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Staring down scandals related to revelations in a recently published book, Dirty Politics, and revelations of mass government surveillance, incumbent Prime Minister John Key led his right-wing National Party to become the first party with an outright majority in parliament since the current electoral system was set up in 1996. The Labour opposition, however, slumped to about 24% of the vote ― its worst result ever.
“Britain needs a pay rise!” That was the main running theme through this year’s annual congress of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) of England and Wales, which covers 6.2 million workers in 58 unions in England and Wales, held in Liverpool from September 7 to 10. Its key demand ― for a £1-an-hour wage rise across the entire public sector ― was the main factor behind the successful July 10 public sector general strike.
In her previous books The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (2007) and No Logo: No Space, No Choice, No Jobs (2000), Canadian author and activist Naomi Klein took on topics like neoliberal “shock therapy,” consumerism, globalisation and “disaster capitalism”. Klein extensively documented the forces behind the dramatic rise in economic inequality and environmental degradation over the past 50 years.
The Ron Tandberg cartoon in the Age on September 24 sums up what a rort the East West Link is. In it, one person asks someone from the East West Connect consortium: “Are you concerned that Labor might stop the project?” They answer: “Either way we'll make a killing.” The cartoon is referring to the announcement by Labor opposition leader Daniel Andrews on September 11 that Labor would not build the East West Link if the Moreland and Yarra councils win legal action against the project in December.
As a deal to resettle refugees from rich Australia to Cambodia, one of the poorest countries in the world, was signed in Phnom Penh on September 26, poor Cambodians displaced from their villages as a result of land-grabbing by powerfully connected developers, youth, monks and civil society activists marched on the Australian embassy. Among these protesters was Pisey Ly, an activist with Social Action for Change (SAC), who was interviewed by Green Left Weekly.
Sean Brocklehurst is running as a candidate for the Socialist Alliance in the November 29 Victorian election. This is a speech he gave at the election launch on September 20. *** We are here because we want to see change in Victoria. We want to see community need put before corporate greed. Victoria is going in the wrong direction. It is being run by and for the corporate elite and not in the interests of ordinary people.
Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has made a deal with the Palmer United Party to reintroduce Temporary Protection Visa’s (TPVs) for asylum seekers. These will be known as the Safe Haven Enterprise visa. The Refugee Action Coalition released this statement on September 25. *** The government’s bill introduced on September 25 will not just reestablish TPVs. In sweeping changes to definitions and processing arrangements, the minister is trying to use the legislation to undermine human rights and remove appeal rights for asylum seekers.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are being removed from their families and traditional country by the statutory child protection authority Family and Community Services (FACS) in unprecedented numbers. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reported a rise in the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged up to 17 in out of home care across all states and territories over the past decade.
Susan Austin gave this speech at the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) in Hobart on September 21 as part of a global day of action on climate change. She is a member of Climate Action Hobart. *** UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon called a special Climate Summit at United Nations Headquarters in New York City on September 23. Shamefully, Tony Abbott will not be there, even though he will be in New York the next day for a security meeting. The security of our future is at stake due to climate change but he, and many of our other political and business leaders, is ignoring that.
Treasurer Joe Hockey could not escape hearing the voice of the people when 100 staff, students and community activists rallied on the Smithfield campus of James Cook University in Cairns on September 18. The rally highlighted the federal government's planned cuts to higher education and the rest of the budget. The National Tertiary Education Union JCU branch called the rally because Hockey was speaking at a business conference at JCU before attending a G20 finance ministers meeting in Cairns.
Unspeakable Things: Sex, Lies & Revolution Laurie Penny Bloomsbury, 2014 English author Laurie Penny describes herself as a “journalist, activist, feminist, troublemaker, nerd and net denizen”. Her book, Unspeakable Things, is a collection of polemical essays in which Penny takes aim at mainstream (liberal) feminism, which she says “remains tepid and cowardly”.
Criminal lawyer Rob Stary has represented many people accused under Australian “counter-terror” laws. Green Left Weekly’s Karen Fletcher spoke to him about the police raids in Sydney and Brisbane on September 18. *** Last week you commented that the raids gave you a sense of “deja-vu”. What is repeating here?