Since the Howard Coalition government was elected in 1996 record numbers of women have entered parliament, yet womens rights are under massive attack without so much as a murmur of opposition from the female Coalition MPs and very little outcry from the ALP.
In her 1993 book, The End of Equality?, Anne Summers admits to being puzzled by the Howard government’s concern about Australia’s low birth rate and its call for women to reproduce more while, at the same time, it refuses to provide inexpensive and quality childcare to help this happen.
Despite having won formal equality, the lack of an organised women’s movement means that the Howard government has been able to take back a lot of the reforms won as a result of the struggles of the 1970s and 1980s. No reform is permanent under capitalism, and without a strong movement that mobilises to defend and expand reforms to improve women’s lives, the capitalist class can easily remove, or knobble, the gains that have been won.
When the vice-president of the land of the free came to Sydney recently, the joke going around was that he brought a troop surge to town. A few friends are still sporting bruises from that surge, made possible by the NSW Labor governments generous provision of a large number of bullies in uniform to terrorise the local population.
I was very saddened to hear about the death of Neville Curtis at his home in White Beach, Tasmania, on February 15. He was 60 years old.
A small Western Australia-based company, Eden Energy, is working on a project to convert most of Indias public buses to run on a cleaner type of gas that will reduce smog in packed Indian cities. Eden Energy owns the patent for a fuel known as Hythane, or HCNG, a compressed mixture of hydrogen and compressed natural gas.
Al Gores film, An Inconvenient Truth, raises the issue of global warming in a way that scares the bejeezus out of viewers, as it should since the consequences of global climate change are truly earth-shaking. The former vice-president does a good job of presenting the graphic evidence: exquisite and terrifying pictures that document the melting of the polar ice caps and the effects on other species, new diseases and rising ocean levels.
The invasion and occupation of Iraq has never been popular. With more than 650,000 Iraqis, mostly civilians, having been killed since the March 2003 US-British-Australian invasion, it is not surprising that three quarters of Iraqis want the US and other foreign troops out, with 61% supporting armed attacks on US troops. The war is also opposed by a majority in the West, including those countries that are involved in the US-led occupation.
Twenty-four hours before British PM Tony Blairs February 21 announcement that his government would withdraw 1600 troops from Iraq in coming months, Australian foreign minister Alexander Downer warned that any, even staged, withdrawal of US and allied foreign troops from Iraq would be a victory for the al Qaeda terrorists.
The nationalist rejoicing and fervour displayed on January 26 each year celebrates the 1788 colonial invasion of Australia. However, this year the jingoism was broken by the Palm Island victory against the racist cops of Queensland. This resulted from the combined mass actions of the Palm Islanders themselves (including physical struggle in the immediate wake of the murder of Mulrunji Doomadgee), a similar grassroots response by the Aboriginal community at Aurukun against racist cop violence, and the urban solidarity campaigns centred in Brisbane.