Australia

Aboriginal workers in the government’s $672 million Strategic Indigenous Housing and Infrastructure Program (SIHIP) are working for what amounts to half the dole plus rations. However, these workers are still being recorded as contributing to SIHIP meeting its employment target, Crickey.com.au said. SIHIP is the housing project announced by the federal government in 2008. The project was to provide much needed housing for Aboriginal populations in remote areas of the Northern Territory.
When the Victorian Parliament decriminalised abortion two years ago, the battle was finally over, right? Then why is the Fertility Control Clinic in East Melbourne still targeted by anti-abortion zealots? And why, after five years, has Melbourne City Council started harassing clinic defenders, potentially handing a victory to those same zealots?
Workers downed tools at the Wonthaggi desalination plant, near Melbourne, after the November 18 Australian claimed senior managers of building contractor Thiess Degremont hired the Australian Security Intelligence group (ASI) to spy on union members, union delegates and others working on the project earlier this year. Thiess is a subsidiary of one of Australia’s largest companies, Leighton. The ASI is a company run by notorious strikebreaker Bruce Townsend, jailed in 2006 in Hobart for receiving stolen cars.
In October, Kevin Harkins, a member of the Labor Left, won the ballot to become the new secretary of Unions Tasmania. Harkins was an electrician and then an organiser with the Electrical Trades Union in Victoria, before becoming ETU Tasmanian secretary in 2000. He spoke to Green Left Weekly’s Linda Seaborn. * * * The recent Unions Tasmania election was the first contested ballot in years. Can you tell me about that?
The South Australian Labor government’s public service cuts were passed through parliament on November 8, ignoring sharp criticism from the Public Service Association (PSA) and widespread protests. Australian Council of Trade Unions president Ged Kearney described the cuts as a form of “political terrorism”, in an address to the PSA that day. She said public funding issues would become increasingly frequent across Australia as governments continue to adopt “neoliberal, global agendas”.
The second suicide in little more than two months took place at Villawood detention centre on the night of November 15. Ahmad Al Akabi, 41, was found by fellow detainees hanged in a bathroom. After spending more than a year in the Christmas Island and Villawood detention centres, his asylum application had been rejected twice under the off-shore processing system that was found to be invalid in a recent High Court decision.
Triple J did a profile on youth unemployment in Wollongong that was posted on the ABC’s website on October 29. Five young people were interviewed about the difficulties in finding work, and the reasons for the high youth unemployment rate. These are the same problems faced by young people all over Australia: a reduction in the number of apprenticeships available, the effects of the financial crisis, the lack of experience young people have and how no-one is willing to give them a chance.
Labor special minister of state Gary Gray must be stupid if he thinks we should feel sorry for him. Gray’s pay went from $675,000 a year to $130,000 when he left Woodside Petroleum to become a politician. Gray wants to close the pay gap between corporate CEOs and politicians — and not by cutting obscene CEO pay. He would prefer to widen the gap between politicians and the people they represent.
Green Left Weekly spoke to some of the progressive candidates running in the November 27 Victorian state elections. * * * Stephen Jolly Stephen Jolly is the Socialist Party candidate for Richmond. He was elected to the City of Yarra council in 2004. He first came to prominence in the campaign to reopen Richmond Secondary College. He spoke to GLW’s Narendra Mohan Kimmalapati. What is your platform for the election?
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Economic Survey of Australia, released on November 15, called for an increase in the rate and scope of the goods and services tax (GST) and a cut in business taxes. The rich countries’ economic club also called for higher road tolls, greater labour productivity and a price on carbon. The OECD’s annual survey congratulated the Labor government for avoiding recession during the global financial crisis but also demanded it undertake further “structural reforms to strengthen productivity”.

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