Thousands of Red Shirt supporters rallied at a concert in the Thailand seaside resort city of Pattaya on September 4, in what was one the biggest mobilisations since the military bloodily dispersed their mass protest camp in Bangkok on May 19, 2010, killing 91 and injuring thousands more.
Figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on August 30 revealed mining company profits rose 62.7% to $25 billion in just the three months to June 30. Hopefully, those who fell for the hard luck stories of the mining billionaires when they were howling and screaming about the new Resource Super Profits Tax (RSPT) proposed by the former Rudd Labor government are now realising they were suckered.
The federal election result was a breakthrough for all who dream of being liberated from the Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee politics that has been foisted on Australia for many years. By denying the major parties a majority mandate, and by swinging strongly to the Greens, the possibility for a very political future has been opened up. Of course, there are many challenges ahead.
Greg Eatock, a well-known Indigenous activist in Sydney, passed away aged just 51 on August 24. His early death, from chronic health problems, was more proof of the shameful 11.5-year gap in life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous males in Australian. One of Greg's brothers, Ronald, had already passed away, aged 27. Greg came from a family with a four-generation history of political activism. His great grandmother, Lucy Eatock, and her husband William were veterans of the great 1890s shearers’ strike. Lucy later moved to Sydney from Queensland.
The death of Lance-Corporal Jared Mackinney in Oruzgan province in Afghanistan on August 25 brought the death toll of Australian soldiers to 21 — 10 of whom have died since June. Mackinney was the third Australian soldier killed in Afghanistan in four days. Defence minister Senator John Faulkner defensively admitted at a media conference the same day that Australians are increasingly questioning the near nine-year old war.
By denying both the Australian Labor Party (ALP) and the the Liberal-National coalition an outright majority in primary votes and in House of Representatives seats, Australian electors voted “neither of the above” for the traditional parties of government. This followed an election campaign in which the major parties conducted an ugly race to the right, most notoriously by scapegoating the few thousand desperate refugees who attempt to get to Australia on boats.
Sick of the manipulative, increasingly policy-free barrage of major party negative advertising in the race to the August 21 Australian federal election? Here are some antidotes: First, check out the table below comparing the policies of Socialist Alliance with that of the Greens, ALP and Liberals: Policy comparison from Left to Right compiled by Dick Nichols. Second, have a look at the independent Vote Climate survey on which parties the best policy on on climate change.
Whichever major party wins the August 21 elections, the real job of fighting for progressive change will remain. Not just because Labor and the Liberal-National Coalition have made this election campaign an ugly race to the right, but also because real change never comes simply through a vote. Even an election that registered real victory, such as the defeat of the hated John Howard Coalition government in November 2007, came on the back of sustained political action by millions of ordinary people focused primarily around the campaign against Work Choices.
“In the end, capitalism is the only viable system we have for organising our economy”, said Lucy Turnbull, business person, former mayor of Sydney and partner of former Coalition leader Malcolm Turnbull at the iQ2 debate in Sydney on August 10 on the topic “Only capitalism can save the planet”. Turnbull was the only politician to make the Business Review Weekly's 2010 Rich 200 list this year. Well, she would think that, wouldn't she?
Ker-ching! Its half-year profit time and those poor, tax-oppressed, big mining companies are announcing huge profit increases. Rio Tinto announced a half-year net profit of $6.39 billion, up 260% from the same period last year. And this huge profit came even after the company reduced its net debt by a whopping $27 billion to $12 billion.