What lessons can we learn from the recent victory of SYRIZA for building the anti austerity movement and a political alternative to neoliberalism here in Australia? Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon, in her recent article in New Matilda [see reprinted article on page 6], writes that the left in Australia should wake up and take notice of what is happening in Europe. I couldn’t agree more.
The shocking bipartisan cruelty towards refugees and asylum-seekers continues to expose the moral bankruptcy of the federal coalition government and the equally culpable ALP opposition. The latest despicable acts of criminal neglect and denial of human rights by our government towards asylum-seekers have been tragically playing out in a Darwin detention centre and in the Australian detention centre on PNG’s Manus Island, to our daily horror and disgust. Iranian asylum-seeker “Martin” is now at a point of no return after more than 80 days on hunger strike in a Darwin detention centre.
About 500 Chinese farmers in the state of Perak, in northern Malaysia, with the support of the Parti Socialis Malaysia (PSM) are resisting attempted evictions from land they have occupied for more than 40 years.
Howard Byrnes from the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union (CFMEU) and Lisa Newman from the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) addressed a forum organised by the Sydney Union Activists Network on November 15. Byrnes, a CFMEU delegate and member of the union's state management committee spoke about the kangaroo court that is Prime Minister Tony Abbott's union royal commission.
Supporters of women's reproductive rights gathered outside NSW Parliament on November 13. The push to amend the NSW Crimes Act to grant a foetus personhood rights is likely to collapse after a controversial Private Member’s Bill failed to be debated in the Legislative Council. The bill, known as “Zoe’s law”, has one more chance to be debated or it will lapse permanently on November 20. Zoe’s law was first introduced in 2010. It was passed by the Legislative Assembly last year.
A small number of inner Sydney women's refuges flagged for closure received news on October 30 that their state government funding has been reinstated. However, other city and regional refuges continue to face closure or loss of specialist services for women, including Aboriginal women and young people, following their transfer into the hands of churches and charities.
Over the past week, residents in Ashfield, Leichhardt and Haberfield have sprung into action in attempts to stop geotechnical drilling by tenderers for the WestConnex tollway. About 200 drill sites have been identified along the proposed route of WestConnex, between Concord and Rockdale. Drilling for stages 1 and 2 of the project has been underway since mid-September, but residents have been kept in the dark about when and where drilling will happen.
In NSW, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) heard evidence from Operation Spicer of significant breaches of donations laws by Liberal candidates and private donors before the 2011 state election. The hearings have exposed 12 state and federal Liberal politicians, who have either resigned or stood aside, including former NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell. ICAC is due to release its full report next year and this will include recommendations on whether criminal charges should be laid.
The University of New South Wales acting vice chancellor Iain Martin cancelled a Town Hall meeting on September 3, organised to brief staff on the University’s response to proposed fee deregulation. UNSW students had planned to protest their exclusion from the meeting. In cancelling the meeting, Martin told staff: “We have been advised this morning by police and security that the meeting was being targeted by protest groups, which we understand were predominately external to UNSW. Our advice is that the intention was to disrupt the Town Hall.”
For the fifth time since their election in September last year, thousands of Australians will take to the streets in protest against Tony Abbott Coalition's government. These mobilisations have been critical to keep the pressure on the Labor Party, Greens and independents to stand firm in opposing the government's budget, which will bring austerity, cuts and privatisation. As a result of this opposition, Treasurer “Smokin' Joe” Hockey's budget has stalled.