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"The Malcolm Turnbull government's proposal to privatise the Medicare payment system is a slippery slope to selling off the whole of Medicare," Peter Boyle, the Socialist Alliance candidate for the seat of Sydney in the upcoming federal elections, said on February 24.

"The Socialist Alliance strongly opposes any privatisation of our public health system, as well as any further pathology cuts, co-payments or attacks on our public hospitals."

Protestors took to the streets around Australia on February 20 against the federal government's proposed cuts to health care in #TheseCutsAreKillingUs rallies.

Protesters in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra and Perth came out to defend Medicare and to oppose government plans to charge for previously free pathology tests. This could lead to doctors having to charge at least $30 for blood tests, MRIs, X-rays, pap smears, urine tests, ultrasounds and more.

Hundreds of environmental protestors made their voices heard against coal and coal seam gas (CSG) mining over the weekend of February 20 and 21.

In the Pilliga, more than 300 people defied a police roadblock to protest the construction of Santos' Leewood waste water treatment facility and in the Leard State Forest a group of about 30 people blockaded the gates to Whitehaven and Idemitsu's Tarrawonga coal mine.

Protest in the Pilliga

I feel privileged to have been able to spend several hours on the community picket outside Lady Cilento Children's Hospital in Brisbane where people were rallying in solidarity with Asha.

Asha is the refugee baby who was being treated for burns after an accident in Australia's notorious offshore refugee detention camp, in the increasingly dictatorial Pacific island state of Nauru.

More than 1000 people rallied on the steps of Western Australia’s Parliament House on February 23 to protest against the Western Australian government’s anti-protest laws.

Sam Wainwright, Socialist Alliance councillor on Fremantle Council, successfully moved the following motion at council’s February 24 meeting:

1. Supports the Palm Sunday Walk for Refugees — March 20, 1pm St George's Cathedral;

2. Calls on the Malcolm Turnbull government to let the 267 refugees that it wants to deport stay;

3. Commits Fremantle to stop doing business with companies who are contracted to run the detention centres, such as Broadspectrum and Wilson Security; and

4. Calls for an end to the offshore mandatory detention regime and boat "turnbacks".

I am not sure if I fully understand recent political developments, but the message I am getting from the Malcolm Turnbull government is that we have to send babies to hellish prison camps or else the gay lobby will persecute Christian students.

And we need a big increase in military spending or house prices will tragically collapse, or tragically rise, depending on which tragedy you wish to choose. Say what you will about the Turnbull government, it offers no shortages of tragedies.

At a talk given at the Newcastle Resistance Centre in the mid-1980s, visiting US activist Peter Camejo mentioned that a socialist, Bernie Sanders, had just been re-elected Mayor of the largest city in the state of Vermont.

Camejo described his meeting with Sanders in the Burlington City Hall. Banners were stacked in the corner and posters in solidarity with the Third World and women's, black and labour struggles decorated the walls.

“It was just like being in an activist centre like this,” he quipped.

The Senate will shine a much-needed spotlight on BP’s plans to drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight after it voted for an inquiry into the matter. The inquiry will report back by May 12.

The Senate’s Environment and Communications References Committee will look into the potential environmental, social and economic impacts of BP’s planned exploratory oil drilling project and any future oil or gas production in the Great Australian Bight.

Politicians in the Coalition government are attempting to destroy a campaign aimed at making schools safe for queer youth.

Urged on by arch-conservatives such as Senators Corey Bernardi and Eric Abetz, the federal education minister Simon Birmingham has announced a federal review into the funding of the Safe Schools program. This program is an attempt to eradicate homophobic and transphobic bullying from schools and encourage diversity and tolerance among young people.

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