Sydney University campus came alive with political discussion, talks and workshops for three days during the Socialism for the 21st Century Conference, held over May 13–15. The conference had more than 30 sessions and 50 speakers, including international special guests Marta Harnecker, Michael Lebowitz and Ian Angus. Local and international activists shared their experiences of struggle and discussed the necessity of building alternatives to capitalism today. Up to 400 conference-goers faced the task of choosing from a range of stimulating sessions on offer.
The release of the Defence White Paper in February reveals the Malcolm Turnbull government sees engaging in a regional “arms race” and securing its borders as far higher priorities than guaranteeing our healthcare system, quality public education, housing and welfare entitlements. While this thinking is nothing new and continues the trend of successive governments — both Coalition and Labor — the Turnbull government added an extra twist, in quarantining the defence budget so that it is protected from cuts if revenue decreases.
Clive Palmer, mining magnate, politician, “citizen of Queensland” — who accused the Greens and Greenpeace of being CIA-funded traitors — has left 237 employees of his Queensland Nickel refinery out of work and robbed of their entitlements. Palmer asserts that he bears no personal responsibility for the workers' entitlements. The focus is now on whether Palmer was still authorising expenditure for Queensland Nickel after having announced his withdrawal as a director of the company.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the introduction of the Racial Discrimination Act in Australia, yet we still live in a country where racism runs deep. Legislative change, which was won as a result of the movements for black liberation and for women's liberation, was a step forward. However, legal changes alone cannot undo centuries of oppression. For this to be lasting we have to continue to campaign and organise against racism. We need to tackle the system that gives rise to it.
If we needed any further proof that our politicians are "fossil fools", despite recent leadership changes, look no further than the responses made by the Prime Minister and federal resources minister to the call for a moratorium on new coalmines by the President of the Pacific island nation Kiribati, Anote Tong.
The rise in popularity of anti-austerity parties, responses to the global climate crisis and challenges in building alternatives to neoliberal capitalism will be explored at the Socialism for the 21st Century Conference, to be held in Sydney on May 13 to 15 next year. Green Left Weekly is proud to co-host this conference — which will be held in our 25th year of publication.
The Annual General Meeting of Transfield Services (where shareholders voted to change its name to Broadspectrum) was the focus of refugee rights protests in Sydney on October 28. The Refugee Action Coalition, along with other groups including No Business in Abuse (NBIA) protested at the meeting. Around 150 protesters were stationed at the front of the building, drawing attention from shareholders, onlookers and the media.
An international campaign has been launched to call for the release of Khalid Mohd Ismath, a Malaysian student activist and a member of the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM), who has been detained since October 7. Khalid has been active in highlighting human rights violations and misuse of power by the authorities in Malaysia. He was arrested on October 7 under the Malaysian Multimedia and Communications Act 1998 for allegedly posting offensive comments on social media.
The global refugee crisis has its roots in the wars waged by global powers for resources and territory. These conflicts have left millions of people displaced and driven hundreds of thousands to seek safety and protection in countries like Australia. Increasingly, climate change is becoming a second front of the refugee crisis as global food supplies are ravaged and sea level rises threaten the populations of island nations.