The Socialist Alliance national office has produced its analysis of the August 21 federal election. It traces the precise mix by electorate of the increased Green, Coalition, independent and informal vote, produced as voters deserted Labor. The differences among the seat-by-seat contests in an Australian federal election have never been so great. The general disillusionment with the two major parties expressed itself in quite different ways in different electorates and areas.
A 21-year-old Tamil refugee has allegedly been the victim of an assault while in detention. Leela Krishna was recognised as a refugee by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship in April this year, but is still held in Villawood detention centre. He was waiting for security clearance from ASIO before release. But, on August 21, he was allegedly assaulted in an isolation unit by a former professional kick boxer. The police are investigating the attack, and Serco — the private contractors who manage the centre — have placed Krishna in the “housing” component of Villawood.
In the lead-up to the 2004 federal election, legislation was passed against marriage rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people. The 2004 marriage ban became the catalyst for the development of a powerful protest movement. This movement has won a series of important victories. These include the repeal of 85 pieces of federal legislation discriminating against same-sex couples, but not the repeal of the discriminatory marriage ban. Recognition of civil unions has been won in the ACT, after a five-year struggle.
Figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on August 30 revealed mining company profits rose 62.7% to $25 billion in just the three months to June 30. Hopefully, those who fell for the hard luck stories of the mining billionaires when they were howling and screaming about the new Resource Super Profits Tax (RSPT) proposed by the former Rudd Labor government are now realising they were suckered.
Prisoners detained without trial at the Northern Immigration Detention Centre in Darwin have staged dramatic protests. On August 29 and 30, about 120 Indonesian detainees, accused of (but not charged with) “people smuggling”, staged protests on the jail’s roof and set fire to garbage. On September 1, about 90 Afghan Hazara refugees broke out of the jail and held a peaceful protest on the Stuart Highway. Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young told AAP on August 30 she believed the Indonesians were poor fisherpeople who had been conned into making the journey.
On September 2, Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett began the takeover of land at James Price Point in the Kimberley so the company Woodside can build a gas-processing hub. Barnett claims this is necessary, after two years of negotiating with the local Aboriginal community and the Kimberley Land Council (KLC). He said any further delays in the project will lose $30 billion after the $15 billion taxpayers have already spent.
A high court challenge to Australia's offshore processing, on behalf of two Tamil refugees whose asylum claims were refused, has questioned the legality of the refugee processing policy. The case, heard in Canberra's High Court over August 24-26, occurred amid rising numbers of refugee claims being refused. Australia imprisons refugees in offshore detention and denies them full right of appeal in Australian courts. Access to legal advice and fair processing is greatly restricted. The lawyers acting on behalf of the Tamils labelled this practice unlawful and unconstitutional.
“An oil platform explosion on September 2 in the Gulf of Mexico forced the crew to jump into the sea and threatened further damage to waters still recovering from the BP disaster”, AFP said that day. The explosion on the platform, owned by Houston-based Mariner Energy, comes in the aftermath of the BP-owned Deepwater Horizon rig explosion in the gulf in April, which killed 11 workers. Bloomberg.com said on August 20 that 4.9 million barrels of oil escaped from the leaking well.
On September 13, construction worker Ark Tribe will face Adelaide Magistrates Court yet again. He is facing six months’ jail for failing to attend an interrogation by the construction industry police — the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC), created by former Howard government as part of Work Choices, but left in place by the ALP.
Adam Bandt, the MP elect for the seat of Melbourne (long considered a “safe Labor seat”), and the Greens' first House of Representatives member to be elected in a general election has been very busy since August 21. He says he left the triumphant Greens' election night party at 11pm thinking that he would have to do some media the next day so should get a good night's sleep. He woke up the next morning and after a couple of hours having coffee and reading the paper, the situation sunk in.