An impoverished Indonesian mother, in front of an Australian journalist, lies on a cement floor clutching a photograph of her 16-year-old son who is now in an Australian adult prison and whom she hasn't seen since he was 14. Abject and acute poverty ravages Indonesia, a country where only 10% of the population has a refrigerator, where most people do not have electricity let alone a television, where many people live half lives working in sulphur mines and where most folk will never rise out of the shanty towns and villages they are born to die in.
It’s been a fascinating few weeks in Tasmanian politics. On June 16, the Labor-Greens government handed down a shocking budget that cut funding to public health, education, police and other services. Thousands of public service workers gathered on parliament lawns that day to condemn the plan, saying that services were already struggling to meet demand. The education cuts included a plan to close 20 schools. Education minister and Greens leader Nick McKim started a process of “consultation” with affected school communities around the state.
Free the PSM detainees graphic

Joint international solidarity statement to free the PSM detainees.

A report prepared for the Australian Coal Association titled Impact of Proposed Carbon Tax on Black Coal mining claims that the government’s proposed carbon tax is going to cause eight coal mines to close prematurely and will cost thousands of jobs between now and 2021. The report claimed 4700 jobs would be lost from existing coalmines due to the carbon price
The federal government said on June 29 it had met its “commitment” to move child refugees out of detention and into community-based accommodation. In October last year, 738 children were held in detention. Widespread public fears for the mental and physical damage caused by long-term detention forced the government to act. The immigration department said it would “begin moving significant numbers of children and vulnerable family groups out of immigration detention” into community detention.
Three Tamil asylum seekers from Sri Lanka detained in Maribyrnong detention centre have agreed to share their experiences with Green Left Weekly. They are terrified that talking to journalists may cause their applications for refugee status to be impeded or denied. Due to this fear, these three men have agreed to share their experiences on the condition of anonymity.
Plans to give refugees deported from Australia a “special barcode” when they arrive in Malaysia were revealed by the June 29 Daily Telegraph. A final refugee swap deal between Australia and Malaysia is likely to be announced this month. More than 340 refugees have arrived since Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced the plan on May 7 to “swap” 800 asylum seekers in Australia for 4000 “processed refugees” in Malaysia. The refugees affected by the deal are being held in various stages of isolation on Christmas Island.
The 28th Australian soldier to die in Afghanistan was killed on July 4. In what is becoming a routine, Prime Minister Julia Gillard used the occasion of giving the nation’s condolences on July 6 to harangue an increasingly sceptical public about the necessity for the occupation to continue. The Afghan war’s self-evident failure to achieve any of its shifting official objectives has meant questioning the war has become unavoidable.
Field of wheat

Ever spent time in Dubai airport, on the shores of the Persian Gulf? You might have reflected that human beings can live quite well when temperatures exceed 50°C.

Feminism is experiencing a revival in Adelaide with the formation of a new activist group, the South Australian Feminist Collective. The group emerged from a feminist forum jointly hosted by Socialist Alliance and Femment, which followed the recent Adelaide “SlutWalk” march against sexual assault and victim-blaming. The forum explored the politics of this event and the relevance of feminism today. About 30 people attended the collective’s first meeting on June 25. The meeting began discussion about how the group would be run, its aims and values.
The City of Sydney has voted to replace the words “European arrival” in the official record with “invasion”. The deputy lord mayor, Marcelle Hoff, says it is intellectually dishonest to use any other word in describing how Aboriginal Australia was dispossessed by the British. “We were invaded,” said Paul Morris, an Aboriginal adviser to the council. “It is the truth and it shouldn’t be watered down. We wouldn’t expect Jewish people to accept a watered-down version of the Holocaust, so why should we?”
The Socialist Alliance adopted a coal seam gas policy at its June 26 National Council meeting. The policy appears below. * * * The gas industry is rapidly increasing its scope in the Australian energy market. Gas is talked up by some as a clean energy source, or as a “transition fuel”, while we develop renewable energies. But gas is a fossil fuel. Burning it creates carbon emissions. For a safe climate, we need to cut net emissions almost totally within the next decade. In fact, we then have to move below zero net emissions: to draw down more carbon than we produce.