The midnight text message that sacked 100 workers — this is the face of Australian industrial relations today. Workers at Hutchison Ports in Sydney and Brisbane received their marching orders by text and email overnight on August 7, informing them that their positions had been made redundant, there were no redeployment opportunities and their personal belongings would be couriered to them.
The results of the recent Australian Labor Party (ALP) conference vote on boat turnbacks shows why building a progressive alternative to the left of the ALP in Australia today is urgently needed.
Refugees injured by guard violence. Manus Island, 2014. The proposed Migration Amendment (Maintaining the Good Order of Immigration Detention Facilities) Bill 2015, or, as it is better known, “the Kill Bill” will be another test for Labor on asylum seeker policy.
A few days before the National ALP Conference on July 22, Labor leader Bill Shorten announced that he would support a policy to turn back boatloads of asylum seekers at sea if it is elected to government. The announcement shocked and angered refugee rights advocates around the country, including members of his own party.
Well over 300 anti-racist protesters, 100 racists and hundred or more cops, including on horses, took to the streets in Sydney's CBD on July 19. Early on, police pushed the anti-racist protesters down two blocks in Martin Place where both rallies had been called and arrested five people. First Nations activist Uncle Lyle Davis was arrested for “swearing”. A woman who fell over at the wrong time and place was also arrested. The anti-racist rally was peaceful, until police allowed racist provocateurs to mingle. Protestors responded by chanting at them as they were rescued by the police.
The Students of Sustainability (SOS) conference 2015 attracted several hundred student environmental activists from around the country to discuss, educate, organise and exchange campaign experiences. Held on Kaurna land at Flinders University, from July 8 to 12, the conference opened with a welcome to country from traditional owners, including Kaurna elder Aunty Georgina Williams Tambo Kartanya.
Asylum-seekers and their supporters have been dealt a cruel blow this week thanks to the shameful, bipartisan support for offshore detention within the Australian parliament. A High Court challenge to the legality of Australia’s offshore detention of asylum seekers has been undermined by an eleventh hour bill rushed through the House of Representatives and Senate, unamended and with ALP support, on June 24 and 25.
The Tony Abbott government’s illegal “Turn Back the Boats” policy is under further scrutiny, following media revelations that in late May, Australian customs officials paid $US30,000 to six crew members on a boat carrying 65 asylum seekers from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Myanmar, which was heading to New Zealand, from Indonesia.
Joe Hockey may have been hoping that his spin about a "dull" budget would lull the public into a stupor, but the budget is anything but dull if you're a woman, a parent, pregnant, a student, a pensioner, on welfare, need legal aid or are unemployed. The government faced significant, organised, public opposition to its 2014 budget measures, many of which failed to pass in the Senate. It was forced to back down on a number of policies, however it is under increasing economic pressure to get its neoliberal agenda through.
This NSW election, like the Victorian and Queensland polls before it, hinges on growing public opposition to Tony Abbott’s federal government and the neoliberal policies implemented by Labor and Coalition state governments. The sell-off of public assets and services, cuts to the public sector, unsustainable development, mining and unprecedented handouts and tax cuts to corporate interests and the super rich are now standard practice, and people have had enough.