Thursday, February 26, 2009

Support justice for the Tamil people

****** STATEMENT ******

We are Australian citizens who share a deep concern about the escalating civilian crisis in Sri Lanka.

We call on the Australian government to demand the Sri Lankan authorities and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam declare an immediate ceasefire.

We are deeply concerned about the lack of medical staff and aid agencies serving the estimated 250,000 civilians trapped in the conflict zone.

In September 2008, the Sri Lankan government evicted United Nations and international aid agencies from these areas. While the local Red Cross is still operating within the conflict area, their presence is threatened by the ongoing conflict.

The departure of international witnesses within the conflict area will remove accountability for all parties to the conflict.

The Sri Lankan government has also issued orders to doctors and other health staff to leave the conflict area immediately.

We demand the Sri Lankan government allow international monitoring and medical and aid agencies unrestricted access to the conflict zones immediately.

In direct violation of the Geneva Convention, civilian hospitals in the conflict zones have repeatedly come under aerial bombing and shelling. Furthermore, on 2 February 2009 the Sri Lankan Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapakse stated that everything outside a government declared safety-zone is a military target and no exception will be given to medical facilities. We urge the Australian government to demand the Sri Lankan government stop the aerial bombing of hospitals and both parties cease placing civilians in direct cross fire in all areas.

Foreign and domestic media have been banned from entering the conflict zones since January 2008, when the government unilaterally withdrew from a cease-fire and commenced its military offensive. Without independent reporting, it is impossible to separate fact from propaganda by all parties to the conflict.

We call on the Australian government to pressure Sri Lankan officials to permit independent journalists unrestricted access to the conflict zones.

Furthermore, we recognise that the Tamil citizens of Sri Lanka have been subject to ethnic discrimination by successive Sri Lankan governments since Sri Lanka gained independence in 1948.

We acknowledge that all people, including the Tamils, have the right to self-determination and must freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.

We acknowledge that a military solution to this conflict will not bring lasting peace to Sri Lanka. With the intention of ensuring long-term peace, we call on the Australian government to lead political negotiations that recognise the legitimate aspirations and protects the human rights of all Sri Lankans.

Signatories include:

  • Mr. Julian Burnside, AO QC, Victoria
  • Prof. Wendy Bacon, Professor of Journalism, University of Technology, NSW
  • Prof. Chris Nash, Professor of Journalism, Monash University, Victoria
  • Mr. Antony Loewenstein, Independent Journalist and Author, NSW
  • Dr. Peter Slezak, University of New South Wales, NSW
  • Prof. Damien Kingsbury, Associate Professor, Deakin University, Victoria
  • Hon. Ian Cohen, Member of the Legislative Council, NSW Parliament, NSW
  • Hon. Lee Rhiannon, Member of the Legislative Council, NSW Parliament, NSW
  • Mr. Jeff Loewenstein, Barrister, Victoria
  • Prof. Stuart Rees, Emeritus Professor, Director, Sydney Peace Foundation, University of Sydney, NSW
  • Mr. Jake Lynch, Director, Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Sydney, NSW
  • Mr. David Feith, Tertiary Education Lecturer, Victoria
  • Ms. Karen Coffield, Maternal & Child Health Nurse, Victoria
  • Mr. Michael Brull
  • Prof. John Whitehall, Paediatrician, Queensland
  • Mr. Mal Jago, community news site
  • Dr. Bobby Sundaralingam, Radiologist & Nuclear Medicine Physician, Victoria
  • Dr. Ananth Sundaralingam, Senior Emergency Registrar, Victoria
  • Ms. Sue Bolton, Convenor, Socialist Alliance, Victoria
  • Dr. Brian Senewiratne, Consultant Physician, Queensland
  • Ms. Nesa Arumugam Eliezer, freelance writer and author, Victoria
  • Mr. Nimalan Karthikeyan, Doctoral Candidate, Centre for Peace & Conflict Studies, University of Sydney, NSW
  • Mrs. Gayathri Prathapar, Justice of Peace and Accountant, NSW
  • Dr. Gareth Beal, Associate Lecturer, Creative Writing, Macquarie University, NSW
  • Mr. Chris Riseley, Project Manager, Australian Volunteers International, Victoria
  • Mr. Paul Benedek, state convenor of Socialist Alliance in Queensland and member of the newly formed ‘Tamil Justice Brisbane’
  • Mr Peter Boyle, National Secretary, Democratic Socialist Perspective, NSW
  • Dr. Charmaine Fonseka, Dentist, Victoria
  • Mr Timothy Dobson, National Executive , Resistance, New South Wales
  • Tim Van Hooff, Accountant, QLD

Non-Australians supportive of the Sri Lankan Crisis Statement:

  • Ms. Karen Parker, JD, Specialist in Humanitarian Law and NGO Rep. UN
  • Prof. Peter Schalk, Professor in History of Religions, Uppsala University, Sweden
  • Mr. Michael Otterman, Visiting Scholar, Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Sydney, NSW and author of ‘American Torture’

Click here for complete list of signatories. If you want to sign this statement, please leave a comment on this page or email as soon as possible with your name and title.

For more info:

Monday, February 23, 2009

World at a Crossroads conference - full agenda

World at a Crossroads - Fighting for Socialism in the 21st Century
Easter 2009, April 10-13

Venue: Sydney Girls High School, Sydney


(or phone 9218 9608 for group transport options from Perth)


The full conference agenda is inserted below, or visit the following links to view the various topic streams:

* Global economic crisis
* Climate change & environmental crisis
* Latin American revolution: alternatives to capitalism
* Resisting imperialism & war
* Struggles in Asia and Africa
* Australian radical history & politics
* Left unity: alliances, movement building & revolutionary organisation
* Marxist fundamentals

Hosted by Green Left Weekly. Organised by the Democratic Socialist Perspective & Resistance

For more info, email or, or phone 02 9690 1230



9.30am FEATURE SESSION: World at a crossroads — socialism or barbarism
Reihana Mohideen, feminist and labour activist in the Philippines, leader of the newly formed Party of Labouring Masses
David Spratt, co-author of Climate Code Red
Michael Lebowitz, Centro Internacional Miranda in Venezuela, and author of Build it now: Socialism for the 21st century


Sexism and the system: A rebel's guide to women's oppression - Reihana Mohideen, feminist activist from the Philippines; Kavita Krishnan, national secretary of the All India Progressive Women's Association; and Jay Fletcher, Resistance activist

Challenges of building a climate change movement - David Spratt, co-author of Climate Code Red; Simon Butler, Green Left Weekly journalist on environmental issues and People for a Safe Climate activist

South Korea: A view from the left – South Korean socialist Yongsu Won

Iraq and Afghanistan: The US's unwinnable wars for oil – Alex Bainbridge, DSP; and anti-war activist from the Labour Party Pakistan

Working-class responses to the economic crisis - Jody Betzien, activist in the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union; Roger Annis, activist in the International Association of Machinists in Vancouver, Canada, and delegate to the 2008 Canadian Labour Congress convention

Marx, Engels and Darwin: Evolution and historical materialism - Ian Angus, author of forthcoming book on Darwin and materialism

Understanding Marxist economic theory – Graham Matthews, DSP national executive member and Green Left Weekly journalist on economic issues

1pm – LUNCH

2pm – FEATURE SESSION: Obama, US imperialism and the "war on terror"
Salim Vally, spokesperson for Palestine Solidarity Committee (
South Africa)
Labour Party Pakistan anti-war activist
Rob Stary, civil liberties lawyer
Hosted by Pip Hinman, DSP national executive member and activist in Stop the War Coalition

3.30pm – WORKSHOPS:

Public ownership and workers' control – Dave Kerin, heading up initiative to establish worker-run cooperatives to build solar panels; and Michael Lebowitz on the experiences and lessons of self-management in Yugoslavia and Venezuela

Evo Morales and Bolivia's Indigenous revolution – Federico Fuentes, editor of Bolivia Rising and co-author of MAS-IPSP: A political instrument which emerged from the social movements

Boycott Israel campaign – Discussion hosted by Salim Vally, involved in the recent actions by South African dockworkers to boycott Israeli ships and involving activists in the BDS campaign against Israel

Political struggle in Timor Leste: The global, regional and local context – Tomas Freitas, socialist activist involved in Timor's clandestine movement against Indonesian occupation and a founding member of Luta Hamutuk (Fight Together), a research and advocacy institute focussing on economic issues

The politics of Che Guevara – Duncan Meerding, Resistance

Understanding the economic crisis A - Jamie Doughney, senior researcher at the Work and Economic Policy Research Unit at Victoria University of Technology

Why be a Marxist today? Introduction to Resistance and the DSP – Resistance activist Mel Barnes and Brianna Pike, DSP Sydney organiser

5.30pm – FEATURE SESSION: Confronting the climate change crisis: An ecosocialist perspective
Ian Angus, founder of the Ecosocialist International Network, editor of Climate and Capitalism and associate editor of Socialist Voice (
Dick Nichols, author of Environment, Capitalism and Socialism, Socialist Alliance national co-convenor
Hosted by Stuart Rosewarne, co-editor of Capitalism, Nature, Socialism

7.30pm Dinner with music, poetry and film footage from struggles around the world


9.30am FEATURE SESSION: The spectre of 21st century socialism
Michael Lebowitz, Centro Internacional Miranda,
Caracas, author of Build it Now: Socialism For the 21st Century and Beyond Capital: Marx's Political Economy of the Working Class, winner of the Isaac Deutscher memorial prize (2004)


Marxism, Islam and national liberation – anti-war activist from the Labour Party Pakistan, M. Saraswathy, founding member and deputy chairperson of the Socialist Party of Malaysia; and Tony Iltis, DSP activist

Climate refugees and the "overpopulation" debate – Kamala Emanuel, DSP national committee member

Philippines: Developments on the left – Reihana Mohideen, long-term activist in the women's and labour movements in the Philippines, involved in the recent formation of the Party of the Labouring Masses, and formerly vice-chair for international affairs at the socialist labour centre Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (Solidarity of Filipino Workers)

Haiti today: Five years of UN military occupation – Roger Annis, Canada Haiti Action Network, visited Haiti on a human rights fact-finding mission in 2007

Production and consumption as a source of global warming: Beyond capitalism and toward a democratic ecosocialism - Hans Baer, Development Studies Program and Centre for Health and Society at the University of Melbourne, author of Global Warming and the Political Economy of Health

Understanding the economic crisis B – Dick Bryan, Department of Political Economy, University of Sydney

1pm – LUNCH

2pm – FEATURE SESSION: Building a worker-green-community alliance for sustainability
Tim Gooden, secretary of
Geelong and Regions Trades and Labour Council
Dave Kerin, convenor of Union Solidarity and heading up initiative to establish worker-run cooperatives to build solar panels
Mel Barnes, Resistance activist in the Stop the Pull Mill campaign in

3.30pm – WORKSHOPS:

Indigenous resistance from invasion to intervention – Sam Watson, Aboriginal leader from Brisbane and Socialist Alliance national spokesperson on Indigenous rights; and an activist from the Northern Territory Rollback Intervention Working Group

The struggle for same-sex marriage rights – Simon Margan, Greens gay and lesbian rights activist; Farida Iqbal, DSP activist and campaigner for same-sex marriage rights in the ACT; and an activist from Community Action Against Homophobia, Sydney

The left in Malaysia – M. Saraswathy, founding member and deputy chairperson of the Socialist Party of Malaysia, and long-term organiser of plantation workers, urban settlers and women workers in Malaysia

Crisis and resistance in Africa – Salim Vally, long time anti-apartheid campaigner in South Africa; and Soubhi Iskander, Sudanese Communist Party

Experiences of left unity: The New Anti-capitalist Party in France and Socialist Alliance in Australia – Sam Wainwright, international observer at the NPA founding congress; and Sue Bolton, Victorian Socialist Alliance and DSP Melbourne secretary.

El Salvador after the elections: Where next for the FMLN? – Activists from the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front in Australia

History of Resistance and the DSP – Resistance activist Mel Barnes and Stuart Munckton, DSP national executive

5.30pm – FEATURE SESSION: Latin America: Revolt, revolution and socialism in the 21st century
Abelardo Curbelo, veteran of the Cuban revolution, central committee member of the Cuban Communist Party, currently Cuban ambassador to Australia
Nelson Davila, founding member of Chavez's Bolivarian Revolutionary Movement (MBR-200), currently head of Venezuela's diplomatic mission to Australia
Luis Bilbao, long-time socialist activist on the Latin American left, participant in the construction of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela and in the formation of the Union of South American Nations

Celebrating revolution: 50 years of Cuban Revolution, 10 years of Venezuelan Revolution. With toasts by
Cuba's ambassador to Australia, Abelardo Curbelo, and Venezuela's charge d'affaires, Nelson Davila


9.30am FEATURE SESSION: Neoliberalism and resistance in Asia
Kavita Krishnan, Communist Party of India (Marxist Leninist), editor of Liberation, the CPI-ML's magazine in English, and national secretary of the All India Progressive Women's Association
Yongsu Won, socialist activist from South Korea


Cultural dissent - The politics of art and resistance - Ian Angus on Racism, resistance and the blues; Jill Hickson from Actively Radical TV; and Phil Monsour, progressive folk singer

Capitalism, agribusiness and sustainable agriculture – DSP members Trish Corcoran, Kate Stockdale and Nick Soudakoff

Has racism always existed? – Resistance activist Dom Hale

Australia's hidden radical tradition – DSP national executive member Dave Holmes

Understanding the economic crisis C – Dick Nichols, Socialist Alliance national co-convenor

The Cuban economy and Latin American integration – Tim Anderson, lecturer in political economy at Sydney University just returned from Cuba, and producer/director of The Doctors of Tomorrow

1pm – LUNCH

2pm – FEATURE SESSION: Revolution in Venezuela - Communal councils, the workers' movement and the United Socialist Party of Venezuela
Luis Bilbao, participant in the construction of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela and in the formation of the Union of South American Nations, founding editor of the Latin America-wide monthly magazine América XXI, and author of 16 books, most recently Venezuela in Revolution: the Rebirth of Socialism

3.30pm – WORKSHOPS:

Young socialists fighting back – Kavita Krishnan, former president of the All India Students' Association (1999-2006); Resistance national co-organiser Jess Moore and high-school activist Felix Donovan

Sustainable cities: The transition to public transport, accessible housing and liveability – Ben Courtice, DSP environment movement activist; and John Rice, Adelaide Ecosocialist Network

Israel, Hamas, Hezbollah and the right of Palestine to exist – Issac Shuisha, Israeli-born Palestine solidarity activist; and DSP member Rupen Savoulian

Argentina: The key to the region - Luis Bilbao, Union of Militants for Socialism, Argentina, author of recently published Argentina as the key to the region

Imperialism, nationalism and financial collapse: The Canadian experience – Roger Annis, associate editor of Socialist Voice, Canada

The Tamil struggle for self-determination - Brian Senewiratne, Sinhalese activist involved for more than four decades in exposing the human rights abuses perpetrated by the Sri Lankan government and Sinhalese militias; author of various books on the Tamil struggle that have been banned in Sri Lanka

Building a revolutionary alternative in Australia today – Resistance activist Mel Barnes and Ruth Ratcliffe, DSP Adelaide organiser

5.30pm – FEATURE SESSION: Revolutionary organising and internationalism in the 21st century
Peter Boyle, Democratic Socialist Perspective national secretary
M. Saraswathy, deputy chairperson of the Socialist Party of Malaysia
Daphne Lawless, Socialist Worker-New Zealand central committee member and editor of Unity journal

7pm Resistance gig with funky tunes from Dhopec and others

* Some session times and speakers listed in this agenda may change. Please visit www.WorldAtACrossroads for the most up to date agenda.

Check out and the Eco Freako show!

Socialist Alliance has been asked to circulate this information from the website:

Dr Eco Freako will be at the Leederville Hotel on Tuesday night (24th February) at 8 pm and at The Indian Ocean Hotel, Scarborough on Thursday night (26th February) at 8:20 pm. The performances are only 20 minutes in length so be prompt or you will miss them.
The Eco Freako show combines music, theatre (environmental political satire) and animation. This week Dr Freako explains the Gaia theory, the Third World Debt and he calls for action on the environment.
He introduces the other characters in the show the Grim Reaper and Green Sower (these will be in follow up shows) and talks to World leaders (life size models) about climate change and the economy.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Portrait of Rosa Luxemburg: IWD toast - Sun 8 March

International Women's Day toast

Commemoration of the revolutionary life of Rosa Luxemburg on the 90th anniversary of her death.

Features: multi-media presentation & refreshments

4-6pm, Sun 8 March

Resistance Centre
15 / 5 Aberdeen St, East Perth (just near McIver Station)

Ph 9218 9608, 0417 319 662
Recommended donation: $10/$5
Proceeds to Green Left Weekly fighting fund

Monday, February 16, 2009

Invitation to get involved in World Environment Day

Hi ,

A group of us who attended the National Climate Summit in Canberra, or followed it from afar, have decided to act on its recommendations.

We are organising an open meeting on Sat 21 Feb at 12:15 pm at City Farm to form a committee to plan a rally for World Environment Day. It will be the platform to launch the campaign for 100% renewables by 2020 and is one of the actions agreed on at the Climate Summit.

As "natural" disasters multiply, we see this as an urgent task.

We would love you to be involved in the process. If you can't make the 1st meeting, please let us know what times would suit you for future meetings.

Del Weston, Summit participant,
Sanna Andrew, Summit participant,
Kamala Emanuel, editor, Socialist Alliance Climate Change Charter,
Annolies Truman, Hills Climate Action Group,
Janet Grogan, Greenpeace Perth co-ordinator.

Vision Statement and 2009 Campaign Objectives adopted by the Climate Summit

We face a climate emergency. Our vision is to work together at emergency speed to restore in a just way a safe climate in time for all people, all species and all generations

2009 Campaign Objectives:
1. To prevent the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme from becoming law.
2. Build community-wide action to demand green jobs, a just transition and 100% renewable energy by 2020.
3. To build community support for a goal of stabilization at 300ppm CO2 and to create strong international agreement in line with what science and global justice demands. To communicate this position to the Copenhagen Conference of Parties and to advocate for the Australian government to adopt that position.

Future actions that were accepted:
1) Actions outside MP's offices or corporations to coincide with the release of the CPRS White Paper in March.
2) Nationally coordinated mass rallies on World Environment Day (June 6) with the explicit aim of publicly launching the campaign for 100% renewables in 10 years.
3) Climate camp/s in September, inspired by the successful camp held in Newcastle in August last year.
4) Culminating in actions around the Copenhagen Summit in December 09.

Cuba & Venezuela today: In the footsteps of Che?

Eyewitness report

Cuba & Venezuela today: In the footsteps of Che?

After 50 years does Cuba still uphold the spirit of Che Guevara?

Is the tumultuous process unfolding in Venezuela simply an extension of the Cuban revolution or is it something new?

Can ordinary people raise themselves up from the lowest levels of poverty and organise an egalitarian society?

Two Hills residents, just returned from a fact-finding tour of Venezuela and Cuba will peel back the media images, revealing the grassroots realities.

St Cuthbert’s Good Shepherd Meeting Room, Corner Darlington Rd & Hillsden Rd, Darlington
4:00 pm Saturday March 14. Entry: donation

Contact:, 9299 6453

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Burning Crises of Our Time

Perth Resistance and Socialist Alliance jointly organised a very successful forum on February 21 on the topic of "The burning crises of our times: What to do about global warming and the capitalist economic crisis".

32 people attended the forum including a number of people who had joined Resistance on university "O-weeks" in the previous week and a half.

The meeting began with two presentations, the first by Julia Stafford (right) from Resistance on "Resisting the meltdown" which explained the link between an irrational capitalist system and the global warming and economic crises we face. Sam Wainwright (below) from Socialist Alliance, recently returned from the founding conference of the New Anti-capitalist Party in France explained the postive breakthrough that that formation represented and how it points the way towards the sorts of solutions we need in Australia.

Resistance joined over 60 new members at Perth orientation weeks on Murdoch, Curtin, ECU and UWA campuses. A number of the new members met at the end of the forum to discuss plans for building Resistance on campus. Resistance is now confident about taking steps forward in the immediate future.

While the numbers involved are still modest, they were noticeably larger than other left groups in Perth that seem to have abandoned any perspective of seeking practical measures to unite the actually existing socialist movement. The Socialist Alliance remains committed to working towards greater left unity and a stronger socialist movement.

Resistance will be holding meetings on Curtin, UWA & Murdoch over the next two weeks. Phone 9218 9608 for more info about getting involved in Resistance or Socialist Alliance. Also, there will be an International Women's Day toast commemorating the revolutionary life of Rosa Luxemburg on March 8. Click here for more info.
The Burning Crises of our time
What to do about global warming and the capitalist economic crisis

A public forum by Resistance and Socialist Alliance
(all welcome)

Julia Stafford (Resistance) - Resisting the Meltdown
Sam Wainwright (Socialist Alliance) - France's New Anti-capitalist Party - an eyewitness report

2.30pm Sat 21 February
Resistance Centre
(15/5 Aberdeen St - just near McIver Station)

Ph 9218 9608

PDF leaflets for this forum can be found:
Download Black & White (PDF) leaflet here
Download Colour (PDF) leaflet here

Victorian fire tragedy highlights scale of global warming emergency and need for real action

Socialist Alliance statement: February 11, 2009

Like all people across Australia Socialist Alliance members have been devastated by the Victorian bushfire tragedy, the greatest disaster in peace-time Australian history.

We express our condolences to and solidarity with all who have lost family, friends and homes in this shocking holocaust, made worse by the possibility that some of these fires were deliberately lit.

We salute the efforts of Victorian Country Fire Authority workers and all volunteers who have sacrificed time, effort and security and done everything in their power to halt the ravages of the fires. Emergency service workers battled for up to 30 hours without sleep trying to control the infernos, help the injured, and attend to the thousands left homeless.

The Victorian Labor government has called a Royal Commission into the tragedy. If that commission listens carefully to firefighters, emergency personnel and bush communities it will learn many truths, including that emergency services are severely underfunded, fire breaks and forest access tracks should be better maintained and high-risk areas better patrolled.

The commission must also ask why, in the middle of an unprecedented heat wave, after years of drought and predictions of extreme climate events, little seems to have been done to prepare for a disaster that was waiting to happen.

However, the commission will be a waste of time if it refuses to confront the underlying cause of the Victorian bushfire disaster—accelerating global warming and climate disruption.

The reality of climate emergency, which has been explained for years by eminent scientists, has been denied or downplayed by the mainstream politicians, or “treated” with completely inadequate policies like the Rudd government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.

The record temperatures in Melbourne and in many parts of southeastern Australia last Saturday cannot be explained simply by natural variability. The hottest 14 years on record have occurred in the last 20 years.

Far from being a “one-in-a-thousand-years event” claimed by Victorian premier John Brumby, bushfires like those in Victoria have been multiplying as average temperatures rise across eastern Australia. Extreme fire weather situations of mid-40s heat and strong winds have been increasing in frequency over the last ten years, and will continue to do so as climate change worsens.

In the words of a Bureau of Meteorology colleague quoted by University of Adelaide climate scientist Professor Barry Brook: “Climate change is now becoming such a strong contributor to these hitherto unimaginable events that the language starts to change from one of ‘climate change increased the chances of an event’ to ‘without climate change this event could not have occurred’.

The Socialist Alliance calls for greater resources for fire fighting and prevention, and appropriate land management, in the wake of this tragedy. However, the best and bravest fire-fighting in the world will be impotent before infernos like those that devastated country Victoria last weekend unless underlying causes are tackled.

Along with a serious effort at all levels of government to assess and mitigate the impact of global warming on our bush and country towns, Australia needs to invest billions of dollars in a “green New Deal” to cut its greenhouse gas emissions and to lead the way internationally by following the lead of programs like Al Gore’s call for 100% renewable energy by 2020.

The dreadful Victorian bushfires—like the disastrous floods in Queensland—are a dire warning that government cannot afford to ignore what the climate scientists tell them or to “balance” their views against those of the fossil fuel lobby. Global warming underlies this awful tragedy and the continued ignoring of scientific opinion about the climate emergency can only contribute to more such disasters.

Information: Sue Bolton 0413 377 978

Canberra Climate Summit launches and unites new environment movement

The January 31-February 3 Climate Action Summit represents an enormous step forward for the Australian movement against global warming. It adopted a vision statement, goals and action plans for the movement in line with the climate emergency the planet faces. The Socialist Alliance welcomes the decisions of the summit (described below by Simon Butler), and commits to helping build the movement as strongly as it can.

Climate Summit Action Outcomes

Vision statement

We face a climate emergency. Our vision is to work together at emergency speed to restore in a just way a safe climate in time for all people, all species and all generations

2009 campaign objectives

1. To prevent the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme from becoming law.

2. Build community-wide action to demand green jobs, a just transition and 100% renewable energy by 2020.

3. To build community support for a goal of stabilisation at 300ppm carbon dioxide and to create strong international agreement in line with what science and global justice demands. To communicate this position to the Copenhagen Conference of Parties and to advocate for the Australian government to adopt that position.

2009 actions

March. Actions outside MPs offices or corporations to coincide with the parliamentary vote on the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.

June. Nationally coordinated mass World Environment Day rallies (June 6) with the explicit purpose of publicly launching the campaign for 100% renewable energy in 10 years.

September. Climate camp/s and protests against coal installations, to coincide with the time of maximum Arctic sea ice melt..

December. Actions around the Copenhagen Summit on global warming.

(From Simon Butler in Canberra)

We live in a peculiar, troubling time, where the world's climate scientists are all but screaming from the rooftops for governments to listen and take urgent action to avert climate change.

Act without delay to end carbon emissions and work to draw carbon down from the atmosphere, they say, because the lives of literally billions of human beings are at risk if we fail.

But with perverse irresponsibility the governments are not listening to the scientists and the many others worried about the future. They have ignored the arguments based on scientific fact and disregarded the moral imperative of preserving an inhabitable planet for future generations.

In a time when our government refuses to take the steps to secure the health and safety of our children and grandchildren, only one option really remains.

People need to reach out, organise, and campaign for a safe climate future. It's because they know that the government and the market won't fix the climate crisis in time that more and more people are taking action themselves.

Australia's Climate Action Summit, held in Canberra over four days from January 31 to February 3, brought together many people from across Australia, inspired to make a difference.

More than 500 participants, representing well over 100 different Climate Action Groups (CAG's), peak groups and political parties, adopted of set of campaign objectives for 2009. The goals decided upon are, they concluded, ``in line with what science, and global justice, demands'‘.

The Climate Summit took place in a political context of the environmental movement having received an enormous slap in the face from the Rudd government in December.

Australia's emissions reduction target is a paltry 5% by 2020. Rudd's proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS), meanwhile, is engineered to provide the biggest polluters with free credits and even allows the most energy-intensive industries to expand future production.

Participants came together with a shared understanding that the movement needed to take a fresh, people-centred approach in light of the new government's policies. The growth of CAGs around the country has shown the willingness of people to get involved. Now a national network of climate change activists and groups was needed to coordinate and unite the various efforts.

Clive Hamilton, conference participant and author of Scorcher: the dirty politics of climate change commented on this solid grassroots dynamic of the climate movement, and its origins, in an article published on on February 4.

"The announcement of the [CPRS] was a king hit on the mainstream environment groups that had invested so much in working on the inside of the parliamentary process", Hamilton said.

"Seduced into believing they can influence the Government, in truth they were crushed by the greenhouse mafia. Fossil fuel delegations could get an hour of quality time with the minister, while environment groups felt lucky to have 15 minutes with a bored staffer."

"This failure underlines the importance of the 'new environment movement', a surprisingly large network of community-based activist groups that came together in Canberra last weekend for the Climate Action Summit."

"Led by a new generation of young people whose politics have not been shaped by the old movement, they represent a return to radical activism. They are determined, angry, savvy and brave.

"They believe that baby boomers are bequeathing to them a world much worse than the one the boomers inherited. Their objective was perfectly captured in the words on a T-shirt worn by one of them: 'Unf-ck the world'."

Reality check

Day one of the summit began with an honest reminder of what is at stake and discussed how the task of winning a safe climate is easier to accept than to achieve.

In an opening plenary session, Hamilton explained the appalling influence of the "greenhouse mafia" in setting Australia's climate policy. The government's CPRS was "as if the government had announced a new tax on cigarettes, but exempted smokers from paying".

"Our only hope", Hamilton said, "lies in a campaign of radical activism. Until the public demands it, far ranging actions won't happen."

David Spratt, co-author of Climate Code Red, put forward the case for the movement to adopt a long-term target of 300 parts per million (ppm) of CO2 and surveyed the findings of the most recent climate science.

He ridiculed the federal government's official policy that assumes life on the planet can be preserved with 3° Celsius of warming. "Kevin Rudd's target of 3° warming is an end of the world target", Spratt pointed out.

Greenpeace climate change campaign coordinator, John Hepburn, also spoke on the opening panel. He labeled the failure to tackle climate change as "a failure of the Australian political system".

Hepburn briefly outlined the scale of the changes climate campaigners need to aim for. ``We need to shut down the coal industry as quickly as possible and move to achieve 100% renewable energy", he said.

The final speaker, Jenny Curtis from the Balmain-Rozelle climate action group, pointed out that "despite the brilliance of what we have created, the movement so far has failed".

"Our job is to build a new movement, a movement that leads to a whole system transformation", Curtis concluded.

Hope and determination

Over the following three days summit participants contributed to a highly productive discussion and examination of the campaign options. In summary, the Climate Summit adopted three unifying objectives:

1) To prevent the Rudd government's proposed CPRS from becoming law.

2) To launch a campaign for 100% renewable energy in Australia within 10 years - drawing upon the example of Al Gore's Repowering America campaign, which is backed by research from renewable energy experts from Stanford University among others.

3) To campaign for a long-term target of stabilising atmospheric CO2 at 300ppm. This corresponds with the most recent research conducted by the world's leading climate scientist, James Hansen, and his team.

That the conference was able to unite on the goal of stopping the CPRS in 2009 is significant. This was achieved despite the differences in the movement about whether some other form of emissions trading scheme could be a part of the solution.

Ultimately, participants agreed that activists can continue to discuss alternatives without preventing the unity necessary to stop the Rudd government's atrocious scheme in its tracks this year.

The second objective of achieving 100% renewable energy by 2020 was thoroughly discussed and debated at the summit.

The summit emphasised that the 100% renewables campaign should be twinned with a clear call on the government to create green jobs and prioritise a ``just transition'‘, which incorporates social justice for the workers and communities who currently make their living from unsustainable industries.

This overarching campaign - or "meta-theme" as it was described by some summit attendees - is intended to incorporate and unite the varied climate justice campaigns around the country, without impacting on the autonomy of any of these groups or campaigns.

Discussion and action

Mark Diesendorf, from the University of New South Wales, argued against the adoption of this particular objective. In a plenary session on the third morning he said he strongly disagreed that 100% renewable energy by 2020 is a realistic aim. This goal could be achieved by 2040 at the earliest, he said.

However, the majority of the summit clearly differed with Diesendorf's arguments. A number of activists spoke from the floor to argue that the objective is the adequate emergency response required to confront a serious climate emergency.

Others pointed out that the available mix of renewable technology - solar, solar thermal, wind, tidal and geothermal power - could do the job, provided there was the political will.

That the conference also adopted the long-term target of 300ppm of CO2 is very encouraging. This was strengthened by an explicit call for the Australian government to adopt this goal and advocate it in international forums, in particular the Copenhagen Summit in December.

Importantly, the summit also endorsed a framework of future actions. It was made clear that these proposals were not intended to discourage CAGs from determining their own campaigns and actions as well.

The future actions proposed by the summit were:

  • Actions outside MPs offices or corporations to coincide with the parliamentary vote on the CPRS in March.
  • Nationally coordinated mass World Environment Day rallies on June 6 with the explicit purpose of publicly launching the campaign for 100% renewable energy in 10 years.
  • Climate camp/s and protests against coal installations in September, the time of maximum Arctic sea ice melt..
  • Actions around the Copenhagen Summit in December.
  • The Climate Summit was not able to reach a consensus on the kind of national climate network structure for the movement. The summit resolved to continue the discussion and CAGs will be asked to consider new proposals in the coming weeks.

    The summit concluded with a protest action at Parliament House on the morning of February 3. Two thousand five hundred people joined hands and completely encircled the parliament in a human chain.

    The symbolism of this action could hardly have been more apt. It sent an unmistakable message from the climate justice movement to the politicians hiding inside - we are many, you are few.

    Sunday, February 1, 2009

    Rally for Gaza 31 Jan 09

    See below pictures from the rally. Reports to follow.

    Download pictures from here.