Comment and Analysis

GLW Issue 1021

You can see where federal treasurer Joe Hockey is coming from with his comment about poor people not having cars and so not being affected by the rise in the fuel excise tax, can't you? On the planet he seems to be lost on, the rich are the real oppressed.

The rich are paying too much tax — or even “all the tax” according to a recent rant in the Australian — doing all the work, doing the heavy lifting, while the rest of society bludges off them.

A few months ago, the Daily Telegraph ran a headline, “The Ferals are Revolting”.

That headline is very revealing, not just about the nature of the media, but also about how young people and students are seen in society in general. We are seen these things that are just supposed to work terrible jobs for terrible pay, and whatever our opinions are, they don’t really mean anything and we are just supposed to put up with it.

The federal government took the first steps towards privatising the Medicare payment system on August 8, asking businesses for expressions of interest in taking over the handling of claims and Medicare and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme payments.

This $29 billion annual operation is currently carried out by the federal Department of Human Services (DHS), the government's largest department.

The federal government has plans to expand Work for the Dole. From July next year it will be compulsory for job-seekers aged 18-30 to do 25 hours of work a week.

The Anti-Poverty Network South Australia spoke to two former participants, Jarred Sferruzzi and John Murcott (not his real name) about their experiences on the scheme under the John Howard government.

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When were you on Work For The Dole?

GLW Issue 1020

As civilian casualties climb from its brutal assault on Gaza, Israel has met growing condemnation for the carnage from human rights groups and many governments.

In Latin America, the response has been especially strong. Since Israel began its assault a month ago, El Savador, Chile, Peru, Brazil and Ecuador have withdrawn their ambassadors in protest.

Former prime minister Bob Hawke is urging Australia to become the world's nuclear waste dump. But he has little hope of succeeding.

A bill targeting protests in Tasmania’s forests was passed in the Tasmanian lower house on June 26. It is due to be introduced to the upper house when parliament sits again this month.

Ten years ago, on August 13 2004, the John Howard government, with the support of the Labor Party, passed legislation that defined marriage as between a man and a woman.

Queer people did not have the right to marry before the legislation was passed, but the new definition was brought in to close any loopholes and make it explicit that the Coalition government did not support civil rights for gay and lesbian people.

In the same week that employment minister Eric Abetz announced the government would expand Work for the Dole to all job seekers under 50 and that job seekers would have to apply for double the number of jobs than previously, billionaire miner Andrew Forrest released his own recommendations for welfare reform — some of the most punitive ever proposed.

The gains of the first and second waves of the women’s liberation movement were groundbreaking. Yet in Australia today, 14% of women live below the poverty line. Why?

The answer is that since the 1970s, and as part of the overall neoliberal offensive, Labor and Coalition governments have both presided over cuts to funding of women’s services, attacks on child care, education, health, and aged and disability care. New threats are also being posed to women’s reproductive rights.

“Everybody needs to be part of Team Australia,” said Prime Minister Tony Abbott, raising one very big question: which prick gave Abbott a DVD player and a copy of the South Park makers’ joke film Team America?

Coz that kinda shit is not funny. Seriously, this guy makes laws. Don’t go fucking around with hilarious practical jokes like this, coz next thing you know it will be a real government program.

As, indeed, it already is.

The serious financial fraud that surfaced in the scandal-ridden Health Services Union (HSU) provided the federal government with a handy excuse to establish the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption.

Although the commission has powers wide enough to inquire into all unions, the HSU is one of five organisations specifically mentioned in its terms of reference alongside the Australian Workers Union, Communications Electrical Plumbing Union, Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union, and the Transport Workers Union.

The 157 Tamil refugees who refused “a very good” deal to be deported to India now face the orchestrated despair of detention on Nauru.

The refugees were delivered to Nauru on August 2 without the knowledge of their lawyers and reportedly showing “clear signs of manhandling and trauma”. Human rights lawyer George Newhouse said he had “not had the opportunity to inform our clients of their rights and options.

The social welfare cuts proposed in the federal government's May budget are a direct attack on working people and the poor. If implemented, they would represent a huge shift in income from the poor to the rich. This harsh reality is backed up by partial figures released by Treasury to Fairfax Media under Freedom of Information.

Here is the latest “deal” from the self-proclaimed Captain of Team Australia that you are not allowed to refuse: He'll withdraw his law change that will give people the right to be bigots and in return his spooks will have access to the past two years of your metadata.

My meta-whaaat???

The largest coalmine ever built in Australia, and one of the biggest in the world, received final approval from the federal environment minister Greg Hunt on July 28.

The Carmichael coalmine in central Queensland, owned by Indian company Adani, is forecast to produce 60 million tonnes of coal a year over the next 60 years. This dwarfs Australia’s current largest mine, which produces 20 million tonnes a year.




This was a speech given to a forum hosted by the Resistance – Young Socialist Alliance student club at the University of Western Sydney on August 7.

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As I speak now, the people in Gaza are facing death or dispossession while other Palestinians are living under harsh conditions imposed by the apartheid state of Israel.

GLW Issue 1019

The Greens have faced criticism for their position on Israel’s war on Palestine.

At a Palestine rally in Melbourne on July 26, Victorian Greens Senator Janet Rice was booed for calling for an arms embargo on both Israel and Palestine. At a Palestine rally in Brisbane on the same day, Greens candidate Jake Schoermer had a shoe thrown at him for condemning violence on both sides, New Matilda reported.

Amid asylum seeker polices that grow crueller and more surreal by the day, plans to turn the unemployed into virtual slaves and Christopher Pyne let loose on education, there is, without a doubt, one big question in Australian politics in 2014.

And that is: What drugs is Clive Palmer on?

And where can we get some? ‘Coz that bloke is clearly off his chops. You never know what the hell he’ll pull next, which makes me worry about what will happen when he finally comes down. Some poor aide is going to have to explain what he got up to.

This article is based on a speech given by comedian and actor Nazeem Hussain, from Fear of a Brown Planet and SBS's Legally Brown, to a rally for Palestine in Melbourne on July 26.

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Indigenous people of Australia will no doubt relate far too well to Palestinians, for they are also a people whose country was stolen from them when the British invaded and created the idea of “Australia” on their country.

The National Tertiary Education Union released this statement on July 31.

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The University of Sydney is in the midst of a major cutback to campus library services, with plans to remove collections from four libraries: Medical, Dentistry, Badham and Camden, restrict access to libraries for undergraduates and outsource technical services. Sixty percent of employees face redundancy.

The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) said the changes will result in a serious degradation to the university’s ability to meet the library needs of its students and researchers.

The Tony Abbott government's "asset recycling" bill — in effect an incentive for the privatisation of public property by state governments — has been stalled in the Senate.

Amendments moved by the Greens and the ALP were declared unacceptable by the government so parliament went into the winter recess before the bill was voted on.

Warren Mundine, head of Prime Minister Tony Abbott's hand-picked Indigenous Advisory Council, has waged war against environmental groups in recent opinion pieces in the Fairfax and Murdoch media.

It is now two and a half months since budget night. Remember Treasurer Joe Hockey and Mathias Corman smoking cigars, satisfied and smug after doing a job on Australian workers, pensioners and the poor?

The government got a free pass when the Appropriation Bills were waved through by the ALP and the Greens, despite calls to block the budget from within the Greens and strong public sentiment expressed at the March in May rallies. Only independent MP Andrew Wilkie and Palmer United Party (PUP) MP Clive Palmer were prepared to vote against the bills.

Three quarters of Victorians believe improvements in public transport are more important than the construction of the East West Link.

Although its stated aim is to ease congestion, in particular on one of Melbourne’s most congested roads, a government report revealed late last year that it would actually attract more cars and trucks and consequently increase traffic.

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) gave approval to a uranium mine at Kintyre in Western Australia on July 28. The mine is about 260 kilometres north-east of Newman in the east Pilbara in an area that was excised from the Karlamilyi (Rudall River) National Park to allow mining in 1994.

Because it is illegal to export uranium from WA, trucks carrying the uranium oxide concentrate — otherwise known as yellowcake — will have to travel 4600 kilometres from the Kintyre mine to Port Adelaide.

Before the 2007 federal election, former Labor minister and ex-party president Barry Jones made a striking analogy between the ALP’s factionalism and its predilection for selling public assets. He said: “The ALP has been privatised and factions are majority and minority stakeholders, run by professional managers, some now in the third generation.”

Less than 18 months later, Queensland Labor Premier Anna Bligh won a state election on a platform that made no mention of privatisation.

Immigration minister Scott Morrison has spun many lies in his role as “border protector”. They have come hard and fast as the government tries to deal with the 157 Tamil refugees kept at sea aboard a Customs ship for weeks.

Below are the four biggest lies that have underpinned this case and the Coalition's entire anti-refugee policy.

WHY THE BOAT WAS BROUGHT TO THE MAINLAND

Morrison said on July 26 the 157 people would be brought to Curtin detention centre in remote north-west Western Australia so identity checks could be carried out by Indian officials.

GLW Issue 1018

The repeal of Australia’s carbon price is a milestone for a Coalition government that thinks nothing should stand between a mining company and big pile of money.

Jock Palfreeman, a young Australian imprisoned in Bulgaria, wrote this open letter on July 9.

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On July 6 at 8.30am, a guard, Peter Petrov, performed the morning roll call. He entered cell 11 and shouted in Bulgarian, a language no one present understood. As the roll call finished for that cell he assaulted a mentally ill man from behind for not moving fast enough.