Brusk Aeiveri. Sydney Central Local Court, July 29. Photo: Peter Boyle.
Sydney Central Local Court, July 28. Photo: Peter Boyle.
Pauline Hanson came across a racist and incoherent cartoon character on the ABC's Q&A program on July 18. But it would be a mistake to think that Hanson, and the more than half a million people who voted for her in the July 2 federal election, can simply be laughed away. They represent, in a distorted way, the deepening contradictions in our society that have to be addressed at their root. The myth of the egalitarianism of Australia is cracking up after 50 years of Coalition and Labor Party governments helping the super rich get even richer at the expense of the rest.
Tanya Plibersek, the deputy leader of the Australian Labor Party and MP for Sydney, made a speech on June 15 where she tried to fend off the political pressure Labor is facing from the Greens and other smaller parties to the left. Her basic argument was that Labor still remained loyal to its “light on the hill” and she urged younger people in particular to be more patient and allow her party to slowly make progressive change.
This banker-premier's salesman's smile has well and truly worn thin. The Mike Baird Coalition government of New South Wales is on the nose. The mood of the thousands of people who marched on NSW Parliament House on May 29 recalled the mounting public rejection of former prime minister Tony Abbott expressed by the March In March movement in 2014. Abbott dismissed March In March as insignificant but by September the following year he was history.
The Malcolm Turnbull Coalition government's economic spin is that they are managing a “transition” from “strong resource investment-led growth to broader-based drivers of economic activity”. This, it claims in the 2016 budget papers, is a transition to more “labour-intensive sectors, such as services”. Hence the Coalition's mantra: “Growth and jobs”. Sounds nice, but what does this mean for the different classes in Australia?
A multi-generational delegation from the Borroloola Aboriginal community in the Northern Territory's Gulf Country were front and centre at a protest outside global mining giant Glencore's Sydney headquarters on May 19. The protesters demanded that Glencore close its McArthur River mine and rehabilitate the site as well as the river and the surrounding land, on which they have traditionally relied for food.
It is amazing the conversations one overhears sometimes. I was attending a vigil for Omid Masoumali, the young asylum seeker who died a few days after he set himself on fire in Australia's notorious refugee detention camp in Nauru. The atmosphere at the vigil was sad and tense. Among those at vigil were two young women quietly holding flickering candles. Another woman holding a Teachers for Refugees banner asked the young women: “What school are you from?” “I am not at school,” replied one of the young women.
The election is coming! Roll out the pork barrels! What a sickeningly familiar pattern we are witnessing as DD-Day approaches. Last week, the Malcolm Turnbull government's front bench went into an ecstatic chorus about the $50 billion deal to build submarines. It was said to be an investment in jobs bigger than the epic post-World War II Snowy Mountains Scheme.