1028

There are times when farce and living caricature almost consume the cynicism and mendacity in the daily life of Australia's rulers. Across the front pages is a photograph of a resolute Tony Abbott with Aboriginal children in Arnhem Land, in Australia’s remote north. "Domestic policy one day," says the caption, "focus on war the next."
Steve O’Brien is standing as a candidate for the Socialist Alliance in the Newcastle byelection on October 25. The sitting Coalition MP, Tim Owen, resigned in August after he admitted he lied to the Independent Commission Against Corruption about accepting an illegal $10,000 donation from a property developer. O’Brien said: “A strong vote for a socialist would send a powerful message to the political establishment that Newcastle is not for sale and that Newcastle people support the public sector.”
Fossil Free Sydney University released this statement on September 25. *** In a historic referendum at the University of Sydney, voters overwhelmingly supported fossil fuel divestment. Eighty percent of the students demanded the Vice-Chancellor commit to divesting from fossil fuels. In a first step last August the University froze further investment in all fossil fuels, pending review and consultation with stakeholders. Since then, all major student representative organisations have called upon the University to divest in full.
As well as forcing people to wait until the age of 70 before reaching the retirement age, the federal Coalition government also intends to push these septuagenarians into poverty. The retirement pension for a single person is currently set at 27.7% of Male Total Average Weekly Earnings (MTAWE) and is indexed every six months. The National Commission of Audit set up by Treasurer Joe Hockey in October last year has conveniently provided the government with a recommendation to reduce this rate.
Last week the federal government released its first evaluation of how its controversial income management policy has fared in five locations where the scheme was introduced in July 2012. This discriminatory government policy, which allows for Centrelink clients to have their payments quarantined and restricts how they can spend their money, has also been been explored in two recent government reports that have proposed extending the scheme.
Progressive activists are contesting this year’s student campus council elections at the University of Western Sydney’s Bankstown campus. RES Out West — Resisting Education Slashes — will run two activists for positions on the council and campus paper editors for 2015. Both are first year students and members of Resistance – Young Socialist Alliance. Ian Escandor, also known as Esky, is a progressive hip-hop artist, community worker and student activist. He is studying Community Welfare and is active in the campaign to fight the education cuts on UWS Bankstown campus.
Tony Abbott’s government has backed away from the ludicrous proposal to force unemployed people to apply for 40 jobs a month to receive the paltry Newstart allowance. The proposal would have generated 30 million job applications a month for the 147,000 jobs available to the 746,000 unemployed. But it was not an attack of common sense that led to the decision — it came after 7000 protesting “cover letters” were sent to Employment Minister Eric Abetz, together with complaints from small businesses that they would be inundated with applications for non-existing jobs.
A community protest has condemned the assault of a 26-year-old woman on the Upfield train in Melbourne on September 25. The woman was attacked by a female passenger as the train pulled into Batman Station in North Coburg, and then thrown from the carriage while the train was still moving. The assault was accompanied by racist and Islamophobic abuse directed at victim. Community activists gathered at the station on October 1 to condemn the racist attack.
Latest polls suggests Bolivian President Evo Morales will be reelected for a third term in a landslide victory on October 12. One week before the vote, Morales' support hit 57.3%. The latest statistics from pollster Tal Cual Comunicacion Estrategica indicate a huge win for the left-wing Morales, first elected in 2005 on the back of huge protests against neoliberialism.
This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs The Climate By Naomi Klein Simon & Shulster, 2014 Award-winning author and activist Naomi Klein, who wrote The Shock Doctrine and No Logo, is back with her long-awaited new release: This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate. Now, she is taking on the biggest issue of our time ― climate change, and exploring the implications of the climate crisis for social change today and into the future.
The Who Pays for our Common Wealth report into tax contributions by the S&P ASX 200, Australia’s 200 top stockmarket listed companies, has found that 84% of them paid less than the company tax rate of 30% in the period between 2004 and 2013. This amounts to $80 billion in forgone taxation revenue.
NSW’s Chief Scientist and Engineer, Professor Mary O'Kane, released the final report on her review into coal seam gas (CSG) in the state on September 30. Former premier Barry O’Farrell commissioned the review 18 months ago in response to intense public opposition to the industry.
By the mid-1880s, all of the Australian colonies had passed education Acts based on the principal of “free, compulsory and secular” education. This mirrored similar legislation in Britain where the Factory Act of 1833 had made it unlawful for children under nine years of age to be employed in textile factories. In 1878, the Factory and Workshops Act extended this to all factories and limited the working hours of children under 14 years of age.
Swan Island Peace Convergence released this statement on October 2. *** Before dawn on October 2, eight peace activists entered the top secret Swan Island military base near Queenscliff, Victoria. The group entered the base to nonviolently disrupt preparations for the imminent war in Iraq. Four of the activists were discovered, detained and assaulted by SAS soldiers on the base. The treatment of the activists by the SAS bordered on torture.

The Venezuelan National Assembly swore in grassroots leader Juan Contreras to assume the vacant post of the late deputy Robert Serra on October 7. Serra, a 27-year-old socialist deputy, was stabbed to death alongside his partner Maria Herrera in their Caracas home on October 1. Legislators also voted to ban former right-wing Colombian president Alvaro Uribe from entering Venezuela. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has accused Uribe of being linked to the killings.

In an atmosphere of manufactured hysteria about “Muslim terrorists” in our midst, the Coalition government has introduced sweeping attacks on civil liberties in Australia. Prime minister Tony Abbott declared that the “balance between freedom and security may have to shift” and that “there may be more restrictions on some so that there can be more protection for others”.

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