Archive for the ‘Australian politics’ Category

by Susanne Kemp

Firefighters across New Zealand and around the world are marking International Firefighters’ Day today, May 4.

As the IFFD home page notes, “Firefighters dedicate their lives to the protection of life and property. Sometimes that dedication is in the form of countless hours volunteered over many years, in others it is many selfless years working in the industry. In all cases it risks the ultimate sacrifice of a firefighter’s life.”

In Third World countries, firefighting is an especially hazardous job due to widespread very poor health and safety conditions in factories, sweatshops and other workplaces and the under-spending on public services such as firefighting.

Bangla Desh firefighters and emergency workers

For instance, in the Tazreen Fashion factory fire in Dhaka, Bangla Desh, in 2012, at least 117 died while 200 were injured.  At the Kader Toy Factory fire in Thailand in 1993, despite the desperate efforts of firefighters, somewhere between 190-210 workers, mainly young women from rural areas, were killed and over 500 were injured.  The workers were locked inside the factory and firefighting crews were delayed by traffic jams in the area. (This fire is the subject of Don McGlashan’s powerful ‘Toy Factory Fire’ song on his first solo album.)

While we should think about the dangers faced by firefighters in NZ, we should never lose sight of the (more…)

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by Daphna Whitmore

Gideon Levy is on a mission to tell the truth to Israelis, that they are accountable for the occupation. He has just finished a short visit to New Zealand and  several hundred people turned out to hear him speak at a public meeting in Auckland. 

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Gideon Levy

He gave a compelling view of the Israeli regime and society.  Born and raised in Israel Levy  did not start out as a critical thinker. It wasn’t until he started visiting the occupied territories in the early 1980s as a journalist for the newspaper Haaretz that he gradually realised how brainwashed he’d been.

He characterises Israel as three regimes. One is a liberal democracy for the Jewish citizens, though there are cracks emerging in that democracy. Nevertheless Jews, including Levy, enjoy all the rights of a democracy and he has published his unpopular views in Haaretz for decades without being silenced. The second regime is for the Palestinian citizens living within Israel, known as Israeli Arabs, who have formal civil rights but face deep discrimination. The third regime is the “dark backyard” of the occupied territories, one of the most tyrannical regimes, not identical to that of apartheid South Africa, but one that looks a lot like apartheid.  (more…)

by Phil Duncan

The postal plebiscite in Australia on gay marriage has returned almost exactly the same result as the actual referendum in the south of Ireland in 2015. Basically 62% Yes, 38% No.

The Yes vote across the ditch was a tiny fraction below the Yes vote in Ireland and the No vote there was a tiny fraction above the No vote in Ireland.  Also, in Ireland it was a binding referendum; in Australia it was just a plebiscite.  Nevertheless it seems that by the New Year gay women and men will have the same right to marry as straight women and men.

It’s a victory for human progress and equality.

But it is also a sign that the ruling class, certainly in the imperialist heartlands, has no interest in continuing to discriminate against gay women and men. It’s not just that the progessive movement is pushing for marriage equality; the reality is that they are pushing against an already-opening door.

It’s all a long way from the early days of the gay liberation movement.

Just a few decades ago Australian cops were (more…)

by Con Karavias

For more than five years, refugees have been subjected to horror and abuse on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea. With the government’s decision to permanently close the detention centre on 31 October, the horror has descended into absolute barbarity.

Water, food and power have been cut off. More than 600 refugees have been reduced to filling bins with rainwater and mixing it with sugar and salt to sustain themselves. Sympathetic members of the local PNG community have been blocked from providing them with food. A protest sign in the centre in early November read, “If the air was in Australia’s hands it would cut it on us”.

Behrouz Boochani, an Iranian refugee on Manus, talks of “a mood of death, climate of (more…)

 by Daphna Whitmore

Manus. A Nation’s shame. Lives held in limbo. Lives lived in fear & despair. It’s fucking disgraceful. Russell Crowe in one tweet sums it up. 

Six hundred asylum seekers who have been imprisoned on Manus Island for years are refusing to go to East Lorengau transit centre on the island. They say it is not safe as locals have threatened and attacked them. Detention on Nauru is the other hell-hole option the men are refusing. Behrouz Boochani,  a journalist and Kurdish refugee from Iran, has been speaking out from Manus Island where he has been held since August 2014.  “We will never move to another prison. We will never settle for anything less than freedom. Only freedom.”

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Manus Island asylum seekers protesting

Locking up asylum seekers in remote and inhumane detention centres has been a long-standing bipartisan policy of Liberal and Labor governments in Australia. (more…)

As the New Zealand ‘mission’ in the Solomons is ending, the NZ government is patting itself on the back for its achievements.  NZ, it suggests, is a benign force in the Pacific and the intervention is presented as essentially humanitarian – saving lives and helping the people of the Solomons nation-build.  The article below first appeared in the August-October 2003 of revolution magazine, one of the predecessors of this site; it explains the real reasons for NZ intervention.

New Zealand Foreign Minister Phil Goff and NZ soldiers in Honiara July 31, 2003. Another NZ imperialist intervention courtesy of the Labour Party. Pic: REUTERS/Stringer DG/FA

by Will Shannon

As we go to press, a substantial Australian-New Zealand force is being prepared for intervention in the Solomon Islands.  The NZ government will contribute up to 40 police and 200 troops, while Canberra is mobilising 1200 troops and 300 police.

Both governments are presenting this as a humanitarian-style intervention.  Former Solomons prime minister Manasseh Sogavare, however, has described the planned intervention as a move to recolonise and control the nation (DominionPost, July 10).  There is also anger at Australia’s proposal to put expatriates into government management positions as part of the intervention.

What is behind the planned intervention? (more…)

by Daphna Whitmore

When Winston Peters praises your immigration policy you know you have hit a new low. This week Labour announced it will slash immigration numbers and Peters teased they were being a bit xenophobic, and then praised them for putting New Zealand First.dog whistle

Andrew Little explained Labour’s new policy with claims that migrants are clogging up the roads, filling the houses and taking jobs. It’s time for a breather on immigration the Labour Party website announced. They will cut immigration by tens of thousands. (more…)