Comment and Analysis

GLW Issue 1104

Chace Hill is a young Koori man who lives in Perth. He recently completed an honours degree in criminology at Murdoch University looking at racism. He is also a Resistance Young Socialist Alliance member. He spoke to Green Left Weekly's Zebedee Parkes about racism in the justice system and the recent Four Corners program about the abuse of Aboriginal children in the Don Dale detention centre in Darwin. * * * Tell us about your honours thesis.
Following a community campaign, the Queensland government has announced it will deregister Wicked Campers vans that "fail to comply with determinations by the Advertising Standards Bureau". The vans are banned in northern NSW council caravan parks and bans are being considered by the Tasmanian government.
Privatisation continues to be touted as a quick fix, so the mantra goes “public sector bad, private sector good”. That is, using community funds and resources to build up a vital service or piece of infrastructure, usually over a period of many years, then when there is a “budget crisis” selling it off to yield a quick cash injection and the removal of an expense from the ledger — regardless of whether it is generating income or not — while giving sweetheart deals to the new owners to ensure monopoly-like conditions to maximise their profits.
Human rights lawyers are opposed to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's plan to introduce laws that would allow people who have been convicted on terrorism charges to be held in prison indefinitely.
When Tasmanian Liberal director Damien Mantach garnered a spectacular promotion to Victorian deputy president in 2011, he left Tasmania to great fanfare and fond farewells. With champagne toasts still lingering in the air, the party newsletter triumphantly said Mantach left the Tasmanian division “in excellent shape and Damien is to be congratulated for his positive contribution”. A brilliant party machinist, Mantach was now a coveted Victorian Liberal. Finally in the centre of power, he was rubbing shoulders with premiers and befriending the future prime minister Tony Abbott.
Hysterical anti-renewable headlines aren’t necessarily a surprise from the Australian and other News Ltd publications. But the cynicism of the attack on South Australia’s renewable energy industry in their pages is still astonishing. On July 25, the Australian published Matthew Warren of the Australian Energy Council — a peak body for “major electricity and downstream natural gas businesses” — blaming renewables for “higher costs and increased risks around reliability” in South Australia.
The latest Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey: Selected Findings (HILDA) report shows that the proportion of home ownership has declined in all parts of Australia, with the greatest declines in NSW and Victoria. Thereport, released on July 20, reveals that owning a house is no longer the norm and it is likely that renters will outnumber home-owners in the next few years.
Since late 2005 the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) has been included on Australia's list of terrorist organisations. It is illegal for Australian citizens to belong to the PKK, actively support it, raise funds for it or otherwise engage with it. Just this month Australian-Kurdish journalist Renas Lelikan was charged in Sydney with being a member of the PKK.
The ABC's Four Corners program exposed the abuse and mistreatment of children in juvenile detention in the Northern Territory. The abuse revealed was graphic and finally brought to the public's notice after many years of campaigning for attention to be paid to the treatment of children, especially Aboriginal children, in detention.
There is ample evidence of the criminality of the prison officers, their bosses and the Northern Territory government ministers for charges to be laid over the horror inflicted on Aboriginal kids in custody at the Don Dale Juvenile Detention Centre. It's not just a question of proper "training"and "processes" for the prison guards. The horror we saw in the ABC's Four Corner's program on July 25 is the outcome of the law and order agenda of "lock em' up and throw away the key".
Malcolm Turnbull has called for a Royal Commission after seeing on ABC's Four Corners the brutality that has been happening under both his government and the previous Labor government. He said this evidence had not been brought forth at previous inquiries. Not good enough Turnbull!

GLW Issue 1103

Australia recently gained an unenviable title: perhaps the first country to lose a mammal species to climate change. The Bramble Cay Melomys, a native rodent found on one tiny sand island in the remote northern regions of the Great Barrier Reef, reportedly became extinct after rising seas destroyed its habitat.
In the past few weeks #BlackLivesMatter rallies have been organised around Australia and internationally in solidarity with the Black victims of US police violence and to raise awareness of the racism experienced by Australians of African descent and First Nations communities. In Melbourne, a rally on July 17 drew a diverse crowd of more than 3500 people. It was organised by just four young activists and mobilised many communities who have experienced racism, as well as their allies.
The irony in the controversy that has broken out about whether Australia should impose a total ban on Muslim immigration to combat ISIS terror is that if only Iraq had been able to close its borders to Western invaders back in 2003, this whole ISIS shit could have been avoided.
In the discussion about Pauline Hanson's election to the Senate and her recent appearance on ABC's Q&A there have been appeals by some commentators to go easy on her because: "She is just saying what a lot of people are thinking". Well, dopey racist ideas need to be condemned for what they are, regardless of how many people share them. This defence of Hanson is like the completely false idea that the degrading treatment of asylum seekers by Labor and Coalition governments is just responding to what the voters want. This of course puts the cart before the horse.
Murri leader Sam Watson does not have a high opinion of Pauline Hanson's intellect or her lack of substantial policies. However he told Green Left Weekly that “she can't be ignored”. “I was very pleased to see in the last few days when she went to appear on Q&A that there were comrades on the street to challenge her,” he said. He was also pleased when First Nations activist Murrandoo Yanner ordered her out of the building at the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair. “She is evil and we need to confront that evil and challenge that evil.”
The Australian government released its National Strategy on International Students 2025 in April. At its heart lies a strategy for exploiting international students and increasing the commercialisation of the education sector. It aims to swindle hundreds of thousands of international students and normalise the neoliberal idea that students are consumers and that education and learning are commodities.
Suicide was unknown to Aboriginal people prior to invasion. There was no word for suicide in the ancient Yolngu language and, up to the 1980s, suicide was rare among Aboriginal people. But now 95% of Aboriginal people have been affected by a suicide and Aboriginal people are six times more likely to commit suicide than non-Aboriginal people. In the Northern Territory, 50% of suicides were by Aboriginal people in 2010, up from just 5% in 1991.
Pauline Hanson came across a racist and incoherent cartoon character on the ABC's Q&A program on July 18. But it would be a mistake to think that Hanson, and the more than half a million people who voted for her in the July 2 federal election, can simply be laughed away. They represent, in a distorted way, the deepening contradictions in our society that have to be addressed at their root. The myth of the egalitarianism of Australia is cracking up after 50 years of Coalition and Labor Party governments helping the super rich get even richer at the expense of the rest.

GLW Issue 1102

Malcolm Turnbull, who has just scraped over the line to claim government, claims he has a mandate to implement all of his unpopular polices. Green Left Weekly asked several community leaders their opinion. Jeannie Rae, National Tertiary Education Union national president First, even in liberal, democratic terms Malcolm Turnbull is on thin ice considering he just slipped in. More importantly, if a policy is wrong whether or not the party that won the election claims they have a mandate to implement it doesn't make it right!
Australia desperately needs high-speed rail, if for no other reason than short-haul aviation is a major source of rising greenhouse emissions. This does not mean, however, that the Consolidated Lands & Rail Australia's (CLARA) proposal to build a high-speed line from Sydney to Melbourne, along with eight new “smart cities” along the route should be welcomed. Any proposal for a privately built, privately operated railway should be suspect. CLARA's proposal is particularly so.
The WA government released its plan for remote Aboriginal communities on July 14. The spin is all about “better living conditions”, “supporting families” and “more opportunities”. However the substance is still entirely about penny pinching and withdrawing resources. Communities will close if it is implemented. When WA premier Colin Barnett first announced that up to 150 communities would be forced to close, people responded with a massive, international protest movement to save the communities.
A joint review by Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance members. This year's Students of Sustainability (SOS) conference, organised by the Australian Student Environment Network (ASEN), took place in Musgrave Park, Brisbane on Jagera and Turrbal country July 7-11. SOS started in Canberra in 1991 and is the longest running, annual student conference in Australia.
The killing of two African American men in Minnesota and Louisiana in early July created an uproar across the US and around the world. In Australia there was lots of social media commentary and letters to the press about US racism.
Twenty-five per cent of Australian Rules football players are now women and girls, a figure that has doubled in the past five years. From February next year, eight new women's teams will compete in a national, six-round, AFL competition. Announcing the women's league last month, AFL chairman Mike Fitzpatrick said it would “change the game forever, [… uneasy pause …] for the good”.
Some weeks can bring mixed blessings. For instance, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull claimed a narrow victory for the Coalition in the federal election and on July 12 deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce was assaulted twice by a sheep on his farm.
This election was very tight. I don't think any party can claim a mandate. Malcolm Turnbull barely fell over the line. There is no mandate in that. Turnbull claims to have a mandate — to not tax the rich and keep giving it to Blackfellas. That is his mandate, and it would be the same if Labor had won. Another disappointing factor is that in the lead-up to the election, and in the post mortem, we have heard nothing about First Nations people. We are still dying in great numbers and they are arguing about who got the most votes in what seat.
Malcolm Turnbull's very slim majority is no mandate to re-introduce the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) and other anti-worker legislation that he could not get through the previous Senate. The silence from the government was deafening during the election campaign, even though the ABCC legislation was the trigger. The ABCC was hardly mentioned. It only highlights the fact that Turnbull did not want to give the average worker the opportunity to scrutinise the finer details of his proposals to attack workers' rights.
In May, the ABC's first female managing director Michelle Guthrie was introduced by the ABC Board as bringing “business expertise, international contacts, a record in content-making across an array of platforms, a deep understanding of audience needs and corporate responsibility for promoting issues like diversity”.
There is ample evidence of systematic cruelty and regulatory failure with which to justify the New South Wales government's decision to ban greyhound racing. But this is a single industry in a single state. If we step back and look at the wider picture we see a telling lack of consistency in animal welfare policy and practice around the nation.