Analysis

Below is an abridged version of a speech delivered by socialist unionist Robynne Murphy to this year’s ACTU Congress. Murphy spoke alongside three women from the Electrical Trades Union, who had formed the “Sparkettes”, a network to support other women in their union.

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I worked at the steelworks in Port Kembla for 30 years, during which time I was involved in a long campaign with mainly migrant women for the right for women to have secure and well-paid jobs.

Among the first laws passed by the new Australian parliament in 1901 when the Commonwealth of Australia came into being was the Pacific Island Labourers Act, ordering the deportation of black Melanesian workers known as kanakas.

Other aspects of what became known as the White Australia Policy have since been rectified, but this shameful stain on our past has yet to be properly addressed.

 

Australia has long had one of the most monopolised media industries in the world. Indeed, when Green Left Weekly was launched in 1991, one of our key slogans was “Break the media monopoly — support Green Left Weekly”. Today it is even more relevant.

The Tamil Refugee Council has again called on the Australian government to end the deportation of Tamil asylum seekers to Sri Lanka, after the United Nations found evidence of widespread torture in the country.

The report of Special Rapporteur Ben Emmerson, released on July 23 after his latest mission to Sri Lanka, concludes: “[I]mpunity is still the rule for those responsible for the routine and systemic use of torture, and countless individuals are the victims of gross miscarriages of justice resulting from the operation of the PTA [Prevention of Terrorism Act].

There is a common trend when arguing against a Universal Basic Income (UBI) to use critiques that could apply to any policy. The logical thing to do, if we were to take this line of reasoning at face value, would be to stand for nothing.

Before looking into these criticisms, we should begin by addressing exactly what is a UBI. A UBI is an unconditional, liveable wage for every citizen. If it does not meet the three metrics of 1) unconditionality; 2) liveability; and 3) for every citizen; then it is not a UBI.

From your morning coffee to your afternoon alcoholic drink with friends, drugs play a significant role in society. However, the war against drugs that has plagued society has resulted in a differentiation between the legal drugs we consume and the drugs that are criminalised by the government.

According to 2016 government data, 8.5 million people — 43% of Australians — have used recreational drugs and illegally obtained pharmaceuticals for recreational or self-medication uses.

Activists from the Movement Against the Occupation of the Timor Sea (MKOTT) in Timor-Leste demonstrated outside the Australian Embassy in the capital Dili on July 25.

The premise seems simple and hard to argue with: establish an online database for medical records, controlled by the patients themselves, to improve access to crucial information for healthcare providers.

It has started again.

This week’s statement by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull that there is “genuine concern about Sudanese gangs” suggests we have reached the epitome of this ongoing scare campaign. Offering the same rhetoric the Victorian Liberals have has been drumming out for the best part of the past two years, Turnbull unashamedly entered the fray.

Former national secretary of the Textile, Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia (TCFUA) Michele O’Neil was elected president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) at its congress in Brisbane over July 17 and 18. She replaces Ged Kearney, who won the seat of Batman, now renamed Cooper, in Melbourne in March. Sally McManus remains secretary. The following is her President’s Address to the congress.

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