Graham Matthews

Where to start with an analysis of the mining boom in Australia? Perhaps ironically, with the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC). It is now holding an inquiry into the dealings of former NSW resource minister Ian Macdonald, his mate and Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid, and another mate, John Maitland, former president of the Construction, Mining, Forestry and Energy Union (CFMEU), and part owner of the new coalmine in Doyle's Creek, to the tune of $9.8 million.
Renewing Sydney’s train fleet is far too important a matter to be left to the “free” market. On February 6 the NSW government announced it was going to pay $175 million in 2018 to bail out the failed Reliance Rail syndicate that has been contracted to build and maintain the new Waratah commuter trains for Sydney’s CityRail network. It's another failed Public Private Partnership (PPP), meaning more public money is poured into the coffers of financiers and speculators.
The Iron Lady Directed by Phyllida Lloyd, written by Abi Morgan, starring Meryl Streep In cinemas now Film can be a powerful ideological tool. Truth can be manipulated, tyrannies expunged and sympathy conjured for the devil. The Iron Lady, depicting the life and times of former British Tory Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, is just such a film.
The Republic of Ireland’s financial crisis, which has caused unemployment to rise from 4.3% in 2006 to 14.1% in October, has deep roots. The conditions of the European Central Bank (ECB)/International Monetary Fund (IMF) “bailout” package for the Irish government will total €85 billion — at a higher interest rate than that tied to the Greek bailout in May. It is tied to the Irish government carrying out huge government spending cuts, tax rises for workers and wage cuts for public sector employees. Irish workers are being told to pay for a crisis they did not cause.
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”.
The Mid Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) released by treasurer Wayne Swann on November 9 shows that Labor is betting on the minerals boom continuing. While admitting that the global economy remains tenuous, and that the whole house of cards could collapse, it has no “plan B”. “The update forecasts strong growth, falling unemployment and a big pipeline of investment that’s gathering momentum”, Swann said.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard knew just who she was talking to when she gave her address to the Australian Industry Group’s annual dinner on October 25. The AIG and its affiliates represent more than 60,000 bosses, according to its website. This includes Veolia, the privatisation juggernaut. But just so she didn’t rustle too many feathers, Gillard spoke to them in the kind of arcane riddles she hoped only they could understand.
Review by Graham Matthews
Capitalism and Workers’ Struggle in China By Chris Slee Resistance Books, Sydney, 2010, $5 www.resistancebooks.com China enters the 21st century as something of an enigma.
The Australian dollar has become a favourite for international currency speculators. Fuelled by expectations of rising interest rates, the A$ has increased in value from US$0.82 in June, to almost $0.98 on October 12. Some expect the $A could surpass the value of the US$ in coming weeks.
After a month of thundering that a rise in the official interest rate was close, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) has kept interest rates on hold at its monthly board meeting on October 5. Most financial commentators were betting on a rate rise of 0.25%, with banks expected to increase their mortgage rates by an even larger margin, despite their record profits, to account for higher costs of borrowing overseas. However, the dark financial clouds over Europe and the US appear to have put the kibosh on the financiers’ party.

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