Sue Bolton

The day after a public meeting to oppose development on a toxic site in a northern suburb of Melbourne, the developer put it up for sale on a real estate site, without any mention of the contamination. In Victoria, there is no legal requirement for the sellers of contaminated land, to indicate that a site is contaminated.

Local residents packed the Fawkner Senior Citizens Centre on May 11 to hear speakers about the issues around this toxic site.

Australian anti-racist athlete Peter Norman, who was born in Coburg and later became a trainer and player for West Brunswick Football Club, is to be recognised by the Moreland Council.

Norman remains Australia’s fastest sprinter — his Australian 200-metre record from the 1968 Mexico City Olympics still stands.

However, Norman was not just an extraordinary athlete. He also took a stand against racism and for human rights. He was the third man in the iconic photo of the medal ceremony for the 200-metre race.

Toxic sites in Australia are not well known or well managed. One such site is the old Nufarm chemical factory site in Melbourne’s northern suburb, Fawkner.

The factory operated from 1957 to 1974, making a wide range of noxious chemicals including dioxins; DDT; toluline-based emulsifiable concentrate; phenoxyacetic acid herbicide; 2,4-D; 2,4,5-T; esters; dichlorophenol and trichlorophenol and arsenic-based sheep dip.  

The seeds of the current crisis of confidence in the capitalist parties in Australia go back to the 1980s when the Bob Hawke Labor government implemented its version of Margaret Thatcher’s neoliberal economic policies. The Hawke government also managed to achieve what previous Coalition governments had failed to do — seriously weaken the union movement.

While these reforms did not immediately create right-wing populism, once the reforms started to really bite by the late 1990s, it began to develop around Pauline Hanson.

The government has not made a mistake with the Centrelink robo-debt notices. It knows it is sending out incorrect notices.

Centrelink staff warned management the notices would be wrong and the new debt recovery system would incorrectly claim overpayments.

Results in the October 22 Victorian local council elections were mixed.

The Greens won big increases in representation in Melbourne’s inner city councils, the two socialist councillors retained their positions, but racists retained their positions on a couple of councils.

The Greens stood more candidates than in previous council elections. They retained 13 of their 16 council seats and won an extra 16 council seats.

Of the extra 16 seats, four were elected to councils which had never had Greens councillors, including Hobsons Bay, Banyule, Monash and Cardinia Shire.

The federal treasurer’s “solution” to the housing affordability crisis is to get state governments to relax restrictions on housing developers to increase supply.

Scott Morrison told the industry’s peak body, the Urban Development Institute, on October 24 that “housing in Australia, especially in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, is expensive and increasingly unaffordable, but that does not mean it is overvalued.”

How can you have more affordable housing and keep prices up at the same time?

The answer is you can’t do both.

In a big development in industrial dispute involving Carlton and United Breweries (CUB) and the 55 maintenance workers it has sacked in Melbourne, the contractor at the centre of the dispute, Programmed Skilled, has broken its contract with the brewery.

The 55 workers were sacked in June — then offered their jobs back with a 65% pay cut. The company brought in unskilled scab labour, with the sacked workers, backed by the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU), picketing the Abbotsford factory.

Carlton United Breweries' (CUB) attack on its maintenance workers was clearly premeditated.

The brewery forced workers to do large amounts of overtime to build up its stock before sacking 55 maintenance workers on June 10.

Although the 55 workers were told they could reapply for their jobs through a new contractor, they were not told who the new employing contractor would be or what their new terms and conditions would look like.

Meanwhile, CUB had secretly recruited temporary workers from interstate to replace the sacked workers.

There is ample evidence of the criminality of the prison officers, their bosses and the Northern Territory government ministers for charges to be laid over the horror inflicted on Aboriginal kids in custody at the Don Dale Juvenile Detention Centre.

It's not just a question of proper "training"and "processes" for the prison guards.

The horror we saw in the ABC's Four Corner's program on July 25 is the outcome of the law and order agenda of "lock em' up and throw away the key".

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