In a move that blatantly undermines the cause of nuclear weapon non-proliferation, on PM John Howard announced on August 17 that Canberra had reached an in principle agreement with New Delhi to sell uranium to India, one of only three states in the world along with Pakistan and Israel that have not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Health was thrown into the pre-election spotlight on August 1 when PM John Howard stepped in to rescue Mersey Hospital in Tasmania from financial difficulties. In a mantra with some similarities to that used to justify the takeover of Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory, Howard blamed an inefficient state government for its inability to solve the crisis.
The fight over Gunns Ltds proposed pulp mill, which has now moved to the national stage, is so contentious because it will determine the future of Tasmania. If this mill is allowed to be built, the logging of native forests in Tasmania will be massively expanded and an investment of this size would lock Tasmania into the logging industry for decades to come.
For socialists, this August marks a significant anniversary. One hundred years ago, a congress of the Second or Socialist International took a bold stand in the struggle against capitalist war. The congress pointed the way toward the Russian Revolution of 1917 and provided an enduring guide for socialists anti-war activity.
The Howard governments legislation for its emergency military-police intervention into Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory was rushed through the House of Representatives on August 7. MHRs were given less than 24 hours to read the 500-odd pages of legislation before being asked to vote on it.
Environmentalists around the country are gearing up to protest the worlds biggest climate criminals US President George Bush and PM John Howard who will be pushing their environmentally disastrous agenda at the September 8-9 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Sydney.
“Australia has failed to implement the human right to adequate housing”, concluded a report to the United Nations Human Rights Council addressing adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living.
The August 8 announcement of the Reserve Bank board’s decision to raise official interest rates by a further 0.25% focused renewed media attention on the non-affordability of housing. The interest rate rise — the fifth since the 2004 election and the ninth since 2002 — increased mortgage repayments for home owners with average mortgages by $50 a week, placing extra pressure on already stretched budgets.
According to a survey conducted by the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) 15 months ago, eight Australians are killed every week on the job and a further 44 die due to work related illnesses and diseases. This is one-third higher than the number of people who die on the nations roads. More than 15 serious injuries occur on the job every hour.