On its establishment in 1788, the colony of New South Wales was subject to English law by the application of legal reasoning that was settled in the late 18th century. It confirmed that “if an uninhabited country be discovered and planted by English subjects, all English laws then in being, which are the birthright of every subject, are immediately there in force.”
Sweeping changes to refugee law were passed through the Senate on December 5. These include the reintroduction of temporary protection visas (TPVs) that will grant refugees in Australia a visa for three years but does not allow them to apply for permanent protection. When it was elected in 2007, Labor dumped this unpopular policy of the former John Howard government. Immigration minister Scott Morrison has been working to reintroduce TPVs since the Coalition was elected last year, but it has been repeatedly blocked in the Senate.
The Denis Napthine government, elected by a slim majority in 2010, has fallen in Victoria. This is the first time a Victorian government has lasted only one term since 1955, when the Cain Labor government fell in the midst of the great Labor split. The Napthine government had lost support due to brutal public sector cuts, vindictive attacks on nurses, paramedics and teachers, the unpopular East West Link project, and corruption scandals that led to the removal of Ted Baillieu as premier last year and the sacking of several Liberal candidates before the poll.
This is the last issue of Green Left Weekly for the year. So it is a good time to take stock. From our perspective, it has been a big year of people's struggles. Week after week, people have taken to the streets to protest about numerous issues all around Australia. GLW is a record of this struggle that can be accessed online through our website, greenleft.org.au. Very few countries around the world have a record of people's struggle as comprehensive as this.
The opening night panel of the Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance conference discussed the recent invasion of Iraq, the rise of Islamic State and the Kurdish struggle in Kobane. Filling out the hall at Geelong Trades Hall on December 5, about 50 people heard from speakers Farooq Tariq from the Awami Workers Party in Pakistan, Dilek Geyik from the Australian Kurdish Association and Jemma Nott from Resistance.
Students around the country are celebrating the Senate's defeat of the federal government's tertiary education reforms. The proposed changes would have been the final act in the destruction of free tertiary education in Australia that started with the introduction of the Higher Education Contribution Scheme 25 years ago. The government proposed removing caps on university fees, cutting course funding by about 20% on average, charging higher rates of interest on student debts and extending funding to private colleges, TAFEs and sub-bachelor programs in 2016.
Three years after Barry O'Farrell promised to ban coal seam gas (CSG) mining in Sydney's drinking water catchment, the NSW government’s gas plan says nothing about protecting this sensitive area. The plan, aimed at defusing community anger about CSG approvals and mining in the lead up to the March state election, has done the opposite.
Public sector unions in Tasmania held a two-hour strike across the state on November 27 to protest against the job cuts planned by the state Liberal government. About 10,000 workers from 11 unions attended stop-work rallies at 18 sites. This included about 5000 people who rallied at Parliament House in Hobart and 2000 who gathered at the Inveresk Tramsheds in Launceston. The rally in Burnie had to move out of the Arts and Function Centre to accommodate all the striking workers.
The world's top climate scientists issued their latest warning in November that the climate crisis is rapidly worsening on several fronts — and that we must stop our climate-polluting way of producing energy if we are to stand a chance of avoiding the worst impacts of climate change.
About 100 people joined the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and other unions in Geelong at a rally to support the striking Tandara Spirit workers on December 1. Viva Energy, which owns the Geelong oil refinery, ordered the ship to sail to Singapore where the Australian crew would be made redundant and the ship returned to its owners. The crew defied those orders with a three-week sit-in. The Tandara Spirit is one of just five Australian-operated tankers left. Workers are concerned that Viva Energy could replace them with workers earning as little as $20 a day.
You know a government is in some serious trouble when a morning TV host tears the prime minister to shreds. And when the most likable member of the government appears to be Julie “Death Stare” Bishop, it has less good options than a drunk at closing time in Canberra. A little over a year in office, and Tony Abbott's one big achievement is he has made Bill Shorten look electable.
Essays From Near & Far James Dryburgh Walleah Press, 2014 130 pages, $20 http://walleahpress.com.au The Tasmanian establishment like to promote the idea that their state is separate to the rest of Australia; that its isolation means things are done differently and that’s just the way it is. It’s an attitude that keeps newly arrived residents as outsiders and maintains acquiescence to the status quo in politics and business.