I don’t know about you, but I really enjoyed the August 31 episode of Q&A on the topic “Cheating, Climate, War & Democracy”. It was thanks to three solid lefties from overseas, Naomi Klein, Laurie Penny and Tariq Ali, who were in Australia for the Melbourne Writers Festival and the Festival for Dangerous Ideas in Sydney. The right-winger on the panel, US Studies Centre academic Tom Switzer, had a go at red-baiting Klein. Here is their exchange:
Malaysian democracy activists estimate that between 300,000 and half a million people peacefully took to the streets of the capital Kuala Lumpur for 34 hours from August 29 to 30. This is much larger than the previous mobilisations by the BERSIH (literally meaning “clean”) movement for free and fair elections.
In 1972, Aboriginal rights campaigners successfully pressured the Whitlam Labor government to grant funds for the Aboriginal Housing Company to begin buying houses in Redfern for low-cost housing for Aboriginal people. Now, Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy (RATE) is fighting for The Block to retain this role instead of being sacrificed to greedy developers.
At a protest outside the Turkish Consulate in Sydney on July 23, Kurdish activists and their supporters accused the Turkish government of complicity in the massacre in Suruc of 32 young socialists on their way to help rebuild Kobane, in the liberated area of Rojava in northern Syria.
About 800 people rallied at Sydney Town Hall Square on June 28 as part of the third #SOSBlakAustralia global mobilisation against the threatened forced closures of Aboriginal communities in Western Australia and elsewhere. Protest actions also took place in other cities around the country, and in some cities overseas, over the same weekend.
If you suspect that neoliberal capitalist governments, including the Australian government, act as kleptocracies for the richest 1% and the large corporations, you have good reason to. Whether you look at their tax system, the various privatisation or part-privatisation schemes they are forcing on the public, the “user-pays” drives or the publicly subsidised private insurance scams, you can see how the public is being forced to subsidise the profits of powerful corporations and the super-rich.
A small symbolic protest in the rain was held outside the Commonwealth government offices in Bligh St, Sydney on June 16. The action marked the submission of a petition to the Senate with 65,000 signatures calling for the immediate closure of Manus Island and Nauru asylum seeker detention centres. These Australian offshore asylum seeker detention centres were disasters that could not be fixed, Nicole Judge, a whistleblower and former worker at both centres, told the protest which was organised by the Sydney Refugee Action Coalition.
If you listen to most Western politicians you could be forgiven for thinking that refugees are a pesky annoyance, greedy “economic refugees” from the Third World illegitimately trying to break into this wealthy country. Their now monotonously routine scapegoating of refugees for the pain and insecurity that more and more people feel, even in the richest countries in the world, translates into plain abuse out there in the public.
I guess there were some people who thought that the leopard Tony Abbott may have changed his spots after his look-we've-changed 2015 federal budget. The polls certainly suggest this. As William Bowie wrote in his Poll Bludger column in Crikey.com: “A flurry of post-budget opinion polls adds up to a solid increase in the Coalition’s standing, with Tony Abbott’s personal standing now rivalling his least-bad results since his short-lived post-election honeymoon.”
In its latest federal budget, the Tony Abbott Liberal-National government announced the setting up of a $5 billion “concessional loan facility” called the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility. The proposal has been condemned by environmental and Aboriginal rights groups.