1146

Disparaged and smeared by the Labour Party machine and corporate media for almost two years, Momentum — a grassroots group of Labour members committed to the socialist politics of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn — came out fighting during the campaign for the June 8 general elections.

Spurred on by a sense of idealism, this campaign came close to sweeping Labour into government on the most transformative manifesto for a generation.

A hallmark of former Prime Minister Tony Abbott was responding to falling opinion polls by holding press conferences full of totalitarian imagery, announcing moves to weaken civil liberties or intensify persecution of refugees in the name of keeping Australians safe from the apparent existential threat of terrorism. His successor, Malcolm Turnbull, is trying to out-do him.

Federal government hospital spending rose by 80% in the decade to 2014, from $23 billion to $42 billion. This has led to a renewed push by conservatives for a new state income tax to fund health costs.

The Sydney Morning Herald published audio on July 19 from a Liberal Party function in Sydney at which former Western Australian state MP Michael Sutherland described anti-fracking campaigners and refugee rights activists as "a bunch of cockroaches".

The man who ran over and killed Aboriginal teenager Elijah Doughty in Kalgoorlie last August could walk free from jail in seven months.

He was never charged with murder and was cleared of manslaughter by a Supreme Court jury, which convicted him of the lesser charge of dangerous driving causing death. He was given a three year jail term but  could be released on parole by February.

Candles were firmly held against the darkness of Australia’s cruel bipartisan refugee policy on July 19.

Initiated by GetUp! and supported by numerous refugee rights organisations, the vigils drew thousands of people to more than 50 locations across Australia from big cities to small country towns.

The vigils marked four years since then-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced that anyone who came seeking asylum in Australia via boat would never be resettled in Australia.

The rise of Jeremy Corbyn in Britain and Bernie Sanders in the US has led many to ask where is our Corbyn or our Sanders and to question whether conditions in Australia are ripe for a similar break to the left.

Because Australia was buffered from the worst of the GFC, due mainly to the mining boom, some argue that conditions here may need to get a lot worse before people are prepared to get behind a left platform.

Let’s look at some social indicators in Australia today.

Disabled people faced off with armed police at Parliament on July 19 as they were told their T-shirts exposing the savage nature of Tory cuts were off-limits, Morning Star Online said the next day.

The campaigners were there to lobby MPs over the horrendous toll the Conservatives’ austerity and blitz on essential benefits has had on disabled people. The rally was part of a week of action organised by Disabled People Against Cuts to flag up the brutal nature of the attacks.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has challenged Prime Minister Theresa May to allow people to self-identify as transgender without having to go through medical checks, The Guardian said on July 19.

The socialist politician pledged that Labour would support any government attempt to change the law.

RAD Exhibition
Until August 27
Newcastle Museum
Radical Newcastle
Edited by James Bennett, Nancy Cushing & Erik Eklund
New South Publishers, 2015
$39.99

Exhibitions like RAD, now showing at the Newcastle Museum, and Radical Newcastle, the book that inspired it, help each generation of activists remember and learn the lessons of previous struggles.

Pages

Subscribe to 1146