Analysis

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 government’s generous provision of a large number of bullies in uniform to terrorise the local population.

The Howard government’s Work Choices laws “have had an overall negative effect for women in the work force”, Griffith University Professor David Peetz told Green Left Weekly on February 27. “The slow trend toward improvement in female compared to male levels of pay and conditions has been reversed under Work Choices, threatening much of the gains of the previous 10 years”, said Peetz.

The following letter was sent by Cuban consul-general Nelida Hernandez Carmona in response to Sydney Morning Herald columnist Miranda Devine’s claim that, “You know Australia has lost its mind on the green front when the conservative Howard government starts emulating the communist dictatorship of Cuba”. Devine (the SMH’s resident right-wing ranter) argued that while “federal environment minister Malcolm Turnbull’s plan, foisted without warning on the nation last week, to ban incandescent light bulbs from 2010 and force us to replace them with more energy-efficient fluorescent ones” was presented by the government “as a world first, the Associated Press soon pointed out that Cuba’s dictator Fidel Castro launched a similar program two years ago… His protege, Venezuela’s socialist president Hugo Chavez, soon followed suit. You might say Turnbull, Castro and Chavez are the three amigos of the climate change nanny state.”

Since the Howard Coalition government was elected in 1996 record numbers of women have entered parliament, yet women’s 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.

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 India’s 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 Gore’s 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.

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