Analysis

On May 30, Labor’s industrial relations spokesperson Julia Gillard shocked many unionists when she announced at the National Press Club that a Rudd Labor government would retain the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) until January 31, 2010. This back flip comes a month after Labor decided, at its national conference, to abolish the hated body. ACTU president Sharan Burrow said she did not support the delay.

The Canadian-owned Barrick Gold Corporation, the world’s largest gold producer, is exploring, building and operating huge, open-pit goldmines on nearly every continent on the planet.

Australia has long been known as one of the most wasteful countries in the world: per head of population we are second only to the US in the amount of waste we pile into landfills.

Just a week after Treasurer Peter Costello delivered the federal budget, which contained $31.5 billion in tax cuts over four years among other pre-election bribes, a Newspoll published in the May 15 Australian found that support for Labor had increased to 59% (on a two-party preferred basis) from 57% the previous month. Several other polls have since confirmed this trend.

The standard of health of Aborigines lags almost 100 years behind that of other Australians, according to the World Health Organisation.

The deepening of Australia’s drought- and global-warming-driven water crisis has thrown into sharp relief the historical and current inadequacy of the Liberal-Labor political establishment to put the needs of working people before those of big business.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) could not be clearer: “The right to strike is one of the essential means available to workers and their organisations for the promotion and protection of their economic and social interests” (1983).

John Howard was awarded the Jerusalem Prize for his “friendship and commitment” to Israel at a gala dinner at Melbourne’s Crown Casino on May 20. The award, by the Zionist Federation of Australia, the State Zionist Council of Victoria and the World Zionist Organisation, includes the “John Howard Negev Forest”, which will be planted by the Jewish National Fund (JNF) over an ethnically-cleansed Bedouin village.

Tom — not his real name — became a “person of interest” after taking part in the G20 protests in Melbourne last November. This softly spoken 24-year-old, a postgraduate student at Sydney University, is one of the latest victims of the police-state laws that seem designed to intimidate activists from organising, or attending, protests.

The May 15 death of right-wing evangelist and Moral Majority founder Reverend Jerry Falwell has provided an opportunity for many people to comment on the influence of the Christian right on American politics and culture. Falwell relentlessly attacked Hollywood, blaming it for the decline of “traditional values”.

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