Monthly Archives: July 2011


Rally for Peace and Nuclear Disarmament — Hiroshima Day

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SATURDAY 6TH AUGUST 2011 1 pm RALLY 2.15 pm PEACE MARCH REDDACLIFFE PLACE BRISBANE SQUARE Opposite Treasury Casino THREE MILE ISLAND (5) CHERNOBYL (7) FUKUSHIMA (7) 3 NUCLEAR DISASTERS – out there are uncounted hundreds of other nuclear incidents/accidents graded … Continue reading


Exploding Dunny on Runway STORY makes front page of the NT NEWS!!!!!

The exploding dunny story made front page in the Northern Territory. (Portaloo exploded on runway during Talisman Sabre exercises in Rock, Qld, Australia after a member of RAAF unwisely lights cigarette while using facility!!!)…the same runway where Bryan Law had … Continue reading


Boycott apartheid Israel! Boycott Max Brenner!

Max Brenner Chocolates is a 100% Israeli-owned company belonging to the Strauss Group, the second largest Israeli food and beverage company. On the “corporate responsibility” section of its website, the Strauss Group emphasizes the support it gives to the Israeli … Continue reading


Malaysia Refugee Solution Protest today

PROTEST – Malaysia refugee swap deal inhumane and must be stopped Friday 29 July, 12.30-1.30pm Outside Dept of Immigration, Casselden Place, cnr Lonsdale Street & Spring St, city Inhumane Malaysia refugee deal needs to be stopped Refugee supporters intend to … Continue reading


Foco Nuevo in August

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Yet another night of warm performances to cure you of the winter chill – this month our guest artist are Little Secrets and Paul Bonetti. You’ll also be able to sample Maggie’s delicious cakes and Elena’s Chilean empanadas! LITTLE SECRETS … Continue reading

Sale of coal, rail, forests, roads and ports is an industrial issue

Sale of Queensland’s coal, rail, forests, roads and ports is an industrial issue.

It determines who will be in control of the workplace.

When Federal Labor and Liberal governments sold Telstra thousands of worthwhile productive jobs were lost. The American CEOs stripped the company of its heart and soul, the workers that provided communications across this country, by mail with the PMG and by copper wire with Telecom and then by optic fibre with Telstra. They were sold out by governments that did not recognise that it was their responsibility to manage Telstra and, in doing so, to provide services to people. This is the role of government.

The Electrical Trades Union in Qld, recognising this, has threatened strikes to stop the sale of Queensland Rail and the Port of Brisbane and Abbotts point and the roads and the forests. But hardly anyone else has joined them. This must change.

“The Electrical Trades Union (ETU) State Executive has this morning, 15 February, expelled two State Labor MPs from the ETU because of their support for the State Government’s asset sale policy, which contravenes ETU policy on the issue…The expulsion ofMr Roberts and Mr O’Brien follows the recent resignations from the ETU of Member for Townsville, Mandy Johnstone, and Member for Barron River, Steve Wettenhall, over the same issue.”— from ETU Press Release 15 February 2010

Nationally, the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) has said that it would go on strike if Ark Tribe is jailed by the Australian Building and Construction Comission next week. Good.

But we have heard nothing from Andrew Dettmer (AMWU Qld and state president of the ALP) or Ron Monaghan (Secretary, Qld Council of Unions, QCU) about taking industrial action to stop the sale of Queensland Rail.

This is what Dettmer has to say :

“As part of the Government’s privatisation plans, many rail employees have started to receive offers of employment with QR Passenger Pty Ltd…

Whilst the unions are keen to support their members who want to stay in the public sector, we consider that you need answers to some important questions before you can accept the offers made. ” See

No strikes, no action.

Meanwhile Peter Simpson (ETU State Sec) faces expulsion from the ALP. No public support from Andrew Dettmer, but he has from a lifelong ALP member who says:

“As a lifelong ALP supporter I am ashamed that the party can contemplate expelling a union official from the party for the crime of opposing privatisation… This party was established to provide a political voice for unions & workers. To attempt to silence an official for standing up for workers is a bloody disgrace. Good on you Peter Simpson, you have not forgotten where you have come from, pity I cant say the same for the other gutless sellouts”

It is the Treasurer, Andrew Fraser, and Premier, Anna Bligh, who should be expelled by the Labor Party, they have no mandate from anyone.

  • They told no one of their sellout plans until after the 2009 election
  • Their sell off is against ALP policy
  • They are advised by a bad bunch of economists in Treasury who support outdated and inefficient economics discredited by the global financial crisis.
  • The ALP QLD branch is populated by apparatchiks who do not support worker control.

Two economists, Bob and Betty Con Walker, who made rational arguments against sale of public assets had this to say when NSW Labor tried to sell power stations in 2008:

…electricity assets represent around 21 % of the State’s infrastructure, accumulated by past generations. It’s outrageous that they be sold off without detailed and extensive public debate, and without proper transparent financial analysis -just to provide a war-chest for the next election.”

Their book, ‘Privatisation – sell off or sell out’, was pulped by the ABC – my partner got it at a remainders sale a couple of years ago. This is part of what it says:

“The book’s new introduction points out that proceeds of Australian privatisations over the last 20 years have exceeded $120 billion, of which around $68 billion went to the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth Treasury has costed pre-election commitments of the Howard Government at around $64 billion, mainly through tax cuts. In other words, the proceeds of the sale of iconic Commonwealth assets were dissipated in just one election campaign.”

Political Response

The government has got away with murder. The Queensland Council of Unions says that Andrew Fraser began planning the sell off prior to the last election. It began before that. When did they split up Queensland Rail? When did they corporatise QR into profit making freight services and loss making passenger services. They planned to sell the revenue making coal freight services and to keep the loss making passenger and other freight services in public hands. It is not the role of government to privatise profits and socialise losses. Did the Liberals complain? No. Did the Nationals complain? No.

If there was a union backed campaign in railway and working class centre to elect candidates who oppose the sell off the government could lose as many as seven 7 seats to those candidates (in T’vlle, Bowen, Mackay, Rockhampton, Collingwood Park, Brisbane). To those who say that the assets will be sold by then. This is not true because the government is only selling the first tranche of QR National shares in this term. Such a campaign is designed to prevent further sellout.
During the campaign there would have to be an economic argument put along the lines of the attached links (See Queensland Privatisation: Fraser’s Folly and Queensland Asset Sell Offs, Budget Black Holes, Borrowings and Credit Ratings)
The loss of 7 seats to such ‘independent labour’ (putting the ‘u’ back in Labor) candidates would stop the government’s privatisation.
And, till now at least, the union people have lacked the political ability to mount such a campaign.

Ian Curr
October 2010

In whose hands – public or private?
Queensland Rail — in the Public Debt


Malaysian Solution: ‘hanging points’ in detention centres

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A friend, Mervyn, tells me that the Malaysian solution involves putting refugees in detention centres with bars. Mervyn says that all the refugee centres he has seen in Malaysia seem to be equipped with bars on the windows (sic). He … Continue reading


Marxism and the Parliamentary Road — 17 Group Talk

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The 17 Group is the longest running discussion group of its type in Brisbane. It is convened by Dan O’Neill who, onetime, was heard imploring 5,000 workers and students in King George Square to make the movement (for democratic rights) … Continue reading


‘Our leaders are murderers and warmongers’

Publisher’s Note: It is timely to remember the war crimes that were committed in Iraq in the name of democracy. Especially now that the putative leader of the British Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn wants to put former leader Tony Blair … Continue reading


Arab Film Fest Finale in Brisbane

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We’re heading to Queensland this weekend to celebrate the conclusion of the fabulous 2011 Arab Film Festival national tour. Throughout July we’ve brought cinematic diversity to Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and Adelaide. Now it’s Brisbane’s turn to see the films that … Continue reading


Poetry in Motion

Poetry in Motion VIII – Day of solidarity with Cuba Time  26 July · 18:00 – 20:30 Location Qld Council of Unions Building, Level 2  16 Peel St  South Brisbane, Australia The Australia–Cuba Friendship Society (Brisbane) presents: Celebrate the beginning … Continue reading


Message from Scherger Hunger Strikers

Press Release In the Name of Merciful God’ This HUNGER STRIKE is a response to the continued pressure exercised by the Australian Immigration Department on us. The participants in this hunger strike have been denied protection and robbed of their … Continue reading

Public lecture “Why Berlusconi?” by David Moss; Friday 29 July

Invitation to public lecture

The School of Languages and Linguistics is very pleased to welcome Professor David Moss back to Griffith University, for a public lecture entitled “Why Berlusconi?”

Friday 29 July, 3.30-4.30pm
room 0.09, Languages Building (N56)
Nathan Campus
Griffith University

Please stay for refreshments afterwards

RSVP Ms Val Beckett, 3735 6754 or v.beckett

David Moss was Professor of European Studies / Italian Studies and Dean of Arts at Griffith before moving to the University of Milan in 2003 as Professor of Cultural Anthropology. He was the inaugural Chair of the Australasian Centre for Italian Studies. He has written on many aspects of Italian society and politics, including banditry and pastoralism in Sardinia, the historical development of patronage, political violence and responses to HIV/AIDS. He is currently completing an introduction to anthropology which includes substantial material on contemporary Italy.

‘Why Berlusconi?’

A Prime Minister without a strong political party, a media mogul with huge business interests in every sector of the Italian economy, indifferent to the permanent conflict of interest between his political position and his economic power, suspected of having made his initial fortune with mafia help, repeatedly charged with serious crimes (from fraud to perversion of justice to prostitution of a minor), fabricator of laws ad personam to escape conviction, prone to every kind of tasteless behaviour in public and in private, lacking any sense of the public good or of his country’s international reputation – yet the dominant figure in Italian politics for almost 20 years. How has this happened?

Postcard from a north Qld detention centre

by Pamela Curr, campaign co-ordinator at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre

On the flight from Cairns to Weipa, a burly young bloke boarded wearing his “WE BUST OURS so WE CAN BUST YOURS” T-shirt with attitude. We were later to recognise him as a guard at Scherger Immigration Detention Centre in north Queensland. The drive from Weipa to the Scherger took us through clouds of red dust for 40 minutes until the first of the gates into this high-security camp and we began to understand the message in this most isolated of camps.

Four-metre high fences double-ring the camp. Guards unlock the chained-up gates, checking passengers and recording car registration. The same process was repeated two kilometres further at gate two. On arrival the security game continues with IDs produced, bags searched, mobile phones and laptops confiscated and bodies security wanded. It is hard to remember that this is administrative detention, not prison.

Gatehouse inside the four-metre high double fencing.

Wilson Security guards are lowest in this pecking order of a hierarchy more complicated than the Vatican. Serco rules the roost. Immigration staff move around making no eye contact with anyone and reluctantly submitting to the high-security game of wanding them in to the compounds.

Walkie-talkies with call signs and barking “copy” and “over” and military lingo complete the prison-like camp atmosphere.

Fenced walk-in after passing through gate four.

Wilson security works seven days on and then seven nights on then seven days off on a continual rotation. Most fly south for their break, which leaves a five-day break when a day’s travel at either side is included. Serco guards work six days on with one day break in between, then six nights, on a three-month rotation. The compensation is a wage of $2100 per week for an unskilled worker with no qualifications beyond a two-week course to gain a Certificate 2 in Security and a police check. The staff look exhausted and irritable. The animosity between Serco and DIAC is palpable.

I had visited Scherger in May. It was made clear on the drive out that this visit was going to be different. In May we had been allowed to sit outside under the trees, meeting whoever wished to see us. The Tamil and Hazara men divided up the time amicably choosing their own interpreters from within their groups. It had been as pleasant and relaxed as is possible in a high-security detention security.

Some men sought private conversations, which the others respected and moved away. We broke no rules and took no photographs. However, we did report the bizarre and cruel deportation game played out in the camp a few days before Miqdad Hussein, a young Hazara hanged himself in his room in desperation and hopelessness.

Whatever the reason, we were informed on the first day that we would only be allowed into a small room at gatehouse three and we would only be allowed to see one person at a time. On the second day, the watering system played a heavy stream of water on the plastic and tin walls of our cell. A guard was posted to keep “youse in line of sight at all times”. When the men came to see us in the hut they were searched before seeing us and after even though guards watched us with the “line of sight security” throughout the visit. Hazaras were wanded while the Tamils were physically searched with hands all over their bodies and up and down their legs and thighs. It was demeaning. One man shrugged sadly and said “As Tamils we are used to this from the Sri Lankan military”.

I asked security why there was a difference in treatment between the Tamils and the Hazaras. The guard denied what I had witnessed. I asked why the Tamils were not just wanded like the rest of us. The senior security guard informed me that the wand only detected metal. I asked what they expected to find with their hands — her reply, “well they might have a piece of rope in their pockets”.

On the second day we had negotiated group access through Canberra. We were allowed 2. 5 hours per day in the mess. The open kitchen, with full-force fans going, created an atmosphere akin to being in an aircraft hangar with the jets roaring. As we were escorted through the back of the camp to the back door of the mess, men called out to us from behind the fences and pushed pieces of paper through the fence with notes asking us to call for them and signing with their ID numbers. It is hard at such times to remember that this really is Australia. They were not allowed to ask to see us even though they knew me from a previous visit.

Visitors are not encouraged at Scherger. This is an isolated, closed camp. Weipa townspeople refer to the Serco manager as the “Colonel”. What was most disturbing in our meetings with the men from Hazara and Tamil groups was the level of depression and desperation. Many have been in detention now for 22 months with nothing to do and no visitors. The only men who get out are a small group of Christians, who are escorted to church on Sunday.

New offices expanding into the bush.

The Sri Lankans are not allowed to have cricket bats and balls because these could be weapons. They play instead with a child’s plastic bat and foam ball. Life in detention is full of petty rules. As ever, some spirits will resist. A group of Hazara men are weaving carpets on their metal bed frames but again are stymied by the slow arrival of wool. Our suitcase full of wool and a frame loom had still not been handed out when we left. All mail is opened as are all parcels.

The former Immigration Detention Standards (IDS) have been abandoned and minimum standards are now delineated by the commercial-in-confidence contract with Serco. Breaches are regulated by “abatements” (fines). Deaths, escapes and media contact with detainees are costs that Serco seeks to avoid. As a result, the camps are run with risk-adverse measures paramount. For example, excursions are limited to five men at one time and kept under two hours so that the men can be kept on the bus and the reasoning is, minimise any risk of escape.

By regulation, if they are longer than two hours, they are entitled to a toilet break. Serco is very sensitive about this as private contractors have been fined for this in the past. This means that an excursion that includes 90 minutes travel time, there and back to Weipa allows a maximum 20-minute drive around the town. Considering the isolation and feelings towards asylum seekers, it is hard to imagine anyone attempting escape. Where would they go?

The recent suicide has had a deleterious effect on conditions for all. A risk-averse suicide prevention regime that places all the men under constant surveillance has been instituted. Guards are assigned to a donga block and required to keep checking on every “client”. No one is allowed to sleep undisturbed by day for more than two hours without being checked. At night their rooms are entered two-four times with the torchlight flashing in faces and doors banging as guards leave.

Each person is checked off a list at the dining room door and if two meals are missed, they are called up to explain. Anyone suspected of not eating or of exhibiting suicidal ideation or depression goes onto a HIGH IMMINENT ALERT, which requires them to have a guard follow at arm’s length for days on end. The men say that this drives them crazy. Suicide prevention has no therapeutic component, although most recently two men have been sent to Toowong Private Hospital for treatment.

This place was used by the Howard government when its long-term detention regime filled psychiatric hospitals in three states with people broken in mind and spirit by the indefinite mandatory detention policy.

On the second day we realised that the men were walking slowly around the wired compounds like automatons. We saw the heavily lidded eyes of the men as they tried to focus and concentrate on details and dates with their forms. It was then that the men confirmed that most of them were taking sleeping tablets and on anti-depressant medication. They told us that there are long queues morning and night as most men are prescribed drugs by the contracted doctor.

There is no psychiatrist and only two counsellors and two psychologists for 575 men. While they always remembered their ID number, they had forgotten many things about their lives. They told us that the tablets gave them headaches and made them forgetful but without them they could not sleep at all. Most were going to bed at 5am and sleeping to avoid the day. The camp is quiet with no protests as in other places. The extensive and heavy use of drugs possibly suits Serco and DIAC for this reason.

The men have no complaints about the physical conditions of their imprisonment although there are still six large plastic tents — some used as dormitories. Their major concern is about the length of time taken for decisions and the arbitrary nature of the refugee process. Decisions depend largely on who they get to assess their claims. This is evidenced by statistics that show that while the overall acceptance rate at IMR (second-stage interview) for Afghanis for 2011 is 78.6% positive, there are three reviewers whose rate of acceptance is less than 10%.

This inconsistency in decision making is a cause of great distress. Many were in detention for eight months before they had even a first interview (RSA). They then waited up to eight months for a decision on that interview. Many are now still waiting for the second interview (IMR) and a decision on that interview. They worry constantly about their families. Those who have been tortured are bedevilled by the mental flashbacks and physical pain of injured bodies.

The men say that they are useless because they cannot help their families. These are people who have worked all their lives. Being cooped up with nothing to do is driving them crazy. Waiting is also making them sick with worry about the future.


Apartheid = separateness

Paradigm Shift on 4ZZZ 102.1FM Brisbane (goes to air 12 Noon Fridays)- a show hosted by Thomas & Eliza Listening to ABC News radio this evening. Heard that four Israeli citizens were caught up in Christchurch earthquake last year. Sadly … Continue reading

Defence of Poetry group 22 July at 2.30pm, now in room E219

Anyone intending to come to the first session of the reading of Shelley’s Defence of Poetry on Friday the 22nd of July at 2.30pm should note that there has been a change in the location. It was advertised as room E 232 in the Forgan Smith Building.

Unfortunately that room will be taken up at that time by the Orientation Week authorities for the orientation of new students.

Our group will now be meeting instead in room E 219 in the same building, i.e. E 219 in the Forgan Smith Building.

This is on the same ground floor, further down in the direction of the library.

From the following week, on Friday the 29th of July, we will be in room E 212, but for this first week please remember that we are now in room E 219.




Bent Banana Books — online books coming soon

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A publisher of e-books


A Week in Rockhampton

After a bad start ( a wheel fell off our van about 1k from home), Ross, Culley and I made it to Rocky in the early hours of Sunday 3rd July to resist the US/Australian war preparations The biennial “Operation … Continue reading



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Cuba’s Energy Revolution – what can we learn?

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 Interview by Ian Curr for the Paradigm Shift on 4ZZZ Energy use in Cuba by Mario Alberto Arrista Avila Public transport in cuba and energy use Cuba’s energy revolution A speaking tour by Cuba’s Principle Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy … Continue reading


Talisman Sabre

FROM OZ – It’s big, it’s ignorant, it’s dangerous … the U.S. military – “never heard of Bradley Manning” Below is an email from an OZ friend Rod arrested non-violently resisting the huge ”Operation Talisman Sabre” exercises underway presently in … Continue reading


Red Cinema — “The End of Poverty”

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URGENT ACTION YOU can take to stop Malaysian solution

UNHCR is the deal maker and deal breaker in the Malaysia Solution-

The decision will be made in days-

EMAIL the High Commissioner Antonio Guterres at He is reading his emails.

Tell him why the UNHCR must not broker this deal.

3 or 4 lines will do – don’t make it long but make it many- tell your friends.

IMAGINE IF EVERY REFUGEE CONVENTION SIGNATORY COUNTRY did what Australia is proposing, and exported refugees offshore to non-signatory countries- the convention would DIE and with it any civilising force in the treatment of people fleeing persecution.

Hadi Kurniawan – one of 100 children in Australian adult prisons

by Gerry Georgatos

An impoverished Indonesian mother, in front of an Australian journalist, lies on a cement floor clutching a photograph of her 16 year old son who is now in an Australian adult prison and whom she hasn’t seen since he was fourteen. Abject and acute poverty ravages Indonesia, a country where only 10% of the population has a refrigerator, where most people do not have electricity let alone a television, where many people live half lives working in sulphur mines and where most folk will never rise out of the shanty towns and villages they are born to die in. Continue reading

Tear down the apartheid wall

Media release, 7 July 2011

Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against apartheid Israel to hit the streets of Brisbane.

Anti-apartheid protesters will rally and march on the streets of Brisbane on Saturday July 9 at 1pm in King George Square to demand that Israel dismantle its apartheid “separation” wall. Continue reading


Meeting of 17 Group on East Timor

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The next meeting of the 17 Group will be held on Wednesday the 13th of July at 7pm in unit 6 at 20 Drury St West End. The subject is East Timor. The speaker is Bob Culerbiloon (aka Cunningham). Here … Continue reading


Day of Celebration or Sadness for Quandamooka People?

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Quandamooka first nation spokesperson, Dale Ruska, talks with Eliza and Ian on the Paradigm Shift (4ZZZ 102.1 FM Brisbane Fridays 12 Noon) about the recent native Title declaration over Minjerriba (Nth Stradbroke Island). He explains his disappointment and the outlines its effects on his people. Continue reading

Details Arab film festival in Brisbane 30 and 31 of July

The Arab film festival makes it to brisbane for the dates below and the last session on sunday focuses on Palestine. Info about the films are available from the links below. Continue reading

Israeli MP tells Danby – send African migrants to Australia


If every signatory Nation follows Australia’s lead in exporting refugees and asylum seekers, the REFUGEE CONVENTION will die. If UNHCR assist by giving approval, they will have murdered their own treaty. Continue reading