Narendra Mohan Kommalapati

Chanting “Fund the gap or we’ll be back,” more than 200 health workers protested outside Victorian health minister Martin Foley’s office on August 16 to demand the Labor state government restore funding to community mental health services. Services have been severely affected by the state government’s decision to cut $75 million from mental health funding.

A crime wave is sweeping Melbourne caused by “out-of control African gangs”’ if we are to believe Channel 7, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Coalition MPs and even Victorian police minister Lisa Neville, who claimed: “This core group of African youth are causing huge fear.”

After 12 days on strike, workers at Laverton Cold Storage voted on July 6 for their first union workplace agreement.

Emma Kerin from the National Union of Workers told Green Left Weekly that the striking workers had voted unanimously to return to work after endorsing a new EBA that includes significant gains for the workers.

Nearly 80 workers at Laverton Cold Storage in Melbourne’s western suburbs went on strike for the first time on June 25 when negotiations for their first enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA) broke down.

The Laverton workers are the lowest paid cold storage workers in Victoria, with a base rate of $20.50 an hour — only 30 cents more than the minimum wage. They work in sub-zero temperatures ranging from -10°C to -35°C. Laverton Cold Storage recently doubled the size of its facility in Truganina, showing it is not short of money.

Concerns over the seemingly unstoppable juggernaut of the Hindu nationalist BJP government continuing in power into the indefinite future were partially allayed by the December elections in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat. 

Modi was Gujarat’s longest ruling chief minister and used his “Gujarat model” as the vehicle of his rise to power. This model was based on large-scale handouts of land, public assets and subsidies to corporate houses in return for media hype and enthusiastic endorsement by an increasingly shrill, intolerant and hectoring corporate media.

With the appointment of hardline Hindu monk Yogi Adityanath as chief minister of India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh (UP), the Indian Peoples’ Party (BJP) government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has shown what an extremist force can do when freed of the restraints of coalition partners or parliamentary numbers.

About 150 people filled the St Kilda Town Hall on April 7 for a public meeting with visiting Israeli journalist, Amira Hass. Hass is a veteran Israeli columnist and reporter, lives in the West Bank among Palestinians and works for Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

The Australian Jewish Democratic Society organised the forum.

The wave of social and environmental destruction sweeping India in the age of globalisation can be seen in the “development” being imposed on entire sections of small farmers, fishing communities, forest tribes and small artisans.

It can be gauged from two instances of attempts to build coal-fired power stations in sensitive ecological regions of coastal Andhra Pradesh, a state in south-east India.

The authority responsible for managing the East West Link has sent residents in inner-city Melbourne an eight-page brochure extolling the virtues of the new motorway.

The newsletter says that work is set to commence on the project to build 4.4 kilometre twin tunnels between the Eastern Freeway and City Link in Moonee Valley. It would create about 3700 jobs, including 150 for automotive workers facing unemployment from the closure of Ford, General Motors and Toyota plants in Melbourne and Geelong.

The Coalition government in Victoria has disregarded public opposition and transparency and named a Lend Lease consortium to carry out phase one of the $6-8 billion East West Link toll road.

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