Comment and Analysis

GLW Issue 1033

The Victorian Coalition government looks set to go down in an ignominious defeat at the November 29 state election.

Several recent polls have given Labor a healthy lead of about 56% to 44% in two-party preferred terms.

The Coalition was narrowly elected — to everyone’s surprise (including their own) — in 2010, and thus look like being the first one-term government in Victoria since 1955.

I still recall the sickening nausea I felt in the aftermath of media reports that X Factor judge and alleged musician Redfoo had been glassed in a Double Bay hotel in August. It wasn't caused by accounts of the pub violence, but washed over me when, never having heard of the guy, I foolishly decided to find out.

Fifty protesters, and a larger-than life Nemo, protested outside Westpac's Sydney office on November 9.

Organised by Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC), the protesters handed more than 15,000 postcards to the bank calling on it not to fund the massive coalmining expansion at Galilee Basin, which would lead to the Great Barrier Reef being dredged to facilitate coal transport. The reef was put on the World Heritage List in 1981.

This speech was given by Tony Iltis of Socialist Alliance to a rally in Melbourne on November 8, calling on the Saudi government to free dissident Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr. Al-Nimr is a popular Shia sheikh who has been critical of Saudi authorities, suggesting in a 2009 sermon that the Eastern Province would secede if its Shia population's rights were not respected.

GLW Issue 1032

Australians for Kurdistan began this petition on Change.org. It asks the Australian federal attorney-general to arrest Turkey's President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, when he visits Brisbane for the G20 summit on November 15. It also asks the attorney-general to remove the Kurdistan Workers Party from the list of terrorist organisations. To sign the petition go to www.change.org.

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Sarah Hathway and Sean Brocklehurst are running as Socialist Alliance candidates in the Victorian election. They released this statement on November 7.

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The federal government's concern about “corruption” is very selective.

For many months, there have been calls for a royal commission into the Commonwealth Bank and ASIC to investigate how thousands of people were stripped of their life savings as a result of fraud by dodgy financial planners working for the bank.

Protesters successfully stopped self-described “pick up artist” Julien Blanc from giving his planned seminar on October 6 on how to manipulate and sexually assault women.

Protests followed Blanc throughout his attempted Australian tour, causing venues to dump his events in multiple cities, and he finally returned to the US on November 7.

“The Battle of Brisbane.” These were the words that greeted readers of Queensland’s Courier Mail on October 28.

The article, taking up the front cover and several subsequent pages, dealt with the alleged threat of violent protests at the G20 summit to be held in Brisbane on November 15 and 16.

The police, according to the Courier Mail, should meet the protesters with brutal suppression. The actual threat of violence was left vague.

In many ways, the phrasing of the subhead for the piece told it all: “Cops vow to crush G20 ferals”.

A campaign organised by Cambodians has led the country’s first vice-president of the National Assembly to urge Australia to back down from its bid to resettle refugees there.

Kem Sokha said in a letter to the Australian Ambassador to Cambodia, Alison Burrows, that the deal to transfer up to 1000 refugees from Nauru could have “negative impacts which would possibly be caused by economic, social situations”.
Joyce Fu, who works for NGO Corner Link and was part of organising protests and petitions calling for the refugee deal to be abandoned, said Cambodia was ill-equipped for the plan.

Oxfam released a report in January that found companies have hidden between $21 trillion and $32 trillion in offshore bank accounts to escape paying tax. That amount is double US GDP or about 20 times Australian GDP.

One of the issues that will be discussed at the G20 meeting in Brisbane is how to set up an international framework to stop this tax avoidance. Unfortunately, it will not work.

This statement was released on November 6 by Sean Broklehurst, the Socialist Alliance candidate for Pascoe Vale in the November 29 Victorian elections, and Sarah Hathway, the Socialist Alliance candidate for Geelong.

It refers to the project, set to cost at least $15 billion, to link Melbourne’s Eastern Freeway and City Link, with the major part of the project being a 4.4 kilometre tunnel.

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Brisbane is almost in lockdown as preparations get under way for the G20 Summit over November 15 and 16.

Road closures began a week before world leaders and their media lackeys were due to arrive. Manholes and utility service grates in footpaths in the CBD and around the G20 venue in South Brisbane have been sealed as a precaution against sabotage.

The Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) held a hearing on October 29 to allow the community to express their views on Incitec’s proposal to build an ammonium nitrate production facility in Newcastle.

All 18 speakers slammed the proposal as presenting an unacceptable risk of a catastrophic explosion that could threaten the lives of thousands of people in the city.

Speakers ranged from explosives expert Tony Richards to the Socialist Alliance, the Greens, and several community groups from Stockton and Mayfield, as well as members of the public.

The witch-hunt into unions descended into farce last month as the Royal Commission’s attempt to justify its existence instead showed that it is an inquiry compromised by its politically motivated construction and damned by its own incompetence.

The week began with Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) assistant secretary Tim Lyons attacking royal commissioner Dyson Heydon and senior counsel assisting Jeremy Stoljar for confusing workplace bargaining with corruption and failing to understand the role of unions they had been asked to investigate.

Aboriginal activists in Western Australia are gearing up for a rally on November 12 to protect remote communities in the face of federal government attacks. It will follow a September 16 rally against state government threats to Aboriginal heritage and an October 23 rally against ongoing Black deaths in custody.

The federal government announced on September 24 that it would withdraw funding for 180 remote Aboriginal communities in WA. It will grant $90 million to the WA government for a two-year “transition period”.

For those paying attention to the science of climate change, it might seem counterintuitive to talk about hope.

To some it might even seem in bad taste, given that the future impacts include the melting away of the Himalayan glaciers that provide fresh water for 1.3 billion people in Asia and the possibility that many low-lying island nations may become uninhabitable.

GLW Issue 1031

In an article in the Guardian on October 28, Antony Loewenstein says that he does not write about feminism because he fears being “attacked by women for questioning a consensus position on feminist issues”.

“Writing about feminism when male is like gate crashing a party,” he said, “and I’m concerned I’ll be slammed for daring to arrive without an invitation.”

The passing of former Labor Prime Minister Gough Whitlam at the age of 98 on October 21 provoked a wave of emotion from the community, both young and old. At a time when the federal government is trying to smash the remnants of the progressive reforms initiated during the Whitlam government — in office from December 1972 to November 1975 — the Whitlam era seems like a period from another political universe.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has called for “a mature debate” on whether to raise the GST — and, make no mistake, he'll shirtfront any economic girlie-men who try to stop it.

The authority responsible for managing the East West Link has sent residents in inner-city Melbourne an eight-page brochure extolling the virtues of the new motorway.

The newsletter says that work is set to commence on the project to build 4.4 kilometre twin tunnels between the Eastern Freeway and City Link in Moonee Valley. It would create about 3700 jobs, including 150 for automotive workers facing unemployment from the closure of Ford, General Motors and Toyota plants in Melbourne and Geelong.

A fierce debate over women’s participation in video game culture has erupted online. Known as “GamerGate”, it is a battle over power and sexism in video games.

Women now represent nearly half of those who play video games, and the traditional gamer identity is being challenged. The problem of sexism in video games is part of a wider problem of misogyny in society, and in the same way misogyny is being confronted in parliament or at universities, it is also being confronted in gaming.

The University of Western Sydney Resistance club released this statement on October 28.

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Student campus councillor at UWS Bankstown Mia Sanders has slammed the federal government’s higher education reform bill which went before the Senate on October 28.

At Geelong's Walk Together rally on October 25, Labor's shadow immigration minister Richard Marles told the crowd Labor would “welcome” refugees.

Despite trying to appeal to the crowd's message of acceptance and tolerance, Marles was heckled by members of Rural Australians for Refugees and the Socialist Alliance. Unionists from the Geelong Trades Hall stood up front and turned their backs on him while he spoke.

It is ominous. As the federal government's joke climate change “Direct Action Plan” passed the Senate with the support of coal baron Clive Palmer and his Palmer United Party, the first heatwave of an early Australian summer had just smashed new temperature records for the hottest day in October.

The Bureau of Meteorology said October 25 was Australia’s warmest October day on record, kept since 1910. Average maximums across the nation reached 36 degrees Celsius.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has indicated his government plans to increase the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

Before last year’s election, Abbott promised the Australian people that “the GST won't change, full stop, end of story”. But on October 27, he called for a “mature debate” on the topic, making it clear his government intends to increase GST revenue.

One of the most striking features of the first year of Tony Abbott’s government is the sustained attacks on Centrelink clients.

These started with the federal budget and its proposed cuts to Newstart Allowance for those aged under 30, Family Tax Benefits for sole-parent and low-income families, and restricted access to Disability Support Pension.

These were followed by employment minister Eric Abetz announcing the expansion of Work for the Dole to all jobseekers under 50.

Bill Deller was a well-known left-wing activist in Melbourne and presenter on community radio station 3CR. He died on October 17. Below are remembrances of Bill’s life from some of his comrades.

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Lalitha Chelliah — radio co-host and a friend and comrade of 24 years

I met Bill Deller in 1990 when he employed me to work at the State Public Services Federation (SPSF).

The Gallipoli Centenary Peace Campaign (GCPC) was formed in mid-February at a meeting of the Marrickville Peace Group, Marrickville Residents for Reconciliation (now part of ANTaR Inner West), Pax Christi and the Marrickville Greens. Since then a number of local individuals have also participated in the coalition’s meetings and events.

Moreland City councillor Sue Bolton gave this speech to a rally in solidarity with Kobani in Melbourne on October 25.

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There are two reasons to support the Kurds of Kobane. One reason is humanitarian: to prevent a massacre. The other reason is to protect and defend the building of an alternative society which should be a beacon for all left and progressive people in the world.

GLW Issue 1030

Across the political and media elite in Australia, a silence has descended on the memory of the great, reforming prime minister Gough Whitlam, who has died.

His achievements are recognised, if grudgingly, his mistakes noted in false sorrow. But a critical reason for his extraordinary political demise will, they hope, be buried with him.