Friday, April 30, 2010

GLW May Day celebration Sat 8 May 2010

Green Left Weekly May Day celebration

Saturday 8 May 2010, 7pm

Ticket includes a night of music and a Turkish inspired dinner. Cocktails and other drinks will be available for purchase. Vegetarians and vegans will be catered for.

MUA building, Kwong Alley, North Fremantle

Tickets: $50 solidarity / $30 full price / $15 concession

Please call Justine 0418 906 316 or Sanna 0417 852 628.

A shuttle will also be available from the greater Fremantle area including both train stations between 6pm and 7.30pm and at the end of the night. Parking is available.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Refugee rights action outside Stephen Smith's office

Forty refugee rights activists protested outside Labor foreign minister Stephen Smith's office on April 23 to demand an end to the government's "freeze" on asylum seeker applications from Afghanistan and Sri Lanka (i.e. for the Tamils).

Socialist Alliance candidate for Perth, Alex Bainbridge, spoke at the action as did Refugee Rights Action Network members Phil Chilton and Victoria Martin-Iverson, Greens senator Scott Ludlam and Greens candidate Jonathan Hallet.

Bainbridge said that the best description of the coming election campaign is that it is shaping up to be a "festival of cruelty towards refugees".

"For this, I say: 'Shame on you Stephen Smith! Shame on you Kevin Rudd!'," he said. "We all know the legacy of the Howard government and we all know the role that Tony Abbott is playing in shifting things to the right, but Labor is following them every step of the way."

He said that the refugee rights movement can shift public opinion back towards a more humane policy but that this would mean challenging the Labor party while they continue the current policy.

The Perth Voice covered the action. The next event organised by Refugee Rights Action Network is the "dusk to dawn" vigil at the Perth Immigration Detention Centre on May 7.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Photos and video from Rally for Your Rights

Rally opposes new police powers

PERTH — On April 20, 200 angry protesters at a rally shouted down state police minister Rob Johnson, as he attempted to justify the anti-democratic “stop-and-search” laws. The proposed legislation allows police to conduct intrusive body searches without suspicion of a crime.

The laws would also allow the minister to declare areas in which police have the power to arbitrarily stop and search people without reasonable grounds for suspicion.

The crowd was also addressed by Greens MLC Giz Watson, Labor opposition police spokesperson Margaret Quirk and Dr David Indermaur from the Crime Research Centre.

Quirk repeatedly commented that the proposed legislation is not ``targetted'' enough, or ``too broad'', while Watson and Indermaur clearly called for the legislation to be scrapped altogether. The latter speakers got a warmer reception.

The rally was organised by Search For Your Rights. Another action is planned in Northbridge in August.

Ben Peterson

Video of David Indermaur speaking:

This video can also be watched on YouTube.

Photos from the rally:

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Socialist Alliance election advertisement in May Day Fremantle Herald

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Why we oppose the "stop and search" laws

[The text below is from a leaflet distributed by Perth Resistance at the rally against the proposed "stop and search" laws outside the WA parliament on 20 April 2010.]

1. If they remove the need for “reasonable suspicion”, the result will be unreasonable searches.
Under existing law, police already have considerable powers to stop and search people. “WA’s stop and search laws are already some of the widest-reaching in the country, and far exceed most other western nations’ laws,” according to Law Society president Dudley Stow. Already too many arbitrary police searches take place. “Stop and Search” laws will only make this worse.

2. Similar laws in Britain have been misused by police
In Britain – where someone is stopped and searched by police every 20 seconds! – there has been a 66% rise in the last year in the number of people searched under the section 44 “Anti-Terrorism” powers (that is the stop and search powers where no reasonable suspicion is required). Out of 210,013 such searches, only 9 people (0.004%) were even arrested for terrorism offences. Black and Asian people suffered the biggest increase in searches since these laws were brought in so now police are deliberately increasing their searches of white people so the racial profiling statistics don’t look so bad!

The European courts have recently declared this law illegal.

3 These laws move WA ‘one step closer to a police state’
These laws are part of a pattern of laws that undermine democratic rights and civil liberties. Other laws that erode democratic rights include: mandatory sentencing laws, proposed “anti-bikie gang” laws, and federal “anti-terror” laws. The WA Law Society says these proposed “stop and search” laws move Australia “one step closer to a police state, undermining some of our basic democratic rights and freedoms as citizens”.

As well as the Law Society, others to speak out against the laws include: Equal Opportunity Commissioner Yvonne Henderson, Australian Lawyers Alliance director Greg Barnes, former Fraser government minister Fred Chaney, Children’s Commissioner Michelle Scott, Crime Research Centre professor David Indermauer as well as police, lawyers and many more.

4. We need to defend our democratic rights if we want to keep them
Capitalist governments – whether Labor or Liberal – cannot carry out their agendas of privatisation, cutbacks and neo-liberalism and maintain popular support at the same time. In part the rhetoric of “law and order” is a diversion – to try to stop people focusing on the real problems in society: global warming, war and underfunded social services to name a few. But they are also part of a pattern of erosion of democratic rights that is aimed in part at silencing dissent.

If we want a socially just and sustainable world, we have to fight for it. Defending our democratic rights is part of that fight.


Friday, April 16, 2010

Rally for your rights 20 Apr 2010

Rally for your rights
Stop the Stop and Search Laws

12:30pm, Tues 20 April
Parliament House (Harvest Terrace, West Perth - click here for directions)

Come down to rally against the Government’s proposed “stop and search” laws – Tuesday 20th April, 12.30pm at Parliament House.

They propose to remove the requirement of ‘reasonable suspicion’ for police searches. Removing the requirement of reasonable suspicion does nothing but CREATE UNREASONABLE SEARCHES.

All of the evidence shows that these laws will not decrease crime, but will increase community disunity, legalise harassment, and strip everyday citizens of their rights.

We’re not willing to let WA slip back into the dark ages.

Come down on the day we present our parliamentary petition calling for the Legislative Assembly to withdraw its support for this legislation.

Hear some speakers on why these laws won’t work and must be stopped; and shout out your protest against the injustices against you proposed in these laws.

Everyone is welcome and wanted- none of us have special rights. If one of us loses our rights, we all do.

Event details are also on Facebook here – please feel free to RSVP there.

Green Left Weekly on Stop & Search Laws:

Rally organised by Search For Your Rights:

DOWNLOAD: Rally flyer (colour)

DOWNLOAD: Rally flyer (black & white)

Film premiere: Inside the Revolution - a journey into the heart of Venezuela

Inside the Revolution
A journey into the heart of Venezuela

A film by Pablo Navarrete
Alborada Films

Perth screening:
6:30pm, Fri 16 April
Perth Activist Centre (15 / 5 Aberdeen St, East Perth - next to McIver station)
Organised by Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network & Green Left Weekly.

$10/$7. Ph Barry 9299 6453, Alex 9218 9608, 0413 976 638. *

February 2009 marked 10 years since Hugo Chavez took office, following a landslide election victory, and launched his revolution to bring radical change to Venezuela. While wildly popular with many in the country, Chavez's policies and his strongly-worded criticisms of the U.S. government have also made him powerful enemies, both at home and abroad, especially in the media. Filmed in Caracas in November 2008, on the eve of the 10th anniversary of Chavez's controversial presidency, this feature-length documentary takes a journey into the heart of Venezuela's revolution to listen to the voices of the people driving the process forward.

"This is a rare film about Venezuela, a country in extraordinary transition. Watch this film because it is honest and fair and respectful of those who want to be told the truth about an epic attempt, flaws and all, to claim back the humanity of ordinary people." - John Pilger

All welcome. For more information, phone 9299 6453, 9218 9608, 0413 976 638.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Sam Wainwright speaking at "Ethics of Profit" forum

Conversations on Tap: The ethics of profit

Start: 19 Apr 2010 - 5:45pm

Speakers include:
Dr Lucy Morris CEO Baptistcare, and Adjunct Professor, Notre Dame Australia, School of Business
Professor George Kailis Professor Notre Dame Australia, School of Business
Sam Wainwright Fremantle Councillor (Hilton Ward), Socialist Alliance (Co-Convener) and Member Maritime Union of Australia

Next Monday (Notre Dame) Campus Ministry and the School of Business kick off the Conversations on Tap Series.

The topic is The Ethics of Profit.

Formal presentations for 15 minutes by each speaker followed by 30 minutes of formal questions, then food, drinks and a chance to engage a familiar topic in a new way on an individual level with folks you don’t normally get to talk to.

Tickets are $10 which covers yummy snacks and beverages.

Come along and broaden your mind. Its sure to be an interesting and thought provoking evening :)


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Barnett's drive to out-source services: What's at stake?

By Socialist Alliance councillor Sam Wainwright
In comments to the Herald on March 13 condemning the Barnett government’s push to outsource human services to charities and other non-government organisations; it was careless of me not to stress that there are people in these organisations doing their very best with limited resources to help people in need.

Evidently Peter Tagliaferri and Steve McDermott from St Patrick’s Care (Socialist Crucified, Herald April 3) thought that I was criticizing their efforts. For the record; I’m sure people at St Pats are doing a power of good. Furthermore I was happy to make a small contribution to the Gimme Shelter concert by promoting it on my blog site, distributing the flyers and attending with friends.

But let’s not forget the context in which the comments were made. The state government is determined to privatise and out-source just about every human service it can. The main reason non-government organisations can provide a service cheaper is because their pay rates are about 70-80% of what a public servant would get for doing the same job.

Public servants have been told that where their job is out-sourced they will have to follow it to the new employer with no option of redundancy or redeployment. If they refuse they’ll be sacked. That’s right, accept a possible 20% pay cut or be sacked!

To top it off, for those left in the public service Barnett has proposed the Public Sector Reform Bill which will impose an industrial relations regime worse than the hated WorkChoices. All this has got nothing to do with delivering better services; it’s about cutting costs and smashing public sector workers’ rights and conditions into the bargain.

There are plenty of non-government organisations who openly admit that they simply don’t receive enough money to do the job properly or to attract and retain the staff they want. The problem with a system in which services are provided by a raft of under-funded and fragmented contractors is that it takes the focus off the failure of government to properly resource it.

While my talk about a return to the era of Dickens was laying it on thick, I have no doubt that this process is a stepping stone towards government trying to absolve itself of the moral responsibility to provide these sorts of services.

Compare the provision of care and therapy for children with disabilities in this country - provided by a mish-mash of government agencies, contracted non-government organisations and charities – with the British state which under the National Health Service legislation is obliged to provide this care to all its citizens for free.

A recent episode of Four Corners followed the stories of families who have left Australia for Britain so their children can receive the care that in this country only the very rich can afford. This is a disgrace.
Finally, while I appreciate the Herald’s cheeky sense of humour it was a bit insensitive to suggest that participants in this discussion are trying to “crucify” each other, on the day before Easter too! Or was the Herald alluding to the man who really was crucified for defending the poor and dispossessed?

I wonder what he’d make of WA. Thanks to a boom in the mining and offshore oil and gas industries there are rivers of gold flowing down St Georges Terrace, yet our society still can’t properly fund services for people with disabilities, the mentally ill, the aged and others who need our support.

[From: Sam's Freo Report:]

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Elections 2010: a festival of cruelty towards refugees?

As the Coalition strives to make "border control" a vote-changing issue and the Rudd government continues to claim its approach is best at keeping the "people smugglers" and the "queue-jumpers" under control, do we face the dark prospect of another refugee-bashing federal election?

As things stand, it looks likely. Labor agrees with the Coalition that asylum seeker boats reaching Australian waters pose a genuine problem of national security. So why wouldn’t Tony Abbott and Co. maintain their current offensive about the "unprecedented flood of illegal arrivals" up until election time?

Coalition shadow immigration minister Scott Morrison certainly feels he has Labor cornered. He said on March 30: "It was Julia Gillard who said in opposition, 'another boat on the way, another policy failure'. On Julia Gillard's benchmark, Labor's 100 boat arrivals on the Rudd Government's watch means 100 Labor policy failures." 

The Australian corporate media, especially the Murdoch press, has been doing its bit to boost the useful hysteria, keeping running tallies of boats intercepted by the Australian navy and beds still available in the Christmas Island detention centre. The "overflow" that was transferred to the mainland has cause some of the worst fear-mongering since the previous Howard government's "children overboard affair".

(Little or no mention, of course, of issues that might make us sympathise with asylum seekers as fellow human beings—like the fact that conditions at the Christmas Island detention centre have deteriorated rapidly, that whole families are living in tents and that Afghan and Tamil men are being kept in maximum-security style conditions.)

Many people voted for Rudd with the hope of change, and have been thoroughly disappointed since. Rudd's promises since the 2007 election have largely failed. And it's further emboldened the Coalition and boosted its refugee-bashing. Why not try to turn the anger and resentment Rudd’s failures are generating against refugees, and into votes for the Coalition?

When the March 28 Brisbane Sunday Mail carried a front page headline screaming "They’re Here!" (complete with a photo of "suspected immigration detainees returning from a shopping excursion") there were over 400 responses on the paper's web site. Most were bitter about the "privileged treatment" detainees were getting from the Rudd government. Coalition strategists won't have missed that.

In this filthy atmosphere Tony Abbott is also feeling more confident about the Coalition’s alternative policy. On March 30 he said: "John Howard stopped the flow and, given his success, there is no reason why a future government that had sufficient resolve could not do the same thing. We would do whatever it takes to ensure that effective deterrents are in place."

"Effective deterrents" include temporary protection visas, the cruel and arbitrary measure originally introduced by the Howard government (and first suggested by One Nation leader and racist zealot Pauline Hanson).

Faced with the prospect of an election in which refugees are cruelly used as scapegoats by both Labor and Liberal, Socialist Alliance candidates will do their utmost to debunk the myths surrounding refugees and asylum seekers—their "queue-jumping", "privileges" and all the rest of the lies. 

They will ask the question: how does a cruel, inhumane and discriminatory policy towards asylum seekers help improve the life of even one worker, pensioner, job-seeker or disabled person in this country?

Our candidates will also show that a major problem with Abbott's outrageously racist flouting of the refugee issue means that the Rudd government can parade as compassionate when this is simply untrue.

Yes, Rudd was forced by a strong refugee rights movement in Australia to abolish some of Howard’s worst policies, such as temporary protection visas and the mandatory detention of children. But Australia's refugee policy remains one of the toughest in the world. It has maintained mandatory detention and offshore processing of all refugees who risk the perilous passage to Australia by boat.

The excision of Australia's migration zone, which includes Christmas Island, denies refugees access to Australia's legal system. Refugees are locked up and treated worse than criminals, denied their rights and vilified by the media.

Moreover, despite the insistence of the major parties and the corporate media that Australia is "threatened" by the rise in asylum seekers, the number Australia receives is actually tiny.

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees has recently released statistics on global asylum trends for 2009 that showed that 377,200 sought refuge in industrialised countries, mainly in Europe and North America. In comparison, Australia received only 1400 more asylum claims than in 2008. It took merely 1.6% of registered refugees globally and ranked 16th.

Australia needs to massively increase its intake to begin to genuinely address the rise of refugees around the world. It must also end its role in wars such as Iraq and Afghanistan, and cut all ties with the government of Sri Lanka until it ceases its brutally repressive policies towards the Tamil people.

All immigration detention facilities, including Villawood and Christmas Island, must be closed for good. We must guarantee the right of asylum seekers to immediately apply for asylum in Australia and let them be processed and settled in the community.

Ordinary human decency demands no less.

[By Jay Fletcher]

For full details of the Socialist Alliance policy on asylum-seekers and refugees, go to