Comment and Analysis

Finally, the federal government has a policy for the electricity sector: the National Energy Guarantee. (NEG. Did it think this one through?)

It is, effectively, an emissions trading scheme applied to electricity. It is similar to other schemes — the Clean Energy Target (CET) and the Emissions Intensity Scheme (EIS) — supported by Labor.

It is approaching crunch time for the Adani mega-coalmine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin, with the movement against it growing by the day, including in areas that traditionally support mining.

Seven years after he launched a ground-breaking study showing how Australia could re-power with 100% renewable energy by 2020, Malcolm Turnbull, now Prime Minister, has announced a “National Energy Guarantee” (NEG) policy that will have no renewable energy target.

As the dismal reality of the copper-wire National Broadband Network (NBN) that Turnbull foisted on the nation becomes clear, it appears that the electricity grid will likewise be shackled to yesterday’s technology of ageing, super-polluting coal and gas power stations.

In public debate “the thin end of the wedge” — the notion that once made, any penetration of the status quo will inevitably be followed by something greater — is an idiom invoked almost exclusively in the negative. It is an insufferable refrain of the perpetually fearful, the racist, the homophobic, the xenophobic, the Islamophobic, and the climate change-phobic.

It is one of former Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s favourite lines.

The High Court ruled on October 18 by a 6:1 majority in favour of Bob Brown and Jessica Hoyt’s challenge to the validity of a Tasmanian anti-protest law. The decision is a significant win for forestry and public-interest activists, although it does not go as far as some may have hoped.

The court found the Tasmanian law was unbalanced and unreasonable. However, it affirmed the right of parliaments to target protesters who interfere with business operations.

In the wake of US film producer and former studio executive Harvey Weinstein’s outing as a sexual predator, who infamously preyed on young actresses, the hashtag #MeToo, which women are sharing to say that they too have experienced sexual assault or harassment, is now trending as an international discussion ensues about sexual violence and power.

So far more than 12 million women have shared the hashtag.

Poverty is everywhere — in cities, towns and the bush across Australia: shivering people sleeping in doorways or cars; ragged people hanging around shopping centres begging for money or food; overstretched private welfare agencies unable to meet the requests for assistance; people turned away from emergency accommodation; and abused women and children turned away from refuges.

But those are only the most visible signs of poverty. The true extent of the poverty crisis is hidden.

Changes to Victoria’s rental laws have been described by campaign group Make Renting Fair as “a significant step in the right direction”. However, spokesperson Mark O’Brien said more changes are needed because the state still “lacks adequate safeguards against eviction”.

More than 50 community services, local governments and others have been working for nearly a year, under the Make Renting Fair banner, to push the government to change the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA).

The decision by state and territory leaders at the recent Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting to give the federal government real time access to data, including driver's licences, is the latest measure likely to undermine civil liberties in the government’s so-called war on terror.

While the marriage equality campaign is currently focused on maximising a Yes response in the national survey, supporters of marriage equality and of LGBTI rights more generally need to look beyond the horizon of the survey itself.

This is because a majority Yes in the survey will not definitively resolve the question of marriage equality and because there are many other challenges facing the LGBTI community, particularly around legal rights.

Ahead of to the 2015 Paris Climate Change Conference, Australia’s Big Four banks made public commitments to take action on climate change.

Tony Abbott reckons a bit of global warming could be a good thing, especially if it comes with capitalist prosperity.

He’s checked a few pics of his local Manly Beach and has seen no signs of sea level rises (the islands that have already disappeared beneath the South Pacific being, conveniently, beyond the horizon).

So declared George Orwell’s allegorical Joseph Stalin, Napoleon the Berkshire Boar, in his 1945 classic Animal Farm. In Australia, we’ve declared war on some inequalities, like those contained in the Marriage Act, while we acquiesce to, tolerate, ignore or accept many others. Just like the animals on Orwell’s Manor Farm, in contemporary Australia, it seems all inequalities are equal but some are more equal than others.

Fluctuating poll results indicate that the imminent Queensland election is an open contest between the Annastacia Palaszczuk Labor government and the Liberal National Party (LNP) opposition. Strong campaigns by the Greens and One Nation could also see newcomers into the state parliament from both left and right.

Activists from all over Australia travelled to be part of the week of frontline action against Adani coalmine. Green Left Weekly spoke to Juliette from Gympie in Queensland and asked her thoughts on the protest.

"I have come up to join all these amazing, strong, empowered people to show my opposition to the Adani coalmine because I really care about our planet, I care about our future.

The Victorian Labor government plans to sell off inner city public land, which currently houses more than 2000 public housing tenants, to property developers. Under the misnamed Public Housing Renewal Plan, the government will give property developers access to land that is currently used for public housing.

This plan involves the forced removal of tenants and the demolition of nine or more public housing estates across Melbourne. Many residents have lived on the estates for many years and do not want to leave.

In a September address to the United Nations Human Rights Council, top UN human rights official Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, described the Myanmar military’s attacks on Rohingya as being “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.

Satellite photos show the Myanmar security forces and local militia burning entire Rohingya villages to the ground. There are consistent accounts of extrajudicial killings, including the shooting of fleeing civilians.

In the three months to June, Australia's greenhouse gas emissions reached a record level, with the annual emissions on track to surpass the previous peak in 2009, according to the latest National Energy Emissions Audit published by The Australia Institute.

Tony Abbot’s recent suggestion that the army take control of gas resources in states that have banned or limited unconventional gas mining shows the lengths to which the recalcitrant fossil fools will go to defend dirty energy corporations, which are under increasing fire as the national debate over energy security continues. 

On August 25, for the first time in my life, I helped to organise a marriage equality rally.

It was a fantastic day: we had more than 400 people for the speeches and many more who joined the march through Fremantle and the rainbow chalk art session along the way. Walking through streets filled with supportive messages was so special. It was wonderful to be a part of and hugely encouraging to me and to everyone who supports the Yes campaign.

Two things gave me the drive to overcome my lack of confidence and make this rally happen.

It is amazing how innovative companies can be when it comes to finding more ways to exploit people.

Take for example the adoption of “agile” methods and processes in the workplace. Large corporations, in particular, have been the champions of agile practices as the basis for their corporate transformations.

GetUp! has just published an updated version of The Adani Files, which it released in February. The Adani Files: New Dirt reveals the fraudulent activity of the mining giant, currently under investigation in India, where it is accused of a complex $298 million scam that cheated shareholders, tax authorities and Indian energy consumers.

The Big Four banks have abolished fees on “foreign” automatic teller machines (ATM) withdrawals as part of a public relations ploy to head off a royal commission into their financial scandals.

The Commonwealth Bank announced on September 24 it was scrapping ATM fees on withdrawals by customers of other banks. This was immediately followed by ANZ, the National Australia Bank and Westpac.

Across South Australia, local governments are sticking up for residents who are out of work and living in poverty. This is part of a grassroots campaign being led by the Anti-Poverty Network SA with support from SA Council of Social Service and Uniting Communities.

Despite the overwhelming evidence that fossil fuels are killing the Great Barrier Reef and making many extreme weather events worse; despite the emphatic thumbs-down from the f

The men in Manus Island detention began their 59th day of protest on September 29, days after a handful of their friends left for the US. They held their tired arms above their heads in a cross, a gesture that has become symbolic of refugee protests in detention.

About 25 of the several hundred men on Manus Island have being offered settlement in the US.

Phil Bradley, the first Greens councillor elected to Parramatta Council, knows the next period will be a testing time.

I had the privilege of spending five days with more than 100 activists from around the country taking front-line action to stop Adani’s Carmichael coalmine in the Galilee Basin from being built. 

We camped just outside Bowen, about 1000 kilometres north of Brisbane, on the Whitsunday coast. A large proportion of the activists were women. There were also babies, kids, campus activists, experienced veterans of campaigns against coal and unconventional gas mining, forest blockaders and Knitting Nannas. 

As if it were wrapped in flammable polyethelene (PE) cladding, Uber’s seemingly unstoppable plan for world domination caught fire in London last month; and the blaze might be as hard to extinguish as the inferno that engulfed the 24-storey Grenfell Tower in the same city in June.

The deadly fire at Grenfell, and Uber’s repeated failings — in terms of vehicle safety, sexual assault, regulatory avoidance and driver exploitation — are both the direct result of under-regulation and multi-layered regulatory and policy failure.

The decision by the City of Fremantle to drop its annual Australia Day fireworks has inevitably shaped the contours of the looming council elections, even though no candidate has made it the centrepiece of their campaign.

The election is largely pitting a generally socially progressive group of incumbents of different political stripes (Labor, Greens, socialist and independents) against an alliance of conservative challengers headed by mayoral candidate Caroline “Ra” Stewart.

Geelong Council was sacked in April last year by the Victorian state government. It was accused of being dysfunctional, having no long-term strategic plan and failing to respond to a highly-publicised report on bullying in the council.

As serious as some of these allegations were – particularly those regarding bullying – neither of us as Geelong residents felt they warranted the undemocratic sacking of a duly-elected council. Surely the people of Geelong should be the ones that make any such decision?

The time has come to scrap the misnamed Fair Work Act (FWA) and introduce genuine pro-worker and pro-union industrial relations legislation in this country.

Rising pressure on federal employment minister Michaelia Cash to resign over her cover-up of the illegal actions by former Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) head Nigel Hadgkiss merely underlines the fact that Australia’s industrial relations system is badly broken.

The nationwide debate over equal marriage rights has brought a lot more people into contact with Green Left Weekly.

Circulation of this “little paper with a big heart”, as a supporter once described us, is growing as more people look to alternative media sources for their information.

GLW is now in its 26th year of production — no mean feat for a not-for-profit newspaper in the most media monopolised country in the world.

In the lead up to and following the announcement of the plebiscite, now survey, on changing the Marriage Act, unions have played a prominent role in promoting and resourcing the Yes campaign.

Senior union officials have been speakers at rallies, there have been large union contingents at protest marches and unions — especially peak bodies such as Victorian Trades Hall Council and the Australian Council of Trade Unions — have been providing infrastructure to help build the capacity for the campaign to ensure maximum participation and support for the Yes side.

Andrew Bolt takes me to task for being “irresponsible” for “propagandising” about the colonial invasion and subsequent massacres of First Nations people.

He also takes issue with my support for the growing number of councils across Australia that are leading the debate on the so-called history wars and deciding against celebrating on January 26 in favour of something more inclusive.

The following statement from the Australia Burma Rohingya Organisation was read by Habib to a solidarity protest in Melbourne on September 7.

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Today we raise our voices on behalf of the oppressed Rohingya and Kaman people, who are facing ongoing genocide in the Rakhine [Arakan] state of western Myanmar [Burma].

We are also protesting the continuous wars being waged against minorities in the Shan and Kachin states.

An increasing number of employers are asking themselves why they should have to abide by the terms of an Enterprise Agreement with their workers and unions, when it would cost less money if they didn't. Many have come to the conclusion that they should simply escape the obligations of their agreements.

Indigenous feminist and trade unionist Celeste Liddle addressed the topic of “Women fight back against misogyny & rape culture” at the Radical Ideas conference hosted by Resistance: Socialist Youth Alliance in August.

The following text is based on an abridged version of her talk.

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Former Prime Minister Paul Keating loved this quote of his long-time mentor former NSW Premier Jack Lang. I was reminded of its currency and utility recently, when I read that the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) had made an (overdue) entrance to the public debate about the costs and benefits of the emerging “gig” economy — let’s be honest, it’s mainly costs.

Steve Bannon, the editor of the far-right Breitbart and Donald Trump’s ex-chief strategist, recently compared China to Germany in the 1930s, telling the New York Times: “China right now is Germany in 1930. It’s on the cusp ... The younger generation is so patriotic, almost ultranationalistic.”

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