Analysis

Over three nights last week, hundreds of thousands of people watched something very rare: a Reality TV show that actually showed some reality. Australia’s public SBS television station showed a special three-episode program called Go Back To Where You Came From about the experience of six Australians (with widely varying views about refugees and asylum seekers) as they are sent on a 25-day trip to trace, in reverse, the routes that refugees have taken to reach Australia.
Unions Tasmania President Roz Madsen gave the speech below at a large June 16 rally outside the Tasmanian parliament — the day Tasmanian premier Lara Giddings announced a harsh new budget. * * * Not so long ago, politicians and political parties were fairly predictable. People entered politics on one side or the other, based on a set of values they held personally and then they pursued outcomes designed to fulfill those values.
The lawyer who won access for refugees to Australia’s courts last year has gone to the High Court again to prevent a family being split up by the federal government’s “Malaysia swap”. David Manne from the Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre said he would represent a Kurdish woman and her four-year-old son, who fled war-torn Iraq and are now held in the Christmas Island detention centre. See also Letter from a refugee on hunger strike: 'This system broke my heart'
I was 12 years old when for the first time in my life I became a citizen of a country — Australia. Before that, I was a stateless Palestinian refugee. There were two laments my parents always repeated whenever they spoke of their place of origin Palestine: if only we could have stayed and if only we could return. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in 2009 there were more than 10 million refugees around the world in need of assistance.
Contrary to the popular belief that Australian citizens hold absolute rights to freedom and privacy, Australia continues to evolve toward a “big brother”-like society as the government strengthens the powers of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO). With the support of the opposition, the government expanded ASIO’s powers to share information from wiretaps and computer access with other agencies. The expansion came with the Telecommunications Interception and Intelligence Services Legislation Amendment Act, passed in March.
The June 10 Sydney Morning Herald said that a study released by the National Union of Students (NUS) that day indicated a “surprisingly high proportion of female university students have been sexually assaulted, stalked or sexually harassed”. The article mentioned an Australian Defence Force Academy student who, after being raped, had experienced attitudes of “just get over it” from fellow students — a culture of silence surrounds such attacks.
On June 22, the federal government announced a six-week consulting period before creating new laws to continue the Northern Territory intervention. Prime Minister Julia Gillard “left no doubt that abolishing the intervention was not on the agenda”, said the June 23 Australian. The statement below, titled Rebuilding From the Ground Up — an Alternative to the Northern Territory Intervention, was officially launched at the Prescribed Area People’s Alliance conference in Darwin on June 21. * * * The NT intervention has been a disaster for Aboriginal communities.
The public wants meaningful action to address climate change. The 2010 annual Lowy poll found that 86% of Australians support climate action. Forty-six percent said they supported strong action and a further 40% supported gradual steps. Moreover, a 2011 poll by the 100% Renewable Energy Campaign asked 14,000 people their views on renewable energy and the government’s responsibility. It found 91% of respondents think the government should increase action to roll out renewable energy and that 86% think the government needs a plan to get to 100% renewables.
Feeling the heat from opposition leader Tony Abbott’s scare campaign against the government’s planned carbon price, PM Julia Gillard told ABC radio’s AM on June 24 that she “never meant to mislead anybody during the last election campaign about carbon pricing”. This was a reference to her promise — made days before the 2010 election — that a Labor government would not set up a carbon tax.
This article is based on a June 24 statement released by Socialist Alliance members in Tasmania. * * * Socialist Alliance members were outraged by the harsh, neoliberal budget handed down by the Tasmanian Labor-Greens government on June 16. The budget slashes $1.4 billion from the public sector over the next four years, including a $100 million cut to health within the next financial year and the closure of 20 schools. At least 1700 full-time equivalent jobs will be scrapped, including 100 police jobs.
The Department of Defence said on June 22 that more than 22,000 Australian and US troops would take part in the annual Talisman Sabre military exercises near Rockhampton, Queensland. In response, activists have called a Peace Convergence. The following call to action was released on June 22 by Peace Convergence convener and Peacebus.com activist Graeme Dunstan. * * * Every two years in July, US-Australia war games take place at Shoalwater Bay, near Rockhampton in Central Queensland.
Victorian premier Ted Baillieu.

For something as simple as stubbing your toe and saying “Oh, fuck” in public, the Victorian police will now be able to fine you $238.90 for swearing or using offensive language. Does this mean that an entertainer or musician can also be fined for swearing or using offensive behaviour in their act or song? The anti-swearing legislation doesn’t define what a “swear word” actually is. This gives the police extraordinary power to use these laws in discriminatory ways.

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