Analysis

Here’s a novel idea: Instead of politicians voting themselves another pay rise, how about we give them a pay cut? A real pay cut. We ask them to do what a couple of million Australians are expected to do, week in and week out.

Socialist groups and community activists of different stripes have come together under the banner of Victorian Socialists in one of the most ambitious bids in decades to get a socialist elected to state parliament. Green Left Weekly’s Jacob Andrewartha spoke to Stephen Jolly, Victorian Socialists’ lead candidate for the upper house Northern Metropolitan seat, about this initiative.

Last September, while campaigning for the position of Lord Mayor of Newcastle and a ward councillor, I bumped into an NSW Labor Party officer at a coffee shop.

“Comrade”, he said, “You’ve got some great policies”. “Feel free to borrow any of them,” I relied cheekily. “Our housing policy, for example, is based on Socialist Alliance councillor Sue Bolton's work in Moreland, Victoria.”

The next day the local papers reported that ALP candidates were talking up “affordable housing”.

It says a lot about the state of politics today that the worst thing following the Murdoch-owned Sky News interview with neo-Nazi Blair Cottrell on immigration earlier this month, was not that a media outlet was giving a fascist a platform. The worst thing was that Cottrell’s comments were indistinguishable from those of other mainstream media outlets and elected politicians.

In the very early hours of Sunday, July 29, the federal government carried out a highly secretive transport of spent nuclear fuel. Helicopters and hundreds of police accompanied trucks from the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology’s reactor at Lucas Heights to Port Kembla in New South Wales. 

Social media has become integrated into workers’ daily lives yet there are few industrial agreements that remunerate them for the changes this has brought about in their working conditions, writes Geelong Trades Hall Council secretary Colin Vernon.

The Newstart Allowance received by Australia’s jobless (if they are lucky enough to get it) stands at $273 a week. The last time it was raised, relative to the Consumer Price Index, was in 1994. Last year, the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research calculated the poverty line for a single adult was at around $510 a week (including housing costs). That corresponds to a present figure of about $521. This means Newstart is now $248 a week below that miserably low poverty line.

Rural Australia is again reeling from drought. Elena Garcia, a regenerative grazier and land manager, argues that governments will continue to fail farmers as long as they refuse to acknowledge the underlying cause — climate change.

Farmers cannot get the dole. However, if they are drought declared they and their partners can apply for the Farm Household Allowance (FHA). This has just been increased from a maximum of three to four cumulative years out of every seven, no matter how long the drought lasts.

The Clean Water manifesto was drafted following recent discussions at an anti-CSG workshop in Chinchilla and online among a number of farmers.

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