Comment and Analysis

On October 31, Victorian planning minister Justin Madden released a report that gave the environmental green light for the dredging of Port Phillip Bay. Channel deepening, which is tied to port expansion, is essential according to the Port of Melbourne Corporation (PoMC) because of the bay’s shallowness. Opponents argue that the risks are too great and that alternatives exist, but the Labor state government has made it clear that it wants the project to proceed.

Know your candidate: Dr Tim Kirchler (Moncrieff, Queensland)

In a candid chat with Green Left Weekly, Kirchler, who works as a general practitioner on the Gold Coast, spoke about his reasons for running.

"I believe it's time that we in

There is an idea promoted by the ALP, aimed at obfuscating the party’s true nature, which is often used by ALP left-wingers to justify their continued allegiance. It’s what may be called the “generational myth”, and it goes like this: previous generations of ALP leaders and membership have always been more progressive, have more clearly seen “the light on the hill”, and it’s only the party’s current leadership that has sold out.

The Big Melt is a new report from Australian climate campaigner David Spratt of Carbon Equity. It warns that the latest data shows the effects of climate change are speeding up, with real dangers of the setting in of self-perpetuating, deepening “runaway” global warming.

The connections between water scarcity, power generation and the federal government’s promotion of nuclear power are worth reflecting on with National Water Week held from October 21-27.

The scientists are horrified. But not being media-savvy publicists, they generally leave their shocking findings in scientific journals. The politicians quote cautious statements issued by scientific committees early in the decade, and worry about scaring off corporate funding. The business executives look for the chance of new profits, and hire public relations experts to advise them on cultivating a green image.

Anti-war activists have again called for the Australian troops to get out of Afghanistan as a second Australian soldier this month was killed there.

In the lead-up to the federal election, your guide to what’s really happening behind the spin of the official campaign.

Guy Pearse — the speechwriter for the federal Coalition environment minister from 1997 to 2000 who blew the whistle last year on the Howard government’s use of Australia’s biggest polluters to write its greenhouse gas emissions policy — visited Melbourne on October 24 as part of an east-coast speaking tour.

On October 21, the day of the “great debate”, Labor leader Kevin Rudd announced Labor’s latest policy to help “working families”. He promised, if elected, to increase the federal government rebate on child care costs from 30% to 50% and to pay the rebate quarterly rather than annually. This promise stands alongside Labor’s pledge to allocate $2.5 billion dollars to allow “working families” to claim 50% of educational costs up to $750 per year for primary school kids, or $1500 for high schoolers. And of course, let’s not forget the “education revolution”.

A call for socialist ideas

Speaking at the launch of Socialist Alliance candidate Jim McIlroy’s campaign for the federal seat of Griffith, held by ALP leader Kevin Rudd, veteran socialist and university lecturer Gary MacLennan called for the continuation of the struggle for socialist ideas.

The infamous “worm” responded positively to PM John Howard’s climate change announcements during Channel Nine’s telecast of “The Great Debate” between Howard and ALP leader Kevin Rudd on October 21.

If you’ve sat in front a TV in the past few weeks, you’ll have seen the message: Australians need to get “climate clever” just like the Howard government, which, we’re told, is encouraging and funding new, environmentally friendly technologies such as “clean coal”. In fact, we’re led to believe, the government has put some $3.5 billion in recent years into new methods for combatting climate change.

A landmark Federal Court hearing for 96 Western Australian construction workers that begins on October 24 is the most dramatic demonstration yet of the impact of the Howard government’s draconian IR laws.

Ali Beg Humayun was threatened with deportation by the immigration department (DIAC) on October 8. Humayun, a queer Pakistani man, has been locked up for over two-and-a-half years in the Villawood detention centre and is currently appealing a Refugee Review Tribunal (RRT) decision not to grant him refugee status.

In his frantic bid to secure a fifth consecutive election victory for the Coalition, Prime Minister John Howard has fired up the amp and is loudly proclaiming his message that growth and increased private wealth will solve all problems. Howard is presenting his message — pump-primed by a lavish promise of personal tax cuts (largely for the already wealthy) and proclamations that economic growth can proceed unhindered (in spite of growing environmental concerns and increasing inequality) — like a spruiker at a country sideshow: enjoy the fairy floss and don’t mind the smell of bullshit.

The Socialist Alliance’s anti-war campaign coordinator, Pip Hinman, has offered her condolences to the family of trooper David Pearce, recently killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan’s Oruzgan province.

Victoria’s nurses are fighting three enemies: the state Labor government, the hospital administrations, and the federal Coalition government.

Victoria’s nurses are fighting three enemies: the state Labor government, the hospital administrations, and the federal Coalition government.

In the lead-up to the federal election, here’s a guide to what’s really happening in the Liberal and Labor camps, as well as anecdotes from the Socialist Alliance’s campaign trail.

The socialist movement lost a strong supporter with the death from cancer of David Matthews — my father — on September 30 at the age of 79. David joined the Socialist Alliance soon after its formation and remained a financial member and a strong supporter of the campaign to bring the fractious left together.

On October 12, PM John Howard announced his plan to hold a referendum to alter the preamble to the Australian constitution to include an acknowledgment of the original inhabitants of Australia. This is a departure from Howard’s historic position against “symbolic” gestures of reconciliation — a position that in the past has earned him the ire of Indigenous groups, who in 2000 literally turned their backs on Howard when he refused to apologise for previous governments’ complicity in the horrendous policies that led to the Stolen Generations.

On October 16, events in more than 150 countries marked World Food Day, which commemorates the founding of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, with the theme of “the right to food”.

During the upsurge of working-class and liberation struggles that followed the 1917 Russian Revolution, socialists from all continents joined in founding a world party, the Communist International, or “Comintern”.

Michael Barker has once again (GLW #725, online edition) engaged in a series of false accusations and major leaps of logic in his attacks on the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC) — an independent, nonprofit educational foundation that promotes the study and utilisation of nonmilitary strategies by civilian-based movements to establish and defend human rights, social justice and democracy — for which I serve as chair of its board of academic advisers.

As the 40th anniversary of the death of Argentinean-born revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara, murdered in Bolivia on October 9, 1967, on the orders of the CIA, arrives, there is increasing evidence that his spirit of struggle against injustice continues to get stronger in Latin America.

The first comprehensive research study on how Australian working life is being transformed under Work Choices reveals that Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs — individual contracts) are eating away at workers’ wages, conditions and job security.

On October 3, immigration minister Kevin Andrews justified cutting the number of African refugees accepted into Australia using racism, alleging that African refugees were “not adjusting too well” to Australian society.

With a federal election imminent, many working people are placing their hopes of defeating the Howard government in the ALP. Many have hoped that a future ALP federal government will indeed “tear up” Work Choices and other reactionary legislation introduced by the Howard government, such as the “anti-terror” laws.

As the October 24 hearing approaches for the Perth-Mandurah railway tunnel construction workers — who are being prosecuted by the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) for taking “unlawful” industrial action in February 2006 against the sacking of the health and safety union representative — new research has exposed “critically high” levels of injury in the construction industry.

The federal government should restore Indian doctor Mohamed Haneef’s work visa immediately, and pay him compensation for distress and financial loss, Jim McIlroy, the Socialist Alliance candidate for the south Brisbane seat of Griffith, told Green left Weekly. Griffith is held by ALP leader Kevin Rudd.

The message of the new CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology report to the Australian Climate Change Science Program, Climate Change in Australia, couldn’t be simpler: Stop fiddling while Australia burns!

A statement by federal ALP leader Kevin Rudd that a Labor government would seek to have Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad charged with “inciting genocide” attracted front-page coverage in the October 3 Australian and ridicule from foreign minister Alexander Downer.

Job losses will result from 11 years of Coalition government policy on the environment, Gippsland Trades and Labour Council (GTLC) secretary John Parker told Green Left Weekly on September 26. He said Australia has been left 11 years behind in developing clean energy technology, which means instead of now being able to export these technologies, the industry has moved overseas. Employment opportunities are wasted and inevitably jobs will be lost as our own dirty industries are forced to close.

Two public education institutions in Sydney’s west — the University of Western Sydney’s (UWS) Blacktown campus and Macquarie Boys High in Parramatta — are set for the chopping block. The UWS board of trustees is trying to close the Nirimba campus at Blacktown in 2009. Additionally, on August 23, NSW education minister John Della Bosca announced the state Labor government’s intention to close Macquarie Boys’ Technology High School in Parramatta by 2009.

In February this year, a boat carrying 83 Tamil asylum seekers from Sri Lanka was intercepted by the Australian Navy. After being detained on Christmas Island for a month, the Tamils were transferred to Nauru.

Those who claim that Australia is not a land of deep and abiding racism live in a fairy tale. This willful denial of reality is abetted by the commercial media, self-serving politicians, bureaucrats and capitalists of all stripes — those whose interests are served by maintaining the divisions of racism while convincing us that no such divisions exist.

The federal government announced on September 23 that it has — for the first time — adopted an actual target for energy generation from “clean” sources. Under the plan, 15% of Australia’s electricity would be generated from such sources by 2020, including renewable energy like wind and solar, as well as “clean, green” nuclear power and “clean coal”. Prime Minister John Howard heralded the plan as “a major cost saving and regulatory breakthrough”.

On September 23, federal environment minister Malcolm Turnbull and industry and resources minister Ian Macfarlane announced a new national “clean energy target”.

The Socialist Alliance supports the struggle for democracy in Burma, and stands in solidarity with the democracy movement activists, political prisoners and exiles bravely defying its military dictatorship.

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