Analysis

The August 8 announcement of the Reserve Bank board’s decision to raise official interest rates by a further 0.25% focused renewed media attention on the non-affordability of housing. The interest rate rise — the fifth since the 2004 election and the ninth since 2002 — increased mortgage repayments for home owners with average mortgages by $50 a week, placing extra pressure on already stretched budgets.
According to a survey conducted by the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) 15 months ago, eight Australians are killed every week on the job and a further 44 die due to work related illnesses and diseases. This is one-third higher than the number of people who die on the nation’s roads. More than 15 serious injuries occur on the job every hour.
On August 2, the High Court of Australia upheld the constitutional validity of a control order on Jack Thomas.
Twenty years ago, a UN special commission produced a report, Our Common Future, that predicted rising CO2 levels would lead to a mean temperature increase of up to 4.5oC within 50 years, which would cause catastrophic climate change. The report proposed that immediate action be taken to counter global warming through massive investment in renewable energy sources, with the onus upon wealthy industrialised nations to take the lead.
On August 2, the federal government announced it would legislate to stop same-sex couples adopting a child from overseas. The move follows the landmark adoption of a boy by two gay men in Western Australia in June.
On July 28, 80 people attended a public forum to hear speakers in support of state Labor MP Candy Broad’s parliamentary bill to remove abortion from the Victorian criminal code.
British scientist James Lovelock, famous for his Gaia theory of the earth as a self-regulating organism, was in Adelaide on July 7-8, speaking at the Festival of Ideas. He has researched across a range of disciplines and has much of interest to say. But on the topic of nuclear power, Lovelock is inaccurate and irresponsible.
The front page of the July 25 Australian gushed with a headline making the astounding claim that the Australian Building and Construction Commission(ABCC) had delivered “a $15 billion boost to the economy” by improving productivity as a result of reining in “thuggish union behaviour”.
What do Victorian Labor Premier Stephen Bracks, his successor John Brumby and former Liberal premier Jeff Kennett have in common? A love for neoliberal politics.
When it emerged that Kafeel Ahmed, one of the men implicated in the June 30 botched terrorist attack in Glasgow, had a second cousin working in the Gold Coast Hospital in Queensland, it must have seemed to the Howard government that its election worries were over. Racism, xenophobia and the manufactured threat of terrorism have served Howard well in previous elections. However this time it backfired, with more public anxiety about the frame-up of Dr Mohamed Haneef than about supposed terrorists in our midst.

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