Issue 1200

News

A well-attended forum on women and poverty was organised by Micah Projects, a not-for-profit organisation at Queensland Parliament House on October 16.

Micah runs a homeless support centre in Brisbane and has long been an advocate for the poor and marginalised. The 200 attendees were mainly professionals.

The forum was chaired by Channel Seven presenter Kay McGrath. Songwoman of the Turrbal people Maroochy Barambah gave a heartfelt musical Welcome to Country in her language.

Thousands of trade union members rallied in Perth's Solidarity Park on October 18 to kick off the nationwide series of Change the Rules protests organised by the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU).

The #KidsOffNauru campaign is gaining momentum with a range of protests organised across Australia in recent days.

Experts have rejected claims by the new CEO of the controversial $17 billion WestConnex tollway that halting Stage 3 of the project would necessarily cost taxpayers “billions” and have a “detrimental” impact on local neighbourhoods.

The Geelong Women Unionists Network (GWUN), with the support of Geelong Trades Hall Council, hosted its second Working Women Get Organised conference at Geelong Trades Hall on October 13.

Workers from two of the biggest crane companies in New South Wales began strike action on October 15, as their dispute for fair wages reached boiling point.

The New South Wales Department of Planning and Environment recommended approval of a new thermal coalmine to the Independent Planning Commission on October 9.

Almost three years after a community group began a campaign opposing New Hope’s plans to expand it New Acland Coal (NAC) mine in the Darling Downs, the Queensland Land Court re-heard the case on October 2-4. 

Green Left Weekly welcomes the historic vote to decriminalise abortion in Queensland and pledges to redouble its efforts to win free, safe and legal abortion across the country.

Northern Territory Traditional Owners delivered a strong message to Origin Energy's shareholders on October 17. 

There is a medical emergency on Nauru, where many physically and mentally ill refugees are being detained without proper medical treatment, according to Kathy, a refugee on the Pacific island.

"In June, President Donald Trump announced the formation of the US's 'Space Force' — a new arm of the US military," Hannah Middleton told the audience at a film night in Sydney on October 12. "Trump plans a Space Force which would ensure US 'control and domination' of space on behalf of corporate interests"

The evening of short films exposing Trump's Space Force plan was presented by the Australian Anti-Bases Campaign Coalition (AABCC) and the Independent and Peaceful Australia Network (IPAN).

Dr Kerryn Phelps, the favorite to win Wentworth, said that while she is 'ashamed' of Australia's refugee policy she did not support allowing the offshore detainees to be resettled here.

"The new [Sri Lankan] government has made no substantial changes", Tamil National People’s Front leader Gajen Ponnambalam said when addressing a mainly Tamil audience in Melbourne on October 14.

Ponnambalam was referring to the government of President Maithripala Sirisena, who was elected in January 2015, replacing Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Anti-poverty campaigners braved the rain on October 13 to march through Perth's CBD, calling for an immediate rise of the Newstart allowance, social housing and an end to welfare drug testing and income quarantining. The protest was part of Anti-Poverty Week events being held around the country until October 20.

This is the second year in a row that the Rally Against Poverty has been organised by the newly-formed Anti-Poverty Network (APN) Perth.

Analysis

Abortion rights advocates are hoping the High Court’s findings will support laws that have assisted access to abortion clinics, after it heard a challenge to safe access zone laws over October 9-11.

Women’s and legal groups are pushing for the New South Wales state government to amend the sexual consent law to make it clear that consent must be active and voluntary.

Comrades! After many years of debate on the left on how to win socialism, a clear path has opened in Australia — hack the attorney-general office’s email to instruct federal Coalition MPs to vote for a motion to socialise the means of production.

A review into religious freedom, headed by former Coalition attorney-general Phillip Ruddock, turned into a political bombshell for the Coalition government, following the leaking of its recommendations on October 6.

The review was a sop to the right wing of the Liberal Party after the overwhelming result of last year’s marriage equality postal survey. The government had kept the final report under wraps since May.

In a major victory for women's rights, Queensland's parliament voted to decriminalise abortion on October 16.

World

The rise of the far right around the world, with fascist candidate Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil close to joining the growing ranks of authoritarian far right leaders, many on the left are wondering how to respond.

The parallels with the rise of fascism in Europe in the early 20th century are clear.

In July, Canadian Marxist academic and activist John Riddell gave a speech, abridged below, at a York University seminar entitled “Historical perspectives on united fronts against fascism and the far right”.

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As the brutal murder of a Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi by the Saudi regime dominates headlines, Khury Petersen-Smith takes a look at Show the US is backing Saudi war crimes in Yemen.

Twenty days after Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) bombed a school bus full of children in Yemen in August, United States Defense Secretary James Mattis hosted officials from the two US allies at the Pentagon.

The unexpected strength of far-right demagogue Jair Bolsonaro in the October 7 Brazilian presidential elections sent shockwaves throughout the country, writes James N Green.

Two big hurricanes hit southeastern United States in September-October. The first, Florence, devastated North and South Carolina with torrential rain, up to 40 inches in some locations over a few days. It caused huge flooding as rivers overflowed for weeks.

The second, Michael, hit Florida with very high winds. Near the coast, on the east side of the eye, sustained winds were 155 miles per hour when the storm made landfall. Together with the ocean storm surge, it made the coast look like it had been devastated in a bombing raid.

The Polish city of Lublin held its first Pride parade on October 13 amid threats and obstructions, TeleSUR English reported.

At the October 14 local elections, the Workers’ Party of Belgium (PTB) made some breakthroughs.

PTB chair Peter Mertens said: “For the first time we have moved from an urban phenomenon mostly concentrated in Antwerp and Liège to a breakthrough in most large and medium-sized cities of Wallonia, the Brussels region and Flanders. The number of our local elected officials increases from 50 to 157.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel vowed to restore confidence in the government after crashing to a humiliating defeat in the October 14 Bavarian state elections, Morning Star Online reported.

The Christian Social Union (CSU) — sister party to Merkel’s Christian Democrats — polled 37%, its worst vote for more than six decades. It lost its majority in Germany’s southern state in a major defeat for the governing parties.

Culture

The Invictus Games, taking place in Sydney over October 20-27, features athletes who were injured serving in the armed forces of 18 countries. The games celebrate the undefeated human spirit, but come with deep irony, being sponsored by the very same arms companies that profit from causing the injuries in the first place.

A brand new Belvoir production of An Enemy of the People reunites the team behind critically-acclaimed hits Medea and Jasper Jones, director Anne-Louise Sarks and the superb Kate Mulvany, in a timely new version of Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen’s prophetic masterpiece from the late 19th century.