When I am out selling Green Left Weekly on the streets, I am often asked: “Where does the money go?” I have to tell people that it just goes to producing the next issue of the paper. The cover price is not nearly enough to make such a profit that we would have to decide what to do with it. In fact, GLW would never have survived 25 years without huge ongoing efforts in appealing for donations and organising fundraisers to raise the additional money needed over what we get through sales and subscriptions.
An immigration department review into the forcible removal of Save the Children Fund workers from the Nauru immigration detention centre, released on January 15, recommended that they be paid compensation. The nine charity workers were ordered to leave Nauru by the Australian government in October 2014 after they claimed that women and children at the detention centre were being sexually abused.
One side event at the COP21 United Nations climate change conference in Paris was the launch of the Fossil-Fuel Subsidy Reform Communique. Almost 40 countries signed onto the statement, which pledges to eliminate subsidies to the fossil fuel industry. The communique said: “The International Energy Agency (IEA) highlights fossil fuel subsidy reform as a key component of a set of energy measures to combat climate change and estimates that even a partial phase-out of fossil-fuel subsidies would generate 12% of the total abatement needed by 2020 to keep the door open to the 2°C target.”
Politicians, both Labor and Liberal, have spent years defending this county’s pitiful efforts on tackling climate change with the excuse that Australia “can’t go it alone” — it has to wait for other countries to commit to action on climate change. The same excuse was often echoed in the media. In particular, the lack of action by the US and China were cited as the reasons why Australia should commit to doing little or nothing.
At a G20 meeting last October, Rupert Murdoch surprised some with a speech that criticised world leaders for, as it was described in his Australian newspaper, “their policies [that] have caused a ‘massive shift’ in societies to benefit the super-rich with a legacy of social polarisation”. In particular, Murdoch criticised youth unemployment: “The unemployment rate for Americans under the age of 25 is 13%, which sounds awful until I remember that in the eurozone that number is 23%, and it is twice as high in places like Spain and Greece, and parts of France and Italy.
The latest buzzword the government is tossing around to try to scare people into supporting its grossly unfair budget is “intergenerational theft”. It recently released an Intergenerational Report, which looks at the budget over the next 40 years to back up this campaign. The report says that in the future we will all live much longer and spend more of our lives in retirement. There will be a lower proportion of working people whose taxes pay for pensions and health care, so “we” have to start paying for it now.
Recently released data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows that the pay gap between men and women is the highest it has been since records began in 1994. On average, women earn 18.8% less than men for full-time work. The average full-time weekly earnings for men is $1587.50 while for women it is $298 less. The gap had been closing, and decreased to around 15% in 2005 but has since surpassed its 1994 level. One factor is that male-dominated industries pay more than female-dominated industries. Miners, who are 85% male, earn more than social workers, who are 77% female.
On February 11, the Australian Human Rights Commission’s (AHRC) report The Forgotten Children: National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention, was tabled in parliament. The report looked at the effect on children of being locked up in detention centres in Australia and Christmas Island but not Nauru. The report reveals that 34% of the children have mental health disorders so severe they need psychiatric support. This compares to 2% in the general population.
While GLW was on its break over the New Year period, the news came that a snap election is to be held in Greece on January 25. GLW has been regularly reporting on the situation in Greece in recent years — the imposition of vicious austerity measures by the European Union and the Greek government and the rising popularity of the left-wing coalition SYRIZA. As the election approaches, polls put SYRIZA in the lead. It is likely to win, though may have to enter a coalition in order to form government.
People gathered outside the World Bank office in Sydney on September 5 to protest the bank’s involvement in an Australian mining company’s attempt to sue the government of El Salvador for US$301 million. Pacific Rim, a Canadian company that was bought by Australian OceanaGold last year, applied to mine gold in northern El Salvador in 2004. The Salvadoran government refused it permission, arguing the company did not own or have rights to the land it proposed to mine, it did not have environmental permissions and it did not submit a final feasibility study for the project.