Comment and Analysis

GLW Issue 1050

Sometimes Australians feel like we're not always taken that seriously on the world stage, viewed only as producers of crocodile hunters, B-grade soaps and prime ministers with a bizarre taste in raw onions. So it's good to know we are finally being presented as a model for other nations to follow.

The fight against the WA government’s widely unpopular decision to close a number of remote Aboriginal communities and force Aboriginal people off their land received a further boost this week with news that activists are set to converge on the state.

The Grandmothers Against Removals, a group established to respond to the continued Stolen Generation enforced by the current and previous federal governments, will converge on Perth on May 26 to lend a hand in the fight against the closures.

The Socialist Alliance stands in full solidarity with the burgeoning movement against the forced closure of remote Aboriginal communities in WA.

This movement can win and if it does it will be a victory for all working people in Australia.

Without any consultation, the federal government announced in September that they would cut funding that, for more than 40 years, had been provided to support these communities. The state government, equally contemptuous in their lack of consultation, then announced that up to 150 communities would have to close.

More than 200 heavily armed police raided five homes in south-east Melbourne on April 18 to arrest five teenagers for allegedly plotting a terrorist attack on Anzac Day.

Two were held in custody and charged under “anti-terror” laws, one was charged on summons for weapons offences and two were released without charge. Family and neighbours of those arrested said that the raids were carried out with unnecessary violence.

We live in a time of growing inequality between the rich and poor, when the environment is being destroyed to the point of threatening our very existence, because of a system that prioritises profit. Here are 10 reasons why socialism is the way forward to solve society’s problems.

1. THE DESTRUCTION OF CLASS DIVISION

Under capitalism, people are divided on the basis of class. There are the 1%, who own the wealth and the means to produce wealth, and the rest of us, the 99%, who sell their labour to produce profit for the 1%.

A new report on unconventional gas development from the federal Department of Industry and Science has been released.

Its stated aim is “to ensure the responsible development of coal seam, shale and tight gas resources for the benefit of Australians and position Australia to remain an energy superpower”.

In order to achieve this, the report notes at the outset that state governments, and Indigenous landowners will need to be dealt with – though the report uses prettier words.

In 2013 the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics (OCAE) was commissioned by the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) and Cruelty Free International to produce an independent review of the ethics of using animals in research.

The BUAV is not a neutral bystander in the debate about animal testing, but it was prepared to commission independent academic research on this topic.

OCAE was founded in 2006 to pioneer ethical perspectives on animals. The centre is independent, and is not under the aegis, control or sanction of the University of Oxford.

Australia has again declared war on its Indigenous people, reminiscent of the brutality that brought universal condemnation on apartheid South Africa. Aboriginal people are to be driven from homelands where their communities have lived for thousands of years. In Western Australia, where mining companies make billion dollar profits exploiting Aboriginal land, the state government says it can no longer afford to "support" the homelands.

Maria Voukelatos, a passionate socialist and animal liberation activist, died suddenly and unexpectedly on March 26. Nothing suggests she took her own life. While the cause is still unknown, her death at home in Sydney was likely quick and painless. She was 37.

The second national day of action against the WA government’s policy of closing remote Aboriginal communities will take place on May 1.

Protest actions have been planned in 53 places around the country: from remote communities in WA to all capital cities.

The response to the policy has escalated since the now notorious statement by Prime Minister Tony Abbott describing people living on their ancestral lands as a “lifestyle choice”. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their supporters have come out in their thousands to oppose the genocidal policy of community closures.

Politicians, both Labor and Liberal, have spent years defending this county’s pitiful efforts on tackling climate change with the excuse that Australia “can’t go it alone” — it has to wait for other countries to commit to action on climate change. The same excuse was often echoed in the media.

In particular, the lack of action by the US and China were cited as the reasons why Australia should commit to doing little or nothing.

GLW Issue 1049

Tony Abbott’s government is gearing up for another budget, and much has been made about how to raise revenue and what to cut.

The government has toned down its previous rhetoric about a budget emergency, which appears to have disappeared despite the government failing to pass most of last year’s budget measures, but it still looks as if they will make the most disadvantaged pay while keeping things sweet for their mates in the big end of town.

Recently I went to an asylum seeker forum at Gosford Anglican Parish. Hosted by the awesome Father Rod Bower and chaired by Labor’s Senator Deborah O’Neill, it featured special guest speaker, Labor’s Shadow immigration minister Richard Marles.

I was nervous when I arrived. When I left, I was furious! Here’s why…

Despite talking a lot, and very well, Marles made just seven points.

Let’s take a look at each of these points individually.

1. Liberal is worse than Labor

The 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landing is nearly upon us and the government decided to kick off commemorating the sacrifice of nearly 9000 Australian soldiers in the failed invasion of Turkey by sending 300 more soldiers to take part in the seemingly endless failed war on Iraq.

This government is sometimes accused of insensitivity, but who could disagree that the best way to remember a disastrous invasion of a country half-way around the world that poses no threat to Australia on behalf of an incompetent foreign power is to repeat the exercise.

The head of the Business Council of Australia (BCA), Catherine Livingstone, has called for a national “conversation” about what the federal government and the business community euphemistically call “economic reform”.

Ever in thrall to trickle-down economics, they manage to talk in “doublespeak”, a close relative of the doublethink that George Orwell wrote about in his novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Last week the Minister for Social Services Scott Morrison announced that from January 1 next year parents who do not vaccinate their children for reasons of “conscientious objection” will be denied access to child care payments (Child Care Benefit and Child Care Rebate) and the Family Tax Benefit Part A end of year supplement. These payments are worth up to $15,000 a year.

Danny Nahlliah, Australia First Candidate, Pastor for Catch the Fire Ministries and keynote speaker at the Melbourne Reclaim Australia rally on April 4, rang Tom Elliott on 3AW on April 7 and accused Socialist Alliance of planting neo-Nazis in the Reclaim Australia crowd to make the rallies and participants look bad.

This is an accusation that is even more ridiculous than their other claim that Halal certification funds terrorism.

Lines of grey muttering faces, masked with fear,
They leave their trenches, going over the top,
While time ticks blank and busy on their wrists,
And hope, with furtive eyes and grasping fists,
Flounders in mud. O Jesus, make it stop!
— Siegfried Sassoon.

Implausible as it might seem, it was the violent protest of a group of Bosnian high school students that sparked World War I.


Four Jobs for Women leaders in front of the steelworks in the early 1980s. Photo: Jobs for Women Facebook

In Wollongong in the early 1980s, jobs for women were scarce. They either had to wake at dawn to travel to Sydney on the diesel train or they sewed in backyard sweatshops for minimal wages.

As the Galilee Basin project faces legal challenges by Aboriginal and other community groups and international banks refuse to finance it, the environment movement is focusing its campaign on ensuring that the Australian Big 4 banks also withhold finance.

GLW Issue 1048

The far right Islamophobic “Reclaim Australia” movement burst onto the streets in what was the biggest racist mobilisation since the Cronulla riots, in 16 places across Australia on April 4. They were armed with swastika tattoos, Australian flags and a few simplistic slogans such as “No halal food”.

They were also met by counter protesters who stood up to reject racism, chauvinism and bigotry.

Within two months of the cliff-hanger election that resulted in the ALP forming a minority government, what seems like a re-run of the attempts to unseat the Julia Gillard government in Canberra is playing out in Queensland.

Despite pressure from the Labor and Liberal parties to resign his seat, in a statement issued on April 8, the former ALP, now independent, MP for Cook, Billy Gordon confirmed that he will not resign from parliament but will continue to represent his constituents.

New Greens MP Jenny Leong, who won the seat of Newtown in the March 28 NSW election, attributes the Greens’ high votes in several parts of NSW to its MPs standing up against corruption and over-development.

The Greens' support for community-led campaigns — in particular opposition to coal seam gas and the WestConnex road project — also won them a bigger hearing.

Former workers from the Nauru detention centre say the Australian government has “tolerated the physical and sexual assault of children, and the sexual harassment and assault of vulnerable women in the centre for more than 17 months”.

Refugees who have been released from the detention centre to live in the community have also faced ongoing violence. A woman reportedly called the Nauruan police on April 8 after being sexually assaulted by men in a car.

David Pocock is a rugby player in the Australian national rugby union team. He was also recently arrested. In reacting to his arrest and the reason for it, some have suggested that Pocock may not be the right man to captain the Wallabies in the future.

Two thousand people rallied in Federation Square on April 4 to oppose Reclaim Australia freely spreading racism and fascism on the streets of Melbourne.

Anti-racist participants included socialists, anarchists, feminists, refugee rights advocates, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and the politically unaligned. All were united in a common cause to stop the spread of racism in Australia.

The Guardian newspaper was first published in Manchester in 1821. It is generally regarded as a centre-left paper that employs some very fine journalists.

Its online edition is one of the most widely read in the world and its combined print and online editions reach some 9 million readers. The paper’s environmental coverage is provided by a team of seven environmental writers and each month four million visitors go to the Guardian for its environmental coverage.

Why would a 54 year-old woman make a decision to lock herself onto the train tracks of the world’s biggest coal port?

Annette Schneider, an artist and farmer from Monaro in NSW, explained to Green Left Weekly that her action on March 31 was a direct result of her fear of catastrophic climate change.

Sydney Staff for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions sent this open letter to University of Sydney vice-chancellor Michael Spence on March 25. The letter is in response to Spence’s email of March 19, in which he claimed anti-Semitism was the trigger for the university’s investigation into the student protest at the March 11 lecture by Colonel Richard Kemp and its sequel.

* * *

We are compelled to write to you to register our serious concern about the concerted campaign being conducted against Palestine activists at the University of Sydney.

This speech was given at the Refugee Action Collective protest in Melbourne on April 8.

* * *

We are here to protest against the indefinite detention of a group of refugees who are claimed by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) to be a security threat.

These are people who have been officially recognised as refugees who were at serious risk of persecution in the countries they fled. Yet they are detained indefinitely because of negative ASIO assessments.