Is three weeks of early voting a bad thing?

With Election Day in sight, there was a palpable sense of relief at an inner west Sydney early voting booth where I had volunteered over the past few weeks. It feels like a long campaign.

The impact of the first ever three-week pre-poll has been a regularly occurring conversation. One view is that it is bad for “democracy”, and having the national population vote on the same day brings with it an equalising effect. Another view is that early voters may not take into account the latest policy announcement or budget statement — or even candidate disendorsement, of which there have been quite a few.

It is a challenge for all parties to find and organise volunteers to staff booths for three weeks. But is having party volunteers on hand for three weeks to explain policies and preferences a bad thing for democracy? I don’t think so.

Venezuela: How one local council is working to overcome the crisis through people’s power

In the midst of Venezuela’s prolonged economic crisis, in which state budgets and support for the governing socialists steadily contract, at least one municipal council is bucking the trend.

The key, according to the local mayor, has been focusing on people’s power and self-management, writes Federico Fuentes.

Sri Lanka: bombings a pretext for intensified repression

The Sri Lankan army and police have used the bombings of churches and hotels on Easter Sunday as a pretext for repression, targeting people who have no connection with the group responsible, the National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ – National Monotheism Society).

The NTJ, an extremist Islamic group, is believed to be linked to the Islamic State, based in Iraq and Syria.

Sri Lankan police have been raiding numerous Muslim groups with "Thowheed" in their name, even if they are opposed to the NTJ. As of May 2, at least 130 Muslims had been detained, according to Tamilnet.

Non-Muslims have also been affected. On May 3, the Sri Lankan army and police carried out a search operation at Jaffna University, in the predominantly Tamil north of the island of Sri Lanka. They searched the offices of the Jaffna University Students Union (JUSU), and arrested JUSU president, T Thivakar and secretary, S Babilraj.

Climate change ruling blocks Rocky Hill coalmine

The community group Groundswell Gloucester in the Upper Hunter Valley scored another win on May 8 when Gloucester Resources Limited (GRL) announced it would not appeal against a Land and Environment Court decision to refuse consent for its Rocky Hill Coal Project.

Justice Brian Preston of the Land and Environment Court ruled on February 8 against approving a new open-cut coalmine just outside Gloucester.

It was the first time an Australian court had refused consent for a coal mine on the basis of its climate change impacts on communities and cultural heritage. This was a significant ruling, the reverberations of which continue to be felt across Australia and internationally.

Wayne Wharton: ‘All power to the workers, Treaty now!’

Prominent Aboriginal elder Wayne Wharton is making a tilt for the senate in Queensland this election, campaigning on issues such as justice for Aboriginal people, justice reinvestment and an improved aged care system.

Wharton told Green Left Weekly: “The systems that we’ve had for the last 230 years is broken, they’re useless.”

These include the legal system which, he says, is based on a “feudal system of punishment” instead of rehabilitation, and the two-party system, in which the big parties have become dominated by “top-end-of-town corruption”.

Wharton believes the government should reflect the diversity of the people and that he has a lot offer.

“It’s about time the rest of Australia said: ‘Let’s get a couple of First Nations people in there’ to address First Nations issues.

“How we answer the sovereignty question is a big problem that can only be addressed by First Nations people leading the discussion on it.”

Nakba 2019: Eurovision fails to hide suffering of Palestinians

While the Nakba began with the expulsion of Palestinians from their villages and the destruction of those villages, it continues with sniper attacks on Palestinians in Gaza, encroachment of illegal settlements across the West Bank and extreme limitations placed on Palestinians' movements within and between towns, courtesy of IDF-staffed checkpoints, writes Lisa Gleeson.

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