Australia

The June 5 South Australian Labor government budget has been praised as “outstanding” by business groups and the corporate media. The budget reduces business taxes and funds extensive infrastructure development.
One of the less noticed consequences of the ALP’s pre-election promise to take a “meat axe” to the federal public service has been the impact of the cuts being made to cultural institutions.
The Victorian state government’s TAFE “reform” blueprint Securing our Future Economic Prosperity: Discussion Paper on Skills Reform, released in April, pitches for higher course fees and a Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS)-style payment system spread over a few years. Currently, TAFE students pay their course fees up front.
On June 2, the West Australian reported that WA Premier Alan Carpenter had called for a nationwide suspension of approvals for foods containing genetically modified (GM) crops until more health research was carried out. Carpenter said the national food regulator, Food Standards Australia New Zealand should not approve any more food for human consumption until independent scientific trials were conducted to better determine the safety of GM foods.
NSW Treasurer Michael Costa’s third budget, on June 3, included massive handouts to big business and a nasty backhander to workers.
Organised racism scored a win on May 27, when Camden Council voted unanimously to reject a proposal to build the 1200 student Al Amanah Islamic College in the south-western Sydney suburb.
Melbourne is drowning in cars and choking on petrol fumes. At the same time, the privatised public transport system is in serious crisis.
Tasmanian Labor Premier Paul Lennon resigned suddenly on May 26, after an opinion poll revealed his popularity had dived to just 17%, and 39% of voters would have preferred Liberal leader Will Hodgman as premier.
On May 23-25, 160 Indigenous and non-Indigenous activists gathered in Sydney for the Unite and Fight conference, organised by the Sydney Aboriginal Rights Coalition. The conference was intended to update people on the impacts of the ongoing Northern Territory intervention and plan the campaign against it. A key priority coming out of the conference was to build large community rallies around the country on June 21, the anniversary of the announcement of the NT intervention. Natasha Moore and Wayne Collard, two Nyoongar members of the West Australian Aboriginal Rights Coalition (ARC-WA), attended the conference and caught up with Green Left Weekly’s Annolies Truman, also an ARC-WA member, on their return to Perth.
“The Venezuelan revolution is slowly going forward, despite problems. President Hugo Chavez hasn’t stopped for a minute in pushing the process ahead, in the face of serious challenges”, Coral Wynter, co-leader of the Australian May Day 2008 solidarity brigade to Venezuela, told a meeting of the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network on May 26.

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