Comment and Analysis

Juanel de la Forêt gave this speech at a Sydney College of the Arts rally on September 7 against Sydney University’s proposal to close the college.

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I would like to acknowledge that I am an occupier on occupied land. I offer my respects to Aboriginal elders, past and present.

I am an international student from Cape Town, South Africa, and a first year student at Sydney College of the Arts. I am also a proud occupier and would like to thank you all for coming and for this incredible support.

Gamilaraay people are engaged in an epic fight for country against coal and gas giants supported by state and federal governments. For Raymond “Bubbly” Weatherall, from the Gunu Gunu clan and the Biridja clan, the fight is about totems — “our water, the environment and the land itself”.

Are small-scale nuclear power reactors the key to dealing with the high cost of electricity in South Australia? Someone in the policy apparatus of Labor Premier Jay Weatherill seems to think so.

Adelaide’s Channel 7 splashed the story across its news reports on September 7: the nuclear power option was being officially explored!

“A top-level report clearly indicates small-scale reactors have been on the short-term radar,” the channel stated.

Oppose the coups in Latin America! Solidarity with the people of Venezuela and Brazil!

We, the undersigned, condemn the destabilisation plan underway in Venezuela against President Nicolas Maduro. We send our solidarity to President Maduro and the Venezuelan people who are resisting attempts by right-wing opposition forces to oust a democratically-elected government by violent means in violation of the democratic vote of the people and the country’s constitution.

Parliament resumed on August 30 and the government's agenda was simple: delay marriage equality; justify the double dissolution; and argue the case for a renewed assault on living standards — I mean: “budget repair”.

The “budget repair” project was contained in a centrepiece “omnibus” bill that combines 24 measures from this year's budget that have not yet passed the Senate. It is an attack on students, welfare recipients, ordinary workers and the environment.

“AT 1330, ASYLUM SEEKER [REDACTED] APPROACHED SAVE THE CHILDREN (SCA) CASEWORKER (CW) [REDACTED] IN THE MESS AT RPC3. [REDACTED] WAS CRYING AND WAS OBSERVED TO BE VERY SHAKEN. [REDACTED] AND [REDACTED] SAT OUTSIDE WHERE [REDACTED] REPORTED THAT A WILSONS SECURITY GUARD HAD JUST HIT HIM.”

Something smelly has been swirling around Canberra lately, and I am not talking about Clive Palmer’s locker at Parliament House, which hazmat teams are still trying to contain. No, I am talking about the fetid stench of parliamentary politics under capitalism.

Since 2003, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) has had the power to detain people for up to seven days, without charge, for questioning in relation to a terrorism investigation.

That person does not have to be a terrorism suspect or even an associate of a terrorism suspect; is compelled to answer questions; and is forced to keep the detention and interrogation secret.

The responsibility of governments to help with the costs of child-rearing has been a part of Australian social policy since the early 1920s, when the first widows’ pension (1926) and child endowment (1927) schemes were introduced.

Australia has recognised this principle since the Harvester judgment of 1907, which raised the issue of how much income was appropriate for a family with child-rearing responsibilities. For most of the 20th century, this was recognised in taxation policy, as well as in income support policies.

Increased evidence of homelessness in Melbourne’s iconic graffiti laneway, Hosier Lane, has prompted outrage from government and local businesses in recent weeks.

Early one morning last month, the Chief Commissioner of the Greater Sydney Commission (GSC) Lucy Turnbull — a lifelong resident of the city’s most privileged suburbs along the south-eastern edge of the harbour — quietly slipped across to Sydney’s inner west where she was taken on tour by a WestConnex manager of the M4 East tollway tunnel corridor. There she presumably saw for the first time the gigantic construction sites in Haberfield where scores of heritage homes, businesses, gardens, parks and trees stood until a few weeks ago.

In a big development in industrial dispute involving Carlton and United Breweries (CUB) and the 55 maintenance workers it has sacked in Melbourne, the contractor at the centre of the dispute, Programmed Skilled, has broken its contract with the brewery.

The 55 workers were sacked in June — then offered their jobs back with a 65% pay cut. The company brought in unskilled scab labour, with the sacked workers, backed by the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU), picketing the Abbotsford factory.

Photos by Chelsea Dennison

The good turnout to national rallies on August 27 and 28 shows the refugee rights' movement is starting to gain political ground. A number of pro-asylum seeker groups are forming to force an end to the cruel policy of locking up refugees in offshore detention.

Racism is responsible for the murder of a young boy near Kalgoorlie on August 29.

It is one of several recent examples that demonstrate that the sentiment behind the US #BlackLivesMatter movement is just as relevant in this country.

National attention has focused on the case in large part because hundreds of people protested outside the Kalgoorlie courthouse on August 30. Windows were broken and police cars were damaged — small biscuits compared to the loss of a young boy's life.

Last month I read an article that first appeared in the Huffington Post titled "X Marks the Spot Where Inequality Took Root: Dig Here".

It explains how real wages in the US shadowed growth in productivity in the years after World War II. But in the mid-1970s wages growth completely stalled.

If wages had continued to shadow productivity growth they would now be double what they are today. This explains a lot about contemporary US society: all the gains of increased productivity have been absorbed by the rich.

Well-respected socialist activist Sue Bolton is recontesting her position as councillor for the North East Ward in Melbourne's City of Moreland Council election.

Bolton, a member of Socialist Alliance, was elected in 2012 on a platform of “Community need, not developer greed”.
An experienced working-class activist, Bolton was born in western Queensland, and worked (among other things) as a bus driver and public servant, and has been an active trade unionist over many years.

The Fremantle Council voted 10-1 to drop its annual Australia Day fireworks on August 24 in recognition of how sensitive this date is for many First Nations peoples.

It is worth restating the obvious: modern Australia, like Canada, the US, New Zealand and South Africa, began as a colonial-settler state founded on the violent dispossession of its Indigenous peoples. But Australia is the only one to hold its national day on the very date that marks the beginning of that dispossession.


Pro-choice protest outside Queensland parliament, May 10.

Pro-choice activists in Queensland have expressed disappointment at the release of a parliamentary report on August 26 that failed to support the bill before Queensland parliament to decriminalise abortion.


6000-strong march against Baird in Sydney on May 29..

“Beyond the amiable, good-bloke persona, [NSW Premier] Mike Baird is an aggressively neoliberal politician, who has quietly privatised dozens of state entities.

Northern Territory voters kicked out the ruling Country Liberal Party (CLP) government on August 27 in what has been described as an “election bloodbath”. Voters rejected the CLP for many reasons, which opens up the possibility of a more progressive politics in the NT.

French philosopher Guy Debord's The society of the spectacle plays out on newer, modern terms at a Moreland Says No To Racism rally in May.

Protesters march from trains with banners, flags and masks straight into a containment web of fences, barriers, police lines and the steam of horses breathing out wet air. The tactical police wave us into lines.

“More tax is not the answer.” This was an actual statement made by Treasurer Scott Morrison on August 24 in response to a proposal from the Western Australian Nationals for a mining tax on Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton.

The Victorian government announced new legislation on August 18 aimed at simplifying the process for trans and gender diverse (TGD) people’s to change the sex marker on their birth certificates and records. This has rightfully been welcomed as an important step forward for TGD people rights.

The new legislation, which follows similar legislation in the ACT and 2013 changes to policies regarding sex markers on Commonwealth documents, is a start towards eliminating medical gatekeeping on the lives of TGD people.

The Australian Automobile Association (AAA) commissioned a study into transport affordability and found that an average family spends up to $420 a week just to get around. Hobart was the cheapest city, at $14,000 a year, and Sydney the most expensive, at $22,000.

The national average of about $330 a week is a significant figure in anyone's budget. It means an average household spends 13% of their income (17% in Sydney) on transport, compared with 1–3% on power, water and telecommunications.

Treasurer Scott Morrison's speech to a Bloomberg business breakfast in Sydney on August 25 echoed previous warnings by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull that Australians were heading for economic trouble if the new parliament fails to pass the government's "omnibus" budget package.

If we needed any more proof that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's plebiscite on equal marriage is a spurious delaying tactic we got it on August 21 when the media reported that the vote will now be pushed back to February 2017, some 18 months after it was first proposed.

One of the less prominent aspects of Malcolm Turnbull's federal budget is the plan to shift another 30,000 Disability Support Pension (DSP) recipients onto Newstart umemployment benefits. This move has been defended as a cost-saving measure to help fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

It follows the tightened of the eligibility criteria for DSP that occurred in 2011 under a federal Labor government. Since then, the number of DSP recipients has flatlined at around 800,000.

“I look at the body I have, which is a male body, and I want a female body”, Alexis Greenwood, a young woman transitioning from male to female, told Green Left Weekly.

Greenwood is speaking up about the barriers she faces because she wants more people to ask questions. She wants more people to be less ignorant about being transgender.

Greenwood said she “always knew something was wrong”. At 16 years old, while performing a monologue in her drama class about a transitioned person, she thought: “This feels right, this is me”.

With calls for a royal commission into the banking sector growing, the argument for a new "people's bank" to challenge the domination of the big banks is gaining strength.

A number of recent events have propelled community anger at the "Big Four" — Commonwealth Bank (CBA), NAB, Westpac and ANZ — to the point that a royal commission seems increasingly likely.

This is the Australian version of the open letter created by Letters for Black Lives, an ongoing project for people to create and translate resources on anti-Blackness for their communities in solidarity with #BlackLivesMatter.

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Mum, Dad, Uncle, Auntie, Grandfather, Grandmother:

We need to talk.

You may not have grown up around people who are Black, Aboriginal or African but I have. Black people are a fundamental part of my life: they are my friends, my classmates and teammates, my roommates, my family. Today, I'm scared for them.

Carlton United Breweries' (CUB) attack on its maintenance workers was clearly premeditated.

The brewery forced workers to do large amounts of overtime to build up its stock before sacking 55 maintenance workers on June 10.

Although the 55 workers were told they could reapply for their jobs through a new contractor, they were not told who the new employing contractor would be or what their new terms and conditions would look like.

Meanwhile, CUB had secretly recruited temporary workers from interstate to replace the sacked workers.

The Pine Gap military spy base was established 50 years ago on the traditional lands of the Arrernte people, about 20 kilometres outside of Alice Springs, in the Northern Territory.

Pine Gap is supposedly a joint US-Australian defence facility, but very little of it is “joint” or “defence” related.

A fight broke out on a beach on the French island of Corsica on August 13 after a tourist began taking photos of women wearing burqinis. Following the altercation, the local mayor decided to ban the full-body swimwear.

That's right: someone took photos of women without their permission, people got upset and, in response, the state is now dictating what women can and cannot wear.

A week after Green Left Weekly reported on the Brighton Grammar scandal, it has been revealed that this is just the tip of the iceberg: a large-scale child pornography ring is being run by boys and young men at high schools across Australia.

The refugee rights movement is gaining momentum, but the establishment is looking for ways to placate and demobilise it.

The growing breadth of the campaign is evident in the response to the Guardian's release of the Nauru Files, which contained more than 2000 reports detailing sexual assault, child abuse and acts of self-harm in Nauru detention centre.

Almost immediately, "Love Makes A Way" actions were organised, involving a diversity of organisations protesting outside more than 40 Coalition and Labor MP's offices across the country on August 15.

When a gang of right-wing goons from the Party For Freedom (PFF), dressed as stereotypical Muslims, stormed the Sunday service at the Gosford Anglican Church on August 14, their actions were nominally disowned by Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party in a written statement. However, the statement also sought to justify and excuse the actions of the PFF.

Nicholas Miklouho-Maclay (1846-1888) was a Russian anthropologist, biologist and explorer who lived and worked in Sydney for nine years and established himself as a respected member of the New South Wales scientific community.

On January 26, 1988 - the bicentenary of the invasion of Australia - Burnum Burnum planted the Aboriginal flag under the white cliffs of Dover and took possession of England on behalf of the Aboriginal people.

Fifty years ago this week, 200 Aboriginal stockmen and domestic servants walked off the job at Lord Vestey's Wave Hill cattle station, 600 kilometres south of Darwin. Most of them were members of the Gurindji people, with small numbers of Walpiri and other indigenous people. They were to stay out on strike for ten years.

The issue of just treatment of asylum seekers is close to my heart. I am Jewish and the child of refugees who fled the Nazis. As a child of immigrants in Australia, I was picked on for being “different”.

My life of activism for social justice is rooted in this history. I am driven by a passion that all human beings should be included, should be valued, should be embraced. Inclusion is a fundamental value for me.

When we look at what this country is doing to people incarcerated in our detention centres, what other word can we truthfully use besides “cruelty”?

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