Australia

“Lunchtime midweek in Campbelltown’s main street in the heart of western Sydney is a slow-moving affair”, the Australian’s Jennifer Hewett wrote on July 23. “Cars drive in and out of the one-way street at a leisurely pace. Business is not exactly booming in most of the small, tired-looking shops. There’s plenty of room on the footpath for pedestrians.”
For many union leaders afraid of a Coalition victory on August 21, campaigning against Tony Abbott in the federal election simply means campaigning for Julia Gillard. With a conservative win on the cards, unions have escalated their pro-ALP campaigning. The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) — which has filled Labor’s coffers with more than $340,000 for the election campaign — has enlisted officials for ring-arounds in marginal seats.
“Businesses like making profits”, said Labor leader Julia Gillard on ABC’s Q&A on August 9. She was explaining why Labor opposed the Coalition’s proposal to raise the company tax rate by 1.5%. “If they’ve got to pay more tax and that’s going to cut into their profits, then they’ll think of a way of adding a bit more profit. “What’s the best way of adding a bit more profit in? They put up prices. “It, you know, just stands to common sense reason, doesn’t it?” The Greens lead NSW senate candidate Lee Rhiannon agrees.
After a successful strike and picket line on August 8, Victoria University’s (VU) vice chancellor, Liz Harman, agreed to negotiate on pay and conditions. Until then, senior management had demanded that promised pay rises this year be in return for abandoning regulation of workloads in the current enterprise bargaining round. The National Tertiary Education Union Branch (NTEU) has now suspended its bans on releasing results. Stood down union members have been reinstated.
Whichever major party wins the August 21 elections, the real job of fighting for progressive change will remain. Not just because Labor and the Liberal-National Coalition have made this election campaign an ugly race to the right, but also because real change never comes simply through a vote. Even an election that registered real victory, such as the defeat of the hated John Howard Coalition government in November 2007, came on the back of sustained political action by millions of ordinary people focused primarily around the campaign against Work Choices.
The Green Left website has once again been ranked by Hitwise in the top10 most visited Australian websites in the category Lifestyle — Politics. Hitwise ranked the website number eight for the six-month period to June 2010. Green Left was also in the top 10 in the previous six months, and has won several such awards in the past. The interest in, and dire need for, independent, alternative news is obvious. But it doesn’t come cheap. If you are an online reader, please consider taking out an e-subscription to ensure this important publication continues.
The Liberal Party has pulled controversial Google advertisements after criticism and complaints from candidates standing against them. When Google users searched for the names of many candidates running in lower-house seats — including Socialist Alliance candidate for Cunningham, Jess Moore, who raised the issue in the national media — the first link to appear was a sponsored link to a Liberal Party website.
The Greens could have more power in the Australian parliament than ever before, after the federal election on August 21. Achieving the balance of power in the Senate is within reach for the Greens, meaning that the government would have to negotiate an agreement with either the opposition party or the Greens to pass legislation. The Greens currently share balance of power with Family First Senator Steve Fielding and independent Nick Xenophon. “We have shown a responsibility that the Coalition has shunned”, said Bob Brown, leader of the Australian Greens.
More than 400 people marched on August 14 in protest against plans to demolish residences in the heritage-listed Pines Estate Heritage Conservation Area in the inner-west suburb of Newtown. RailCorp is considering a proposal to compulsorily takeover and demolish all the houses on Newtown’s Leamington Avenue, and others on Holdsworth and Pine Streets, to build a railway tunnel.
Media statement August 9, 2010 Rachel Evans, the lead NSW Senate candidate for Socialist Alliance, condemned Family First’s Wendy Francis’ likening the legalisation of same-sex marriage to the legalisation of child abuse as “homophobic” and “incitement to more violence against lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and queer people”.

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