Peter Robson

In the lead-up to the March 24 NSW state election, you could be forgiven for believing that the NSW Greens were drug dealers: Hysterical attacks were launched on the party’s drugs policy, which focuses on harm minimisation and health issues.

Greenpeace has revealed that an independent report into safety testing by genetic engineering giant Monsanto was ignored in the lead-up to a vote on whether the company’s new genetically engineered maize would be approved for consumption in the European Union.

More than 500 people from 35 countries have been incarcerated in the Guantanamo Bay prison complex since 2002. Since becoming the detention centre for prisoners captured in US President George Bush’s unending “global war on terror”, it has been the source of numerous allegations of physical and psychological abuse. It is a legal black hole in which detainees have waited for up to half a decade without charges being laid.

In the run-up to the NSW elections both major parties are claiming to be able to run the economy better. But the release of the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ December quarter figures on March 7, which revealed that NSW is not technically in a recession, is likely to help the state ALP government’s lead over Peter Debnam’s Liberals on March 24.

A United Nations children’s fund (UNICEF) report released in February reveals that Australia’s economic growth over the last decade has done little to benefit the poorest sections of society, particularly young people. Indeed, in Australia and across the developed world, child poverty has increased in the last 10 years.

Debate about public transport and its decline is raging in NSW in the lead-up to the March 24 state election. The NSW public transport system is plagued by delays, reliance on old equipment, breakages, lack of staff and, as a consequence, inadequate services to remote and poorer areas. As yet, neither Morris Iemma’s Labor government nor the Liberal opposition has proposed adequate solutions to the crisis.

The announcement on January 30 that Australia’s first nuclear reactor was to be decommissioned sounded good. But residents and activists hoping for an end to the nuclear industry will be disappointed to hear that this is not the end of Australia’s nuclear experimentation. The old HIFAR reactor, Australia’s only multi-purpose research reactor, has been superseded by another reactor in the same suburb of Lucas Heights.

Debra and Jon Cooley met at the Blundstone boot factory, where they have worked most of their lives. They had just taken out a loan for their dream home when Blundstone announced, on January 16, that it was closing up shop. Three hundred and thirty staff like the Cooleys, and Jade Archer and his partner, who are too old to start apprenticeships, now face an uncertain future as their skills are made redundant.

In a document released on November 25, the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) calls on the Australian government to ratify the Kyoto treaty, as part of a strategy to combat climate change.

The Democratic Socialist Perspective will be holding its biennial educational conference at Sydney University on January 4-7, 2007. The conference theme — “Ideas to change the world” — is inspired by Karl Marx’s 11th Thesis on Feuerbach (1845): “Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point, however, is to change it.”

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