President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela began his visit to Panama City for the Summit of the Americas with a visit to the impoverished neighbourhood of El Chorrillo to lay a wreath at the monument to those killed by the US bombing of the community during the 1989 US invasion of Panama. The seventh Summit of the Americas, held in Panama City on April 10 and 11, was widely hailed as a victory for left-leaning and progressive forces in the region, particularly Venezuela and Cuba.
Recently I went to an asylum seeker forum at Gosford Anglican Parish. Hosted by the awesome Father Rod Bower and chaired by Labor’s Senator Deborah O’Neill, it featured special guest speaker, Labor’s Shadow immigration minister Richard Marles. I was nervous when I arrived. When I left, I was furious! Here’s why… Despite talking a lot, and very well, Marles made just seven points. Let’s take a look at each of these points individually. 1. Liberal is worse than Labor
VIC TRADES HALL CONDEMNS SDA ON PENALTY RATES The Victorian Trades Hall Council has condemned the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees' Association’s agreement with the South Australian Chamber of Commerce to remove penalty rates for retail workers. The VTHC said it opposed any move to further the federal government’s agenda by attacking hard fought entitlements and condemns attacks by the business lobby to reduce workers' wages. EAST WEST LINK PAYOUT
Environment Victoria released this statement on April 14. *** Environment Victoria has labelled new figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) identifying 2300 job losses in the renewable energy sector in just two years as proof that the Tony Abbott government’s anti-renewable energy policies are hurting the economy. The ABS analysis of employment in the renewable energy sector is a first, and comes following a failure of the Abbott government to negotiate an outcome over the Renewable Energy Target (RET).
Federal education minister Christopher Pyne has given $4 million to Danish climate sceptic Bjørn Lomborg to set up the Australian Consensus Centre at the University of Western Australia. Lomborg is a well-known climate policy sceptic and the director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, whose funding was cut by the Danish government in 2012.
Danny Nahlliah, Australia First Candidate, Pastor for Catch the Fire Ministries and keynote speaker at the Melbourne Reclaim Australia rally on April 4, rang Tom Elliott on 3AW on April 7 and accused Socialist Alliance of planting neo-Nazis in the Reclaim Australia crowd to make the rallies and participants look bad. This is an accusation that is even more ridiculous than their other claim that Halal certification funds terrorism.
The head of the Business Council of Australia (BCA), Catherine Livingstone, has called for a national “conversation” about what the federal government and the business community euphemistically call “economic reform”. Ever in thrall to trickle-down economics, they manage to talk in “doublespeak”, a close relative of the doublethink that George Orwell wrote about in his novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Community Solidarity Action was launched in Darwin to respond to funding cuts under the federal government's Indigenous Advancement Strategy and to protest against the closure of communities in Western Australia. The group was launched by community organisations, unions and individuals concerned about or affected by the recent funding announcements and community closures.
The 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landing is nearly upon us and the government decided to kick off commemorating the sacrifice of nearly 9000 Australian soldiers in the failed invasion of Turkey by sending 300 more soldiers to take part in the seemingly endless failed war on Iraq. This government is sometimes accused of insensitivity, but who could disagree that the best way to remember a disastrous invasion of a country half-way around the world that poses no threat to Australia on behalf of an incompetent foreign power is to repeat the exercise.
Spain's left-wing Podemos party would win a general election if it were held today, a Metroscopa poll released on April 12 found. General elections are scheduled for December. Podemos, which was founded in January last year, came first with the support of 22.1% of those questioned. The opposition Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) regained lost ground to come second with 21.9% of the vote. The ruling conservative Popular Party (PP) would come third with 20.8% of the vote.
As the Galilee Basin project faces legal challenges by Aboriginal and other community groups and international banks refuse to finance it, the environment movement is focusing its campaign on ensuring that the Australian Big 4 banks also withhold finance.
Australian Nuclear Free Alliance released this statement on April 14. *** A delegation of Australian nuclear free campaigners travelled to Canada to present at the World Uranium Symposium being held in Quebec City on April 14 to 16. The group included representatives from Aboriginal communities impacted by nuclear projects and national environment groups.
Lines of grey muttering faces, masked with fear, They leave their trenches, going over the top, While time ticks blank and busy on their wrists, And hope, with furtive eyes and grasping fists, Flounders in mud. O Jesus, make it stop! — Siegfried Sassoon. Implausible as it might seem, it was the violent protest of a group of Bosnian high school students that sparked World War I.
Last week the Minister for Social Services Scott Morrison announced that from January 1 next year parents who do not vaccinate their children for reasons of “conscientious objection” will be denied access to child care payments (Child Care Benefit and Child Care Rebate) and the Family Tax Benefit Part A end of year supplement. These payments are worth up to $15,000 a year.
Four Jobs for Women leaders in front of the steelworks in the early 1980s. Photo: Jobs for Women Facebook In Wollongong in the early 1980s, jobs for women were scarce. They either had to wake at dawn to travel to Sydney on the diesel train or they sewed in backyard sweatshops for minimal wages.
In December last year, minister for employment Eric Abetz and Treasurer Joe Hockey announced the terms of reference for an inquiry into Australia’s workplace relations framework by the Productivity Commission that was established by John Howard’s Coalition government in 1998. In a paper released in January, the Productivity Commission indicated that what was up for grabs were the minimum wage, penalty rates, unfair dismissal laws and the role of unions in collective bargaining.