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  Issue No 95 Official Organ of LaborNet 11 May 2001  




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Activist Notebook

A conference on workplace democracy conference, a new play on refugees and a visitng Indonesia activist are all on this week's activist calendar.


Workplace Democracy Conference

Check out the Worksite website for details of the Workplace Democracy Conference to be held at the University of Sydney on 1 June 2001.

You can register for the conference from the website:

Urban Theatre Project

A site-based performance about refugees:

Voices, sounds & images from the camps within our borders.

"Naw?" asks the woman at the big desk. "Nawi to ciea?" She waits, pen poised above a sheaf of papers. "Walami prsirako bdarawa!" the man next to her barks. "Nawi kasakaw sabay ziarat ciea?" Someone in the queue behind you comes to your rescue: "They want your name and purpose of visit."

This is not Border Control, but Front of House at the latest production by Urban Theatre Projects, Asylum. It's a show about refugees, engaging with the on-going public debate about how Australia should respond to them. "Australians like to think we have a proud history of welcoming refugees and migrants," says the show's director, Claudia Chidiac. "There are these warm and fuzzy images of the old migrant hostels like Bonegilla. But times are changing - now we greet new refugees with Detention Centres in the middle of nowhere, razor-wire, and years of waiting."

Claudia has researched the show extensively, speaking with detainees inside the Villawood Detention Centre, as well as people who have been through the lengthy and difficult process of gaining refugee status.

"People don't leave their homes and families, and travel to the other side of the world for no reason," she says. "They've left because their life was in danger. But to gain asylum, to be allowed to stay, they need to prove that to the immigration authorities."

"The have to keep telling their story, over and over again. Every detail is checked and challenged. So they become wedded to their story - it's their passport and only chance of survival, but it's also a burden. They have to keep telling and keep living what may be very traumatic events. They become their story, and they become performers," says Claudia. "That's the kind of uneasy relationship we want to bring out in Asylum."

Asylum is performed by an ensemble of five: Angel Boudjbiha, Sepideh Fallah, Anna Nguyen, Nahro Saaid, and Cyrus Sarang. Some have been through the experience of coming to Australia as refugees, from Algeria, Iran, Vietnam and Kurdistan. Some were practising theatre artists in their former homelands.

Claudia has performed and trained with western Sydney company, Urban Theatre Projects for over three years - as has writer, Khoa Do. Video is by Denis Beaubois, while Rik Rue provides a soundscape inspired by his visit to Villawood Detention Centre.

The venue for Asylum is a vacant wallpaper shop in Lidcombe - a place of transience and transformation. UTP is known for its innovative site-based performances in unusual urban spaces, including trains travelling through western Sydney (TrackWork, 1997), a residential street in Liverpool (Speed Street, 1998), and the Bankstown shopping district (Subtopia, 1999). The company also has a long-standing commitment to working with communities to make theatre, and to making performance that reflects Sydney's cultural diversity.

Asylum is presented at 54 Joseph Street, Lidcombe (5min walk to train station). It runs two weeks from May 31, playing Thursday to Saturday. Admission is free, but book on 9707 2111.


PERFORMERS Angel Boudjbiha, Sepideh Fallah, Anna Nguyen, Nahro Saaid, Cyrus Sarang

DIRECTOR Claudia Chidiac DRAMATURGY John Baylis & Khoa Do VIDEO Denis Beaubois SOUND Rik Rue LIGHTING DESIGNER Richard Montgomery

DATES May 31 - June 9 (Thu-Sat 8pm) FREE BUT BOOKINGS ESSENTIAL - call 9707 2111

VENUE 54 Joseph Street, Lidcombe (5min from train station)


Visiting activist: Indonesian human rights sacrificed to service Debt

As Indonesia descends into political and economic chaos, its people are becoming shackled in foreign Debt. From 1997 to 2000 Indonesia's debt rocketed from US$54 billion to $142 billion.

Visiting human rights activists to Australia are critical of the international community's - including Australia's - response to the crisis. Binny Buchori, Executive Director of the peak body known as the International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development (INFID), speaks out this week against the policies of creditors, including Australia. A clear and articulate speaker, she will be addressing a public meeting on Friday May 11th at 7 pm at 169 Philip St, Sydney.

Australia is owed over A$1.5 billion by Indonesia and has influence in a number of international creditor institutions, including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Buchori asserts the creditor community helped create Indonesia's debt crisis and should therefore accept some of the responsibility to find solutions. The World Bank worked in co-operation with Soeharto's "New Order" regime, turning a blind eye to persistent corruption, and it must be accountable. The IMF must also take responsibility for exacerbating Indonesia's debt problem by its interventions following the Asian economic crisis, when it made clumsy efforts to reform the private banking sector. The result was a conversion of massive private debt into public debt, which accounts for almost three quarters of the hike in the country's debt burden since 1997.

Far from taking any responsibility, the World Bank and IMF are currently concerned with Indonesia raising its capacity to repay, thereby placing full responsibility on an impoverished Indonesian public. Nor does the country receive the same debt relief normally offered to other Severely Indebted Low Income Countries.

The country is now using 36% of Government revenue to service its foreign Debt while it spends 8% spent on education and 4% on health. At the same time the number of people in severe poverty has doubled since the Asian economic crisis. UNICEF predicts that due to its grave debt burden Indonesia will sustain a lost generation, a weak generation resulting from lack of education and ill health.

INFID is advocating for an international insolvency tribunal, so that countries like Indonesia will not be forced to repay debts even if this means sacrificing the human rights of their citizens.

For further information, please contact Jamie Isbister on 9299-2215

or Thea Ormerod 9150-9713


*   View entire issue - print all of the articles!

*   Issue 95 contents

In this issue
*  Interview: Geek Guys
Two of the union movement�s pioneers in new technology, Peter Ross and Mark McGrath, chew the fat about wired unionism and virtual politics.
*  Compo: Costa�s Angels
Behind the spotlight of the workers comp campaign four women trade union officials have been burning the midnight oil to protect injured workers.
*  Legal: View from the Bench
Compensation Court judge and former Attorney-General, Frank Walker, argues the Della Bosca workers comp reforms are a threat to judicial independence.
*  International: Timor: Time for the Truth
HT Lee was in Dili when the militas ran rampage. Now he wants the truth to come out.
*  History: True Believers
Frank Bongiorno looks at the origins of the Australian Labor Party, which celebrated its centenary of Caucus this week.
*  Corporate: Trust Me, I�m a Multi-National!
BHP unions have united across the factions to urge �No� vote on the planned Billiton merger.
*  Unions: AWAs � A Doomed Future?
ACTU Assistant Secretary Richard Marles plays clairvoyant and predicts a dismal future for AWAs.
*  Satire: Bush Defends One China Policy - Then Another China Policy, Then Another ....
President Bush today announced a major change to the United States� policy of �strategic ambiguity� towards the status of Taiwan and its One China policy.
*  Review: Surviving Survivor
Workers Online's Reality TV correspondent Mark Morey rakes over the coals of the Survivor II result.

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»  Phantom Employers Face the Flush
»  Primus Suspect? Unions Seek Answers
»  Big Australian�s Merger Faces Rocky Road
»  Happy Hour for Heineken with a Half-Price Dollar
»  Arnotts Workers Call for Consumer Boycott
»  Asian Women at Work: Daring To Act
»  Academic Sacking Sparks Global Row
»  Labor Councillors Feel Childcare Heat
»  Rail Workers Win Maintenance Security
»  Knitwear Company Stitched Up Over AWAs
»  Three Stripes and You�re Out
»  Unions and Students Move on Harvard
»  IT Workers Alliance � Last Call for Comment
»  Our News Feed Hits 1000
»  Activist Notebook

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»  Qantas on Impulse
»  Compo: The Great Tradition

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