Analysis

The recently released independent Gonski review into school funding reaffirms what many teachers and parents already knew. Current school funding arrangements are dysfunctional and inequitable and the failure to reform the way we resource our public schools has come at an immense social and economic cost. Gonski’s recommendations are far from perfect and recommend continued public funding of elite private schools. But they do highlight the need for an immediate injection of funds into public schools. The problem
Newly appointed foreign minister Bob Carr said in a January blog post: “As [NSW] Premier, I never saw a demonstration that didn’t hurt the side that mounted it. And I was never persuaded by a noisy crowd with a few placards.” But on March 2, the same week he was appointed, the federal government gave a powerful confirmation of the power of protests.
The latest State of the Climate report by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology and the CSIRO was launched at a weather monitoring station on remote Cape Grim in Tasmania. The location was an apt choice for a report that has very bad news about Australia's continuing failure to respond adequately to the climate change crisis.
One of life’s truisms is the powerful get to kill who they want. Israel proved this again with days of murderous air strikes on Gaza that began on March 9. By March 13, at least 25 Palestinians were dead and more of Gaza’s devastated infrastructure ruined. This latest carnage was justified by the fact the first strikes killed members of the Popular Resistance Committee.
Dhalulu Ganambarr-Stubbs.

New legislation introduced by the federal Labor government will entrench many aspects of the Northern Territory Emergency Response, the NT intervention, for 10 years. The Senate Community Affairs References Committee released the findings of its inquiry into the Stronger Futures in the NT Bill and related legislation on March 13. It suggests some minor amendments, but leaves the substantive content of the bill unchallenged.

March 11 was the first anniversary of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in north-east Japan and the meltdowns, explosions and fires at the Fukushima nuclear plant. The impacts of the nuclear disaster have been horrendous. More than 100,000 people are still homeless and some will never be able to return. Homeless, jobless, separated from friends and family, the toll on people's health and mental well-being has been significant — one indication being a sharp rise in suicide rates. One farmer’s suicide note simply read: “I wish there wasn’t a nuclear plant.”
The gas industry is fond of saying that burning gas for energy will help tackle climate change. Australian energy company AGL says burning coal seam gas (CSG) results in 50% less greenhouse gas emissions than coal. Industry advertising campaigns bump up that figure to 70%.
The banking blockade on WikiLeaks

Beattheblockade.org released the statement below on March 16. * * * Today marks the launch of “Beat the Blockade” — a day of action on April 5 to protest the extrajudicial financial blockade of WikiLeaks and raise vital funds for its work to continue.

Jason Briskey is standing as the Socialist Alliance candidate for the northern Queensland seat of Dalrymple in the March 24 Queensland state elections. A resident of Charters Towers, Jason is a single father of nine-year-old daughter Shakira. He was the ALP candidate for Dalrymple in the last state elections.
The Socialist Alliance released the statement below on March 13. * * * The 1968 My Lai massacre of at least 500 unarmed civilians in South Vietnam was a turning point in the US war on Vietnam. Most of the victims of the US platoon outrage were women, children (including babies) and elderly people. It was not until the following year when investigative journalist Seymour Hersh broke the news of this atrocity that it became one of the tipping points in finally ending the US-led war on the Vietnamese people.
The Socialist Alliance released the statement below on March 15. * * * Billions of dollars — desperately needed for public health, education, transport, closing the shameful gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people and a real response to the climate change crisis — will be wasted if the Gillard Labor government hands down another 1% cut in the corporate tax rate.
Workers and their unions need strong labour law reforms. Two of many changes I urge can be adopted by the Independent Inquiry into Insecure Work in Australia and the federal government’s Fair Work Act Review are: 1. Amend the Fair Work Act to repeal the penal powers and have an effective right to strike. 2. Amend the Fair Work Act to restrict casual and other forms of precarious work to a limited period. Then require employment contracts for ongoing, more permanent work. Fair Work Australia should have the power to order the transition to more secure employment contracts.