Comment and Analysis

GLW Issue 1072

This is part of a series of articles detailing the policies and platform the Socialist Alliance will be taking to the Federal election.

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For tens of thousands of years, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of this continent and its islands looked after the diverse ecosystems, developed complex languages and cultures, and traded among themselves and with visitors from overseas. They were strong, proud peoples.

The abrupt arrival of this year's bush fire season should be taken as another warning of the urgency of tackling the climate change crisis.

The El Nino phenomenon of severe droughts and flooding rains that will make this a more dangerous summer has been a part of longstanding weather patterns on the Australian continent. But research has shown that El Nino will double in frequency and severity as global warming increases.

About 50 people attended the Queensland Water Summit in Dalby on September 23. Despite its midweek timing, a wide range of people attended from across the state, including farmers threatened by increasingly severe drought and mining company pollution of their water sources, to community members, doctors and clergy from communities impacted by coal seam gas, underground coal gasification and coalmining.

The summit was organised and funded by independent Senator Glenn Lazarus, who spoke briefly but mostly listened to the concerns raised by attendees.

The United Nations Climate Change Conference will take place in Paris between November 30 and December 11. By the time it starts, 2015 is almost certain to have beaten last year as the warmest year ever.

This August has now been confirmed as the hottest August since records began in 1880. Other months this year that broke records were February, March, May, June and July.

While the whole globe — from polar regions to the equator — has experienced record-breaking high temperatures, a small part of the Earth has experienced the opposite. Scientists say both are indications of the dangerous affects of climate change.

In September, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that the first eight months of 2015 were the hottest ever recorded in the 135 years since records have been kept.

A new terror campaign aimed at young people — particularly Muslims — was launched in Sydney’s western suburbs following the fatal shootings of two people outside Parramatta police station on October 2.

The tragic shooting of police technician Curtis Cheng by 15-year-old Farhad Khalil Mohammad Jabar and his shooting by special forces police have allowed fear-mongering politicians a new round of Muslim bashing. This time it is being led by the so-called “Mr Nice Guy” — New South Wales Premier Mike Baird.

Last week US religious figure Troy Newman, who campaigns against abortions, was denied entry into Australia on the grounds that he would be a danger to the community. Some are hailing his banning a victory for women's rights. But was it?

Newman is the president of Operation Rescue, a right-wing misogynist organisation in the US dedicated to stopping women having abortions and doctors from performing them.

Operation Rescue

I was asked to speak today about my perspective on abortion law reform in NSW as a medical student.

I realised that my perspective on this — even though it’s fairly well informed — actually can’t be separated at all from my perspective as a young woman in NSW, especially a young woman who, dare I say it, has sex.

GLW Issue 1071

If you are reading this, you are clearly at high risk of “radicalisation” — a budding violent extremist probably only a few Triple J Hottest 100 tracks away from blowing up Parliament House, or at least picketing the offices of a classic FM station.

September 21 was declared International Peace Day by the United Nations.

This is an abridged version of a speech given by Pip Hinman on behalf of Sydney Stop the War Coalition to protest against the bombing of Syria at a rally on that day.

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Stop the War Coalition (STWC) adds its voice to those saying Australia should not join the latest “Coalition of the Killing” and the disastrous bombing of Syria.

The Australian Labor Party’s (ALP) new higher education policy, announced on September 21, risks being indistinguishable from that of the Coalition under Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

That is because the new Prime Minister has signalled a departure from the bully-boy antics of former education minister Christopher Pyne, who had threatened to introduce his doomed education cuts a third time to the Senate this spring.

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 Weeklyto publish her account so that people can become more aware of what is happening on Manus Island. She said: “It is my hope that through this brief account the men on Manus will not be forgotten.”

This is the fifth part of a multi-part series and covers November 2013 to January 2014.

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Canadian activist and author of This Changes Everything: Capitalism versus Climate Naomi Klein spoke to a packed audience at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas, Sydney Opera House on September 5. This is an edited transcript of her speech. Klein and Avi Lewis’ film This Changes Everything is about to be released.


“When it comes to technology policy, [now Prime Minister] Malcolm Turnbull has been a disaster. The Member for Wentworth will be remembered as Australia's worst ever Communications Minister — the man who single handedly demolished the NBN [National Broadband Network] and put a polite face on draconian Data Retention and Internet Piracy Laws.”

GLW Issue 1070

The historian Geoffrey Blainey recently addressed staff at BHP headquarters in Melbourne on the 130th anniversary of the forming of Broken Hill Propriety Company Limited in 1885.

Blainey told the assembled audience “there is no commercial institution in Australia that has contributed so much to the nation’s history”.

To set the historical record straight, he should have added that there is no commercial institution that has fought so hard against the workers whose surplus value it expropriated than BHP.

Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance’s “A World to Win” series aims to give voice to the ideas and demands of radical young people who are involved in the struggle to make the world a fairer and more just place.

This week, Sarah Hathway discusses the struggle and exploitation of young people in the workplace.

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There are many issues facing young people in or entering the workplace that impact not just on young people but on the broader working class as well.

Somewhere wandering aimlessly through the hard streets of Sydney's North Shore, is a dishevelled man in a crumpled suit and a few days’ growth telling concerned passers-by, “I'm not crying, it's just the onion” as he bites into his umpteenth bulb since Monday night, eyes red and flakes of onion skin around his mouth and down his front.

The NSW government owns about 277,400 properties. Their combined commercial worth, according to finance minister Dominic Perrottet is $60 billion.

Most of the property is commercial, built up over many decades by successive Labor and Coalition governments, and financed by NSW taxpayers, on behalf of whom the present NSW government holds them in trust.

But the Mike Baird government doesn’t get this “holding in trust” thing. They believe the assets are theirs to sell; and this is precisely what Perrottet intends to do.

Ok, who didn’t cheer when they heard that Tony Abbott might be dumped as Prime Minister? And then before the reality that nothing had really changed sank in, who didn’t cheer when he actually was dumped?

Yes, you spoil sports out there, I know that we have just switched captains on a leaky boat — appropriate metaphor don’t you think — and the boat hasn’t actually changed. But you have to admit that seeing Abbott’s humiliation was enjoyable.

Few people would have shared tears — unless they happened to be chopping onions at the time — when Tony Abbott was ejected as prime minister in the latest of a string of Lib-Lab leadership spills.

Let's be honest. The rolling TV coverage of Malcolm Turnbull's political assassination of Abbott kept the nation entertained for a couple of hours on a Monday night. Who did not enjoy watching the grim faces of those Liberal MPs as they trooped into their party room for the spill, and the even grimmer faces of some as they came back out?

When he announced his bid to unseat Tony Abbott as Liberal Party leader Malcolm Turnbull promised a “new style of leadership”. The problem is that is about all we can hope for from the new prime minister: a change in style but not in substance.

As we head towards the November 29 People’s Climate Marches, reflecting on the successes of the struggle against the unconventional gas industry in NSW can provide useful tips on strategies to rebuild a serious campaign for climate action in this country.

Militant ordinary people have, since 2011, forced the unconventional gas industry in NSW into a holding pattern in some instances and a retreat in others. The community-led campaigns have changed the political landscape in a way that even hardened cynics would once have thought impossible.

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

This is the fourth part of a multi-part series and covers November 2013 to January 2014.

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What causes heart disease — high fat or the over-consumption of sugar?

Humans have been eating all sorts of foods for more than 200,000 years, since we evolved from the African savannah. But what should we be eating to stay healthy in the 21st century?

Should we eat large amounts of protein, or avoid meat? Should we avoid carbohydrates, including vegetables and fruit? Should we avoid all fats or just some? Should we follow the Aitkin’s diet, the paleo diet, the low GI or high GI diet, or just go vegan?

It is very confusing.

GLW Issue 1069

Newcastle is a major centre for coal exports. When Newcastle City Council flirts with any hint of fossil fuel divestment, expect controversy.

On August 25, the council approved a policy giving preference to “environmentally and socially responsible investments”. This was supported by Labor and Greens councillors, and opposed by Liberal and independent councillors.

Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance’s “World to Win” series aims to give voice to the ideas and demands of radical young people who are involved in the struggle to make the world a fairer and more just place.

This week, Resistance National Co-Convener, Mia Sanders discusses the importance of the ongoing struggle for full reproductive rights.

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“But we’re equal now! Why do we need feminism?”

Students of the Australian National University have launched a campaign to raise awareness about the current situation in Rojava, in northern Syria. The campaign, “Stand With Kobane” aims to raise money to help rebuild the Kurdish city of Kobane.

Kobane made headlines this year when it was the first Kurdish city to successfully break Islamic State's siege. A successful counter-attack resulted in the expulsion of all the IS fighters from the Kobane canton.

The federal government re­listed the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) as a terrorist organisation on August 11.

This means it is illegal for Australian citizens to belong to it, actively support it or raise funds for it.

The PKK was first placed on Australia’s list of terrorist groups in December 2005 by John Howard’s government after Turkey’s then Prime Minister — now president — Recip Tayyip Erdogan visited Australia. It was re­listed by Howard in 2007, by Labor under Kevin Rudd in 2009 and by Julia Gillard in 2012.

Labor and the Coalition will vote for new laws this week that will strip dual nationals of their citizenship at the discretion of the immigration minister.

Both major parties agree that the laws should also apply retrospectively to those sentenced to at least ten years’ jail.

A bipartisan committee released a report on the proposed laws on September 4 and recommended that some of its measures be watered down.