The Gallipoli Centenary Peace Campaign (GCPC) was formed in mid-February at a meeting of the Marrickville Peace Group, Marrickville Residents for Reconciliation (now part of ANTaR Inner West), Pax Christi and the Marrickville Greens. Since then a number of local individuals have also participated in the coalition’s meetings and events.
Moreland City councillor Sue Bolton gave this speech to a rally in solidarity with Kobani in Melbourne on October 25. *** There are two reasons to support the Kurds of Kobane. One reason is humanitarian: to prevent a massacre. The other reason is to protect and defend the building of an alternative society which should be a beacon for all left and progressive people in the world.
The United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly for the 23rd time on October 29 to condemn the decades-long United States economic embargo against Cuba. Reuters said that day that many nations praised the socialist country for its response in fighting the deadly Ebola virus that is ravaging west Africa. Cuba has sent hundreds of doctors to affected countries in west Africa.
About 50 people rallied outside the Mint Bistro in Macquarie Street on October 28, carrying placards and black balloons marked CO2, to protest against Whitehaven Coal’s annual general meeting being held inside. The protesters accused the company of ignoring the wishes of communities living near mining projects in the Leard National Forest and at Maules Creek in northern NSW.
One of the most striking features of the first year of Tony Abbott’s government is the sustained attacks on Centrelink clients. These started with the federal budget and its proposed cuts to Newstart Allowance for those aged under 30, Family Tax Benefits for sole-parent and low-income families, and restricted access to Disability Support Pension. These were followed by employment minister Eric Abetz announcing the expansion of Work for the Dole to all jobseekers under 50.
Edinburgh’s Augustine United Church is a pretty cold place when the wind is howling, as it was when the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) held its annual conference there on October 25. But all feelings of chill disappeared when the 200-plus SSP members got down to tackling the challenges of an inspiring new period in Scottish politics. The period is marked by unprecedented popular engagement in activism and debate over Scotland’s future. This phase was triggered by the referendum on Scottish independence, won by the No vote by 55% to 45% for the Yes side.
Tasmania’s Liberal government has amended its anti-protest bill to allay fears from concerned groups who say the laws are undemocratic and a threat to free speech. The laws were passed in the state’s Upper House on October 30, and will be further amended by a committee. A coalition of more than 20 community groups, including unions, the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre, The Wilderness Society and the Australian Lawyers Alliance, released a joint statement urging parliamentarians to drop the Bill.
The long-term average rise of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) wage price index is 3.6%. In the first half of this year, it increased at an annualised rate of only 1.7%. The latest National Australia Bank quarterly business survey shows labour costs have been rising at an average annualised rate of 1.5% since the last quarter of 2012. This compares with an average of 3% a year between 1998 and 2008.
At Geelong's Walk Together rally on October 25, Labor's shadow immigration minister Richard Marles told the crowd Labor would “welcome” refugees. Despite trying to appeal to the crowd's message of acceptance and tolerance, Marles was heckled by members of Rural Australians for Refugees and the Socialist Alliance. Unionists from the Geelong Trades Hall stood up front and turned their backs on him while he spoke.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has indicated his government plans to increase the Goods and Services Tax (GST). Before last year’s election, Abbott promised the Australian people that “the GST won't change, full stop, end of story”. But on October 27, he called for a “mature debate” on the topic, making it clear his government intends to increase GST revenue.