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The Socialist Alliance released this statement on May 16. *** The federal parliament's joint committee on electoral matters is recommending changes to the federal electoral laws supposedly to address the problem of some small parties "gaming" preference direction through above-the-line voting for the Senate. However, the joint committee has also proposed raising the number of members required for federal electoral party registration from 500 to 1500. 
And so it begins — an offensive, on behalf of the Australian ruling class and corporate interests, to steal the future from the majority of Australians, to dismantle what remains of our social welfare system, in order to carry out, in the words of Treasurer Joe Hockey, "the government's solemn duty ... to build a stronger Australia".
Public housing tenants and nearby residents gathered at Debney's Park in Melbourne's inner-west to protest the impact of the East West Link on public housing flats, Debney's Park and the Flemington Community Centre. The protest was organised by local Greens MP Adam Bandt. Yasseen Musa, a leader of the local African community living in the flats, told the protesters: “It took 15 years to get a sports ground, then another 10 years to get two soccer pitches and a pavilion. Now we have a soccer team for the African community.
For people just tuning in, the idea that people in Brazil would be protesting the 2014 World Cup makes about as much sense as New Yorkers' rebelling against pizza. And yet here we are, less than one month before the start of the Cup, and demonstrations bear the slogan #NãoVaiTerCopa, or "There will be no Cup".
Radical changes to university and TAFE education were announced in the federal budget on May 13. These changes include removing the cap on university fees and changes to welfare payments. People under 25 are no longer eligible for the Newstart allowance. Treasurer Joe Hockey said the theme of the budget was "contribution and building" and "sharing the pain", but it will make it even tougher for struggling families.
The Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption, which began on May 12, opened with allegations against former Labor prime minister Julia Gillard. The commission's first day receiving evidence confirmed it is a political show trial. The first person in the witness box was former Australian Workers Union (AWU) official Ralph Blewitt. The “explosive allegation” he made was that Gillard was at home when he paid a builder $7000 for renovations at her Melbourne home from a slush fund.
There is a lot of hype about so-called pain in this budget, and sure, not everyone comes out a winner. But, basically, as long as you are not a young person or an old person, you should be fine. Or a middle-aged person who plans on getting old. Or a public servant. Or a farmer. Or someone who wants to study at university, or who owes money from past study.
Protesters were more imaginative than usual with slogans for the Children's March for the Animals to Melbourne Zoo on May 4. They were protesting against the $8 billion road project known as the East West Link because of the impact it would have on animals that live at the zoo. Placards read: “Tollway noise — I can't BEAR it”, “East-West Tunnel? Don't be GALAH!” and “The toll road is enough to make a ZEBRA cross!”. Children dressed in animal costumes or carried a stuffed toy of their favourite animal.
For years the federal budget has been brutal on refugees and asylum seekers. Each year for the past two decades, visa places have been cut or made more difficult to gain, and services and rights to appeal are cut. The rights of people seeking protection in Australia are slowly eroded while detention centres get bigger and bigger budgets. Now, Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Treasurer Joe Hockey have revealed a budget that takes the war on refugees to new heights — with a newly merged border control agency, more patrol boats and the axing of independent oversight of refugee processing.
In recent weeks, the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has managed to add a number of prominent Liberal Party politicians and apparatchiks to those of the Labor Party who are accused of complicity in corrupt practices. The commission is set to suspend its current inquiry on May 16 and resume again in August. This will allow ICAC officers to conduct further investigations into the affairs of the former Liberal police minister Mike Gallacher, who resigned in early May in the wake of ICAC allegations against him.

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