969

During this year alone, an estimated 128 people have drowned or vanished trying to seek asylum in Australia. By June 14, up to seven asylum boats trying to reach Christmas Island had foundered, sunk or been stranded.

This includes the boat that sank in Indonesia’s Sunda Strait in April, when Australian authorities failed to give accurate coordinates of the foundering vessel to Indonesian search and rescue. Up to 58 people drowned, 53 of whom were never retrieved.

The Refugee Action Coalition held a public forum on June 3 titled: “Bridging Visas, Community Detention: what rights do asylum seekers in the community have?”

About 12,000 asylum seekers who have arrived since August 13 last year are living in the community on “bridging visas”. August 13 was when the government introduced the “no advantage” policy and ceased processing refugee applications.

Refugees on bridging visas receive less than the paltry Newstart allowance with little support. They could be sent to detention on Nauru or Manus Island at any time.

The Victorian government continued its attack on civil rights last week with the announcement that new prison cells would be built at train stations for use by protective services officers (PSOs).

The statement below was released by the Socialist Alliance on June 5.

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Liah Lazarou has been pre-selected by the Socialist Alliance to run for the seat of Adelaide in the federal election in September.

Lazarou is a communications student and a committed grassroots activist. She has been involved in organising workers, students and young people as a member of the Socialist Alliance since 2006.

Markets are neither free nor efficient, and they are bad for the environment. Market choice is not cheap. While that may sound like a timeless left-wing credo, it's also a simple assessment of Australia's 20 years of privatisation and market-oriented restructure of electricity supply.

Outside small left-wing dissident circles (from Keynesians to Marxists), operating the power industry according to market principles has become an unquestioned and unspoken assumption.

World Refugee Day comes amid reports of more deaths at sea, forced deportations to torture and execution, malaria in the offshore camps in Nauru and Manus Island, suicide in detention, babies imprisoned as security threats and revelations of refugees on bridging visas without food, housing or work rights.

A competition in cruelty

Representatives from the Environment Centre NT (ECNT) and the Amateur Fishermen’s Association of the NT (AFANT) travelled to Mataranka on June 13 to host a public meeting about water allocations in the region.

The Country Liberal Party government has made changes to the allocation process, which threatens the Roper River region’s environment, as well as pastoral and Indigenous interests.

Australian foreign Minister Bob Carr finally acknowledged the US grand jury investigation into WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange on June 5.

This investigation will decide whether Assange should be prosecuted for his role in releasing confidential documents through WikiLeaks.

Despite the risk to Assange, Carr told a Senate budget estimates committee that the Australian government will not be seeking information from the US government about the grand jury, because “it doesn’t affect Australian interests”.

Moreland City Council has voted to accept an offer from the Victorian government to fund the installation of CCTV cameras on Sydney Road in Brunswick.

The offer was made following the rape and murder of Brunswick resident Jill Meagher in a side street near Sydney Road last year.

Three councillors voted against the decision: Socialist Alliance councillor Sue Bolton, and Greens councillors Samantha Ratnam and Lenka Thomson.

A two-day seminar, "Organising for 21st century socialism", drew 150 people from around Australia to Sydney over June 8-9.

The seminar hosted US author and socialist activist Paul Le Blanc. Le Blanc is the author of Lenin and the Revolutionary Party and A Short History of the US Working Class, and spoke at the conference on the topic “Lessons from Lenin for 21st century socialism”. The talk prompted constructive debate about how to organise a socialist party in Australia today.

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