Comment and Analysis

"WOW. This is something you don't often see. Goldman Sachs says it may have to question capitalism itself." So went the tweet from Bloomberg TV correspondent Joseph Weisenthal.

I wondered what could possibly cause one of the world’s largest investment banks, a company that is heavily invested in capitalism (both literally and figuratively) to “question capitalism itself”? Why isn't this bigger news?

Do we need to debate whether Australia should become a republic?

After all, it is not just parties that say Australian society should be transformed (Socialist Alliance) or reformed (the Greens) that want a republic. The national leaders of the major capitalist political parties and all the state premiers agree on ending the situation where a British monarch is Australia's head of state.

I suspect this is in line with what most Australians think: who gave birth to you should not make you the head of state, even nominally. So why is there an argument about this?

Green Left Weekly is marking its 25th anniversary this week, which is a truly remarkable achievement for an independent paper without corporate funding — and one that could not be achieved without a lot of hard work over many years by more people than could be named.

Some of these Liberal politicians must think that the rest of us are stupid. Take NSW Premier Mike Baird, the always-smiling poster boy for this deeply right-wing party, whose latest pitch for raising the GST from 10% to 15% is a politician's promise that he would spend the proceeds on health and education.

This is the second part of an article on an exposure tour of Malaysia hosted by the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM), in which five Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance members participated over January 15 to 26.

Part 1 was published in #1082 and can be found here. Part 3 will published in the next issue.

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The geologically recent volcanic activity across western Victoria created a landscape with rich, but often shallow, soils, that supported a unique grassland ecosystem.

Climate, soil, herbivory and fire history, among other factors, have combined to maintain tussock grasses, such as kangaroo grass, as a dominant species, with small herbs including diverse orchids, daisies and lilies growing in the spaces between tussocks and few or no trees over large areas.

Although about 99% of Victoria's volcanic plains grasslands have been destroyed by development, some outstanding remnants of this unique ecosystem persist, especially on the western fringes of Melbourne.

The grasslands ecosystem was listed by the federal government as critically endangered in 2008. But at the same time, the then-Labor government of Victoria was initiating an expansion of Melbourne's Urban Growth Boundary that would severely impact some of its best remaining areas.

On December 15, the Queensland Land Court recommended the giant Adani-Carmichael open-cut coalmine be given the go-ahead in central Queensland subject to several conditions including the protection of the endangered Black Throated Finch.

The hearing was prompted by a number of objections to the mine, including from the conservation group Land Services of Coast and Country.

As the demand for Australian farm products skyrockets in Asia, corporate Australia is buying up drought-crippled but viable rural properties at bargain prices.

Boys at Xavier College, an expensive Catholic boys school, abused students from government schools on a Facebook VCE forum late last year, according to the Herald Sun.

The Xavier students' put downs included “retards” and “povo fucks”. Girls were told to “let the men handle business” and “Could all woman please refrain from expressing there (sic) opinions thank you.” Obviously, the $25,000-a-year school isn't very good at teaching literacy skills.

From January 15 to 26, five Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance members participated in an exposure tour of Malaysia, hosted by the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM).

Day 1: Arriving in Kuala Lumpur and Bersih rallies

We arrived in Kuala Lumpur late on Friday evening and stayed in dormitories that served as a training facility for the Catholic Church.

That night, PSM members told us about the Bersih rallies, which have been among the largest demonstrations to have taken place in Malaysia.

North-western Tasmania is home to one of the world's last remnants of primeval temperate rainforest, part of an ecosystem that once spread across the supercontinent of Gondwana. Thousand-year-old trees tower above ancient ferns, their roots growing in peat accumulated over millennia. This is why the region has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Eucalyptus forests in the rest of Australia need fire to regenerate. But these plants evolved before the cycle of conflagration and renewal began. If they burn they die.

The New South Wales Baird government has announced an historic decision to privatise public housing.

In a $22 billion bonanza for the government's property developer mates, public housing estates will be torn down and rebuilt into places where private tenants and homeowners outnumber social housing tenants by 70% to 30%.

NSW Coalition Minister for Social Housing Brad Hazzard announced the state government's "Future Directions for Social Housing" policy. It includes the transfer of 35% of public housing to community housing organisations.

Clive Palmer, mining magnate, politician, “citizen of Queensland” — who accused the Greens and Greenpeace of being CIA-funded traitors — has left 237 employees of his Queensland Nickel refinery out of work and robbed of their entitlements.

Palmer asserts that he bears no personal responsibility for the workers' entitlements. The focus is now on whether Palmer was still authorising expenditure for Queensland Nickel after having announced his withdrawal as a director of the company.

Waterfront workers at Hutchison Ports terminals in Sydney and Brisbane are "back in the gate now," and "normal work is proceeding" Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) Sydney branch assistant secretary Joe Deakin told Green Left Weekly on January 20. Settlement of the long-running dispute which began on August 6 last year was finally achieved in December.

The latest advertisement from Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) depicts the military “rescuing” Australians from overseas so they can eat lamb on Australia Day.

Families struggling on low incomes and the environment will benefit from an innovative crowdfunding campaign to install solar hot water systems made by the Earthworker Cooperative in homes. The campaign is supported by organisations such as the Father Bob Maguire Foundation, Aboriginal Housing Victoria and Common Equity NSW.

The first installation of a solar system funded by the "Give Tanks" campaign took place on January 12 in a home managed by Aboriginal Housing Victoria.

Well my only New Year's resolution was to have no hope the status quo would somehow miraculously change itself in 2016 — and it is a resolution that has proven all too easy to keep.

For instance, any hopes that changing the “five” to a “six” on the annual calendar would lessen the misogyny strangling decency in this country were pretty quickly defeated.

In the past few years, private investors backed by corporate interests such as global banks, financial firms, hedge funds and food giants have bought a huge amount of farmland across the global South.

The Northern Territory has the highest rate of youth detention in the country. The detention rate of young people is six times the national average and 97% of those detained in the juvenile justice system are Aboriginal youth.

There have been a number of reports and investigations in the past two years into the treatment of Aboriginal youth while held in custody. They show quite clearly that by deliberate design and policy Aboriginal youth in are treated in a barbarous, inhumane and illegal way.

Resistance members are currently taking part in a tour of Malaysia with the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM).

The tour has visited Buntong where the PSM has set up an after-school care program for children from poor families who work long shifts.

They also traveled to Pusing, a 100-year-old tin mining town where many farmers are engaged in a struggle for land rights against developers.


Photo: Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association.

On 26 January, one of the saddest days in human history will be celebrated in Australia. It will be "a day for families", say the newspapers owned by Rupert Murdoch. Flags will be dispensed at street corners and displayed on funny hats. People will say incessantly how proud they are.

Feminist, resident activist, popular educator, councillor, public transport campaigner, mother, academic, environmentalist and true democrat, Margaret Henry, who passed away late last year in Newcastle, had many sides to her wonderful life.

Oxfam's new report, An Economy for the 1%, is a damning indictment of capitalism. It presents chilling data showing that global inequality has reached “new extremes”. The aid organisation has calculated that just 62 people have the same amount of wealth as half the world.

An immigration department review into the forcible removal of Save the Children Fund workers from the Nauru immigration detention centre, released on January 15, recommended that they be paid compensation.

The nine charity workers were ordered to leave Nauru by the Australian government in October 2014 after they claimed that women and children at the detention centre were being sexually abused.

Captain Arthur Phillip took formal possession of the colony of New South Wales and raised the flag for the first time in Sydney Cove on January 26, 1788.

In the early 1880s the day was known as “First Landing”, “Anniversary Day” or “Foundation Day”. In 1946 the Commonwealth and state governments agreed to unify the celebrations on January 26 and call it “Australia Day”.

The most recent examples of sexism by two Coalition front bench MPs reminds us that sexism and misogyny is alive and thriving 32 years after the landmark law that made such discrimination a crime. From the outrageous sexist attacks on former PM Julia Gillard — largely from the same Coalition MPs — to MP Peter Dutton's “mad fucking witch” (MFW) text, the view that women are second-class citizens and sexual objects — and can be treated as such — remains strong especially among those with the means to shape public opinion.

Every year it becomes harder to ignore official Australia's celebrations of nationalism. For weeks, supermarket aisles have been given over to garish displays of things to buy for Australia Day on January 26: Australian flags and hats, stubby holders and thongs displaying Australian flags.

None of it would look out of place at a Reclaim Australia rally.

And then there is that ad for lamb featuring popular SBS broadcaster Lee Lin Chin. It is tongue-in-cheek, for sure, showing a military operation to enforce Australians worldwide to barbecue lamb for Australia Day.

The federal government is proposing to hold a referendum to formally recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Australian Constitution.

Sounds like a good progressive idea? Many prominent Aboriginal leaders disagree.

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“Constitutional recognition is said to be about equality and civil rights, but what we're fighting for is the right to determine our own destiny. This government isn't ready to facilitate real power sharing. When nations enter into treaties they share economic power.

Young job seekers today are facing the toughest job market seen in Australia for more than 20 years. According to Australian Bureau of Statistics figures, in September last year youth unemployment was 12.93%, after peaking at 14.43% in November 2014.

However, there are youth unemployment hotspots in the Northern Territory, Victorian suburbs, Adelaide, Cairns and North-West Tasmania with much higher rates.

Andres Garin died in Wollongong in December, aged 77.

Andres was a founding member of Socialist Alliance as well as an activist with the Democratic Socialist Party and its predecessor, the Socialist Workers Party, for whom he ran as a senate candidate in the 1983 federal election.

Andres was a comrade of great integrity and political conviction. He was always a fighter for justice and a better world against capitalist oppression and exploitation here in Australia and internationally, particularly in the struggles in the Caribbean and Latin America.

Aboriginal child removals by government Child Protection agencies across the nation are taking place at an alarming rate.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reported a rise in the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged up to 17 in out of home care across all states and territories over the past decade.

Aboriginal children are eight times more likely to be the subject of departmental intervention; nine times more likely to be on care and protection orders; and 10 times more likely to be in out-of-home care than non-Aboriginal kids.

Cattle and sheep are blamed for contributing to greenhouse gases, belching out methane, and farmers in the future are likely to be taxed because of it.

The recent Green Left Weekly climate change liftout [issue #1078] calls for a drastic reduction in sheep and cattle numbers. There is a TV advertisement, urging people to “go vego to save the planet”. This is a gross misunderstanding of the ruminant carbon cycle.

The Perth Freight Link (PFL) project ground to a halt on December 16 when Supreme Court Chief Justice Wayne Martin ruled environmental approvals for the Roe 8 freeway through the Beeliar Wetlands were invalid.

Incredibly, the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) had argued it was not bound by its own policy when assessing and granting approval. This result comes on top of a 2013 decision that the EPA had bungled approvals for the James Price Point gas processing facility.

On the day Tony Abbott was rolled, one of my family members, who lives in Malcolm Turnbull's electorate of Wentworth, posted a one line warning on Facebook: "Beware the silver fox." Well, it proved true remarkably quickly.

A concerted attack on Medicare is in full swing and it has one clear objective: dismantling public health care and replacing it with a US-style privatised system that costs more, delivers inferior outcomes and leaves the poorest to die.

When Liberal MP Jamie Briggs was in Hong Kong and was not busy making unwanted advances on public servants, he was meeting with private rail operator MTR. This aspect of his travels should also be under scrutiny.

Happy New Year for a few weeks ago or coming up in a couple of weeks, depending on whether you rely on a calendar or the moon for such things. I hope you had some time off and got to spend it relaxing with people you love, or if you were working, that you got plenty of time and a ... WATCH OUT FOR YOUR PENALTY RATES!!!

Yes, that's right, while most of us were working or preparing for the strange rituals of the season, those busy little elves at the Productivity Commission had been slavishly working, day and night, to deliver a lovely big present to business and the government.

In 2015 Prime Minister Tony Abbott was booted from the top job courtesy of his own party and replaced by Malcolm Turnbull. This was considered a victory by many and a result of the work of a number of social movements campaigning against a range of Abbott's policies.

One of Tony Abbott’s first acts as Prime Minister was to announce a Royal Commission to “shine a spotlight” onto the so-called “dark corners” of the trade union movement. The commission would expose the criminality and impropriety that allegedly blights Australia’s trade unions.

Led by former High Court Judge John Dyson Heydon, the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption officially began in February 2014.

There are more people today who have been displaced by war, poverty and climate change than at any point in recorded history. The current number of refugees has exceeded those displaced by World War I and World War II combined.

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