Comment and Analysis

GLW Issue 1064

Thank god the age of entitlement is over and the days of the lifters carrying the leaners is finished. Otherwise, just imagine what sort of absurd things politicians like Bronwyn Bishop might claim.

Instead of a $5000 helicopter ride from Melbourne to Geelong for a Liberal Party fundraiser, the Speaker might have taken a taxpayer-funded gold-plated spaceship via Pluto, stocked with black truffle mushrooms and caviar.

GLW Issue 1062

The Australian Marine Conservation Society released this statement on July 21.

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The Australian Marine Conservation Society and the Australian environmental movement is in mourning over the sudden and unexpected loss of Felicity “Flic” Wishart who passed away in her sleep on July 19 aged 49.

Flic was one of Australia’s leading conservationists and was a great and inspiring champion for the planet, the cause she dedicated her life to.


Clearfelling old growth forest in Tasmania. Previously destroyed for woodchips, native forests are now in danger of being burned to create electricity.

Reports that the owner of Victoria’s Hazelwood coal power station, GDF Suez, has been considering plans to convert it into a co-firing facility, allowing it to burn native forest waste as well as brown coal, have been slammed by environmentalists.


Tropical storms are increasing in frequency and strength. City of Tacloban, Leyte, Philippines, after Super Typhoon Yolanda, the strongest tropical storm to make landfall in history, struck in November 2013. Photo: Partido Lakas ng Masa.

Opposition to Shenhua Watermark’s unpopular $1.2 billion open-cut coal mine, proposed for the Liverpool Plains in the north-west of NSW, is growing. The Coalition cabinet is split, as are NSW and federal National Party MPs.

Federal agriculture minister Barnaby Joyce, who is fighting to hold his New England seat, opposes the mine. His cabinet colleague, federal environment minister Greg Hunt, signed the mine’s approval on July 4.

The neoliberal agenda for the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting in Sydney on July 23 was set by NSW Premier Mike Baird, who proposed increasing the GST from its present 10% to 15%.

Baird wants the extra funds to be primarily used to fund health services, which account for almost 30% of state budgets, including spending on hospitals of about 20%. What he neglected to say was that under his mate Tony Abbott’s federal government, spending has been drastically reduced on health along with education. The total reduction across both areas is about $80 billion.

Around the corner from where I used to live in northern Brisbane, there was an abandoned flourmill. It had been abandoned for decades, left to slowly decay, and became home to pigeons, homeless people and drunk young people trying to scale its enormous silos and inner frameworks.

The story of the mill is one of capitalism as a whole, of post-industrial decay in advanced capitalist societies where wages have become too expensive. Work moves offshore, or into the outer suburbs, and the mill decays.

Casuals now make up about half of the academic workforce in Australia’s universities. For most of them it is precarious work at its worst.

Those lucky enough to get two 13-week sessional contracts a year are unemployed academics for the other half of the year, forced to then compete with a growing precariat for temporary employment elsewhere while still at the call of their part-time employer. And the 13 weeks are not necessarily standard 35-hour weeks, they can be for as little as one hour a week.

Supporters of maintaining the rail line into Newcastle are hopeful that their fight against NSW government’s plans to remove the line into the CBD will prevail.

The community has fought for more than a decade against state government attempts to cut the rail into the city centre. Developers have long wanted to exploit the city centre’s prime rail line land as it has never been mined and is considered ideal for multi-story developments. Their mates in the NSW parliament have been only too keen to help out.

On the weekend of July 18 and 19 there was another round of right-wing Reclaim Australia (RA) protests.

The stated aim of RA and its offshoot, the United Patriots Front (UPF), was to defend what they call “Australian values” from the threat of “Islamicisation”.

When Labor leader Bill Shorten announced his support for yet one more draconian and inhumane Abbott federal government policy — this time, towing back asylum seeker boats in violation of international law and respect for human life — some pointed out the usual role of the Opposition leader is to oppose things.

But that's not fair. In recent times, we've seen Shorten oppose many things. They just happen to be the same things PM Tony Abbott opposes, like international humanitarian obligations, the rule of law and basic human decency.

GLW Issue 1061

For the past couple of days I have been trying to understand what is happening in Greece.

I shared the celebratory atmosphere after January’s elections [of the SYRIZA government] and the sense of hope and dignity that seemed to be restored following the destruction that led to one-third of the population living in poverty.

The SYRIZA government inherited a country with a population devastated by austerity but, most importantly, with a sense of power for having chosen its future.

Statement of the Socialist Alliance national executive July 16, 2015:

The Socialist Alliance condemns the effective imposition of colonial status on Greece by the ruling institutions of the European Union (EU), which represent the interests of the big banks whose speculative excesses contributed in great part to the accumulation of the “Greek debt” they are now seeking to recover.

This is a coup and a brutal assault on democracy.

Farmers are worried that the proposed privatisation of Fremantle Port will lead to a dramatic rise in their freight rates. The 800% rise in rents charged to stevedores by the newly privatised Port of Melbourne would be ringing some alarm bells.

Closer to home are the disastrous consequences of the privatisation of Western Australia’s freight rail network via a secret 49-year lease signed in 2000 when Premier Colin Barnett was Minister for Transport.

Community resistance to the Perth Freight Link, a $1.6 billion freeway project proposed by the state and federal governments for the south-west region of Perth is growing at an explosive pace. The strength and depth of this opposition is now so strong that the issue will almost certainly dominate the next federal and state election campaigns.

Over the weekend of July 24 to 26, the nation will be watching as the Australian Labor Party (ALP) holds its 47th triennial national conference at the Melbourne Convention Centre. The Labor Party’s national conference is its highest decision-making body, deciding its policies and future direction.

The Labor party’s previous national conference was in Sydney in 2011. At that conference, it voted for a policy supporting marriage equality. Despite that vote, and the Labor Party being in government until the end of 2013, marriage equality was not made law.

An important protest for marriage equality will be held outside the Labor Party's national conference in Melbourne on July 25. The protest is being organised by Equal Love Melbourne.

It is one of a series of demonstrations being organised in the lead-up to the spring session of parliament, where it is expected that several bills for marriage equality will be debated.

Marriage equality has recently been won in Ireland and the United States. This places unprecedented pressure on the government. Australia is becoming more and more isolated globally.

Green Left Weekly supporters around the country have begun an important six-week campaign to boost circulation of the paper.

We’re asking supporters to help us out by taking a small bundle of papers to sell to friends and workmates. In Sydney, several supporters are now doing this: they are finding great interest — sometimes from unexpected quarters.

The NSW government made drastic changes to the victims of crime compensation scheme in 2013. One change made was the replacement of lump sum compensation payments with drastically smaller recognition payments, with compensation payments only for direct costs associated with the crime.

The Students of Sustainability (SOS) conference 2015 attracted several hundred student environmental activists from around the country to discuss, educate, organise and exchange campaign experiences.

Held on Kaurna land at Flinders University, from July 8 to 12, the conference opened with a welcome to country from traditional owners, including Kaurna elder Aunty Georgina Williams Tambo Kartanya.

Last Sunday I was arrested while attempting to obstruct war rehearsal operations at Lee Point.

Despite standing in the water off Lee Point, right in the path of the US Navy LCAC amphibious craft, it continued to rush back and forth past me until I was removed from the area by water police. Its final pass, before I was plucked from the water by police, came so close that the bow wave knocked me over. I was disappointed that I was unable to present enough of a hindrance to at least delay them while they waited for my removal.

Australia’s climate policies are a mess, and we cannot just blame Tony Abbott. We are facing a climate emergency and Australia is a significant culprit. The country has very high per capita emissions and is a major coal exporter.

The Martu people oppose the building of the Kintyre uranium mine in Western Australia. The WA State Governments proposed uranium mine, and its inevitable environmental damage, is causing extreme social disharmony in remote communities.

Martu country extends over 15 million hectares of the Western Desert encompassing the Gibson, Great Sandy and the Little Sandy Deserts. The traditional owners have lived here for up to 60,000 years.

In the same week that it approved the huge $1.2 billion Shenhua Watermark coalmine in prime agricultural land on the Liverpool Plains, the Abbott government has directed the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) to end all investment in wind farms and small-scale solar projects. These are just the latest salvos in a series of attacks on the renewable energy sector that seek to protect their friends in the coal industry.

The demonising of asylum seekers is an elaborate exercise in racist scapegoating designed to distract Australians from the real causes of anxiety and insecurity in their lives. We need to be absolutely uncompromising in our resistance to this toxic agenda.

GLW Issue 1060

With the recent rise of right-wing extremism in Australia, it’s a no-brainer that Muslims are on the receiving end of some of the worst cases of Islamophobia to happen since the Cronulla riots in 2005. Of all these Muslims, it seems that Muslim women who choose to veil themselves suffer from these attacks the most.

As a Muslim woman who chooses to wear the hijab, my experiences with right-wingers along with the media who throw around Islamophobic statements on a daily basis have made me who I am today.

A booklet distributed to Fairhills High School students in Victoria made some wild claims about oxytocin and female sexuality.

The booklet, entitled Science and Facts, was used as part of a Christian sex education program at the public school. The program is run by Epic Youth, part of the Pentecostal megachurch “CityLife”.

Opponents of the Stage 3 expansion of the Acland coalmine in the Darling Downs in Queensland have called on the Palaszczuk government to make good on its campaign promises and reject the application by New Hope Coal. This comes in the wake of revelations that the mining company New Hope Group, would receive about 77% of royalties, while the state would get only 7%.

The ACTU released a statement on June 22 highlighting one impact of the federal government’s White Paper on Developing Northern Australia.

The government’s strategy to boost Aboriginal workforce participation in remote communities means that Northern Australian businesses will be able to exploit free Aboriginal labour.

In breaking news, it seems that the Labor Party left cannot agree to oppose a “turn back the boats” policy. So there seems to be no chance that the upcoming national Labor Party Conference in Melbourne on July 24 to 26 will consider opposing the Coalition policy of turning boats back that are attempting to reach this country, so the passengers can claim asylum, a human right.