941

There is a statue in revolutionary Havana of Don Quixote, the literary creation of 17th century Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes, who fought for his principles, even if he was crazy. I know I’m a bit crazy. With less than a month to go before the US presidential elections, the farce we have been living through for more than a year becomes even more grotesque. Hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent on advertisements for US President Barack Obama or Republican candidate Mitt Romney. Money has never been so awash in an election before.
The petition for certification of Party of the Labouring Masses (PLM) as a national political party was approved by the Commission on Elections in September. With this approval, the fight for a national political party representing the marginalised sectors has escalated to new heights. This is a confirmation of the PLM’s three-and-a-half years of existence and its expansion as a political party with a mass constituency and grassroots chapter-formations.
Tasmania's upper house voted against equal marriage on September 26. The bill, co-sponsored by Labor Premier Lara Giddings and Greens deputy Nick McKim, passed the lower house on August 30. But after a two-day debate, eight of the upper house's 15 MLCs voted against the bill, mostly fearing a High Court challenge and claiming that it was a federal and not a state issue. Serious homophobia was also in play. Former Supreme Court chief justice William Cox said allowing same-sex couples to marry could also lead to same-sex surrogacy and adoption.
I constantly scan the internet for breaking news, but I first found out that Prime Minister Julia Gillard's speech mercilessly lambasting opposition leader Tony Abbott for being a misogynist was going viral from my 16-year-old daughter. She temporarily disconnected from the multiple social media she inhabits to call out to me: “Dad, have you seen that AWESOME Julia Gillard speech? EVERYBODY is talking about it!” An hour later it was in the news headlines: PM's speech goes viral.
Buswell lies to attack wharfies The Maritime Union of Australia has slammed as false West Australian Transport Minister Troy Buswell's claims that maritime workers are striking for a 20% pay rise. On October 11, MUA national secretary Ian Bray said the dispute was about safety of workers, noting last month's workplace death of Newcastle waterfront worker Greg Fitzgibbon, who was crushed by a 20 tonne pallet. Bray said Buswell should "investigate the concerns of workers to avoid further fatalities on the Australian waterfront".
NSW Coalition Premier Barry O’Farrell has been accused of lying about his pre-election promise to protect farmland and drinking water catchments from the burgeoning coal seam gas (CSG) industry. The government finally released its Strategic Regional Land Use Policy on September 11. It outlines how the government will manage the CSG industry. After 18 months of promising to protect sensitive areas such as farms and bushland from the new industry, the policy revealed that no part of NSW has been ruled out for CSG mining and exploration.

On October 7, the Socialist Alliance adopted as a key focus for its next federal election campaign a call to bring the mining industry and the banks under public/community ownership and control, so they can be run in a way that respects Aboriginal rights, the environment and social justice. The urgent need to address climate change alone demands that these industries be immediately taken out of the hands of the billionaires and their global corporations and operated as not-for-profit public services under the democratic control of the majority.

Elections are coming up for local councils across Victoria. Many candidates are reflecting community campaigns, but others are reflecting the interests of developers and other business interests. Because council ballot papers don’t identify candidates’ party affiliation, the Liberal and Labor parties often don’t endorse candidates. Instead, members of the Liberal and Labor parties run as “independents”.
The Daily Telegraph slammed those so-called asylum seekers once more on October 11 in a hard hitting front page expose by Gemma Jones entitled “Sell house and sail away to better lives”. Jones wrote: “Sri Lanka's navy revealed that most of the 2279 people arrested leaving on 52 boats this year from 24 locations were 'economic migrants' looking for a better life in Australia.”
A half-day strike by NSW public servants on October 8 featured a mass meeting of workers at Sydney Town Hall. A vibrant crowd of about 2500 filled the lower deck of the Town Hall. A further 1000 people outside were able to observe the events taking place inside via a large video screen.
Fifteen hundred people rallied on September 30 in Adelaide to support solar thermal power in Port Augusta to replace the ageing coal stations, set to retire. They welcomed about 80 people who walked the 328-kilometre journey from Port Augusta to draw attention to the issue. Protesters rallied to show their support for a switch to solar thermal and becoming a world leader in renewable energy, rather than replacing dirty coal with gas.
More than 100 people rallied in Footscray in Melbourne’s western suburbs on October 11 to protest against the Victorian government's $300 million dollar cuts to the TAFE system. The rally was organised by community group “Friends of Victoria University”. Protesters included university staff, students and teachers and members of maritime, construction, textile, nursing and other unions as well as people from the wider community.
About 70 mental health clinicians and their supporters rallied outside the state government’s offices in Hobart on October 11 to call for the reversal of crippling budget cuts. The rally took place during Mental Health Week. Unions say 42.5 frontline mental health positions have been lost or left vacant due to last year’s budget cuts. Most of these are frontline clinical positions, including case managers from the adult, child and youth and older person’s mental health community teams. Services are also compromised as clinicians are frequently not replaced when they take leave.
Islamophobia and the Politics Of Empire Deepa Kumar Haymarket Books 238 pages September 2012 Author Deepa Kumar says Liberal Senator Brett Mason is “so wrong” for moving a motion in the Australian Senate to condemn Green Left Weekly for its criticism of the NSW police. But Kumar, an associate professor of media studies and Middle East studies at Rutgers University in New Jersey, says Senator Mason’s actions “should not surprise us”.
About 150 people rallied in Melbourne on October 10 to call for an increase in pensions for retired workers. The rally also called for better concessions, better transport and stronger access to health services. The protest was organised by the Fair Go For Pensioners Coalition, which is made up of groups including the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, the Council of the Ageing and Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria.
Fifty people attended a meeting in Coburg on October 6 to protest against the installation of "smart meters" by electricity distribution companies in Victoria. Two similar meetings had already been held in nearby Brunswick. The meters enable remote reading of electricity use every half hour, remote connection and disconnection of electricity, and differential charging at different times of the day, among other functions.

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