Comment and Analysis

 When flying foxes drop dead from the heat, parts of the Hume Highway melt and Penrith in Sydney’s west is the hottest place on Earth with a temperature of 47.3°C, it is clear that extremes of heat are having a devastating impact.  

The extreme heat during early January in south-east Australia was global news and follows the “angry summer” of 2016–17.

Asylum seeker Abdul Aziz Muhammad asked the ABC’s Q&A panel on December 4 in a video question why the 650 men on Manus Island are being used as political pawns in a life or death game.

Aziz, who has been imprisoned on Manus Island for 4.5 years, said he had seen 6 friends die because of violence and medical negligence.

The history of the 13-year campaign for marriage equality in Australia is an incredible underdog story, but you would not know that if you got your news from the mainstream media.

Throughout the period of the postal survey, the implication has been that marriage equality activists are powerful bullies stomping around the political playground and kicking over the sandcastles of defenseless No campaigners, such as the Australian Christian Lobby (the tax-exempt lobby group that receives millions of dollars each year in corporate funding).

The Manus Island tragedy is the latest in a series of systemic human rights abuses by successive Australian governments in recent decades.

But there is another story: one of courageous resistance in some of the most hostile situations imaginable — a resistance led by several hundred people on Manus Island who are still protesting, still demanding “freedom, nothing less than freedom”.

When renowned ecosocialist Ian Angus came to Australia in 2011 he observed that for most people it is “easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism”. 

Unfortunately, imagining the end of the world is getting easier. There are almost daily reports of the accumulating effects of climate change, to choose just one source of potential apocalypse.

The humiliating about-face forced on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull when he announced a royal commission into the banking and financial sectors on November 30 could be the beginning of the end for the Coalition government.

The publication of NSW Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon’s new pamphlet, Sold off, sold out: the disaster of privatisation and how to reclaim our common wealth, is timely.

With the federal government now supporting a royal commission into the banks and widespread controversy over national energy policy, the damaging consequences of privatising many of the country’s formerly publicly owned industries is clear for all to see.

Finance industry workers are facing increasing pressure as banks seek to maximise their already hefty profits. Our jobs are becoming increasingly precarious, and all the while our wages and conditions are being threatened with cuts.

These days, if you walk into a bank, you’ll find very few staff and a lot of ATMs, which not only give cash but do almost everything a teller can do. You will also find a concierge, whose job is to shift customers to self-service via online banking. Tellers have performance targets for shifting customers online.

This month we celebrate the 163rd anniversary of the Eureka Stockade.

It is important to celebrate and mark historical anniversaries, especially one such as the Eureka Stockade, whose legacy has played such a pivotal role in the struggles of Australia’s working people for a fair, just and democratic society.

Another United Nations climate conference (COP23) is over — though many people would have barely noticed, given the lack of media coverage. The Paris Climate Agreement is locked in and, contrary to the Coalition’s inetrpretation, Australia needs to ratchet up its emissions reduction.

This is a useful time to reflect on where Australia sits globally on climate action and what areas are of concern.

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