Letters to the Editor, Canberra Times

Vintage Reds members are a prolific source of informed comment in the letters pages of our local paper. Here is a selection, carefully gleaned online…

Canberra Times, 18 December 2019: Hemlock anybody?
Those criticising Greta Thunberg should note that Socrates said when the debate is lost slander becomes the tool of the losers.
Fred Pilcher, Kaleen

Canberra Times, 9 December 2019:
Scott Morrison says his just announced public sector changes will improve both services to the public and delivery efficiency. But he didn’t ask the public about what we need or the service about how they can improve delivery.

So who advised him? Was it political staffers, or perhaps business lobbyists? Or did a bunch of politicians just get together and make stuff up?

And would now be a good time to start feeling afraid? Or even very afraid?
Pauline Westwood, Dickson

Canberra Times, 27 November 2019: Why Westpac? Why?
Westpac has been accused of breaking anti-money laundering laws 23 million times and will ostensibly be fined for having done so.

That’s like accusing my lawn mower of cutting my grass too short and fining it some of the petrol in its petrol tank. Westpac is a legal entity composed of nothing but pieces of paper; it has no more capacity to break the law than my lawnmower has the capacity to choose the height of its blades.

While Westpac hasn’t broken any laws per se, the people running it who must take responsibility for what has occurred will walk away with little more than a reduction in their multi-million dollar bonuses.

It’s well past time we abolished the legal nonsense that corporations are “natural persons” which can be held responsible and punished for crimes resulting from the actions of executives and employees. Until the people who are actually responsible are held personally liable nothing will change.
Fred Pilcher, Kaleen

Canberra Times, 27 November 2019: Firefighters on welfare
I wonder how many of our wonderful volunteer firefighters are subjected to the cashless welfare card?
Pauline Westwood, Dickson

Canberra Times, 18 November 2019: Humpty Dumpty moment
This is Frydenberg’s journey “Through the Looking-glass”, where, like Alice’s Humpty Dumpty, words can mean anything, even more so in translation(!) in a subjective legal environment.  Time may subliminally foil “Enforceable conditions” imposed on Bellamy’s sale contract “supporting jobs in Australian” (Takeover deal no real threat, CT, 16 November, p.6).
Albert White, Queanbeyan Continue reading

Paul’s Canberra calendar, late August 2019

Comrades, here are political / activist events in or near Canberra (updated 19th August 2019).

#StopAdani Canberra:

Meetings, 5:45 pm every Monday. Organising to stop the proposed massive Adani coal mine in central Queensland. Conservation Council office, Ground Floor, Lena Karmel Lodge, 14/26 Barry Drive (opp. Watson St), Acton. Contact stopadanicbr@gmail.com.

Our politicians need to see, hear and feel community pressure everywhere they go. Join us to take action, in your community:
Join your local group:
▪Follow on Facebook:
▪Let your Federal MP know what you think.

GHD, don’t help Adani wreck our climate! 12:30 – 1:30 pm, Fri., 23rd August 2019, 16 Marcus Clarke St, Civic; and the following week, same time / place. Australian engineering company GHD is reported to be contracting to provide services to Adani. A strange choice for a company that prides itself on its environmental reputation. Please join our peaceful lunchtime gathering outside GHD’s Canberra office, asking the company for a public statement that it will not work on Adani’s “carbon bomb” coal mine. This will be our 5th week of peaceful events outside the office, part of the nationwide call to GHD to step away from Adani. Organised by #StopAdani Canberra and 350.org Canberra.

#BlockadeAdani Organising Space. Adani is on the move; we need to stop them! They are looking to build a train line to meet existing tracks which service their Abbot Point coal terminal. If this line gets built it will be very hard to stop this catastrophic project. We need you to join us up here on the blockade. Information on carpooling, convoying, and cheap tickets can be shared here. For updates, go to frontlineaction.org and take the pledge. ❤ Frontline Action on Coal (FLAC) Camp: (07) 47634032; flaccoal@protonmail.com. Continue reading

School Strike 4 Climate on 20 September

Canberrans old and young are organising to support the School Strike 4 Climate, on
Friday, 20 September in Glebe Park, Canberra, 12 noon till 2 p.m.

Students will be leaving school to attend; working people plan to walk out of their offices and work-sites to join them, hoping by force of numbers to get the message through to this government that all is not well. We demand action on this climate emergency. We urgently need a speedy transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

Not in town that day? Don’t worry, people across the country will be doing the same thing that Friday at noon.  (You can find out where at https://globalclimatestrike.net.)

This past July has just been the hottest month in the world’s recorded history. The global climate strike draws attention to the United Nations climate summit, to be held in New York three days later on the 23rd.

Vintage Reds will be there in our VR T shirts at Glebe Park: please join us, and help the students get their voices heard.

We have always lived through hot summers. But this is not the summer of our youth. This is not your grandfather’s summer.”
UN Secretary-General António Guterres

Paul’s Canberra events calendar, August 2019

We recommend Paul Oboohov’s calendar, with forthcoming events for the remainder of August. Paul is a long-time activist in Canberra and a Vintage Reds member. (Updated 4 August)

Canberra: Uni Student Walkout for Climate Action!
Noon – 1pm, Friday, 9th August 2019. Kambri Precinct, 154 University Ave, ANU. On August 9 students across the country will be walking out in protest demanding real action on climate change. Our demands: – Stop Adani! – No new coal or gas – 100% renewables – Sustainable Jobs. Organised by Uni Students for Climate Justice, ANUSA – ANU Students’ Association, NUS National Union of Students, PARSA – ANU Postgraduate and Research Students’ Association, and StopAdani Canberra.

Continue reading

Women of Steel – the Jobs for Women campaign in Wollongong

At our July Vintage Reds meeting, Robynne Murphy spoke briefly about a new film in the making, WOMEN OF STEEL. A 10-minute excerpt of the film received a tremendous response at this year’s May Day toast in Wollongong. Now the filmmakers are seeking support for the completion of WOMEN OF STEEL, the inside story of the Jobs for Women Campaign (1980-94) which relentlessly took on BHP — from direct action at the Port Kembla steelworks to the High Court of Australia. Some may recall that the campaign resulted in a landmark victory for anti-discrimination. It drew together activist/working class/migrant women, supportive unions and their members, women’s organisations and other allies, and lawyers navigating NSW Labor’s new legal reforms. It took 14 years but the women refused to give up and the campaign remains an inspiring story today. The patrons of this documentary include former MP Jennie George, Ann Curthoys (Historian, Professor Emerita ANU) and the ACTU’s Sally McManus.

The director, Robynne Murphy returned to filmmaking after leading the campaign and 30 years as a steelworker. She has already raised over $100,000 from trade unions and individuals to get WOMEN OF STEEL to a “rough cut” stage. Recently she has been joined by Martha Ansara, veteran filmmaker (Life Member, Australian Directors Guild — Hall of Fame, Australia Cinematographers Society), to raise a final $60,000 for the finishing costs, including music and payment for the essential archival footage. The composer Jan Preston (for the ABC series, Bastard Boys – about the 1998 MUA waterfront dispute), has also come on board. Phil Crawford from Beyond Empathy is the editor.

The team is now reaching out to everyone who might be interested in helping: donations are coming in from “unemployed seafarer”— $20 — all the way to retired politician — $10,000. (From each according to their ability, as they say…)

Tax-deductible donations for the film’s completion are invited via the Documentary Australia Foundation: https://documentaryaustralia.com.au/project/jobs-for-women-film-project. No amount is too small — or too big, of course!

The WOMEN OF STEEL promo can be viewed here: https://vimeo.com/344035067.

For further information you can visit the website: www.jobsforwomenfilm.com or email: jobsforwomenfilm@gmail.com. Or click on the flyer (then click again!)
Photo credit: http://www.multiculturalaustralia.edu.au

Support for whistle-blower David McBride

Canberrans were up early on a cold morning last week to support David McBride who had an appearance at the ACT Supreme Court.

McBride faced charges dating back to 2017 for providing classified documents to ABC journalists, who used them to run “The Afghan Files”, a series of stories alleging war crimes committed by Australian soldiers.

There has been alarm at raids by Australian Federal police on the ABC, along with reports that the AFP had requested a journalist’s travel records from Qantas, and an earlier AFP request for two journalists’ fingerprints. Concern about an erosion of Australian press freedom was expressed most recently at the Global Conference on Press Freedom in London.

Vintage Reds were among supporters who taped over their mouths to protest against the government’s heavy-handed attacks on press freedom. UnionsACT’s Alex White spoke at another gathering for David McBride at a court appearance earlier in the month.

 

UnionsACT move on wage-theft crisis

UnionsACT are trialling a Young Workers Centre to help fight rampant wage-theft by dodgy employers. Young workers are particularly vulnerable to exploitation in this area. Broken workplace laws and under-funded regulators provide little protection.

The Young Workers Centre is a free service to support any young worker who has questions or concerns about their rights and safety at work.

Employers are required to abide by labour laws which include:

  • Payment of minimum wage and/or penalty rates;
  • Payment of superannuation;
  • Work health and safety standards;
  • Payment for all hours worked, including overtime;
  • Providing proper records including payslips.

For information, and for support if someone you know is being ripped off, go to: www.youngworkerscbr.org.au.

The Centre is calling for donations to help in its establishment.