Comment and Analysis

GLW Issue 1078

The Great Barrier Reef is in immense danger and if nothing is done to save it, it will simply be destroyed.

Australia is the largest per-capita producer of carbon of any developed Western country, and it is a silent national disaster. The Australian Academy of Science, the UN and Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority have all stated that, in the face of rising carbon emissions decimating the reef, we cannot afford to do nothing.

The ecological effects of the four-fold increase in global manufacturing output between 1950 and 1970 were subject to scientific analysis in an international study published in 1972.

The authors of the aptly titled Limits to Growth warned that the tripling of carbon dioxide emissions that came with this unprecedented growth would lead to ecological and economic collapse in the 21st century if overuse of resources continued.

But the essential condition for the successful functioning of capitalism is a minimum 3% compound annual growth rate — for ever.

If we needed any further proof that our politicians are "fossil fools", despite recent leadership changes, look no further than the responses made by the Prime Minister and federal resources minister to the call for a moratorium on new coalmines by the President of the Pacific island nation Kiribati, Anote Tong.

In our “A World to Win” series, Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance seeks to give voice to the ideas and demands of radical young people involved in the struggle to make the world a better place.

In this week's article, Lucinda Donovan puts the case for why green capitalism cannot solve the climate crisis.

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Ahead of the climate talks in Paris in December, it is important that people mobilise and demand strong action on climate change.

Without a clear message from ordinary people, the demands that business and polluting industries make of governments are more likely to dilute the outcomes.

Remember Rio? Kyoto? Copenhagen? At the Conference of Parties (COP) 21 conference in Paris, our leaders need to do more, and fast.

I just want to get this straight: we cannot help Syrian refugees, many of whom are fleeing from ISIS, because of the ISIS attack on Paris that was carried out by French and Belgian nationals?

Well, who knew a horrifying mass murder thanks to a terror attack in a major world city would lead to such bizarre responses? If only we had some precedent to warn us.

Should the climate movement call for the restoration of a safe climate, rather than just zero emissions?

According to a recent paper, Striking Targets, by climate writer Philip Sutton, greenhouse gas concentrations are already too high to avoid dangerous global warming, so the zero emissions goal is inadequate.

The use of the drug ice in Australia is said to be at “epidemic'' levels. There is nothing new in this claim for both Australia and much of the rest of the world.

Epidemics have accompanied the use and misuse of stimulants since the late-19th century. John Rainford traces that history in the second of this three-part series.

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Kiribati, a nation made up of 33 islands in the South Pacific, is predicted to be one of the first countries to vanish beneath the sea before the end of the century. The government has already bought 2400 hectares of land in Fiji in case they need to more the entire population.

The appointment of nuclear power advocate Alan Finkel as Australia's next Chief Scientist led to speculation that the federal government might be softening up Australians for the introduction of nuclear power.

But that speculation is likely misplaced. Finkel is not the first Chief Scientist to support nuclear power. It goes with the turf: boys like toys and Chief Scientists like nuclear power. Finkel's comments were actually quite nuanced and at least as supportive of renewables as nuclear power.

With the Paris climate talks just around the corner it is timely to consider what effective policies to cut emissions might look like. Nationalisation and direct public investment are key policies that have historically been “bread and butter” political demands both for socialists and for the more radical voices within social democratic parties.

Climate activists from the Greens and Labor Environment Action Network should revisit these ideas, as they are a useful alternative to the dead end that is carbon trading.

Direct public investment

The Socialist Alliance and its youth wing, Resistance, expresses our solidarity with the people of Paris and Beirut who were targeted in back-to-back acts of terror by ISIS forces in the past few days.

In Paris, coordinated bombing and shootings at six separate locations on November 14 killed 129 people and injured 200 others. In Beirut, 43 people were killed and more than 200 injured in two suicide bomb attacks just 24 hours earlier.

We condemn these acts of violence.

GLW Issue 1077

Protesters occupy Australian Consulate, Auckland, November 11.

I was glad to be part of the November 11 protests, organised by the trade union Unite and by Global Peace and Justice Auckland, at the Australian Consulate in Auckland over their government's policies that have led to the indefinite detention of asylum seekers and Australian residents born in New Zealand in what are in effect concentration camps.

"Overwhelmingly, our communities don't want us to merge," Greens Leichhardt councillor Rochelle Porteous said on November 12.

She was commenting on the decision by Labor and Liberal councillors in the Leichhardt, Marrickville and Ashfield councils to endorse a "voluntary" merger of the three inner-west councils, under pressure from the state government.

At meetings on November 10, the Labor and Liberal councillors voted to support a merger, should the state government proceed with its draconian plan for compulsory council amalgamations across the city.

On the strength of a claimed turnover of $1 billion, the Australian Financial Review reported in early February 1978: “At this sort of growth rate Nugan Hand will soon be bigger than BHP.”

But two years later, on January 27, 1980, one of the bank's two founders, Frank Nugan, was found dead near Lithgow in NSW from a gunshot wound to the head. An inquest found it was suicide. Meanwhile, the other founder of the bank, Michael Hand, was busy shredding documents, including “files identifying clients regarded as sensitive”.

The federal government has now spent $1.22 billion on its “Direct Action” policy that is supposed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions but will actually allow them to increase.

The results of the government's second round of emissions reverse auctions under the Direct Action scheme were released on November 12, revealing that the Clean Energy Regulator had paid $557 million to companies in return for emissions cuts of 45 million tonnes of CO₂. The first auction, in April this year, spent $660 million to buy 47.3 million tonnes.

The use of the drug ice in Australia is said to be at “epidemic'' levels. There is nothing new in this claim for both Australia and much of the rest of the world.

Epidemics have accompanied the use and misuse of stimulants from the late-19th century. John Rainford traces that history in this three-part series.

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By the latter decades of the 19th century, mass production and an emphasis on speed had signalled the start of modernity.

Walk Together marches were held in cities and regional centres around Australia on October 31 as a celebration of diversity.

The aim of the marches was to present a picture to Australia's political leaders and media of a different Australia — one that is known for its compassion and generosity. Caroline de Costa gave this speech at the Cairns rally.

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The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revealed on September 18 that Volkswagen (VW) diesel engines had been fitted with software enabling them to flout US engine emissions standards for nitrous oxides. That has precipitated a crisis in one of the vital structures of world capitalism.

A perfect storm is emerging, jeopardising the entire automotive/industrial/financial complex that propelled world capitalism from the end of World War II until recently.

In our “A World to Win” series, Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance seeks to give voice to the ideas and demands of radical young people involved in the struggle to make the world a better place.

In this week's article, Jacob Andrewartha argues for universal quality healthcare for all.

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Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: "Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services”.

As the pantomime that is the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption, stumbles to its conclusion at the end of the year, figures released by the Australia Bureau of Statistics (ABS) on October 27 reveal a 2% drop in union membership to 15% of the workforce.

According to the ABS report, in August last year 1.6 million people were members of trade unions in their main job.

GLW Issue 1076

Peter Boyle speaking at World Kobanê Day rally, Sydney, November 1.

Peter Boyle gave this speech on behalf of Socialist Alliance at the Sydney rally for World Kobanê Day on November 1.

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I am here to bring you greetings from the Socialist Alliance and the progressive newspaper Green Left Weekly.

The Central Intelligence Agency was set up in 1947 as the key agency for US Cold War operations. From its inception, it intervened in the trade union movement and workers' political parties throughout much of the world, including Australia.

One of the first post-World War II US policy objectives was to counter the newly-formed World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) to which the Australian union movement was affiliated through the ACTU.

This is an edited version of the speech given by Jackie Kriz, the president of Geelong Trades Hall Council, at the Geelong Reclaim the Night rally on October 31.

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I would like to thank the women of Reclaim the Night collective who, with support from Geelong Trades Hall, have worked tirelessly for months to organise this rally.

Carol Hucker worked in Manus Island detention centre as a counsellor for International Health and Medical Services (IHMS) and as a case worker for the Salvation Army from June 2013 to July last year.

She has allowed Green Left Weekly to publish her account so that people can become more aware of what is happening in Australia's offshore detention centres.

She said: “It is my hope that through this brief account the men on Manus will not be forgotten.”

This is the last part of a multi-part series and covers her time there in June and July 2014.


In our “A World to Win” series, Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance seeks to give voice to the ideas and demands of radical young people involved in the struggle to make the world a better place.

In this week's article, Stanley Blair argues that the international border system exacerbates the injustice of capitalism and that we need open borders.

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Around the world, political discussion has become increasingly concerned with immigration. The Australian establishment has been a world leader in immigration scaremongering for the past decade.

Gas miner Metgasco's surprise announcement on November 2 that it was recommending its shareholders accept a $25 million payout for its three remaining exploration licences in NSW's Northern Rivers, near Lismore, was celebrated right across the state.

Anti-fracking campaigners, who have worked hard for more than three years, educating, organising and mobilising communities against the industry, are very relieved.

When it was revealed last month that Malcolm Turnbull has significant investments in the Caribbean tax haven of the Cayman Islands, I'll admit I felt some relief. At least our prime minister appeared committed to helping someone's economy, even if It was just a banking system once described by Barack Obama as “the biggest tax scam on record”.

The Age published a comment piece on October 26, called “Australia, we need to talk about the way we speak”. Author Dean Frenkel, lecturer in public speaking and communications, argued the Australian accent developed when “our forefathers regularly got drunk together and through their frequent interactions added an alcoholic slur to our national speech patterns”.

In yet another policy continuity with Tony Abbott, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is considering raising the goods and services tax (GST).

Once again, this shows the government acting in the interests of big corporations and the super rich against the interests of ordinary people.

The simple truth is that the GST is an unfair tax. Poor people pay a higher proportion of their income in GST than rich people.