Issue Number 33

June-July 2011

  • No racism deportations - fight for refugee rights
  • An awakening across the Arab world

International News & Analysis

By Mai Phuoc Dung

[This is the speech delivered to the launch meeting of Agent Orange Justice-Australia Vietnam Solidarity Network, held in Sydney on June 1, by the Vietnamese consul general in Sydney, Mai Phuoc Dung.]

Ladies and gentlemen, dear colleagues and friends:

By John Percy

An awakening is occurring across the Arab world – a mass uprising in political activity and consciousness, already resulting in revolutionary mobilisations overthrowing dictatorships in Tunisia and Egypt and threatening others.

By an observer in Phnom Penh

Two South-east Asian neighbours, Thailand and Cambodia, with similar cultures and religion, have come to blows, apparently over a temple on their border. Since July 2008, serious fighting has broken out five times.

By Barry Sheppard

San Francisco – The assassination of Osama bin Laden by US Special Forces in a unilateral raid into Pakistan is being trumpeted by President Obama and the media. Raucous celebrations of the killing occurred in many cities, and Obama’s poll numbers went up among right-wing Tea Party types.

Marxist Education Conference

We regret that comrade Gerry Rivera was unable to attend the Revolution and Internationalism in the 21st century Conference. We note the recent attempt by the management of Philippine Airlines to escalate its dispute with the Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA).

By Kirat Kaur

May 7 was a turning point in Singapore’s political history. Singaporeans went to the polls that day in the country’s 16th parliamentary elections, and by the next morning it had become clear that the political mood has shifted in this island nation.

By Nick Everett

Angered by rising unemployment and a deepening social crisis, and inspired by the popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, tens of thousands of Spanish youth have taken to the streets, occupying city squares throughout Spain. Solidarity protests have taken place throughout Europe.

By James Balowski

Jakarta – May Day was commemorated across Indonesia by thousands of workers, students, women activists and NGOs. Despite large turnouts in most cities, this year’s demands were less militant, with a major focus on the Social Insurance Management Agency (BPJS) law being deliberated by the House of Representatives (DPR).

By Sam King

The international capitalist media have largely ignored the tumultuous developments in Egypt unfolding under the pressure of a massive movement for change. Most coverage since the resignation of former president Hosni Mubarak on February 11 has been uncritical reportage of “sectarian” violence.

By Hamish Chitts

Ezequiel Morales from the Instituto Cubano de Amistad con los Pueblos (ICAP) (the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples) spoke with Hamish Chitts from Direct Action on May 9 after Morales had spoken to a workplace meeting of Brisbane bus drivers organised by the Rail, Tram, Bus Union and the Australia Cuba Friendship Society.

Australian News & Analysis

By John Percy

Agent Orange Justice-Australia-Vietnam Solidarity Network, has now been established in Australia. A very successful inaugural meeting was held in Sydney on June 1, attended by more than 40 people, with 20 new members joining AOJ.

By Tim Stewart

The campaign against coal seam gas (CSG) mining has taken to the streets over the past month with big turnouts at rallies in northern NSW and the spawning of “No CSG” groups all over social media sites, attracting thousands of supporters.

By John Percy

Bob Gould, long-time Sydney political activist, Trotskyist and ALP member, and notorious bookshop owner, died on May 22 aged 74. More than 300 people from many areas of Bob’s political life attended his funeral and the following wake at Newtown’s Courthouse Hotel.

By Kim Bullimore

Melbourne visual artist Van Thanh Rudd’s art work titled Pop Goes the System, which depicts Justin Bieber supporting Palestinian human rights, was banned from the 2011 Human Rights Arts and Film Festival by festival organisers.

By Jon Lamb

The Queensland state budget delivered on June 14 has confirmed again the state Labor government’s willingness to pander to the needs of big business, while workers pick up the tab for the sell-off of large chunks of the state’s infrastructure. In a post-budget media event, Queensland Premier Anna Bligh beamed as she announced: “The sun has come back to the sunshine state”.

By Andrew Martin

In April, refugee rights activists from Perth and other parts of Australia attempted to visit asylum seekers held in the Curtin detention centre. Leading the protest action were the asylum seekers themselves, who went on hunger strike. Why is there so much underlying tension within the system of mandatory detention?

Views, Discussion & Debate

By Kathy Newnam

Around 350 people attended the Feminist Futures Conference, held in Melbourne on May 28-29. Before the conference, there was heated debate on the conference Facebook page about the panellists for the conference, much of the focus being on the inclusion of Melbourne academic Sheila Jeffreys in the program.

By Allen Myers

“There’s no such thing as a free lunch” is a phrase that became popular with economists many years ago. The conservative economist Milton Friedman even used it as the title of a book he published in 1975. It’s shorthand for the idea that you can’t really get something for nothing: even if something seems free, you pay for it in one way or another. Is that true?

By Andrew Martin

Malcolm Fraser, the Liberal politician who played a key role in the dismissal of the Whitlam government, is today often credited as a humanitarian by many on the left. They specifically point to the way he handled the influx of Vietnamese refugees in the late 1970s. Many of these refugees arrived by boat, and it was the time when the term “boat people” was first popularised.

We stand for the transformation of human society, from its current basis of greed, exploitation, war, oppression and environmental destruction, to a commonwealth of social ownership, solidarity and human freedom, living in harmony with our planet’s ecosystems.

By Kim Bullimore

On April 19, the same day that Marrickville Council met to reconsider its vote in support of the Palestinian-initiated boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign for Palestinian human rights and against Israel, the Socialist Party of Australia issued a statement opposing the BDS campaign.


Reviewed by Jon Lamb

Carjacked: The Culture of the Automobile and Its Effects on Our lives
By Catherine Lutz and Anne Lutz Fernandez
Palgrave Macmillan, 272 pages

In Their Own Words

Managing profits

“There will be impacts. But everything is monitored so we can manage it well ahead of time if there is any impact.” Ross Dunn, Queensland coal seam gas manager for the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association, responding to concerns about environmental damage from coal seam gas mining.