Issue 1199

Australia

One thousand people braved miserable weather to take part in the largest abortion rights rally in Brisbane in decades. The rally was timed to occur in the week leading up to an historic parliamentary vote that could bring in much needed abortion law reform in Queensland.

Médecins Sans Frontières Australia has disputed home affairs minister Peter Dutton’s version of events which led to the organisation being told by the Nauruan government to leave on October 5.

As people gathered to defend the Opera House on October 9, the mood was chilled — just like Prime Minister Scott Morrison advised. However the clear message from the 1000 plus people who came out on that balmy evening was purposeful: the NSW state government had stepped over the line.

About a third of Victoria's firefighters have experienced bullying in the workplace and more than 95% believe that negative media coverage of their campaigns for new enterprise bargaining agreements had profoundly damaged workplace morale and led to "public aggression" and a "reluctance to disclose their occupation".

Early submissions to the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into the Impact of the WestConnex Project, which began on October 9, have already exposed the disastrous environmental and social effects of the controversial $17 billion WestConnex tollway.

The fight to stop Sydney University management from agreeing to a new “Western Civilisation” degree, run by the conservative Ramsay Centre, is heating up.

More than 150 local and public housing residents attended a forum organised by the Public Housing Defence Network at the Brunswick Town Hall on October 4.

The forum focused on the problems with the Victorian state government’s Public Housing Renewal Program and, in particular, the plight of residents from the Gronn Place estate in West Brunswick who have been forced to leave as a result of the estate’s sell-off to private developers.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison called it “Sydney’s biggest billboard”. Most of us call it the Sydney Opera House. The difference is revealing of two sharply contrasting mindsets.

World

“I do not consent! I do not consent! Where is my representation?”

Those desperate words rang out in the Senate galley on October 6 as protesters tried to make the US Senate listen to the majority of people across the country opposed to the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

But the elected leaders of the “world’s greatest democracy” ignored the objections of protesters inside the Senate gallery — as 13 women were arrested for interrupting the vote over the angry shouts of Vice President Mike Pence, who repeatedly had to bring the process back to order.

The latest warnings contained in the October 8 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) included stating the world has less than 12 years to drastically alter course to avoid the worst impacts of human-caused global warming, and that nothing less than keeping all fossil fuels in the ground is the solution to avoid future calamities.

If these have you frightened or despondent, experts responding to the report have a potentially unwelcome message for your already over-burdened heart and mind: It's very likely even worse than you're being told.

Quebec’s October 1 general election campaign in Quebec unfolded as two distinct contests, writes Richard Fidler.

One contest was the competition between the Liberals and Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) for control of the government.

The other contest in the predominantly French speaking province of Canada, with a long history of struggling for national sovereignty, was between the Parti québécois (PQ) and Québec solidaire (QS) for hegemony within the pro-sovereignty movement.

Russian president Vladimir Putin, the main backer of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, met with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which has supported the rebels seeking to overthrow Assad, in the southern Russian town of Sochi on September 17.

After the meeting, it was announced that Putin and Erdogan had reached an agreement on the future of Idlib, a province in northern Syria.

Last December 21, Catalonia’s three parliamentary forces supporting independence — Together for Catalonia (JxCat), the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) and Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP) — won a 70-65 seat majority in the 135-seat Catalan parliament.

Six months of drawn-out negotiations over forming a pro-independence government then followed.

In the six months since the Great March of Return began in Gaza, with Palestinians demanding the right to return to land from which they were expelled from, Israel has killed 205 Palestinians and injured more than 21,000 others.

An unexpected High Court ruling in the German state of North Rhein Westphalia (NRW) has blocked energy giant RWE from further destruction of the Hambacher Forest for the next couple of years. The decision has been hailed as a major victory by the newly-revitalised German environmental and climate justice movement.

In a stunning upset that may radically alter the political landscape of Latin America, far-right leader Jair Bolsonaro won 46% of the vote in the October 7 presidential election in Brazil.

Bolsonaro fell short of the needed outright majority to avoid a second round, but he scored a far more decisive victory than expected, Democracy Now! reported.

As the urgency of climate action is once again reinforced by a major new report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Climate and Capitalism editor Ian Angus looks at seven new books for an ecosocialist bookshelf.

Analysis

After its embarrassing failure to win either popular or Senate crossbench support for its proposed big business tax cuts, the Coalition government has instead opted to bring forward tax cuts for small and medium businesses by five years.

Things are hotting up in this modern climate of terrorism and security fears — and politicians are penning laws that are likely to directly affect our freedoms.

There are very few workers in Australia today who feel confident that they have a job for life, are well paid or have the safest working conditions possible.

That’s why we all welcomed the Australian Council of Trade Union’s (ACTU) Change the Rules campaign. 

It is definitely time to stop the attacks on workers and build a fight back that can win. We need to get rid of legislation that stops unions from organising effectively for their members.

When Tuvaluan Prime Minister Enele Sosene Sopoaga used his United Nations address on September 27 to warn that, for the Pacific, “climate change is a weapon of mass destruction”, most of the seats were vacant. 

The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), released on October 8, has called for zero net carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 as the only way to ensure runaway climate change is avoided. 

The Scott Morrison government has made it clear it has no vision or desire to prepare Australia for the global energy future.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s “I stopped these [boats]” desk trophy is symbolic of his government’s callous disregard for human rights. But you can be sure that Morrison won’t be stopping the Nauruan government from kicking Mؘédicins Sans Frontières (MSF/Doctors Without Borders) off Nauru.

Within days of Nauru’s decision that MSF’s mental health services would “no longer be required”, news came through that an Iranian detainee on Nauru had self-harmed by swallowing washing powder.

Culture

In 2009, economist Steve Keen walked from Canberra to Mount Kosciuszko after losing a bet that the Australian housing market would crash 40% after the Global Financial Crisis (GFC). However, he had been one of the few economists who actually predicted the coming of the GFC. And he still maintains that a crash in the Australian housing market is coming.

“What was the Daily Telegraph even doing at an event like that?” a few people asked me after Tim Blair’s scathing review of Green Left Weekly’s September 22 comedy fundraiser was the the subject of his Tele feature column last month.

The answer is simple; Bashing the left. If you can’t make Scomo & Co sound good, bash the opposition.