Analysis

Guy Pearse — the speechwriter for the federal Coalition environment minister from 1997 to 2000 who blew the whistle last year on the Howard government’s use of Australia’s biggest polluters to write its greenhouse gas emissions policy — visited Melbourne on October 24 as part of an east-coast speaking tour.
In the lead-up to the federal election, your guide to what’s really happening behind the spin of the official campaign.
Anti-war activists have again called for the Australian troops to get out of Afghanistan as a second Australian soldier this month was killed there.
A landmark Federal Court hearing for 96 Western Australian construction workers that begins on October 24 is the most dramatic demonstration yet of the impact of the Howard government’s draconian IR laws.
In his frantic bid to secure a fifth consecutive election victory for the Coalition, Prime Minister John Howard has fired up the amp and is loudly proclaiming his message that growth and increased private wealth will solve all problems. Howard is presenting his message — pump-primed by a lavish promise of personal tax cuts (largely for the already wealthy) and proclamations that economic growth can proceed unhindered (in spite of growing environmental concerns and increasing inequality) — like a spruiker at a country sideshow: enjoy the fairy floss and don’t mind the smell of bullshit.
Ali Beg Humayun was threatened with deportation by the immigration department (DIAC) on October 8. Humayun, a queer Pakistani man, has been locked up for over two-and-a-half years in the Villawood detention centre and is currently appealing a Refugee Review Tribunal (RRT) decision not to grant him refugee status.
On October 16, events in more than 150 countries marked World Food Day, which commemorates the founding of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, with the theme of “the right to food”.
On October 12, PM John Howard announced his plan to hold a referendum to alter the preamble to the Australian constitution to include an acknowledgment of the original inhabitants of Australia. This is a departure from Howard’s historic position against “symbolic” gestures of reconciliation — a position that in the past has earned him the ire of Indigenous groups, who in 2000 literally turned their backs on Howard when he refused to apologise for previous governments’ complicity in the horrendous policies that led to the Stolen Generations.
The socialist movement lost a strong supporter with the death from cancer of David Matthews — my father — on September 30 at the age of 79. David joined the Socialist Alliance soon after its formation and remained a financial member and a strong supporter of the campaign to bring the fractious left together.
In the lead-up to the federal election, here’s a guide to what’s really happening in the Liberal and Labor camps, as well as anecdotes from the Socialist Alliance’s campaign trail.

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