Like a large part of the continent, Victoria is in the grip of unprecedented drought. Across the state, dams are rapidly emptying and river flows are at record lows, cities and towns face drastic restrictions and farmers confront an uncertain future. The water crisis gives the question of global warming and catastrophic climate change a new immediacy, and is a major issue in the November 25 state election.
As the November 7 emergency water summit of federal and state parliamentarians was told that the current drought is the worst in 1000 years, the opposition parties criticised the governments for fiddling while the drought worsens. Greens Senator Rachel Siewert claimed the summit shied away from making the tough decisions at a time when urgent action was sorely needed.
John Howards new industrial laws contain a raft of penalties for workers and unions taking unlawful industrial action. Workers can face individual fines of $6600 ($22,000 for those in the building industry), and unions face $33,000 or more. One result has been a decline in industrial disputes since Work Choices was enacted in March.
On September 28, Victorian construction workers enjoyed a well-earned barbeque and a few beers for the traditional shutdown weekend prior to the AFL grand final. On a construction site in Geelong, workers and union officials gathered to also celebrate and commemorate union legend John Cummins life.
A new security pact between Australia and Indonesia, to be signed on November 13 in Lombok, will strengthen Canberras military and economic alliance with Jakarta, at the expense of the peoples of both countries.
The October release of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisations (ASIO) annual report reveals that it is concentrating in great detail on protest actions, even small ones.
Only a foolish punter looking to lose their hard-earned cash would back an upset at the state elections on November 25. Although polls indicate a narrowing of Premier Steve Bracks’ lead, the state Labor government is likely to be returned with a comfortable margin.
Fadi Rahman from the Independent Centre for Researchs youth centre in Lidcombe, Sydney, spoke to Green Left Weeklys Emma Clancy about the impact on young Muslim Australians of the media attack on the entire Islamic community in the wake of Sheikh Taj el-Din Al Hilalys comments about women and sexual assault.
What sort of dogmatic free-market ideologue would use poor peoples (often socially constructed) desire for credit to justify shrinking the already beleaguered welfare policies of wretched Third World states?
How hard is it to raise $76,500 before the end of this year? Not hard at all for some organisations. As the November 1 Sydney Morning Herald reported: Opposition Leader, Peter Debnam, took to the harbour last night for a fund-raising cruise with the property industry aboard a luxury cruiser owned by a developer, Greg Gav.
“I’m just, I’m a little concerned with all this hysteria over this greenhouse gases and the environment, that the Liberal Party is not selling your message the way you sold it now to Leon, and that it’s not getting through to the average man in the street” — this is what “Emile”, an “unashamed supporter” of Prime Minister John Howard, had to say to the PM on November 2, during Leon Byner’s talkback show on Adelaide’s Radio 5AA.
In its first national minimum wage decision on October 26, the Australian Fair Pay Commission (AFPC) handed down an increase of $27.36 for workers earning under $700 per week and $22.04 for those earning more than $700 covered by awards.
"When hypocritical old sexists like PM John Howard, Treasurer Peter Costello and radio shock-jock Alan Jones start delivering pious sermons about the rights of women, something very suspicious is happening", Pip Hinman, the Socialist Alliance's anti-war spokesperson, told Green Left Weekly.
Along with his contemptible "catmeat" analogy, Sheikh Taj El-din Al Hilaly's assurance to his congregation last month that, "If a woman is in her boudoir, in her house and if she's wearing the veil and if she shows modesty, disasters don't happen" was, of course, absolute bullshit. One in five Victorian women report being physically or sexually abused by an intimate partner at some time in their adult lives (VicHealth 2004). More than 20% of homicides involve intimate partners (Mouzos 2000). An estimated one in four children and young people have witnessed intimate partner violence (Office of Women's Policy 2002).
The plight of Australian Guantanamo Bay prisoner David Hicks continues, as the government's arrogance and subservience to the US shows no sign of abating.
On October 21, two days after the anniversary of the sinking of the SIEV-X, shadow minister for immigration Tony Burke announced that he would recommend that the ALP change key aspects of its refugee policy.