Sudan’s people are bearing the brunt of the country’s deepening economic crisis. According to Bella Bird, World Bank director for Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan, half the population is now living below the poverty line. Last August, Sudanese economist Hassan Satti estimated the real figure would likely exceed 95%.
The Royal Commission into the Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was set up in January last year, after decades of campaigning by victims. Led by Justice Peter McClellan, the first public hearings began in April last year and apply only to children sexually abused up to the age of 18. It does not include physical or emotional abuse.
About 100 people rallied in Melbourne to call for justice for Reza Berati on May 28, the 100 day anniversary of his murder on Manus Island. The rally called for an independent investigation of the murder, for all offshore prisons to be closed and for immigration minister Scott Morrison to be sacked.
Memo to concern trolls Annabel Crabb and Howard-era minister Amanda Vanstone: take your own advice and stop being selfish thugs and bullies. And if Fairfax journalist Crabb is going to criticise student protests for being “outdated”, she should drop the 1950s style housewife persona. In a May 23 Sydney Morning Herald article, Crabb said she was “concerned” that thousands of students taking part in a recent national day of action against increased university fees were going about things the wrong way. Take notice students of Australia. Activism, you’re doing it wrong.
Tom Raue and other activists at the University of Sydney have been banned from campus for being involved in protests against foreign minister Julie Bishop. Raue has been arbitrarily singled out for disciplinary action. Raue works on campus, and this ban might mean he loses his job. On May 28, about 100 students and staff attended a protest to defend these students. Student demands are simple and were slipped under Sydney University vice-chancellor Michael Spence's door.
Members of a number of unions rallied outside Brisbane Magistrates Court on May 26 in support of Electrical Trades Union (ETU) Queensland and Northern Territory branch secretary Peter Simpson, who was facing charges under the Transparency and Accountability Act. Introduced last September, the law requires unions to conduct a ballot of all members before spending more than $10,000 on political campaigns and to publicly declare all expenditure (either on a union website or the Industrial Commission’s site).
The savage cuts to education announced in early May have stirred students into action across Australia. On May 28, the University of Western Sydney Education Action Group (EAG) held a meeting on the Bankstown campus to organise students, and work with staff to defend quality tertiary education. With two-thirds of Australian university students living below the poverty line and one in five students skipping meals, students are among the most financially vulnerable sectors.
While attacking pensioners, the unemployed, single parents and the marginalised, the Coalition government has stepped up its attack on the organised. There are two inquiries aimed at unions underway — a Productivity Commission inquiry into the Fair Work Act and the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption. Both are designed to emasculate an already legislatively constrained union movement. For good measure, Attorney-General George Brandis has now added a third.
Trade unionists and community activists held a forum called "After the budget, build the fightback" in Melbourne on May 24 organised by the Socialist Alliance to discuss joint actions to campaign against the federal budget.
Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance released this statement on May 30. *** The federal Coalition government plans to ramp up Work for the Dole for job seekers under 30. From July 1, it will apply in 18 high unemployment regions across Australia, and will be rolled out nationwide from July 1 next year.
You know Australian politics has reached a low point when a lunatic billionaire coal magnate driving a Rolls Royce manages to appear less heartless and out-of-touch than the government. And yet Clive Palmer managed the feat, driving up to Parliament House in his luxury vehicle on May 27 and somehow twisting the act into a statement against politician privileges — pointing out money spent on government cars would be better spent raising the pension.
Lock the Gate released this statement on May 28. *** The nation’s air quality has declined dramatically in the past decade and coal mining has been identified as the biggest source of harmful respiratory particles in our air, a new federal government report finds. The National Pollutant Inventory report found Queensland is the most polluted state in terms of the levels of particulate matter with eight of the nation’s top ten particle emitting coal mines located there.
The Australian government’s review of the February violence on Manus Island leaves critical questions unanswered and does not call for the detention camp to be closed. Robert Cornall’s 107-page administrative review, released on May 26, includes a detailed account of 23-year-old Reza Berati’s death and identifies a Salvation Army employee as instigating the attack.
If you were to take Prime Minister Tony Abbott and the Coalition on face value, they appear to be against debt. All the pain imposed on the poorest in society by the federal budget and all the cuts to education, health and welfare are justified as being necessary “medicine” to solve a horrendous debt problem left to them by previous Labor governments. Yes, we've heard that line over and over again. Never mind the fact that the government's debt as a proportion of gross domestic product is one of the lowest among the developed countries and lower than it was in the 1950s and 1960s.
More than 250 people gathered outside the office of the Northern Land Council in Tennant Creek and marched to the local Peko Park on May 25, protesting against the proposed radioactive waste dump at Muckaty in the Northern Territory. The Muckaty site is part of a Land Trust, which is shared by five interrelated groups — Milwayi, Ngapa, Ngarra, Wintirku and Yapayapa. Traditional owners call the Muckaty Land Trust “Manuwangku”. Members of all five groups were present at the rally.
The demand of tens of thousands of people who marched through the streets in cities around Australia on May 18 was clear. They want the federal government’s killer budget blocked. They want Labor, the Greens and independents to band together in the Senate to block the major bills implementing the attacks on Medicare, education and welfare. They want the supply/appropriation bills (the three bills that authorise the funds from treasury required by the government to carry on its day-to-day business) to be blocked, thereby forcing the government to go to a new election.