US gangster Al Capone once said: “Capitalism is the legitimate racket of the ruling class.” 19th century US president Thomas Jefferson said: “Banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies.” These quotes capture the bastard nature of the dangerous racket that is the Australian banking cartel. See also: Socialist candidate says fight private bank ripoffs
Rupert Murdoch's flagship newspaper, The Australian, has been on a campaign to destroy the Greens because the party represents a big electoral break from the two-parties-for-capitalism system that has dominated politics in this country for more than a century. In the past two weeks, this campaign has been hyped into McCarthyite Cold War hysteria.
Nearly 10 years of a mining boom has made big changes to Australia’s economy and environment. Resource companies have made record profits. This has given Australia’s rich mining billionaires an inflated sense of entitlement. When the Resources Super Profits Tax (RSPT) was proposed we saw Gina Rinehart speaking to an anti-tax rally from the back of a truck along with fellow billionaire Andrew Forrest, who wore a high-visibility work shirt as though he was just another struggling worker.
Truth and accuracy have never been the highest priorities for the mainstream media. But hysteria and misrepresentation of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy protest in Canberra on January 26 have been taken to an absurd level. Terms like “mob violence”, “thuggery” and “riot” have been used by journalists and politicians to describe a protest where no one was injured, no property was damaged and no one was arrested.
Well, it is only February and one thing is certain: a federal election doesn’t have to be called until as late as November 2013, but the Tony Abbott-led Coalition smells blood and, as far as they are concerned, they are in election mode. This means if you are dark-skinned, downtrodden or desperate, you had better look out. You are right in the Coalition’s firing line, and just behind them is a desperate Labor government (led, for now, by Julia Gillard) eager to play the futile game of blunting attacks from the right by joining in.
In the week after the January 26 Aboriginal Tent Embassy anniversary celebrations and protests, the mainstream media poured out a continuous stream of negative, scathing commentary on the Tent Embassy and the people that defended it. Ignoring the thousands of people gathered for three days to recognise the achievements of the Tent Embassy and protest against ongoing attacks to Aboriginal people today, the corporate media ran stories of an “angry mob” that surrounded a Canberra restaurant and “besieged” Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Liberal leader Tony Abbott.
In an historic decision, Fair Work Australia (FWA) awarded pay rises of 19-41% to 150,000 mostly female workers in the social and community services sector (SACS) on February 1. It was the most important equal pay case since equal pay for work of equal value was formally recognised in 1972. The decision awards an extra 4% rise in loadings, designed to recognise impediments to bargaining in the industry. Workers will also be entitled to any wage review by FWA each year. The pay rises are effective from December 1, to be phased in over eight years.
Recent national figures published by the Sydney Morning Herald show the rate of youth unemployment in Australia is well above the national average, hitting 17.3%. The figure is more than triple national unemployment, which stood at 5.2% in December. Almost one in five people aged 15 to 19 and not studying are out of work.
Socialist Alliance candidate Liam Flenady, who will run in the March 24 Queensland state election, announced the party's key policy pledge on February 4. The policy said: “Set up a new Queensland State Bank: Provide low-interest loans to householders, farmers and small business. Stop the private banks ripping off the community.”
Activists from Western Australia’s Refugee Rights Action Network traveled more than 800 kilometres from Perth to the remote Leonora detention centre over January 27-29. The journey sought to draw attention to the 160 unaccompanied minors locked up in the detention centre. Immigration minister Chris Bowen had previously promised that all children would be moved out of detention centres by June last year.
A looming staffing problem in Western Australia's 26 Police and Community Youth Centres (PCYC) is exposing premier Colin Barnett and the Liberal government's disregard for youth services and the complete hypocrisy of the law and order rhetoric that crops up at every state election. PCYCs are formally independent non-profit organisations, supported by the state through the provision of police officers as full-time centre managers.
Five anti-nuclear activists travelled from Australia to attend the Global Conference for a Nuclear Power Free World held in the Japanese port city of Yokohama, over January 14–15. The conference was attended by 11,500 people over the two days including 100 international participants from 30 countries.
Port Kembla Coal Terminal workers began a week-long strike on February 1. The action is a result of management scaling back conditions during negotiations over a new enterprise agreement. BHP Billiton operates the coal terminal on behalf of its owners, which include Xstrata, Peabody Energy, Gujarat NRE and Centennial Coal. Management’s latest offer triggered Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union (CFMEU) delegates to take industrial action. About 100 workers had previously voted to approve a seven-day stoppage from February 1, unless management made a late offer
This year, the rules of the game have changed drastically. The ALP now supports marriage equality, and the Greens submitted its Marriage Amendment Bill 2010 to a senate inquiry on January 26. The problem is the numbers in parliament. The ALP has allowed a conscience vote, which means its MPs can vote against party policy, while Liberal Party members are required to vote against marriage equality.
Thousands of Victorian nurses, mental health workers, public servants and others have been trying to negotiate new enterprise bargaining agreements with the Coalition government. Premier Ted Baillieu's intransigent state government has insisted it will not agree to any pay rises above 2.5% a year without productivity trade-offs. The exception was the police force, which won a 4.5% annual pay rise a few days after more than 500 police violently evicted Occupy Melbourne protesters from City Square.
Childhood Under Siege: How Big Business Ruthlessly Targets Children Joel Bakan Random House, 2011 277 pages Parents who read Joel Bakan's new book, Childhood Under Siege, may find themselves un-liking Facebook. In it, the law professor ― whose previous book The Corporation was made into Canada's biggest-grossing documentary ― describes the effect of the social media giant's applications on his 13-year-old daughter.