Comment and Analysis

Some would have seen One Nation Senator-elect Malcolm Roberts' performance on ABC's Q&A on August 15.

He went hammer and tong repeating ad nauseum that academics are doctoring the science, that the major science bodies are corrupt and that the science on climate change is anything but settled.

Here is one small excerpt from his exchange with British physicist Brian Cox:

Roberts: “I'm saying ... two things. First of all, that the [climate] data has been corrupted and we know that the 1930s were warmer than today.”

Australia's largest cities are urban planning disaster zones.

Two facts in particular bear this out. First is the ongoing housing affordability crisis, which shows no sign of abating. Second is the relentless march of car-dependent urban sprawl, which continues to devour remnant native vegetation and good farming land. You get an eyeful of this latter problem as you approach Perth by plane, by some accounts the second-biggest metropolis in the world by surface area.

In the recent controversy over the proposed sale of key NSW state-owned electricity company Ausgrid to Chinese bidders, the primary issue seems to have been lost: a vital public asset such as Ausgrid should not be privatised in the first place, whoever the potential buyers might be.

A storm broke out over the planned sale of Ausgrid by the state government to either of two Chinese corporations: the government-owned State Grid Corporation of China; or the privately-owned Hong Kong-listed Cheung Kong Infrastructure Group (CKI), controlled by billionaire Li Ka-shing.

When the Census website crashed and was taken offline on August 9, the ABS was quick to blame overseas hackers. And in its defence, blaming foreigners has worked pretty well for authorities in this country on pretty much every other issue up till now.

Deaths in Custody Watch Committee WA and Refugee Rights Action Network WA released this joint statement on August 10.

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Every afternoon at 4pm on Nauru, asylum seeking adults and children stage a peaceful protest at the gate of the OPC3 family camp, which they have done since March 20 (Palm Sunday). Four weeks into their protest, refugees in the RPC3 camp opposite joined them.

Brian Jessup is a medical imaging technologist, working in the Victorian public sector, and a proud member of the Victorian Allied Health Professionals Association. This is his story.

While hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities will now get services they have never had under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), we must closely examine how the scheme is being implemented.

The public should demand nothing less in return for the $22 billion of public expenditure and the vulnerability of the recipients. But that is not happening.

The NDIS is brilliant for people with physical disabilities, but the scheme risks further marginalising thousands of people with profound intellectual disability.

When I first came out as a lesbian in high school, I was scared. Hanging over my envisioned future were a lot of question marks, a familiar feeling for a lot of LGBTI youth. Heightened rates of mental illness, suicide, homelessness and assault frame the vision of our adulthood with very real uncertainty. This uncertainty is mirrored by the media. The distinct lack of representation in media robs same-sex attracted youth of healthy role models.

Without anywhere that is home, Aboriginal people have been without a physical space to reinvent themselves and their culture in modern Australia.

Since colonisation, Aboriginal people have been internally displaced from their country. The doctrine of terra nullius — a land without people — was established under British colonial government and persisted in Australian law until 1992.

A new climate report released on August 3 by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) confirms the world is hot and getting hotter.

The State of the Climate report said that last year was the second consecutive hottest year on record, surpassing 2014 as the previous warmest year.

They had one job: Count 24 million people in the National Census. But now the Turnbull government looks like a deer caught in the headlights.

One of the most stunning things about the spectacular implosion of the National Census is that it was billed by the government as “the largest online event in Australian history”.

“It was just a group of boys having fun”.

This comment might evoke thoughts of boys splashing around in a swimming pool, skateboarding on the road or tagging a brick wall.

But this comment was made in defence of a vile Instagram account called “ys [young slut]_academy_puspus” which sexually objectified underage girls as young as 11 years' old.
Worse still, the comment was made by a man who identified himself as an “old boys' club” father of one of the Brighton Grammar boys who ran the Instagram account, in a threatening anonymous phone call to a victim's mother.

Activists evaded eviction from vacant houses and apartments in Parkville on August 3. The homes had been acquired for the East West Link, a project axed under community pressure by the incoming Labor government in 2014, with a promise to use the properties for public housing.

Supporters of equal marriage rights will again take to the streets in Sydney and Melbourne on August 13. The date marks 12 years since the John Howard government — with Labor support — passed laws banning equal marriage.

In the past 12 years, thousands have mobilised across the country demanding an end to the ban.

Sonia Kruger criticised the idea of scholarships for LGBTQI high school students on August 1 and even went so far as to refer to the scholarship program as “reverse discrimination”.

Her comments were in response to the Australian Business and Community Network (ABCN) Scholarship Foundation targeting high school students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual transsexual, queer and/or intersex (LGBTQI) for financial and mentoring scholarships.

These comments came after other recent controversial comments from the TV host that Australia should stop all Muslim immigration.

Miranda Devine has written an opinion piece portraying Cardinal George Pell as the victim in an investigation about child abuse.

To the surprise of many, former Greens leader Bob Brown used the ABC's 7.30 on July 29 to launch a blistering attack on recently re-elected NSW Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon.

Brown told the ABC that Rhiannon had given “great service” but that “the old guard that runs the office in New South Wales” needs changing.

When the Olympic Games begin, the news headlines will be swamped with stories of new world records in this or that sporting field. We will be whipped into a frenzy about it. There will be discussions all around the world about how the record was broken, about the ferocious competition to produce record-breaking athletes, about performance-inducing drugs.

Meanwhile, much more significant world records will barely rate a mention in the media.

Footage aired last week of children being abused in a Northern Territory prison sent shockwaves around the nation. These images forced us to grapple with the problem as if it were breaking news, despite the fact that so many people knew so much about it for so long.

Nevertheless, a royal commission is being established, and although many would like to see a wider scope, accountability for abuses of this nature must be the ultimate result.

In May, the Northern Territory government granted a major water licence for a cattle station near Pine Creek, west of Kakadu National Park, to use almost 14 million megalitres of water a year to irrigate crops.

The shocking abuse suffered by children in Darwin's Don Dale detention centre revealed by the ABC's Four Corners on July 25 has angered wide layers of the community. It has also prompted a nationwide demand to take immediate action against the perpetrators and ensure that nothing like this can ever happen again in the juvenile detention system.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's decision to call a narrowly focused royal commission into Northern Territory youth detention centres has been met with justifiable scepticism and criticism.

Grandmothers Against Removals NSW released this statement for Aboriginal Children's Day on August 4.

In Sydney, GAMAR has organised a protest at 12pm at the Family Law Courts, 99 Goulburn Street which will then march to NSW Parliament House.

Grandmothers Against Removals is a network of families and supporters directly affected by forced child removal.

Chace Hill is a young Koori man who lives in Perth. He recently completed an honours degree in criminology at Murdoch University looking at racism. He is also a Resistance Young Socialist Alliance member.

He spoke to Green Left Weekly's Zebedee Parkes about racism in the justice system and the recent Four Corners program about the abuse of Aboriginal children in the Don Dale detention centre in Darwin.

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Tell us about your honours thesis.

Following a community campaign, the Queensland government has announced it will deregister Wicked Campers vans that "fail to comply with determinations by the Advertising Standards Bureau". The vans are banned in northern NSW council caravan parks and bans are being considered by the Tasmanian government.

Privatisation continues to be touted as a quick fix, so the mantra goes “public sector bad, private sector good”.

That is, using community funds and resources to build up a vital service or piece of infrastructure, usually over a period of many years, then when there is a “budget crisis” selling it off to yield a quick cash injection and the removal of an expense from the ledger — regardless of whether it is generating income or not — while giving sweetheart deals to the new owners to ensure monopoly-like conditions to maximise their profits.

Human rights lawyers are opposed to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's plan to introduce laws that would allow people who have been convicted on terrorism charges to be held in prison indefinitely.

When Tasmanian Liberal director Damien Mantach garnered a spectacular promotion to Victorian deputy president in 2011, he left Tasmania to great fanfare and fond farewells.

With champagne toasts still lingering in the air, the party newsletter triumphantly said Mantach left the Tasmanian division “in excellent shape and Damien is to be congratulated for his positive contribution”.

A brilliant party machinist, Mantach was now a coveted Victorian Liberal. Finally in the centre of power, he was rubbing shoulders with premiers and befriending the future prime minister Tony Abbott.

Hysterical anti-renewable headlines aren't necessarily a surprise from the Australian and other News Ltd publications. But the cynicism of the attack on South Australia's renewable energy industry in their pages is still astonishing.

On July 25, the Australian published Matthew Warren of the Australian Energy Council — a peak body for “major electricity and downstream natural gas businesses” — blaming renewables for “higher costs and increased risks around reliability” in South Australia.

The latest Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey: Selected Findings (HILDA) report shows that the proportion of home ownership has declined in all parts of Australia, with the greatest declines in NSW and Victoria.

Thereport, released on July 20, reveals that owning a house is no longer the norm and it is likely that renters will outnumber home-owners in the next few years.

Since late 2005 the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) has been included on Australia's list of terrorist organisations. It is illegal for Australian citizens to belong to the PKK, actively support it, raise funds for it or otherwise engage with it. Just this month Australian-Kurdish journalist Renas Lelikan was charged in Sydney with being a member of the PKK.

The ABC's Four Corners program exposed the abuse and mistreatment of children in juvenile detention in the Northern Territory. The abuse revealed was graphic and finally brought to the public's notice after many years of campaigning for attention to be paid to the treatment of children, especially Aboriginal children, in detention.

There is ample evidence of the criminality of the prison officers, their bosses and the Northern Territory government ministers for charges to be laid over the horror inflicted on Aboriginal kids in custody at the Don Dale Juvenile Detention Centre.

It's not just a question of proper "training"and "processes" for the prison guards.

The horror we saw in the ABC's Four Corner's program on July 25 is the outcome of the law and order agenda of "lock em' up and throw away the key".

Malcolm Turnbull has called for a Royal Commission after seeing on ABC's Four Corners the brutality that has been happening under both his government and the previous Labor government.

He said this evidence had not been brought forth at previous inquiries. Not good enough Turnbull!

Australia recently gained an unenviable title: perhaps the first country to lose a mammal species to climate change.

The Bramble Cay Melomys, a native rodent found on one tiny sand island in the remote northern regions of the Great Barrier Reef, reportedly became extinct after rising seas destroyed its habitat.

In the past few weeks #BlackLivesMatter rallies have been organised around Australia and internationally in solidarity with the Black victims of US police violence and to raise awareness of the racism experienced by Australians of African descent and First Nations communities.

In Melbourne, a rally on July 17 drew a diverse crowd of more than 3500 people. It was organised by just four young activists and mobilised many communities who have experienced racism, as well as their allies.

The irony in the controversy that has broken out about whether Australia should impose a total ban on Muslim immigration to combat ISIS terror is that if only Iraq had been able to close its borders to Western invaders back in 2003, this whole ISIS shit could have been avoided.

In the discussion about Pauline Hanson's election to the Senate and her recent appearance on ABC's Q&A there have been appeals by some commentators to go easy on her because: "She is just saying what a lot of people are thinking".

Well, dopey racist ideas need to be condemned for what they are, regardless of how many people share them.

This defence of Hanson is like the completely false idea that the degrading treatment of asylum seekers by Labor and Coalition governments is just responding to what the voters want. This of course puts the cart before the horse.

Murri leader Sam Watson does not have a high opinion of Pauline Hanson's intellect or her lack of substantial policies. However he told Green Left Weekly that “she can't be ignored”.

“I was very pleased to see in the last few days when she went to appear on Q&A that there were comrades on the street to challenge her,” he said.

He was also pleased when First Nations activist Murrandoo Yanner ordered her out of the building at the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair.

“She is evil and we need to confront that evil and challenge that evil.”

The Australian government released its National Strategy on International Students 2025 in April.

At its heart lies a strategy for exploiting international students and increasing the commercialisation of the education sector. It aims to swindle hundreds of thousands of international students and normalise the neoliberal idea that students are consumers and that education and learning are commodities.

Suicide was unknown to Aboriginal people prior to invasion. There was no word for suicide in the ancient Yolngu language and, up to the 1980s, suicide was rare among Aboriginal people.

But now 95% of Aboriginal people have been affected by a suicide and Aboriginal people are six times more likely to commit suicide than non-Aboriginal people.

In the Northern Territory, 50% of suicides were by Aboriginal people in 2010, up from just 5% in 1991.

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