Analysis

The following article was submitted by members of the Ongoing G20 Arrestee Solidarity Network: Last November 18, approximately 40 men met at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Melbourne. The discussions of the G20 finance ministers took place behind barricades and high fences to, as Treasurer Peter Costello argued, create a space conducive to free and frank dialogue.

The Australian Youth Climate Coalition was launched around the country on February 16, World Kyoto Day. In Sydney, activists gathered at the Bondi office of federal environment minister Malcolm Turnbull to deliver the AYCC’s declaration.

Two months before the Howard government’s draconian Welfare to Work package went to federal parliament, Labor’s spokesperson for employment and workplace participation Penny Wong argued that the proposals were “the most extreme attack on the social security system in history”.

Rachel Siewert, Greens senator for Western Australia, is concerned that the federal opposition hasn’t come out more strongly against the government’s welfare package. “We would get rid of Welfare to Work and look towards better options that support people”, she told Green Left Weekly.

The call by Australian Greens’ leader Senator Bob Brown on February 9 for a long-term plan to phase out coalmining, exports and power generation has predictably stirred a barrage of outrage from the coal industry. Brown’s call also flushed out the Labor-Coalition bipartisan consensus of support for coal-company profits over the environment.

The Socialist Alliance is campaigning for urgent action to address the environmental catastrophe in NSW caused by drought and decades of bad management.

At a meeting in Melbourne on February 8 journalist and film-maker John Pilger hailed Shirley Shackleton as one of Australia’s “heroes”. He praised her tireless dedication, since 1975, in exposing the genocide in East Timor and in pursuing the truth about the death of five journalists in Balibo, East Timor. One of the journalists killed was her husband Greg Shackleton.

It was with much disgust and sadness that I watched the demolition, on February 6, of perfectly good public housing on the Macquarie Fields public housing estate.

Debate about public transport and its decline is raging in NSW in the lead-up to the March 24 state election. The NSW public transport system is plagued by delays, reliance on old equipment, breakages, lack of staff and, as a consequence, inadequate services to remote and poorer areas. As yet, neither Morris Iemma’s Labor government nor the Liberal opposition has proposed adequate solutions to the crisis.

Australian coal-mining companies and Prime Minister John Howard are promoting “clean coal” as a technology that will enable the coal industry to continue its exports while supposedly cleaning up the greenhouse-gas emissions from the burning of this coal.

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