Nicholas James

Sentient lobsters boil at 200°C, screaming in pain, just so billionaires can slurp them up. Consider this the lobsters’ revenge on the Victorian Opposition Leader. Matthew "tough on crime” Guy was boiled and cooked red after having a sit-down lobster and donations dinner with mobsters.

Just months after an Electrical Trades Union (ETU) victory against Carlton and United Breweries, a much larger battle looms over Melbourne’s industrial landscape. 

In early July, the behemoth Crown Casino laid off its entire electrical workforce. Like the Carlton brewery before it, the casino has tendered an electric gaming contract to the poker machine supplier Amtek. Just three weeks ago Amtek advertised the new casino positions, with wages set at 50% of the old salary.

The adage of moving house being the most stressful time of one’s life has been proved at a West Brunswick public housing estate. Resident Lindi told Green Left Weekly: “One hundred residents are being compulsorily moved. The latest notice on the move is it will be in July.”

Like many Victorian TAFEs, Melbourne’s Polytechnic is in decline. Trade training facilities sit idle and rusting away, mere ghosts of their former selves. Student activity in the once grand technical campuses is at a record low in Melbourne. Enrolments have dropped by tens of thousands — an overall decline of 40% — as courses are cancelled, staff made redundant, libraries shut down.

The Victorian Labor government delivered a May 2 budget in which a multi-billion dollar war chest was set aside for “law and order” and new prisons. This is despite Victoria having the lowest crime rate in Australia.

It also continued with its neoliberal privatisation program, including the sell-off of the Land Titles Registry.

Victoria aims to employ one in every 400 people as a police officer or a protective services officer and, with thousands more prison cells available, presumably the state government calculates these people will have jobs.

Burrowing under the metropolis, winding through neighbourhoods and consuming green spaces, kilometres of bleak bitumen motorways provide the superstructure for the outdated combustion engine to travel further.

According to University of Technology Sydney, vehicles are traveling 25% further, which equates to 25% more pollutants and 25% more impact on communities and the environment. “Induced traffic” is the phenomenon that when roads are built people switch from public transport to roads and, in the age of climate change, roads congest, choke and gridlock Australian cities.

When Julian Assange appeared in front of the Melbourne Town Hall pipe organ, the pipes shimmered, nearly whistled; leaky, ready to burst. Pastel white as he was beamed in live from London, Assange looked surprisingly well.

The pipe setting became more allegoric as he spoke of his latest alarming leak: The Pied Piper theory. The reference is not to Assange leading his followers into the unknown. But more on that madcap theory later.

Lecture and Q&A specialist company ThinkInc, toured Assange across Australia under the banner of “No more secrets: No more lies”.

There have been destructive attacks on the homeless in the past year in Melbourne, but the vitriolic hate campaign and physical attacks on the street, and on squatters, has reached a deadly level: murder. 

Just before midnight on March 1, a cowardly arson attack set off a blazing fire at Kinnear’s rope factory in Footscray, which took 40 minutes for the fire brigade to control. Three squatters were tragically killed: Tanya Burmeister and her 15- year-old daughter Zoe were among the dead.

“The United States has almost 1000 military bases around the world, covering every continent, every ocean,” filmmaker John Pilger says. “China has one!” 

He points out: “The US Pacific Command in Hawaii claims responsibility for 52% of the Earth’s surface.”

Trump’s unstable executive orders loomed large at 2017’s first Left Q&A on “The rise of the populist right and the anti-globalisation backlash”. Common talking points at the February 4 forum held in Melbourne’s Trades Hall were Trump’s xenophobia, the demise of the Labor Party, the breakdown of consensus across the West and the new rejection of neoliberalism.

Panellists from the left lauded the worldwide anti-populist protests, legal battles and upsurge in left-wing action, while advocating an Australian left unity project.

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