The gains of the first and second waves of the women’s liberation movement were groundbreaking. Yet in Australia today, 14% of women live below the poverty line. Why? The answer is that since the 1970s, and as part of the overall neoliberal offensive, Labor and Coalition governments have both presided over cuts to funding of women’s services, attacks on child care, education, health, and aged and disability care. New threats are also being posed to women’s reproductive rights.
It is now two and a half months since budget night. Remember Treasurer Joe Hockey and Mathias Corman smoking cigars, satisfied and smug after doing a job on Australian workers, pensioners and the poor? The government got a free pass when the Appropriation Bills were waved through by the ALP and the Greens, despite calls to block the budget from within the Greens and strong public sentiment expressed at the March in May rallies. Only independent MP Andrew Wilkie and Palmer United Party (PUP) MP Clive Palmer were prepared to vote against the bills.
The Australian government's efforts to pressure Cambodia to take refugees from Christmas Island is fraught with risks, experts told a forum organised by the Refugee Action Coalition (RAC) on July 14. Kyja Noack-Lundberg from RAC told the meeting that Cambodia could soon be signing a memorandum of understanding with the Australian government to resettle refugees from Nauru. The deal being negotiated between Australia and Cambodia appeared to be on track in May, however news of it has all but disappeared from the media since then.
More than 45,000 people rallied against the federal budget in cities around the country on July 6, with sizeable crowds in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. The “Bust the Budget” Sydney rally was organised by Unions NSW. Union flags were prominent in the crowd, which reached more than 10,000, making it one of the bigger union mobilisations in recent times.
Conservative Murdoch mouthpiece Janet Albrechtsen and former deputy Liberal Party leader Neil Brown have been appointed as new members of the panel that oversees appointments to the ABC and SBS boards. The appointments by the Tony Abbott government come after the announcement of serious funding cuts to both public broadcasters in the May federal budget. The cuts were passed in parliament with the support of Labor and the Greens.
LIFE FOR MOST AUSTRALIANS IS GETTING HARDER, WHILE POLITICIANS SERVE THE WEALTHY. BUT PUBLIC BACKLASH IS BREWING INTO A MOVEMENT TO CHALLENGE THIS SYSTEM, WRITES SUSAN PRICE. In handing down its first budget, the Coalition government echoed its National Commission of Audit, warning that a “business as usual” scenario for public spending on welfare, pensions, public services, health and education is “unsustainable”, even “irresponsible” in Australia today.
When Treasurer Joe Hockey addressed the Sydney Institute on June 11, he complained that it is not fair that more than $6000 a head will be spent by the government on welfare this year. He said this means "the average working Australian, be they a cleaner, a plumber or a teacher, is working over one month full time each year just to pay for the welfare of another Australian."
Labor stood by its "longstanding principles" along with the Greens and refused to block the first of the supply bills in both the House of Representatives and the Senate last week. Only Andrew Wilkie and Clive Palmer voted against these bills in the House of Representatives. There were no votes against the bills in the Senate.
Indian feminist and socialist Kavita Krishnan was the keynote speaker at the People's Power in the “Asian Century” seminar in Sydney on June 7. The seminar was held as part of the Socialist Alliance’s 10th national conference over the weekend of June 7-9. Around 250 people attended the conference to hear Krishnan speak on the anti-capitalist struggle in India, and on capitalism, misogyny and sexual violence.
The turnout and energy at the March in May rallies on May 18 proved that people are not going to take this budget lying down. Numbers were up in several cities compared with March in March. In Melbourne, Hobart and Brisbane there were sizeable anti budget rallies on the day, even though March Australia groups had decided not to organise protests. Student rallies against the cuts to education on May 21 were bigger than any seen for a decade.