climate change will create millions more.

Australians rank with Americans as the highest per capita emitters of carbon dioxide (about 20 tonnes per year).  China’s carbon emissions per head are 5.8 tonnes but are increasing, doubling since 2001 due to expanding coal-fired power. 

This is directly linked to the behaviour of Western companies in China.

“China-fication”, a term coined by US business magazine Industry Week, is the “transplanting to China what you do well in manufacturing in the West, while exploiting the unique competitive aspects of the Chinese market.”

China’s “unique aspects” are dirt cheap wages and a dirty environment.

US environmental scientist Gregg Marland, who has studied Chinese carbon emissions, says: “We’re shipping our emissions offshore.”

The people responsible for wrecking the planet are the same whichever country they are operating in – the rich and powerful, interested in making money from polluting industries.  Those who suffer are the poorest.

In Australia, producing a safe environment also involves fighting racism and xenophobia.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Human Rights Day rally: Sat 5 Dec - Asylum is a Human Right

On the eve of Human Rights Day, tell Kevin Rudd:


* Let the refugees in
* End ties with repressive regimes: Sri Lanka & Israel
* Bring the troops home from Afghanistan


Sat 5 Dec
Gather: 12:30pm, Wesley Church (cnr Hay & William Sts)
March: through the city

Australian Tamil Congress: 0419 942 613
Alex Bainbridge: 0413 976 638
Phil Chilton: 0417 904 329
Victoria Martin-Iverson: 0410 589 064

Asylum is a human right - let the refugees in!
In August 2001, John Howard turned back the Tampa, with 453 rescued asylum seekers on board. Declaring them 'illegal', these asylum seekers - most of whom had fled persecution in Iraq and Afghanistan - were the first casualties of Howard's 'Pacific Solution'. Hundreds more asylum seekers languished in detention centres on the Australian mainland.

Re-enacting Howard's inhumane policy, Kevin Rudd last month turned back the Australian customs ship, the Oceanic Viking, with rescued 78 Tamil asylum seekers on board. Declaring that these asylum seekers too were 'illegal', Rudd announced that their applications for asylum should be processed in Indonesia, despite the fact that Indonesia has no obligation to do so, never having signed The United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. 

 In the first half of this year, Australia accepted only 1% of all global asylum seeker applications. Since the turning back of the Tampa, in 2001, the numbers of refugees being accepted by Australia has declined as a proportion of Australia's overall migration intake.

We demand that the Rudd government allow entry to Australia by all those seeking asylum, regardless of how they arrive, and that the policy of mandatory detention of asylum seekers be ended once and for all.

End ties with repressive regimes: Israel & Sri Lanka
In Sri Lanka today, some 300,000 Tamils are being kept in military-run internment camps with no access to the outside world. Killings, abductions, torture and rape are rife; but not a word of criticism has been uttered by the Australian government. In just four months this year, 20-50,000 Tamil civilians were killed in the Sri Lankan government's war against the Tamil people. Discrimination against Tamils and the 'disappearances' of journalists and human rights activists, including from among the majority Sinhalese community, are standard practice of the Sri Lankan regime.

Israel's recent bloody assault on Gaza resulted in the deaths of 1400 people. It maintains a crippling economic blockade. This is just the most recent episode in the Apartheid-like campaign of occupation and dispossession against the Palestinian people.

In place of self-interested commercial and geo-political considerations, Australia's foreign policy must be governed by a commitment to human rights and global justice. Australia must condemn the wars against the Tamils and Palestinians and end ties with the repressive regimes in Sri Lanka and Israel. Further we must support full self-determination for Sri Lanka's Tamils; and the complete withdrawal of Israel from the occupied territories and the dismantling of all anti-Palestinian discriminatory policies within Israel itself.

Bring the troops home from Afghanistan
The recent fraudulent elections in Afghanistan expose the fact that the puppet regime of Hamid Karzai supported by the US, NATO and Australia has no legitimacy or popular support. Eight years of occupation have resulted in thousands of civilian casualties, expansion of the war into Pakistan, growth of support for the Taliban and continued rule by warlords. The occupation is the cause of the problem, not part of the solution. Kevin Rudd and Barack Obama want to expand the war. Demand an end to the war. Bring the troops home.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Green Left Weekly solidarity dinner

Green Left Weekly


Dave Kerin
(CFMEU mining & energy division organiser; founder of Union Solidarity; and environmental activist)

Sam Wainwright 
(newly elected Socialist Alliance member of the Fremantle Council; and MUA member)

7pm, Sat 28 Nov
State School Teachers Union Function Room
150-152 Adelaide Terrace, Perth
$20 unwaged/$30 waged/$50 solidarity

Proceeds to Green Left Weekly

Darlington Review column: Is Nuclear Power the solution to climate change?

Darlington residents on October 24 helped show the world that ordinary people want the current political inaction on global warming to end.

Unfortunately, there are forces at work in Australia seeking to stampede us towards nuclear power, a radioactive response to our outmoded coal-burning stations.
Nuclear industry executives see a business opportunity to arrest their declining fortunes. Supporters of radioactive electricity concurrently run two false arguments: renewable energy can’t do the job and nuclear reactors are clean, safe and climate-friendly. 

However, there is enough wave energy along WA's coastline (from Geraldton to Bremer Bay) to provide more than 5 times WA's current electrical energy demand.  Carnegie Wave Energy Ltd has just moved past the feasibility testing stage into electricity production at its site near Fremantle.  The Department of Defence is contracting it to provide power to Garden Island naval base and Exmouth.

Far from a greenhouse gas solution, nuclear energy is emission-intensive.  Except for the power generation itself, every stage in the nuclear-power cycle — uranium mining, ore processing, refining, transport, construction and maintenance — churns out carbon dioxide. 

Radioactive mine tailings and reactor waste can’t be safely disposed of. The wastage of water in uranium mining and nuclear power stations makes them unsuitable for Australia.

If wind, wave or solar power generators break down, they just need fixing. But the 1986 Chernobyl accident shows the risks of nuclear reactors.

Darlington householders are ahead of the WA government in harnessing solar energy by putting panels on our rooftops.

We have to combine that example with pressure on the government to switch to renewables as fast as possible.  Solar, wind, geo-thermal and other renewables are the real solutions we need.
For an informative debate between environmentalists on the topic go to

Contact Annolies/Barry on 9299 6453 or

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Let the refugees in: Protest Mon 9 Nov

Protest for Refugee Rights:
12:30pm, Mon 9 Nov
Office of Chris Evans (Immigration Minister)
51 Ord St, West Perth

(This action has been organised by the newly reformed Refugee Rights Action Network. Next meeting: 6.30pm, Mon 9 Nov, Moon Cafe, cnr William & Newcastle Sts, Northbridge.)

Another important rally for Refugee Rights will take place:
12:30pm, Sat 5 Dec
Wesley Church
cnr William & Hay Sts, Perth
(This action has been organised by a coalition of groups involving Perth Tamil community representatives. Next meeting: 6pm, Wed 11 Nov, Perth Activist Centre.)

See the statement on this issue by regional left groups below.

See also these related links

Regional left groups statement on Tamil refugees

Respect human rights - free the refugees!

Reject Australia's 'Indonesian solution'!
Australia should welcome the asylum seekers!

A joint statement of:
November 5, 2009
All respect for elementary human rights and dignity has been thrown overboard as the governments of Australia, Indonesia and Malaysia refuse to accept the latest wave of Tamil asylum seekers fleeing war and oppression in Sri Lanka and instead treat them like criminals.
The Australian government is the only of these three governments to have signed the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees but it is refusing to carry out its obligations to asylum seekers under that convention.
For weeks, more than 250 Tamil-speaking people, including children, remain in dire conditions on a boat in Merak, Indonesia. Another 78 Sri Lankan Tamil asylum seekers, including children, remain on the Australian customs ship Oceanic Viking off Tanjung Pinang, Indonesia. Both groups are refusing to leave their boats for fear that Indonesia will lock them up in detention centres with a reputation for brutality and/or send them back to an uncertain future in Sri Lanka. On November 1, it was reported that a boat of asylum seekers had sunk near the Cocos Islands, an Australian territory in the Indian Ocean, and 12 are missing feared drowned.
Meanwhile, 207 Sri Lankan asylum-seekers are being held at the Immigration Detention Centre at Kuala Lumpar International Airport, and 108 Sri Lankan refugees are being detained at Pekan Nanas Immigration Detention Centre in Johor, Malaysia. Malaysia is both a transit point and a country of permanent asylum for tens of thousands of refugees from countries such as Myanmar and Sri Lanka.
Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd claims its policy is "humane" but "tough". It is neither. The Rudd Labor government of Australia is bribing the Indonesian government of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to intercept the boats of asylum seekers on their way to Australia. This "Indonesian solution" out-sources Australia's obligation to asylum seekers to Indonesia just as its predecessor did to Nauru and PNG in the name of a "Pacific solution".
Many of those seeking asylum in Australia come from Sri Lanka where the Tamils have suffered from decades of brutal oppression at the hands of various Sinhala national chauvinist governments. The government of Mahinda Rajapaksa unleashed an all-out terror campaign this year, killing some 20,000 Tamil people in the month of May. Since the end of the military offensive, more than 300,000 Tamil people have been imprisoned in concentration-style camps and denied the right to return to their homes. It is estimated that 31,000 children are among those incarcerated, without proper access to shelter, food and medicine.
The Australian government, like many governments in the West and across Asia, supported the Rajapaksa regime throughout its final onslaught, preferring to maintain trade links - including selling arms - rather than stop the Tamil minority from being massacred.

We condemn the Australian, Indonesian and Malaysian governments for their lack of commitment to the humanitarian problems faced by the refugees and we demand:
  • That the governments of our countries withdraw financial and diplomatic support from the Sri Lankan government until it closes the concentration camps, and allows the Tamils trapped in camps to go back to their homes without fear of persecution.
  • That no refugee fleeing war and persecution should be forced to return to the country they fled.
  • That Australia, as a wealthy and developed country which has exploited its poorer neighbours, should immediately develop a program to settle tens of thousands of asylum seekers and take a leading role in helping reduce the misery of the world’s millions of refugees, most of whom are trying to survive in desperate conditions in refugee camps in some of the world's poorest countries.
  • That Australia allow the asylum seekers trapped in Indonesia to come to Australia to have their claims heard and we condemn the Indonesian government for being a puppet for the Australian government in preventing refugees from going to Australia. This cooperation between these two governments is a threat not only to the Tamil refugees but to human rights in the region.
  • That Australia must immediately close the Christmas Island refugee prison, and allow those asylum seekers to live in freedom in Australia while their claims are processed.
  • That the Indonesian, Malaysian and Australian governments respect the human rights of the refugees, give protection, humanitarian aid and accommodation to the refugees as long as they are in Indonesian territory and place no limitation for their rights to seek asylum.
  • That the Malaysian and Indonesian governments sign the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, release the asylum seekers they have in detention and allow them full access to UNHCR and human rights groups.

We appeal to all democratic and progressive people in Indonesia, Malaysia and Australia, trade unions, human rights organisations and women’s rights organisations to understand the plight of the asylum seekers and to support our demands.
[If your organisation would like to add its name to this statement, please write to Socialist Alliance at]

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Socialist Allilance 7th national conference January 2010

Fighting for socialism in the 21st Century:
 Towards Sustainability, Justice and People’s Power
Socialist Alliance 7th National Conference
Sydney, January 2-5, 2010
Women’s College, University of Sydney

Sponsored by Green Left Weekly


7.30pm  Their Crises, Our Solutions. Public meeting to launch the conference

9am Welcome to country
9.15am The Socialist Alliance’s perspectives for struggle in 2010 (panel of speakers and discussion)
10.30am Socialist election strategy and tactics: preparing for the next federal election (panel of speakers and discussion)

12.15pm Building the climate action movement (panel of speakers and discussion)
2.45pm The struggle for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights (panel of speakers and discussion)
4pm Multiple workshops to plan campaigning on: climate change, Aboriginal rights, same-sex marriage rights, anti-war and Latin America solidarity

7.30pm Green Left Weekly Fighting Fund rally. An evening of speakers, music and multi-media presentations to launch the 2010 fighting fund for Australia’s # 1 alternative newspaper.

9am Rebuilding the trade unions for the fights ahead (panel of speakers and discussion)
10.15am Building the socialist movement among young people (panel of speakers and discussion)
11.30am Refugee rights and internationalism (panel of speakers and discussion)

12.15pm The Latin American revolutions and solidarity (panel of speakers and discussion)
2pm Campaigning for environmental sustainability (panel of speakers and discussion)
2-4pm Challenges of building a radical alternative to Labor 1 (concurrent educational workshop)
3pm Getting Australia out of Afghanistan and Iraq (panel of speakers and discussion)
4pm Multiple workshops on building the Socialist Alliance and strengthening left unity, covering Green Left Weekly,  election campaigning, internet activism, etc.
4-6pm Understanding the financial and economic crisis (concurrent educational workshop)

7.30pm International Cultural Night: Performances from many lands and peoples

9am Campaigning for women’s and queer rights today (panel of speakers and discussion)
9.45am Socialist Alliance policy session 1 (discussion and voting on a range of policy proposals from members)
11.30am Taking action in 2010: discussion and voting on Socialist Alliance building resolutions
11.30am-1pm Ecology, socialism and human survival (concurrent educational workshop)

2pm Taking action in 2010: discussion and voting on Socialist Alliance resolutions on the climate movement, Latin America solidarity, anti-war, women's rights and  LGBTI rights
2-3.30pm Building the Left-Indigenous alliance (concurrent educational workshop)
3pm Socialist Alliance policy session 2 (discussion and voting on a range of policy proposals from members)
3-5pm  Challenges of building a radical alternative to Labor 2 (concurrent educational workshop)
4pm Socialist Alliance elections
All welcome

Whole conference: $60 solidarity/$50 waged/$30 unwaged
Two days: $40 solidarity/$30 waged/$15 unwaged
One day/session: $20 solidarity/$15 waged/$5 unwaged
Childcare will be available for a small fee if booked by November 30, 2009

For more information, or to register for the conference, visit, email, or phone (02) 9690 2508, or contact your local branch of the Socialist Alliance.

* Some changes will likely be made to this agenda before the conference. For the latest agenda, visit

Perth Resistance in action - campaigning for refugee rights


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Eyewitness report on revolution in Nepal Thurs 19 Nov

Eyewitness report on
Revolution in Nepal

Guest speaker:
Ben Peterson
Green Left Weekly correspondent who spent 4 months in Nepal in 2009

6.30pm, Thurs 19 November
Perth Activist Centre, 15 / 5 Aberdeen St, East Perth

Since the 2006 overthrow of the Nepalese monarchy, a struggle has ensued over the heart and soul of the new Nepal. The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) held governmental power for nine months but – having been unconstitutionally forced out of office by pro-status quo forces – are regrouping for another progressive advance. This forum will discuss the dynamics and contours of a revolution in motion.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Capitalism: a love story

Green Left Weekly presents:
Michael Moore's Capitalism: A love story

6.30pm, Thurs 5 November
Luna Cinema, Leederville
(155 Oxford Street)

Check out the preview trailer below.

Tickets: $15 or $20 solidarity
A fundraiser for Green Left Weekly

[Pre-purchase tickets essential. Phone Alex 9218 9608 or 0413 976 638 to secure your spot and to get tickets to your friends.]