Australian Workers Union (AWU) leader Paul Howes has taken the offensive to bolster what he sees as a faltering unconventional gas industry. He wants the industry to step up its campaign to stop the federal Coalition and the NSW Labor opposition from “buying the arguments” of an “extremist fringe” on coal seam gas (CSG).
Prospects for left unity will be one of the key discussions at the NSW state conference of the Socialist Alliance on May 12. The Socialist Alliance will also discuss their election campaign and taking the people “before profits” message to a wider audience. There has been more collaboration on the left in recent times. These are positive steps, and form part of the unity process that the leaderships of Socialist Alliance and Socialist Alternative initiated last year. The other major report and discussion will focus on the Socialist Alliance's participation in the federal elections.
About 80 protesters made their voices heard from outside Sydney's Intercontinental hotel as the former Australian Prime Minister John Howard gave his “no regrets” on Iraq speech, hosted by conservative think-tank the Lowy Institute on April 9. The protest was organised by Stop the War Coalition and a network of concerned groups and individuals.
“While ALP politicians are fleeing in terror from factional and media accusations about using ‘class war rhetoric’, the reality is that there is an ongoing class war that is about to be dramatically escalated if Abbott wins the September 14 elections,” says Peter Boyle. Boyle was preselected on April 3 by the Socialist Alliance to run in the federal seat of Sydney. He is a national co-convenor of the Socialist Alliance and has been an active socialist since the early 1970s, becoming radicalised around war, race and class issues. He has two daughters and two grandchildren.
When the Murdoch-owned Australian starts attacking students who took to the streets on March 27 as part of the National Union of Students’ (NUS) protest for free education, it is evidence that student activism makes conservatives very nervous.
A protest against racism outside Labor MP Tanya Plibersek's office on March 21 demanded an end to the Northern Territory intervention and its expansion into areas such as Bankstown in south-west Sydney. Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney (STICS) organised the rally, which highlighted the small but significant steps being taken to bring Aboriginal communities, unions and others together to prevent the spread of these apartheid-like policies. The protest was held on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and national Close the Gap day.
Several prominent people have signed a letter to the Australian government calling for Jock Palfreeman, a young Australian in prison in Bulgaria, to be brought back to Australia. Supporters of the call to bring Palfreeman home include author and documentary filmmaker John Pilger, Julian Burnside QC, former NSW Greens MP Sylvia Hale, author Antony Loewenstein, Moreland City Councillor Sue Bolton, Vivienne Porzsolt from Jews against the Occupation, Green Left Weekly editors Mel Barnes and Stuart Munckton and Professor Wendy Bacon.
“Not joining the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement doesn’t mean that you’re not taking a stand,” Associate Professor Jake Lynch told a meeting at the University of Sydney on March 14. “By continuing institutional links to Israeli high education, universities here risk unwittingly becoming indirectly complicit in violations of international laws and abuses of human rights.”
Standing for public office in an already rigged electoral system just became even harder. On February 25, the Senate approved Labor’s new election rules that will discriminate against minor parties and independents. The new law doubles the nomination fee for all candidates in the federal elections among other changes.
When NSW members of parliament from both Labor and Coalition start campaigning against coal seam gas (CSG) — and the federal Labor Party starts musing that it might impose “strict regulations” on state governments to control the industry — you know that the movement against this dirty fossil fuel is starting to pack a punch. CSG was hardly known two years ago. Today, the thought of it frightens people. Gas companies have poured millions into advertising to reassure people that the industry is safe — but it hasn’t worked.