Australia

This is an extract from Towards a socialist Australia, produced by the Socialist Alliance and its affiliate, Resistance. Read the first installment in last week's issue of Green Left, and the full text online on the Socialist Alliance website. ***

Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr, US Ambassador to Australia Jeffrey Bleich, and writer and activist Eva Cox took part in the ABC’s Q&A on February 25. More than 15 minutes of the program was spent discussing WikiLeaks journalist Julian Assange.
The campaign against the gas hub at Walmadan (James Price Point) in the Kimberley received a huge boost when about 20,000 people marched through the streets of Fremantle and attended a vibrant and political “Concert for the Kimberley” on February 24.
In the week that US citizen Bradley Manning admitted in court that he leaked military secrets to reveal to the public the “the true costs of war”, I attended the first screening in Sydney of the documentary On The Bridge. The screening was part of the inaugural Big Picture Festival, a social justice film festival.
The statement below was released by the Socialist Alliance on March 2. *** Legal proceedings are under way against long-term trade union and community activist Bob Carnegie. The case has serious implications for trade union rights and broader civil liberties.
About 10,000 nurses and midwives across Western Australia were threatened with disciplinary action and deregistration by the state’s director general if they went ahead with a 24-hour strike on February 25. The evening before the planned action, WA premier Colin Barnett intervened to offer the nurses a 14% pay rise over three years. Australian Nursing Federation (ANF) members accepted the offer after voting at a mass meeting on February 25.
The federal Coalition has used the alleged sexual assault of a young woman on Macquarie University to call for increased monitoring of asylum seekers. Police have charged a Tamil asylum seeker with the attack, which allegedly took place when the man broke into the woman’s room and put a hand down her pyjama pants while she was asleep. He fled when she woke up and screamed.

It has been a colossal past year for women’s rights, with global and local attention flaring across a range of horrific individual tragedies and broader issues, including sexual assault and violence against women, the ongoing gendered disparity in income, and the debate on misogyny. In Melbourne, Jill Meagher’s abduction and murder lead to about 30,000 people rallying in Brunswick, while the Reclaim the Night march drew a crowd of 5000 people to Sydney Road in a huge public declaration that “Enough is enough”.

Dear Darren, I’ve never understood rugby league, but have seen enough State of Origin matches to know there is something special about the way you play the game. They say you are a captain’s captain, a leader’s leader: the fast-as-lighting country boy who would be king. So I am distancing myself from my Queensland brothers and sisters in writing this letter. But I wouldn’t be writing it if you hadn’t already distanced yourself from your followers.
About 200 Sensis workers chanted "Our jobs: yes, outsourcing: no, John Allan has to go", at a rally outside Telstra's Melbourne head office on February 28. John Allan is the CEO of Sensis, a Telstra subsidiary that has announced plans to sack 700 workers. Lorraine Cassin, the secretary of the printing division of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU), told the rally that 400 of the jobs would be transferred to Manila and Mumbai.
The Northern Territory government passed new mandatory sentencing laws on February 14 that will increase the minimum time offenders spend in prison and restrict judges’ right to suspend sentences for certain crimes. NT justice minister John Elferink told AAP on February 14: "These new mandatory minimum sentences correct the failed attempt by the former Labor government to be tough on crime."
Standing for public office in an already rigged electoral system just became even harder. On February 25, the Senate approved Labor’s new election rules that will discriminate against minor parties and independents. The new law doubles the nomination fee for all candidates in the federal elections among other changes.