Comment and Analysis

Asylum seeker Abdul Aziz Muhammad asked the ABC’s Q&A panel on December 4 in a video question why the 650 men on Manus Island are being used as political pawns in a life or death game.

Aziz, who has been imprisoned on Manus Island for 4.5 years, said he had seen 6 friends die because of violence and medical negligence.

The history of the 13-year campaign for marriage equality in Australia is an incredible underdog story, but you would not know that if you got your news from the mainstream media.

Throughout the period of the postal survey, the implication has been that marriage equality activists are powerful bullies stomping around the political playground and kicking over the sandcastles of defenseless No campaigners, such as the Australian Christian Lobby (the tax-exempt lobby group that receives millions of dollars each year in corporate funding).

The Manus Island tragedy is the latest in a series of systemic human rights abuses by successive Australian governments in recent decades.

But there is another story: one of courageous resistance in some of the most hostile situations imaginable — a resistance led by several hundred people on Manus Island who are still protesting, still demanding “freedom, nothing less than freedom”.

When renowned ecosocialist Ian Angus came to Australia in 2011 he observed that for most people it is “easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism”. 

Unfortunately, imagining the end of the world is getting easier. There are almost daily reports of the accumulating effects of climate change, to choose just one source of potential apocalypse.

The humiliating about-face forced on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull when he announced a royal commission into the banking and financial sectors on November 30 could be the beginning of the end for the Coalition government.

The publication of NSW Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon’s new pamphlet, Sold off, sold out: the disaster of privatisation and how to reclaim our common wealth, is timely.

With the federal government now supporting a royal commission into the banks and widespread controversy over national energy policy, the damaging consequences of privatising many of the country’s formerly publicly owned industries is clear for all to see.

Finance industry workers are facing increasing pressure as banks seek to maximise their already hefty profits. Our jobs are becoming increasingly precarious, and all the while our wages and conditions are being threatened with cuts.

These days, if you walk into a bank, you’ll find very few staff and a lot of ATMs, which not only give cash but do almost everything a teller can do. You will also find a concierge, whose job is to shift customers to self-service via online banking. Tellers have performance targets for shifting customers online.

This month we celebrate the 163rd anniversary of the Eureka Stockade.

It is important to celebrate and mark historical anniversaries, especially one such as the Eureka Stockade, whose legacy has played such a pivotal role in the struggles of Australia’s working people for a fair, just and democratic society.

Another United Nations climate conference (COP23) is over — though many people would have barely noticed, given the lack of media coverage. The Paris Climate Agreement is locked in and, contrary to the Coalition’s inetrpretation, Australia needs to ratchet up its emissions reduction.

This is a useful time to reflect on where Australia sits globally on climate action and what areas are of concern.

Another year will soon be over. Green Left Weekly will take a short break so the many volunteers who worked very hard all year to keep our project going can have a little holiday.

Thank you to all our regular readers and subscribers and all the people who kindly contributed to keep this project alive.

In his early 20s, James was denied full life insurance cover because he revealed that he had discussed genetic testing with a genetic counsellor, as his mother had bowel cancer and carried a gene mutation.

He was tested and found to carry a mutation in the MSH6 gene, one of the DNA mismatch repair genes in Lynch syndrome.

Don Burke, a television host and “family man”, is the latest celebrity to be outed as a serial sexual harasser. A joint investigation by Fairfax Media and the ABC has uncovered multiple claims of Burke committing indecent assault, sexual harassment and bullying of women in the late 1980s and 1990s. 

As more women come forward with their horrific experiences with this particular monster, we need to ask what more can be done? Do we just expose more perpetrators, or is there something else?

What to make of the NSW Greens preselection result, which delivered a 60–40 win for Mehreen Faruqi against Lee Rhiannon?

To close observers it was not a surprise. In the two preselections last year in the NSW Greens, what we might call the Brown Greens pipped the left or red Greens on both occasions.

The scenes are horrendous. Defenceless people, who are desperately seeking protection, find themselves at the mercy of authoritarian bullies. All they seek is safety.

And yet the totalitarian Yes voters are deaf to their pleas, as No voters, seeking nothing more than the right to institutionalised bigotry, suffer in silence with only huge swathes of the government and the Murdoch press daring to raise their voices on their behalf.

The federal Coalition government is on the skids. It seems only a matter of time before it will be forced to an early election.

The latest sign of panic by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was the November 20 decision to delay the last sitting of the House of Representatives by a week to December 4.

The stated justification for this blatant lock-out of opposition and independent MPs — that it would facilitate the passing of equal marriage legislation by the end of the year — does not wash.

Pas Forgione is state coordinator of Anti-Poverty Network South Australia (APNSA), a non-government organisation with a difference.

APNSA is made up of welfare recipients and other low-income people who organise and campaign in defence of society’s marginalised people.

Green Left Weekly’s Renfrey Clarke spoke to Forgione.

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I was privileged to be invited to observe a National Gathering of First Nations peoples on November 4–5 at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra.

Representatives from many different clan groups from a large number of First Nations across the continent attended. It was a direct response to the events at Uluru earlier in the year, with regard to Constitutional Recognition. Its initial purpose being to discuss the formalisation of a process of recognition of each tribe’s sovereignty.

After depriving hundreds of men of food, water and medical support for more than three weeks, Papua New Guinea police moved into Manus Island detention centre on November 23.

They are forcing the 400 men left in the centre to move to alternative accommodation on Manus Island which, according to Kurdish asylum seeker and journalist Behrouz Boochani, is like “moving to another prison”.

The statements, photos and videos that have emerged from the refugees inside paint a brutal and tragic picture.

When you think of devastating deforestation and extinction you usually think of the Amazon, Borneo and the Congo.

But eastern Australia ranks alongside these in the top 10 of the world’s major deforestation fronts — the only one in a developed nation. Most of the clearing is happening in Queensland and it is accelerating.

The Coalition government of Malcolm Turnbull is in deep, possibly terminal, crisis.

The combination of the dual citizenship fiasco, the widespread resistance to the government's attempts to push its neoliberal agenda through a maverick Senate and the constant undermining of Turnbull by the right wing of the Liberal Party under the leadership of former Prime Minister Tony Abbott has sapped any public confidence the government was given when Turnbull replaced Abbott only two years ago.

A pin could have been heard dropping in Sydney’s Prince Alfred Park in the moments before the result of the postal vote on marriage equality was announced on the morning of November 15.

Lovers stood with their faces pressed into each other’s chests, whitened knuckles held shaking hands, friends stood shoulder-to-shoulder and rainbow families held each other in tight embraces. Even the blustering wind that had dishevelled our stall all morning seemed to have been holding its breath. All was silent as we braced for the result.

When this debacle around Section 44 of the Australian Constitution started becoming apparent, I found myself amused.

The fact that a group of white politicians were falling victim to a section I believed was inherently xenophobic, particularly when some of those same politicians have been integral in fanning xenophobia to win votes, contained a delicious irony.

How would you feel if you were one of the 6000 workers at National Australia Bank (NAB) who will be made redundant in order to cut costs?

You might have a family with small children, struggling to pay for the weekly groceries and bills, on top of the monthly rental or mortgage payments that you can barely afford.

It is disappointing to see our postal survey victory marred by racism from No and Yes campaigners alike, as they descend on Western Sydney, which turned out 12 of the 17 highest No voting electorates in the country.

But not only is the anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant dog-whistling that shapes this assault on people who live in the west more or less overtly racist, it is also a poor analysis of what went wrong in the west.

Renewable energy projects currently under construction in Queensland are set to create a comparable number of jobs to those of the controversial Adani new coal project, if it proceeds. The growth of renewable power generation will create more jobs than have been lost in coalmining.

Thousands of people gathered around Australia on November 15 to hear the results of the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey.

While the survey delivered the result that was hoped for by these crowds, there has been a growing awareness that a majority Yes response in the survey does not necessarily deliver an easy pathway to the legislation that would deliver marriage equality. Instead, a new battle is looming, to win not just the legislation that a clear majority of Australians support, but to defend anti-discrimination protections for LGBTI people.

Four hundred men are still protesting in the Manus Island detention centre. They are calling for nothing less than their freedom and will not move to another centre on the Island. They have held out since the Australian government shut down the centre and removed services on October 31.

November 15 was the 107th consecutive day of protest on Manus Island since the Australian government announced it would close the centre.

On a cold, wet November morning in the village of Rocles in central France, I attended a World War I centenary event unlike any I had seen before.

In the town square there is a small war memorial with a marble plaque listing the district's fallen sons, much as you find in every locality across France and Australia.

However, on closer examination, this one is a bit different. Instead of "Vive la France", it has palm leaves engraved in the stone, slogans calling for peace and acknowledges all the victims of war. How could this be?

Tony Abbott was elected in 2013 on the “promise” that the Coalition’s proposed industrial relations legislation, Work Choices, was “dead, buried and cremated”.

Of course, few workers genuinely believed that an incoming Coalition government would keep its word. Certainly, construction workers knew it was only a matter of time before they were in the firing line.

The results of the non-binding voluntary survey on same-sex marriage will be announced on November 15.

Irrespective of the outcome, we will need to continue to fight not only to achieve marriage equality but to combat the right's bigotry.

The following speech was given by Socialist Alliance Sydney branch organiser Peter Boyle to the 100 years since the Balfour Declaration symposium organised by the Palestine National Corporation in Australia, in Lakemba on November 3.

The Australian operations of mining giant Glencore have been implicated in the Paradise Papers revelations – the largest leak of documents in history.

The Paradise Papers show that Glencore was involved in currency swaps of up to $25 billion between the Bermuda-based and Australian-based arms of its company.

While theoretically "legal”, these types of swaps are being investigated by the Australian Tax Office under suspicion they may be used to avoid tax by shuttling interest payments from high-tax nations to low-tax jurisdictions.

Seven facts about the crisis in the Manus Island detention centre that the media refuse to report.

I had considered the racist abuse hurled at Labor Senator Sam Dastyari to be a deliberate publicity stunt by a group of neo-Nazis, enabled by a climate of rising bigotry and white nationalism, on the grounds that they deliberately sought out the senator, filmed their racist abuse and posted it on Facebook.

That was before Pauline Hanson explained otherwise. The senator, campaigning in Queensland, pointed out that Dastyari was just using abuse he faced in a pub on November 8 to sell his book.

The crisis is deepening on Manus Island. The 600 men remaining at the former regional processing centre compound are being starved out, deprived of medical aid and having fences taken down around them as Green Left Weekly goes to print. Notices have been posted at the centre saying that if the men do not vacate, they will be removed by force.

Multinational corporations are using tax havens to avoid paying tax and the filthy rich are getting richer. Paradise Papers, Panama Papers, billionaire capers – what’s new? This stuff has been going on for yonks.

One hundred years ago this month, workers, peasants and soldiers in Russia overthrew the corrupt government that had led the country into a disastrous war and established the Soviet Socialist Republic. 

It seemed that, for once, the people had won. Socialism had gone from theoretical possibility to practical reality.

The Socialist Alliance is running in the November 25 Queensland state elections to help build an anti-capitalist alternative to the two-party system. We are also supporting the re-election of progressive independent MP Rob Pyne in Cairns and calling for a vote for the Greens in other seats.

I believe we’re going to win this postal survey and, probably after some period of delay from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, we will win marriage equality too.

And when we do, Turnbull is going to want us to remember him as the prime minister who gave us marriage equality.

So let’s put something on the record: This community was never given anything by Malcolm Turnbull and the Coalition.

The Fremantle local council elections on October 21 pitted largely conservative challengers against progressive incumbents, including Socialist Alliance member Sam Wainwright and Greens Mayor Brad Pettitt, both of whom had come under fire for the council’s decision to not celebrate Australia Day on January 26.

Both were returned with 55% of the vote, with progressive candidates defeating conservative opponents in all wards. Green Left Weekly spoke to Wainwright about the outcome

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