Comment and Analysis

GLW Issue 1090

On April 3, the Queensland mines minister Anthony Lynham and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk approved the three mining leases of Indian multinational Adani for the Carmichael coalmine and rail project in the Galilee Basin.

Federal approval was granted by federal environment minister Greg Hunt in October.

Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance released this statement on April 1.

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Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance (RYSA) is strongly opposed to the federal government's moves to restrict and gut funding to the Safe Schools Program. The program was designed to counter homophobic and transphobic bullying in schools, and is a vital lifeline for young queer people in Australia.

Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance released the following statement on April 1.

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Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance joins with young people around the country in condemning several proposals by the federal government which seek to relocate financial problems of the state onto the backs of young people.

The proposal to lower the income at which the government can start to collect study loans from students comes after a Grattan Institute report found that a significant portion of students will never earn an income high enough to repay their debt.

A recent study, led by Victoria University and West Justice Youth Office, has revealed that students from low socioeconomic families cannot afford to travel on public transport, or pay the fines they incur for travelling without a valid myki card.

West Justice chief executive Denis Nelthorpe said: “Up to 80,000 Victorian students a year were unable to pay fines, resulting in many of them skipping school.”

In a re-run of scenes at Matagarup (Heirisson Island) over the past four

GLW Issue 1089

In 2008, the then-Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation Jay Weatherill announced a review of the South Australian Aboriginal Heritage Act 1988.

After initial intensive activity there was a long period of inactivity. Then, suddenly last month, with little notice or consultation, draft legislation to amend the Aboriginal Heritage Act was introduced into state parliament. On March 22, having passed through the Legislative Council, the House of Assembly agreed to the bill without any amendment.

That the Australian government can find $6 million to fund a film aimed at convincing asylum seekers to not come to Australia and yet cut more than $50 million from Screen Australia speaks volumes about its priorities.

Ian Angus is a Canadian ecosocialist activist and author. The editor of Climateandcapitalism.com, Angus is also the co-author of Too Many People? Population, Immigration, and the Environmental Crisis with former Green Left Weekly editor Simon Butler (Haymarket, 2011).

On March 18, a day that was supposed to be the National Day of Action Against Bullying, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced devastating attacks on a crucial anti-bullying program.

The Safe Schools Coalition is an alliance of 535 primary and secondary schools across the country, which aims to ensure the safety of LGBTI students. The program began in 2014 under the Abbott government. It has already engaged more than 13,000 education professionals.

On March 23 Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced a new Clean Energy Innovation Fund (CEIF) with $1 billion in funding over ten years. The Prime Minister's media release explicitly mentioned that it could be used to fund projects such as a “large scale solar facility with storage in Port Augusta”.

In all the media hype about Malcolm Turnbull's recalling of parliament in April and talk of a double dissolution election, it is easy to lose sight of the “trigger” — the Australian Building and Construction Commission bill (ABCC bill).

I recently heard an ABC Radio National commentator talking about the use of the ABCC bill as the trigger. She said words to the effect that most people would be in favour of cleaning up construction unions as only 11% of workers are in unions now. So it was considered to be a winner for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Opponents of Shenhua-Watermark's mega coalmine in the Liverpool Plains in north-western NSW have been given a boost by the Chinese government-owned company's annual report released on March 24, which hinted it may not proceed.

The Daily Telegraph exposed the latest example of political correctness gone mad by revealing in a March 30 front page exclusive that the University of New South Wales is teaching students that Australia was “invaded” by Britain and was not actually “discovered” by Captain James Cook.

The NSW BLF, the most radical and innovative union the world has ever seen

Fifty years ago, a group of dedicated left-wing activists wrested control of the NSW Builders Labourers' Federation (BLF) from the corrupt gangster types who had used it to feather their own nests. The militants, who included Jack Mundey, Joe Owens and Bob Pringle, rebuilt the union into a radically democratic, socially progressive and environmentally-aware organisation the likes of which Australia and the world had never seen.

The Socialist Alliance released this statement on March 31.

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The Senate reform pushed through by the Turnbull Liberal-National government with the support of the Greens does not make federal Parliament more democratic.

While it will end the “gaming” of the Group Voting Ticket for people voting above the line on the Senate ballot paper, it also weakens the preferential system and could give the Coalition an advantage in the next federal election.

Across the US young people are pouring into the polling booths. The contest is not the Presidential election — that is still some months away. Instead they are lining up to vote in the primaries for the Democratic Party. In particular they are turning up to vote for an old Jewish radical from New York.

In the lead-up to the federal election, talk of balancing the budget, jobs and growth are centre.
Amid rising unemployment and job insecurity, single parents continue to face both a job market unforgiving of parenting responsibilities and parenting payments that have been consistently attacked and eroded — framed by the false narrative of providing incentives to return to work and finding necessary budget savings.

GLW Issue 1088

A broad coalition of forces continues to challenge anti-protest legislation tabled in the Western Australian state parliament.

If passed, the broad powers of the Criminal Code Amendment (Prevention of Lawful Activity) Bill will make it a criminal offence to be in possession of an unnamed “thing” or to disrupt "lawful activities". The bill also threatens two year’s jail and $24,000 fines for impeding lawful activity. Widely criticised by environmental, social justice, and legal campaigners the law smashes free speech and criminalises peaceful protest.

"This is a law to protect the rich. We will need to break these laws to protect our democratic rights," Aboriginal activist and lead NSW Senate candidate for the Socialist Alliance team in the federal elections Ken Canning, said on March 15.

Earlier this month, a 10-year-old Aboriginal girl took her own life in a small Kimberly community near the town of Derby in Western Australia.

It is believed that her life leading to her suicide was marred by “trauma and tragedy” and she had previously witnessed the suicide of a close family member.

My name is Ken Canning. My traditional name is Burraga Gutya. My people are the Kunja clan of the Bidjara Nation of what is now called south-western Queensland.

I was raised mainly on the coast of Queensland and in Brisbane and, although I have lived in Sydney since the late 1970s, I am still a very proud Murri.

I have been fortunate that since living in Sydney the local Koori community has always taken me in and I feel very much at home here. Many First Nations peoples now living in Sydney are from all over this country and from many different nations.

Experts have laughed at a prediction by the environment minister Greg Hunt that Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions peaked 10 years ago.

Hunt told the ABC’s AM program: “I believe that we have reached what is sometimes known as peak emissions. In my best judgment … we reached peak emissions in 2005-06 ... and the course of history to come for Australia is that we will continue to be below that figure.”

Experts have laughed at a prediction by the environment minister Greg Hunt that Australia's greenhouse gas emissions peaked 10 years ago.

The federal government continues to drag its feet on marriage equality. It is now clear that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will not initiate a marriage equality plebiscite before the end of the year, as promised.

LGBTI community organisations are increasingly losing patience with delays and broken promises. Australian Marriage Equality national director Rodney Croome described a plebiscite as “an incredibly costly and harmful opinion poll”, after PriceWaterhouseCoopers estimated it would cost $525 million.

NASA dropped a bombshell of a climate report on March 11. February 2016 has soared past all rivals as the warmest seasonally adjusted month in more than a century of global recordkeeping. NASA's analysis showed that February ran 1.35°C above the 1951-1980 global average for the month, as can be seen in the graph of monthly anomalies going back to 1880.

During the early days of his campaign to be US president, Democratic hopeful Bernie Sanders wondered if the crowds that he saw on the street were headed to a baseball game, only to be told: “Actually they are on the way to hear you”.

This story illustrates how the Sanders message of free education, affordable health care, a $15 minimum wage, taxing the mega-rich and support for renewable energy has taken off.

Young Americans — the millennials — facing unpayable student debts, unaffordable health care, low wages and climate change inaction, are flocking to his campaign.

Under the cover of thick clouds and blinding sun, a drone assignation takes place in the Middle East. Interception of internet messages leads US authorities to a 16-year-old Anonymous group member.

Sharlene Leroy-Dyer, a descendant of the Guringai, Gadigal, Wiradjuri and Dharug peoples of NSW and National Councillor in the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU), has been preselected for the Socialist Alliance's NSW Senate ticket for the next federal election. The ticket is headed by militant Aboriginal activist and writer Ken Canning. Peter Boyle interviewed Leroy-Dyer for Green Left Weekly.

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What motivated you to throw your hat into the ring for Socialist Alliance's NSW Senate ticket?

On the evening of March 12, during Melbourne's Moomba festival, there was a disturbance involving crowds of young people around Federation Square.

One passer-by was hospitalised, and discharged later the same evening. Four youths were arrested: two for drunkenness, one for carrying a stun gun, and another for allegedly knocking a police officer's radio or phone into their face. Some tables and chairs outside cafes were overturned, and crockery smashed.

GLW Issue 1087

The NSW Minerals Council chief executive Stephen Galilee is keen on new anti-protest laws in NSW. He claims to be concerned about the safety of the workers as well as the protesters “illegally accessing mine sites”.

Mining and Energy Minister Antony Roberts has been a little more blunt: he says the new law is aimed at better enforcing the protection of private property and “lawful business activity”.

Most, however, can see through the spin.

The powers-that-be in NSW have deemed that there are so many examples of “unsafe protest activities” across the state that, to make everyone safe, we need new laws that will protect “lawful business activity”.

Protesters will be able to be jailed for up to seven years for “intentionally” or “recklessly” interfering with a “mine” — the definition of which has been changed to include an exploratory or test site.