A tale of two Labor jails: from abortion to the ABCC
Posted by Leonie, August 2nd, 2009 - under ABCC, ACTU, ALP, Abortion, Anna Bligh, Ark Tribe, Australian Building and Construction Commission, Australian Labor Party, BlighBorg, Julia Gillard, Kevin Rudd, Labor Left, Labor Party, Labor jails, Reaction, Resistance, Rudd, Rudd Government, Rudd Labor, Strikes, Trade unions, Unions.
In Cairns nineteen year old Tegan Leach took some smuggled-in RU 486 and another abortifacient to end her eight week pregnancy.
The Labor Government’s police force in Queensland has charged Tegan with procuring an abortion. She could be jailed for 7 years.
Her 21 year old partner, Sergei Brennan, faces 14 years imprisonment for allegedly assisting her to procure an abortion.
The clinic in Cairns licensed to prescribe abortifacients including RU486 is just down the road.
Because of the Bligh Labor Government’s refusal to stop the criminal case against the 19 year old, a case which raises doubts about their own legal situation, the doctors at the clinic have stopped prescribing abortifacients.
Labor Premier Anna Bligh, a supposedly pro-choice feminist, said at first that this was an importation matter. Clearly it is not since the person who bought the RU486 into Australia has not been charged with anything.
Now Queensland Labor are saying it is a police matter and that the ALP won’t amend the antiquated criminal law to remove the Dickensian criminalized abortion provision being used against the young Cairns woman.
Presumably Bligh joined the ALP and became Premier to make a difference. Yet she won’t even decriminalise abortion.
Some difference she is making! She is indeed the Blighborg.
Like Peter Garrett if the choice is between power or principle power wins every time in the ALP.
What does it matter to Bligh that she is destroying a young women’s life? After all her christian right deputy premier would approve of her new found anti-abortion stand, wouldn’t he?
This is not a police matter. It is a political matter.
In 1999 a report on women and the Criminal law recommended abortion in Queensland be decriminalised (as it now is in the ACT and Victoria.) The Labor Government of the time did nothing. The Labor Government of today will do nothing.
The immediate solution is obvious.
Attorney General Cameron Dick could take over the prosecution from the Queensland police and no bill it. This means he would effectively stop the prosecution.
The fact that he doesn’t shows that Labor in Queensland supports the continuing criminalisation of abortion.
(For more on this see Labor’s Anna Bligh attacks abortion rights.)
But is is not only Queensland Labor that supports 19th century laws.
Federally Rudd Labor is about to jail Ark Tribe, a building worker, for taking industrial action over safety issues and refusing to talk about it to the Australian Building and Construction Commission.
The ABCC is a return to the bad old days of the Tolpuddle Martyrs when unions were per se illegal combinations.
The argument is slightly more nuanced these days but effectively it is about labelling construction workers and their unions ‘thugs’ engaging in ‘illegal’ activity for just about everything they do, including the heinous crime of striking over safety.
As the song says when they jail a man for striking it’s s rich man’s country still.
Since the ABBC began intimidating building workers deaths on site have gone up.
Rudd Labor is going to roll the ABCC in to a new body called Fair Work Australia in 2010.
As John pointed out on this site almost 8 months ago (Rudd’s Work Choices) changing the ABCC’s name does not change its nature – an anti-union body with powers more draconian than any police force.
Its aim is to smash those building unions which stand up for safety, wages and jobs and to send a message to all other unions – accept the rule of capital and wage slavery.
In South Australia Ark Tribe and other building workers took action over safety issues. The ABCC – Gillard’s gestapo - demanded that Ark attend a hearing to discuss what happened at meeting about the issue.
He refused. For that he now faces the prospect of 6 months in jail.
The recent ALP National Conference passed a weak motion about there being one law for all, but didn’t challenge the right of a Labor Government to jail workers for defending their safety at work.
The peak union body, the ACTU and, I suspect, the more militant building unions, have in effect abandoned Ark.
They’ll pontificate, organise token demonstrations and shed crocodile tears but will not take industrial action against the ABCC.
They are burying the memory of Clarrie O’Shea and all those who struck to free him from jail when he refused to pay industrial fines.
Innocent people face jail under Labor’s laws for actions that should not be crimes. Abortion and industrial action are not crimes; they are rights.
Labor now embodies the two souls of reaction – economic and social.
Mass campaigns for abortion rights and the right to strike could defeat the reactionaries.
But 26 years of class collaboration and social quietude make that unlikely to occur.
The idea of struggle been lost from our collective memory.
Tegan, Sergei and Ark should be getting ready for jail at the hands of Labor.