Comment and Analysis

Mardi Gras — now the largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, (LGBTQI) pride march in the world — started in June 1978 when New South Wales police viciously assaulted queer people dancing through Oxford Street. 

As a close blood relative of former minister for the environment Greg Hunt, I am deeply ashamed that he did not do one simple thing: protect Lawler’s Well.

There were 11 sites sacred to the Gomeroi people in the part of the Leard State Forest in north-western NSW that is being cleared for Whitehaven Coal’s controversial Maules Creek Mine. Ten have already been destroyed or irrevocably damaged. The last of these Gomeroi heritage sites is Lawler’s Well.

As part of Anti-Poverty Week, on October 21 and 22, Anti-Poverty Network South Australia hosted Power To The Poor — Silent No More, a two-day conference devoted to the attacks faced by welfare recipients in Australia — sole parents, unemployed people, age and disability pensioners, carers, and others — and opportunities for pushing back.

WENDY, a job-seeker in her late 50s, spoke about her experiences as an older unemployed person. Below she was interviewed by PAS FORGIONE from Anti-Poverty Network SA.

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The offshore detention hellholes of Nauru and Manus Island are becoming increasingly unviable as more damning reports are published, court cases in Papua New Guinea continue, private service providers under the pressure of boycott campaigns decline to reapply for contracts and protests grow in Australia.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s latest plan — third country resettlement in the United States — is a reaction to this pressure, while also maintaining the policy of boat turnbacks, border security rhetoric and denying asylum seekers the right to be resettled in Australia.

Canadian author and activist Naomi Klein accepted the 2016 Sydney Peace Prize on November 11, delivering a searing speech that reflected on Donald Trump's presidential victory in the United States and the factors that allowed it to happen.

Life has existed on Earth for roughly 3.7 billion years. During that time we know of five mass extinction events — dramatic episodes when many, if not most, life forms vanished in a geological heartbeat.

An orange baboon obsessed with the size of his hands.

If you want a bright side to the US elections, consider Paddy Power, the Irish bookmaker who lost a huge chunk of cash after paying out early to those who put money on a Clinton win. 

Enjoying the misfortune of a representative of the bloodsucking gambling industry may be grasping at straws, but as we await the race between a nuclear holocaust and climate change-induced eco-holocaust, we might as well take what we can get. As for Paddy Power, they can at least make their money back offering decent odds on the nuclear option.

Sections 18C and 18D of the Racial Discrimination Act — the law against racial vilification — are under renewed attack from the right. These attacks have the backing of Rupert Murdoch's media empire and the support of the federal government, which has announced a parliamentary inquiry to determine whether this law imposes unreasonable limits on free speech and recommend whether the law should be changed.

You'll all be familiar with the stories about lazy dole bludgers that the commercial media roll out a few days before the federal government announces another cut to welfare payments.

In fact, there is a massive reservoir of people unemployed or underemployed who are desperate for work. This includes people with a disability.

Australia has some of the highest rates of poverty and lowest rates of workforce participation for people with a disability in the developed world.

Doctors 4 Refugees banner

Phone calls, emails, social media posts, street protests, visits to MP’s offices and Senate inquiry submissions are building momentum to block the federal government’s latest anti-refugee bill in the Senate.

The proposed legislation seeks to place a lifetime ban on any asylum seeker who comes to Australia by boat from ever setting foot in the country. It includes refugees who are resettled in another country and wish to come on tourist, business or partner visas decades later.

The 2015 Annual Report from Barwon Health revealed a budget deficit of $13 million. Barwon Health is Victoria’s largest regional health service and Geelong’s largest employer, with more than 7000 employees across all its operations.

Barwon Health’s board aims for small surpluses, but the report revealed the 2015–16 operating deficit contributed to a total net deficit of $22 million after depreciation and other capital items were accounted for.

To the fury of business spokespeople, South Australia’s “Citizens’ Jury on Nuclear Waste” has effectively exploded plans by the state Labor government to host the world’s largest nuclear waste dump.

The jury was intended by Premier Jay Weatherill to lend his scheme a garnish of popular consent. But in their final report on November 6, the jurors instead concluded that the dump plan should not go ahead “under any circumstances”. The vote was overwhelming, with two-thirds of jury members opposing the government’s projections.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is seeking to make changes to Australia’s national environment act to stop conservation groups from challenging ministerial decisions on major resource developments and other matters of environmental importance.

The socialisation of essential services is fast becoming a formidable policy in the “contestable marketplace of ideas”. Nowhere is this more so than with railways and bus services; an everyday service all social demographics touch daily.

British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn believes nationalisation and socialisation will save millions of pounds a year, get community members back to work, augment sustainable transport and retool British industries.

Since Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull replaced Tony “coal is good for humanity” Abbott, the Adani Carmichael mine, the Galilee Basin and environmental “lawfare” has been out of the news. But an increase in the coal price and Turnbull’s apparent change of view means the Coal Wars are back. This is a review of some of the key claims at the heart of the Australian coal debate.

CLAIM: The Adani mine will create 10,000 jobs.

 

In August, Pamela Curr from Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC), and Sister Brigid Arthur, from the Brigidine Asylum Seekers Project, travelled to Christmas Island to visit the men seeking asylum, who are currently held in the detention centre, more than 2600 kilometres from the nearest capital city, Perth. On their return they presented this report.

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The Mining and Energy Division of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) released a statement on October 28 calling for tougher laws to hold employers accountable for workers’ deaths on site.

This follows reports that mining company Anglo American has pleaded guilty to failing to meet their safety obligations, causing the death of Paul McGuire.

The maximum penalty is a fine of $550,000, but Anglo had been offered a deal of a fine of $100,000 and $15,000 in investigation costs.

Guardian journalist and self-proclaimed “socialist feminist” Van Badham’s latest article is entitled “Time to hail Hilary — and face down the testosterone left”.

Stop the war on refugees banner at rally

After ripping up Australia's commitment to the 1951 Refugee Convention on several occasions in the past, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced on October 30 that the Australian government intends to do so again.

In the latest iteration, the government is threatening to formally prevent any refugee who arrives by boat from ever getting an Australian visa. This would include short-term tourist and business visas, let alone the permanent protection envisioned by the Refugee Convention.

Canadian author, journalist and activist Naomi Klein has been selected as the recipient of the 2016 Sydney Peace Prize for, as the Sydney Peace Prize Jury put it, “exposing the structural causes and responsibility for the climate crisis, for inspiring us to stand up locally, nationally and internationally to promote a new agenda for sharing the planet that respects human rights and equality, and for reminding us of the power of authentic democracy to achieve transformative change and justice.”

Celebrations of multiculturalism happened in 26 cities and rural locations across Australia on October 22 as part of Welcome to Australia events organised under the theme of “Walking together to welcome refugees”.

In Sydney, helium balloons, musical performances, bright red shirts and smiles gave it a carnival like atmosphere. For some it would have been their first refugee rights event.

Campaigning for Sue Bolton brought the issue of elder care into stark relief for Susan Price.

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Out door-knocking for Sue Bolton in Moreland during the local council elections, we came across a dilapidated block of flats in an otherwise gentrified part of Brunswick.

One of the last doors in the block was answered by an elderly man still in his pyjamas, breathless and clearly in distress. All he could manage to say was, “Can you please call someone?” I took one look at him and said, “Are you ill? Would you like us to call an ambulance?” He nodded.

Green Left Weekly is launching a subscriptions drive for the final months of the year as part of expanding our base of readers who regularly receive Australia's premiere weekly socialist publication.

A new report has found that methane leakage and fugitive emissions from unconventional gas fields are likely to be much higher than industry estimates, largely because it is neither accounting for nor reporting on them.

Long-term US activist Angela Davis addressed an overflowing lecture theatre at Melbourne University on October 24.

In a wide-ranging lecture and discussion, Davis looked at the criminalisation and incarceration of communities most affected by poverty and racial discrimination.

Davis drew upon her own experiences in the 1970s, when she spent 18 months on trial after being placed on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted List”.

The NSW government wants to privatise hospitals in Maitland, Wyong, Goulburn, Shellharbour and Bowral. But people are fighting back. Brett Holmes, general secretary of NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association, lays out the arguments.

Ultimately, the only way to ensure a secure future for jobs is to replace the whole capitalist system with one in which human need is prioritised above corporate profits.

Wind and solar may be leading the way in Australia’s renewable energy race, but there’s another contender lurking in the nation’s oceans.

A personal carer is so seriously injured that two surgical operations fail to correct a hand injury. The surgeon's post-operation report says: “The worker requires significant time off and work cover”.

On October 12, police cars descended at high speed on a laneway in the western Sydney suburb of Bankstown to arrest to two 16-year-olds. For the next few days the media uncritically reported police claims that they had foiled an imminent terrorist attack.

The trigger for the arrests was that the youths had just purchased M9 hunting knives at a local gun shop. This type of knife is not illegal in NSW.

As October comes to a close, the feminist “Reclaim the Night” marches, also known as “Take back the night”, draw near.

Reclaim the Night is an annual global protest against gendered violence and inequality traditionally held on the last Friday in October.

As is the case with much of women’s history, the origins of Reclaim the Night are poorly documented and little known.

CFMEU members and police

The Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) and Registered Organisations bills passed in the House of Representatives on October 18. These bills, first introduced by the Tony Abbott government in 2013, were twice rejected by the Senate, triggering the double dissolution election earlier this year. 

This is the latest attempt to extend the John Howard era’s union busting agenda. The ABCC was first established by the Howard government in 2005, targeting the militant unions that covered workers in the construction industry. It was opposed by the union movement.

Doctors and health professionals, with community support, have won a significant victory against the government’s agenda of suppression, fear and secrecy. Health professionals have been made exempt from the secrecy and disclosure provisions of the Border Force Act.

Group of women holding pro-choice placards

Unlike the other states and territories, abortion is a criminal offence in New South Wales and Queensland, except under certain circumstances.

The doctor who provides the termination, anyone assisting and the woman herself could all be prosecuted under the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) or the Criminal Code Act 1899 (Qld).

In NSW and Queensland, bills have been developed that, if successful, will lead to the decriminalisation of abortion in both states.

This is what things have come to.

The Greatest Democracy In the World™ is subjecting its people, and the world, to an election campaign to determine who gets to order new crimes against humanity, in which one candidate is a far-right, racist, woman-hating, tax-avoiding failed property mogul, reality TV star and serial sex offender, and the other is, by all available evidence, a robot built by Goldman Sachs.

Workers at the Geelong oil refinery, with the support of community members, maintained a 24-hour picket from October 5 to 11 at four refinery access gates over serious safety concerns at the site. The refinery, previously owned by Shell, has been managed by Viva Energy for the past two years.

It is now less than one week until the Moreland City Council election.

Campaigning for Sue Bolton at the early polling centre in the suburb of Fawkner, you can sense the level of community recognition for the socialist councillor. When a group of school kids and their teacher were looking for a public toilet at the playground adjacent to the polling centre, one of them suggested I “get Sue Bolton onto it”.

It is amazing how radical believing in the simple notion of welcoming refugees in Australia has become. ABC’s Q&A program on alternatives to detention on October 10 gave some insight into how convoluted the debate on refugees has become.

A number of “compromise solutions” are being put forward but none of them address the worldwide refugee crisis or end Australia’s cruel detention system.

Jafri Alexandra X has been conducting a one-person crusade against racism in Melbourne for almost two years. He is well known as the person who holds a “stop” sign with “Stop Racism Now” on it every Friday afternoon outside Flinders Street Station.

This interview with Jafri and Dilman Ramadan was broadcast on 3CR's Solidarity Breakfast show on October 1. 

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Low-income people, activists, community workers and others will gather in Adelaide on October 21 and 22 for “Power to the Poor — Silent No More”, a two-day Anti-Poverty Week conference.

The event — organised by Anti-Poverty Network SA, a grassroots group composed of welfare recipients struggling with poverty and joblessness — promises to be one of the largest Anti-Poverty Week events in the country.

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