Monthly Archives: October 2006

Community meeting opposes WorkChoices

worklife-sthsideforum_photo-shot-at-meeting.jpgAbout 50 local residents at a community forum in Buranda collected money and passed a resolution supporting the 107 West Australian construction workers facing individual fines of up to $28,600 for going on strike to defend a union delegate.

This collection and resolution was part of a forum organised by the WorkLife group against the Federal government’s WorkChoice legislation. The forum heard a range of speakers criticizing the “anti-worker” legislation.

Professor David Peetz from Griffith University dealt with some of the “pork pies” in the government’s “tax payer funded advertising campaign”. One claim was that award conditions would be “protected by law”.

David told the forum that, “every AWA [individual contract] got rid of at least one award condition” while “63% of AWAs abolished penalty rates totally, 64% abolished annual leave loading, 52% abolished shift loading; 51% abolished overtime pay while another 31% reduced overtime pay”.

David also looked at the claim that the unfair dismissal laws were “job destroying”. David told the forum that immediately following the introducion of the unfair dismissal laws in 1994, employment growth was at 2.41%, while employment growth following their abolition was 2.03%. “We had more employment growth after the laws were introduced than when they were abolished,” he told the forum.

Brad Emerson, an EFTPOS technician, told the forum of his personal story of bullying and harassment by a previous employer, how he was “made redundant” while on leave, and how the new laws failed to protect his rights.

Jorgen Gullestrup from the plumbers’ union told the forum of some of the difficulties his union faced in organizing in the construction industry, including the Building Industry Task Force, which had the power to jail workers for non co-operation.

Angela Ballard from the Social Action Office looked at how the laws interfaced with the community welfare sector. She warned that the WorkChoices legislation was “a bit like sun baking on a lovely Queensland day. You don’t know you’re burnt until the sun goes down and down the track the cancer sets in”.

The forum was organised by WorkLife, a coalition of people aiming to restore the balance between life and work.

An organiser said that “Some of the key activists in Worklife saw it as a starting point and see the campaign as being a long campaign.”

WorkLife will be holding its next community forum at the Brook Hotel, Osborne Road, Mitchelton, at 1pm on the 25th November. Sharan Burrow, the ACTU President, will be speaking at this forum.

For more information contact:
Mark Gillespie on 3891 5385
Ross Gwyther on 0408 782 983.


Not Guilty

This gallery contains 6 photos.

People often criticise me for living in the 1970s. Perhaps I do dwell on the past, but that is where I was and where I come from, the 1970s. I learnt my politics in that time and in this place, … Continue reading

Vale Wendy Lowenstein

wendy-lowenstein-and-tom-hills-webpage.jpgI met Wendy Lowenstein a few times and corresponded with her occasionally about publishing workers literature.

Wendy displayed the qualities of old communists in Australia whose roots lay in the depression in the 1930s— committment to workers struggle and organisation.

In person Wendy was warm and intelligent; her words were not marred by rhetoric.

I first met Wendy at Emma’s bookshop in West End in Brisbane in August 1997. She was launching her book Weevils at Work which took its name from her earlier oral history of the 1930s depression, Weevils in the Flour. Wendy signed the book with the words: “For Ian Curr – Struggle keeps you fit“.

Her introduction, ‘Here I Stand‘, to Weevils at Work quoted a Public First activist writing in the Pen, a Melbourne community newspaper: “We have an obligation to hand on a better society to those who come after us … Civil disobedience, combined with industrial action, is the only option left to us unless we’re prepared to live as an underclass.’

Later in 1998 Wendy sent me (on behalf of LeftPress) an autographed copy of her book: Under the Hook: Melbourne Waterside Workers remember working lives and class war: 1900-1998. Wendy had just launched the new edition of the book with a new chapter called after the popular slogan “MUA—here to stay!

My partner and I later visited Wendy at her home in St Kilda where we met her husband Werner and her daughter. Wendy’s house was full of books; her lounge was a reading room with wooden chairs — a warm place for political discussion where everyone could contribute on an equal footing.

On the front page of Under the Hook Wendy describes how difficult it is to publish working class literature in Australia.

An unsympathetic publisher asked her “Who’s going to read it?

Wendy’s reply: “Wharfies, of course”.

The publisher then said “Waterside workers don’t read books!

Wendy replied: “Workers will read books relevant to their lives. You don’t publish the right sort.

Wendy Lowenstein was right.

Proof of her claim was when SHAPE published “Towards Peace – a Workers Journey” by Phil O’Brien with Bernie Dowling in the early 1990s.

Phil sold over 1,200 books to fellow workers, union members, ex-soldiers, schools, and libraries.

The printers, LeftPress, helped distribute another 300 or so around the Left and union circles.

Over 1,500 books in all were distributed.

Today LeftPress still gets requests for copies of the book which is now out-of-print.

Wendy’s books include The Immigrants (with Morag Loh), Cinderella Dressed in Yella (with June Factor and Professor Ian Turner), Shocking, Shocking, Shocking, Under the Hook (with Tom Hills) and Weevils at Work. Her screenplays include Weevils in the Flour and Strikebound.

Her vast collection of oral history is in the National Library in Canberra.

Farewell, comrade.

Ian Curr
27 October 2006

Words of Mass Deception by the Maniacs of Spin

The Pine Gap Spy Basenew-picture.jpg
Given the rulings by the Judge Sally Thomas in the Pine Gap Four pre-trial to protect the Defence Minister decaring places like Pine Gap prohibited under the Defence Special Undertakings Act (1952), the PG4 defence team should advance another (yet to be tested argument) concerning the DSU Act 1952.

Put simply, the argument I am talking about is that the special defence undertaking outlined in the government gazettal of Pine Gap in 1967 is a lie.

This lie is no different really to the lie about there being WMDs in Iraq or that the invasion of Iraq was intended to bring democracy to that country.

Subsequent events confirm such lies … sooner or later.

Only one example is necessary:

George W Bush, speaking from the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln, told the world that the Americans had had a great victory in Iraq and the war was over. Bush said, “Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq the United States and our allies have prevailed and now our coalition is engaged in securing and reconstructing that country.”

In the past week (15-21 October 2006) it has become clear that the current Australian government is being hurt politically by these lies.

The Australian Government now concedes that the exit from Iraq does not depend on reconstruction. Nor upon “democracy” being installed in Baghdad.

The American president is now claiming that the Iraqis have mounted a Tet-style offensive against the coalition of the willing. Foreign Editor of the Weekend Australian, Greg Sheridan eagerly interprets Bush:

This is what President George W.Bush meant … that the present spike in violence in Iraq may be analogous to the Tet offensive in Vietnam in 1968.”

Is Sheridan actually saying that the architect of the Tet offensive, General Giap, has emerged from retirement (or resurrected from the dead) as shining beacon for ‘Jihadists using lessons of Tet‘ to lead the insurgency in Iraq? Sheridan gets worse.

In the same article he now says:

They (the US public) doubt whether there is a coherent and effective plan (by the US administration).”

I’ll bet Sheridan was not saying this a year ago; he may not have been saying it two weeks ago.

A conservative Australia with a reactionary judiciary and a biased press, along with the numerical lack of Australian casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan, have prevented recent revelations such as the ones in the book “The Weapons Detective” from doing more damage to the government.

To quote a barrister commenting on the PG4 case:

To prove the case against the accused (the PG4) it is necessary to establish each element of the offence, including that the conduct complained of occurred in a prohibited area. I would have thought the onus on the Crown to establish that the conduct occurred in a prohibited area, requiring (the Crown) to show a nexus between the property in question and the gazetted undertaking would have provided a means to raise the issue of whether the gazetted undertaking (space research) existed at all.”

Even if the defence lawyer had argued this in her pre-trial address to the judge that should not be the end of it. There should be a challenge against the judge (Sally Thomas) on the basis of prejudice and bias shown at pre-trial and the fact that she was a Lt. Col. in the Army Cadets.

This judge has been educated to accept the lie upon which Pine Gap was founded.

The defence should take every opportunity they can to highlight that the gazetted undertaking by the government through its defence minister, Fairhall, in 1967 was a lie.cmap-bldg-at-pine-gap-on-5-december-2005.jpg

It is this lie that the PG4, by their actions, have tried to reveal.

As we know, Pine Gap is not now and never has been a space research facility. The Crown and its witnesses should be strongly challenged about this. Evidence that the 1967 gazettal of Pine Gap as a space research facility was used as a cover for its real purpose should be advanced by the defence.

A CIA operative admitted this to Bob Plastowe in 1986 on the documentary “Inside Pine Gap“.

There are other witnesses who can give evidence of this lie by the American Defence Department.barton13506_narrowweb__300×4722.jpg

One is Rod Barton (pictured here), the author of the book “The Weapons Detective” (Black Inc. Agenda).

Bob Plastowe’s 1986 TV report “Inside Pine Gap” should be viewed by the jury. In particular, the defence lawyer(s) should shown the interview with the CIA operative admitting that the US has lied about activities at Pine Gap in the first few minutes of this report.

How and at what point this argument is run is up to the defence team.

My view is that this argument should made to the jury before the close of the crown case (in other words, the allegations made in the report should be put to relevant crown witnesses) and also should be a focus for cross-examination of these same crown witnesses.

The maniacs of the Right, whether they write for newspapers, make speeches in parliament, or give judgements in court will be found out in the end; whether it will be in time to prevent the PG4 from paying a high price for their idealism remains to be seen.

Ian Curr

October, 2006

Southside Peace Group presents… Public meeting 3pm 28th October 2006 @ Yeronga SHS – Keysar Trad

Keysar Trad from the Isamic Friendship Association of Australia will be speaking on Oct 28 2006 at 3pm on  recent attacks on Islam and the “Australian Values” debate

Auditorium, Yeronga State High

Villa Street Yeronga

For more info call Adrian on 0418715803

Endorsed by Southside Peace Group, Al-Nisa, Fair Go For Palestine, Socialist Worker, Rally for Peace

Gretley Mine Tragedy

In 1996, four miners died when a rush of water from an old mine broke into the tunnel where they were digging.

On 9 October 2006 allegations are made in “The Politics of Tragedy” about the “deep institutional links between the CFMEU and the NSW Government”. This report and the viseo belowcomes from the right-wing think tank the Institute of Public Affairs which supports the free market of ideas, the free flow of capital, a limited and efficient government, evidence-based public policy, the rule of law, and representative democracy.

Even at a cursory glance “The Politics of Tragedy” and the article in the THE AUSTRALIAN based on it demonstrate the bias against workers in these publications.

Continue reading

Palm Petition

A Meeting was held on Friday 6 October 2006 AT THE JAGARA HALL MUSGRAVE PARK to organise the ongoing campaign for Justice for Aboriginees in Brisbane and Queensland

Murrinyi Doomadgee, 36, died in the Palm Island watchhouse on November 19, 2004, just hours after his arrest after he had said words critical of police (see sidebar for article: Black Deaths in custody — what has the Beattie Government ever done?).

An initial post-mortem examination revealed Murrinyi suffered four broken ribs and a ruptured liver and spleen during a scuffle with his arresting police officer, Snr Sgt Chris Hurley .

On Wednesday, 4 October 2006, Acting coroner, Christine Clements, found Snr Sgt Chris Hurley caused 36-year-old Murrinyi’s death by punching him during a scuffle at the police station on Palm Island, leaving him in the cell to bleed to death.

Queensland Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson acknowledged the coroner’s findings that Snr Sgt Hurley was untruthful and would have committed perjury on two occasions.

The call from the community meeting at Jagara Hall on Friday 6 October 2006 is to sack Snr Sgt Hurley!

At the public meeting today Sam Watson from Murri watch said:

“A RALLY AND MARCH will be held on Tuesday 10th October 2006 to present the following petition to parliament… Sam Watson went on to say that we need 5,000 people to come with us to present this petition to parliament?

Please get workmates and friends to fill out the attached petition and give to Natalie (Assistant Director, Musgrave Park Cultural Centre) in Jagera Hall at 121 Cordelia Street South Brisbane in the south-east end of Musgrave Park.

To: The Honourable the Speaker and Members of the Legislative Assembly of Queensland

The petition of the undersigned citizens of Queensland draws to the attention of the House the need to act urgently on the findings of the State Coroner in the matter of the death of an Aboriginal man, Murrinyi in the Palm Island watch-house on November 19th, 2004.

Your petitioners therefore request the House to instruct the Police Commissioner to terminate the employment of Senior Sergeant Hurley forthwith and to provide every support and assistance to the Director of Public Prosecutions to finalize her assessment of the Coroner’s findings so that criminal charges may be brought against certain parties who were responsible for the unlawful killing of Murrinyi.





RIVER OF TEARS There’s a cold rain on the Autumn wind A brother murdered in Sydney Town Marrickville brother under supposed legal cover In his home they gunned him down We say oh oh oh oh oh ooooooh Gunned him … Continue reading