Australia

The First Nations Political Party (FNPP) is a new party contesting the upcoming federal election. The party will contest two lower house seat a and field a four-person senate ticket in WA. It will also run a senate candidate and content a lower house seat in the Northern Territory. Aboriginal activists Marianne Mackay and Glenn Moore began working towards forming an Indigenous political party in late 2009. They have a goal to getting Aboriginal people elected to parliament. “We need a pure Aboriginal voice in parliament”, Moore told Green Left Weekly.
This federal election both Labor and the Coalition have failed to present any serious policies to address climate change. The Greens on the other hand have a plan to cut emissions, but does it go far enough? The Coalition’s Tony Abbott rose to the leadership with the backing of a hardcore group of climate denier MPs. His “direct action” policy on climate change has two big problems: it’s not direct and it’s not much action.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard seems determined to avoid the facts on asylum seeker issues. In her address to the Lowy Institute on July 6, she claimed an updated United Nations report “confirmed the improved human rights and security situation in Sri Lanka and that displaced people continue to return to their homes”. In fact, the report repeatedly referred to “acts of violence and human rights abuses ... abductions, disappearances, assaults, extortion, forced recruitment and extra-judicial killings continue to be committed with impunity by multiple actors”.
Wander through the labyrinthine lanes from Chippendale to Marrickville, and it will strike you: Sydney has been hit with a tidal wave of new art galleries. Galleries like MOP in Chippendale, At The Vanishing Point on south King St and First Draft in Surry Hills are among a new generation of art spaces that are strictly not-for-profit, often self-funded and always run by and for artists. They’re called artist-run initiatives (ARIs), and they’re blasting a fresh gust of air through the art community.
The “world’s first dedicated climate election website” Vote Climate, which rates political parties climate change policies, has recommended a vote for the Socialist Alliance in the upcoming August 21 federal elections. Vote Climate provides detailed policy analysis based on available policy as the primary source, and public documents and public statements as a secondary source. SA is ranked first as the only party that has “policies that might stop runaway climate change” and “adopt a climate emergency response”.
These poems by Iranian poet Mohsen Soltany Zand mark the chasm that has opened around and within us. A century ago, the war poems of World War I conveyed the futility and horrors of war. By doing so, they expressed a clinging to life. For instance, Italian poet Giuseppe Ungaretti wrote “lying a whole night/beside a butchered comrade/never have I clung so to life”. This clinging and choosing of life, persisted even when it seemed the nuclear threat of “mutually assured destruction” was imminent.
“I’ve never felt so good about an election”, an upbeat Senator Bob Brown told a packed crowd at Leichhardt Town Hall on July 29. The Greens parliamentary leader urged people to help his party out in the August 21 election in which the Greens hope to win the balance of power in the Senate. Having been excluded the previous week from the “great debate” featuring Labor Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Coalition leader Tony Abbott, Brown used the opportunity to talk up policies that, had he been included, may have made it worth watching.
A group of sixty refugee rights activists visited the Villawood Detention Centre on July 25 to take part in a planned soccer match and BBQ with refugees. It was organised by Socialist Alliance and Greens members and supported by the Construction Forestry, Energy and Mining Union (CFMEU) and Union Aid Abroad (APHEDA). We wanted to show solidarity with refugees and highlight both the ALP and the Liberal’s inhumane refugee policies. However, when we arrived we were turned away, deemed a “security threat.”
A prolonged industrial dispute is continuing at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) as a result of the ongoing refusal of vice-chancellor Fred Hilmer to bargain in good faith with the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) over staff concerns about pay and conditions — especially job security. Hilmer’s intransigence should come as no surprise. When Hilmer announced his decision to take up a tidy $750,000 annual salary package as vice-chancellor of University of New South Wales back in 2005, he said partial deregulation of education was like being “half pregnant”.
On July 25, climate change minister Penny Wong, Australia’s first openly queer government minister, came out against equal marriage rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people. “On the issue of marriage I think the reality is there is a cultural, religious, historical view around that which we have to respect”, she told Channel 10. Wong’s statement dramatically shows the utter moral bankruptcy of the Labor Party on the issue.

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