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 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.
Students and staff at Jaffna University lit candles on May 21 to remember the Tamils who died in May 2009 when the Sri Lankan army carried out a genocidal onslaught in the final days of the island's decades-long civil war. Tens of thousands of men, women and children were killed as Sri Lankan government forces bombarded them from land, sea and air.
An Aboriginal tent embassy was set up on May 26 to reclaim the historic Redfern Block. Veteran Aboriginal activist Jenny Munro says the Block is Aboriginal land and the Aboriginal Housing Company was wrong to clear the Aboriginal residents out of it and open it to greedy developers. The tent embassy is steadily growing in size and the call is out for solidarity. Drop in, show your solidarity and see what you can do to help. An "Abbott-proof fence" is going to be built on the site, embassy activists said. Photos by Peter Boyle.
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.
"This country can afford a universal healthcare system that provides access to quality health care for everyone," Judith Kiejda, assistant general secretary of the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association (NSW NMWA), told a forum at the University of Technology Sydney on May 27. The forum, organised by the Save Medicare Campaign, heard Kiejda and Professor Bill Mitchell, director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE) at Newcastle University, addressed the topic, "No to Abbott-Care. Hands Off Medicare."
Repealing the carbon tax, abolishing the department of climate change, and getting rid of the Clean Energy Fund were the top three wishes in “75 radical ideas to transform Australia”, released by the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) in 2012. Number six was to repeal the Renewable Energy Target (RET). In the recent federal budget, the Coalition government is aiming to do all four.
On the evening of May 23, the United States suffered another massacre of the type that has become all too familiar. Elliot Rodger, a 22-year old student at the University of California campus in Santa Barbara went on a killing spree that left seven dead, including himself. He left a video and a manifesto that made clear his motive was hatred of women.
Why would the victim of a brutal military dictatorship appoint someone accused of covering up the regime’s crimes as ambassador to the country in which she once sought exile? This is the question many Chileans are asking after the new government of President Michelle Bachelet named James Sinclair as Chile’s highest diplomatic representative in Australia. In response, several groups have begun organising a campaign against the appointment.