Analysis

The shift to the right of the Labor Party has increasingly created a sense that there is little difference between the two major parties. Both are willing to implement the neoliberal policies pushed by corporate interests and differ only on the details. On many issues, the shift to the right does not reflect public opinion. This is the context for the growth of support for the Australian Greens in recent years. The Greens, with nine senators, now hold the balance of power in the Senate as well as one lower house seat.
The ABC’s Four Corners on July 25 showcased the national debate around wind farms’ alleged negative health effects. It patiently allowed the anti-wind power Waubra Foundation to walk the audience through their case that wind farms are a health hazard. Many people I have met are curious to know if there is any truth to the allegations.
The Australia-Malaysia refugee “swap” deal, signed in Kuala Lumpur on July 25, further persecutes people who have escaped conflict and terror and have an international right to seek asylum in Australia. The Australian government said the plan was intended to attack the “people smugglers’ business model”. But, in reality, it is a high-priced human trafficking deal between two governments known for discriminating against refugees.
Supporters of former Guantanamo Bay prisoner David Hicks have slammed the July 21 announcement that Australian government lawyers will try to prosecute Hicks under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Socialist Alliance Hobart branch notes the recent expressions of disillusionment with all political parties in parliament in Tasmania. The state government continues to disappoint with its lack of transparency when it comes to funding dodgy deals such as the proposed Aprin loan (now scuttled after Gunns chose a different bidder), with its inability to support the proper funding of public services such as education and health.
Footprints for Peace, an international grassroots group that organises walks, bike rides and runs around the world, invites families and people of all ages, background and cultures to come and support traditional owners in their opposition to uranium mining in Western Australia by taking part in the “Walk away from uranium mining” that begins in Wiluna on August 19 and finishes in Perth on October 28.
Sara Hudson, a research fellow at the Centre for Independent Studies, recently wrote a comment piece on ABC’s Drum Opinion that supported the Northern Territory intervention. It also attacked public land title in remote Aboriginal communities. The article was what you might expect from a research fellow from the conservative think tank. "Public bad, private good", and so on. But one passage stood out to me, given I had visited many remote Aboriginal communities recently.
On July 15, former NSW Greens MP Sylvia Hale and I used the freedom from deportation awarded us by an Israeli court to good effect. We joined the largest rally for some years in support of a Palestinian state ahead of the expected United Nations vote in September. We carried a green and yellow banner saying, “Aussies say end blockade of Palestine”. The rally and march, with drumming circles and flowers was organized by a coalition of groups called Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity.
Despite growing international outrage over the Sri Lankan military’s mass killings of over 40,000 Tamil civilians in 2009, the Sri Lankan government is defiantly refusing to heed international demands for an independent investigation into the atrocities. Instead it is escalating a range of discriminatory and repressive policies towards the Tamil people. Australia’s cricketers should take a principled stand in defence of human rights and justice, and boycott playing with Sri Lanka until the government there conducts itself according to the rules of international society.
When you’re the world’s biggest resource corporation, and aim to gouge high profits for the next century from the world’s largest mine, you probably won’t care to let environmental considerations block your path. Add in a state government frantic to get investment dollars flowing, and the outlook for threatened species in the vicinity could be grim. BHP Billiton is due to decide early next year whether to spend an estimated $20 billion on a massive expansion of its Olympic Dam copper, gold and uranium mine near Roxby Downs, 560 kilometres north of Adelaide.
Over the July 9-10 weekend, the New South Wales Labor conference failed to produce a motion in support of equal marriage rights. The conference instead voted to send the decision to the ALP national conference that is to be held in December. This motion passed despite the fact that all other ALP state conferences have passed motions in support of reforming the law to grant equal marriage rights. It also came two weeks after New York legalised same-sex marriage on June 24.
Critics of the Gillard government’s proposed carbon price get daily coverage in Australia’s mainstream media. But some types of critic — those who want Australia to stay a polluter’s paradise — are heard the loudest. Other views, which say the carbon price plan is a dangerous diversion from real climate action, are mostly frozen out. Below are four green reasons to oppose the carbon price. 1. Emissions and fossil fuel use go up For a policy that is supposed to drive Australia’s carbon emissions down, the carbon price does a very bad job.