NEWSLETTER OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF AUSTRALIA (SA)
The long wait to find out who won the August 21 federal election was well and truly worth it. A Labor government reliant on support from the Greens and independents means we will have a break from the dominance of the old major parties and the possibility of relief from their increasingly unpopular (and almost identical) political agendas. The Greens’ hold on the balance of power in the Senate confirms that voters wanted and have achieved a new style of politics in Australia. The people wanted a change of direction in 2007. They wanted an end to the industrial relations regime that stripped rights from workers in their workplace. They wanted prompt action on climate change and a more humane approach to asylum seekers. They wanted public health and education to be strengthened. On all these urgent demands the voters were dudded. Neither the ALP nor the Coalition were pledging to deliver on these matters this time around. They had both swung to the right. They were duly punished at the ballot box. The result holds out great hope for a host of long overdue reforms to be made, including reform of the electoral and parliamentary systems. But hope is not enough. We can’t leave it to the Greens and independents to deliver these changes on their own. There is the possibility that forces unhappy with the shift away from the former cosy, pro-corporate two-party system will work to destabilise the situation that has emerged. To make sure we get the best out of this federal election result, people will need to organise and press for change in a way that they haven’t done for quite a few years. Big business interests will not stop exerting their enormous influence over the political process and it is now time for the community to get active and take advantage of the opening provided by the long awaited result of the 2010 election.
MILITARISATION OF SA SCHOOLS The Rann Government is planning to convert eighteen Adelaide high schools into recruiting grounds for military industries. The schools will have special curriculum geared to the interests of weapons manufacturing. Le Fevre High School will focus on becoming a Naval High School with
mentors from the naval industry nothing to do with Australia’s defence guiding young students into careers needs. They are being built to enhance making weapons. ‘interoperability’ with US forces pursuing their own global strategy. Jobs in other industries are drying up and one of the very few alternatives As adults we have a choice about being considered is to make hugely further education, employment and destructive weapons systems that have career changes. Infiltrating schools with education aimed at gearing children into working in the defence industry takes away the rights of choice and the opportunity to an education that will open a wider range of opportunities for future employment and study. It is important that as parents and community members we look into what educational curriculum is offered at our local schools and choose one that will offer a varied and non-biased education to our children. It is also our role as community members to tell the Rann government that we do not want our children learning about “defence” in schools, instead we want an education system that teaches our children values and methods of dealing with conflict that are non violent or harmful.
REFUGEES IN AUSTRALIA
The following article is the true account of a young man’s journey to Australia via boat. He arrived in Australia illegally but has since been granted residency. His identity has been withheld.
physical features, they are always being treated badly by the people of Iran. Hazaras living in Pakistan are also being targeted on a daily basis for the same reason – their physical appearance and their faith.
More than 60% of the Asylum Seekers coming to Australia this year were from Afghanistan. Nearly all of the Afghan asylum seekers are of the Hazara ethnic group. I, being an Afghan unaccompanied Hazara minor, came out of the detention center a few months ago. Since I have been through the same process and have experienced all the psychological pressures that detainees go through, I was asked to write my views and let the Australian people know the real stories of the people coming here by boats in search of refuge. Hazaras make up an estimated 15-20% of the population of Afghanistan. During the 18th century, sixty percent of Hazaras were killed through an organized genocide program during the reign of Abdur Rahman, one of the most cruel kings of Afghanistan. He announced Jihad against Hazaras. He did it as result of an uprising against his unjust policies against Hazaras for being Shiite. Thousands of men, women and children were very severely and brutally killed. Their lands and properties were taken from them. They fled towards the mountains in the central part of Afghanistan. After the genocide a very large number of Hazaras fled towards Pakistan and Iran in the search of refuge. They were never g i v e n a n y p ro p e r re f u g e i n t h e mentioned countries. But Hazaras’ troubles and miseries didn't end with this. In 1990s, when Taliban came to power, they targeted the Hazaras again. They were again considered infidel because of being Shiite. Thousands of Hazaras were again massacred. Hazaras once again left their homes and fled from their homeland in search of asylum in the neighboring countries such as Iran and Pakistan. Hazaras, being descendants of Mongols, are easily distinguishable because of their appearance. Thus, they can be easily noticed in Iran and Pakistan. Hazaras who live in Iran have never been given humanitarian rights and discriminated against. Because of their Mongolian 2
the facts. It is not easy for anybody to come here at risk of their lives. I sold all of my assets and burned all of my bridges back home. I took the risk of traveling towards Australia by a small fishing boat carrying more than a hundred men, women and children in the vast, unforgiving ocean with little food and drinking water for the journey. I knew that the fishing boat had an old engine yet I traveled in it. I remained in water for days to try and fix the engine when it went out of order. I had the fear of being drowned at any time. We had not enough diesel in the tanks.
Hazaras are not the people who some Australians think they are – they are not “fake refugees,” because they have never been able to live their lives in peace in the countries where they come from. They are genuine refugees and they have the right to search for refuge according to international human rights laws. They don’t have much understanding of international border During days of temperatures more than security systems. So, they reach here 45 degrees celsius we hid in congested illegally. caves full of smelly fishing boat. I had the stress and fear of being caught by When conditions deteriorate in Asian Malaysian and Indonesian Police at any countries near Australia, as they did time. I was very down when thinking of between 1999 and 2001, more boats spending my some years in Indonesian come - some 5,516 people came to detention centers in a very miserable Australian shores in 2001. But then conditions. With the waves of water when conditions improved, as after the hitting the boat and the boat moving 5 downfall of the Taliban regime, fewer km/h in heavy rain it was very scary. We and fewer boats arrived. The people had no GPS to know the way back or come to Australia because still there is forward if lost. It is really not worth problem in their countries. The war in leaving my relaxed life if I had any. But Afghanistan is going badly, and Taliban they do it because they have no other is gaining power in more regions. There options. They are the victims of wars; have been events recently where they are genuine refugees. Nobody Hazaras have been killed by Kuchi would do it if they were not compelled. nomads supported by their co-ethnics, They have escaped from conditions like the Taliban. Their properties were taken war, genocide, imprisonment without by force and they were killed in dozens. trial, torture, harassment by authorities, the disappearance of family and friends. The asylum seekers reaching here by boats are no more than 6,000 in I request from Australians to accept number. This number is very small people in legitimate need; that there is compared to the number of people nothing humane about a voyage across arriving here as immigrants by plane d a n g e ro u s s e a s i n l e a k y b o a t s and never return because they apply for captained by people smugglers; that their Permanent Resident visas. It is Australia's basic decency does not less than 1.5 per cent of permanent accept the idea of punishing women migrants each year; and indeed it would and children by locking them up behind take about 20 years to fill the MCG with razor wire or ignoring people who are asylum seekers at present rates of fl e e i n g g e n o c i d e , t o r t u r e a n d arrival. persecution, nor does it allow us to stand back and watch fellow human F o r A u s t r a l i a n p o l i t i c a l p a r t i e s , beings drown. The rule of law in a just “stopping the boats” has been one of society is part of what attracts so many the main topics in winning election in people to Australia. It must be applied their campaigns. And they have been properly to those who seek asylum. talking about it all over the media. They have repeated it many times that a There have been boats with hundreds of larger number of Australian people are people that drowned in the ocean. Men, beginning to buy into the propaganda. women and innocent children drowned. Yet again they prefer to search for I, being one of those who arrived here refuge because they are what they say by the boat, want to request the they are – refugees. Australian people to please understand SPRING 2010
COPPER, ZINC THREAT TO PORT Prominent Hill miners OZ Minerals are looking at fast tracking plans to increase the amount of copper concentrate it ships through Port Adelaide and then from Outer Harbour. This follows the company facing more than $1 million in fines over copper concentrate pollution at Darwin Harbour. Multi-national mining companies are taking the mineral wealth of South Australia, with $1.38 billion worth of minerals exported from SA in the last 12 months. The risks of mining have not been reported to the public, especially that of copper concentrate. Mining companies have the major responsibility to ensure there is no spillage and environmental damage, such as that which occurred at Darwin Harbour recently. However there are risks to humans who handle and come into contact with these toxic minerals, so the transportation, handling and safety of such minerals needs to be monitored and up to standard. Health Risks The health effects of exposure to higher levels of copper than the body requires should be of concern to all residence living near the rail transport corridor to Outer Harbour. Copper is a component of several important enzymes in the body and is essential to good health. Copper deficiency in the body is rare because only 2 to 5mg daily, easily obtained from a variety of foods is sufficient for a proper balance. The usual level of copper in the blood is 12mg/decilitre, anything above 15mg and the body can develop a mineral imbalance. Copper imbalances in humans are associated with psychological, emotional and neurological conditions including memory loss (especially in young people), depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia. Copper imbalance is closely related to issues such as decreased fertility, increased miscarriage and sexual dysfunctions, headaches, fatigue, nausea, depression, skin rashes, insomnia and learning disorders.
â€œMining companies are making huge profits, yet their methods are putting people at risk of exposure to these mineralsâ€? Hazards from the inhalation of zinc dust include intestinal stress, vomiting, stomach cramps, diarrhoea, nausea, low blood pressure, urine retention, jaundice, seizures, joint pain, fever, coughing and metallic taste in the mouth. If zinc poisoning is left untreated, or if a high level of exposure is left untreated it can be deadly. Harmful dust Zinc and copper ore are transported by rail in open freight wagons, and exposed to the elements such as wind and rain. This increases the risks of pollution while on the rail route to Port Adelaide wharf loading and storage areas. There are sealed wagons available; however they are not used for these minerals. Loading processes of the ore onto ships is carried out by a conveyer and dumped into the ships hold, resulting in the escape of harmful dust of copper SPRING 2010
or zinc into the atmosphere. If the rail wagons are not fully sealed, the concentrate could be blown from the wagon or spilt through open joints. The contamination of properties near the train tracks and new spur-line could result in airborne dust and dust settling in back yards, on childrenâ€™s play toys and in the water tank where it could be ingested or absorbed through the skin. If the Port River, Outer Harbour or West Lakes were to become contaminated with zinc as low as 2 parts per million, it will adversely affect the amount of oxygen fish can carry in their blood. Fish exposed to copper release less young, and vertebral deformities are observed in fish exposed to copper. Fish stocks could also be at risk if copper pollution occurs in water areas. Copper contamination in the Gulf area and to inland West Lakes would devastate recreational fishing and the fishing industry. Not good enough! The transporting and handling of Copper Concentrate can be made safe and environmental pollution prevented, if the government watchdog ensures the mining companies alter their current methods and employ safe measures such as electronic controls, sealed freight wagons and strict supervision of pollution that does occur. Soil tests from the yards of people who are living in areas where the minerals are transported through, and from waterways will also determine how much pollution is occurring from the handling of copper concentrate. Mining companies are making huge profits, yet their methods are putting people at risk of exposure to these 3
minerals. State and Federal governments offer millions of taxpayer’s dollars to build infrastructure for companies, as well as tax breaks to the mining companies, however there is no incentive or regulations for mining companies to transport these hazardous materials safely. It’s time this problem was cleaned up. The CPA will be following up this issue with local authorities and working with others to make sure these hazardous materials don’t continue to pose a threat to the community.
36.9% YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT IN ADELAIDE WESTERN SUBURBS Mission Australia published its Youth Employment Strategy in April 2010. Research for the report showed that in the western suburbs of Adelaide the unemployment rate for young workers was a staggering 36.9 percent. In a time when politicians and employer organisations are encouraging overseas skilled migration, our youth have not been given the opportunity to enter the workforce or acquire skills. The future for our youth looks very grim unless the current big business agenda is reversed.
Why do we have such a high skills shortage in all states? Both major political parties have either privatised our formerly publicly-owned well run efficient government enterprises and agencies or outsourced contracts to private business. This has resulted in many hundreds of our youth
“The future for our youth looks very grim unless the current big business agenda is reversed” not able to find apprenticeships. In the formerly publicly owned enterprises such as electricity, water, marine and harbours, public building and railways, etc. used to employ hundreds of apprentices each year but now, in private ownership they do not take on any where near the numbers of apprentices. Private industry in general does not invest in training apprentices and do not take their full quota of apprentices and many employers do not take on any apprentices at all. Many employers claim it is too costly for them to take on and train apprentices, in other words it would cut into their profits.
90 YEARS OF THE COMMUNIST MOVEMENT IN AUSTRALIA The Communist movement in Australia is turning 90 on October 30 and you are invited to join in the celebrations! There will be an exhibition on the history of the Communist Party open to the public from 3:30pm on Saturday October 30 at the Semaphore Workers Club, 93 the Esplanade Semaphore. From 5:30pm there will be a function with music and the screening of some collected reminisces of the life of the Party over the years. Further information email@example.com
WHY WE EXIST AND WHAT WE STAND FOR The Communist Party of Australia believes there is a way to overcome Australia's economic and social problems. To do this it is necessary to change the direction of politics in Australia and, eventually, to replace the capitalist system with a socialist one. The Communist Party is a party of activists who work in trade unions, peace and environmental groups, solidarity organisations and a variety of other community movements as well as running campaigns in the name of the Communist Party. The members of the CPA work to eliminate unemployment, poverty, injustice, homelessness, racism and war. These problems arise from the domination of our society by huge profit-hungry private corporations. We work for a society in which publicly owned enterprises will play the major role in the economy. We encourage the participation of people in democratic decision making and management. We want a society in which Aboriginal people, women, and migrants are treated equally and with dignity. We work for a society where the environment is protected. We believe that the needs of the people should be put first and not the wealth and profits of private corporations. We strive to develop the Communist Party into a party capable of helping to educate, organise, unite and fight together with all the left, progressive and democratic political forces in building a broad people's movement with the working class as its core. Many demands have been won in the past and we believe much more can be achieved by a movement which is united and determined to stand up for what is right. The work of Party members and the Party's policies are guided by a set of ideas which are called Marxism-Leninism. Wage and salary earners and their families, professional people, farmers, pensioners, unemployed people, students make up over 85 per cent of our population. They are the overwhelming majority. These are the people suffering because of the exploitation imposed by monopolies, the privatisation of public enterprises, deregulation, cuts in government spending, and unemployment. The Communist Party of Australia is on their side.
CONTACT US If you would like to write to us about the matters dealt with in Left Focus or any other issues, write to us at Left Focus, PO Box 612 Port Adelaide DC, SA 5015 or send an emal to firstname.lastname@example.org You can contact us at the same address for further information about joining the Communist Party of Australia or if you would like to subscribe to the party’s weekly newspaper The Guardian. Visit our website www.cpa.org.au 4
Electoral comment on behalf of CPA authorised by Bob Briton C/- 66 Wattle Ave Royal Park