Comment and Analysis

GLW Issue 1000

A report commissioned by the Victorian branch of the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) shows that energy sector privatisation in Australia has been "a dismal failure", which has produced "no benefits" for consumers, but has resulted in "large fiscal losses" for taxpayers.

Economist John Quiggin, from the University of Queensland, reviewed energy sector privatisation and the related process of electricity market reform between the early 1990s and now, and found no long-term benefits for either governments or consumers.

John Fenton is a farmer from Wyoming in the United States who has 24 gas wells on his property. He recently toured Australia to speak about the environmental and health impacts the gas industry has had on his land and community.

He spoke at 11 meetings in gas hotspots throughout Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, organised by the Greens and Lock the Gate Alliance. These meetings were well attended. In Narrabri, in northern New South Wales, 600 people came to hear him speak.

For the past eight months, I worked at a well-known retail chain for a fraction of the cost of other employees. I am 16-years-old and was being paid “youth wages”.

I resigned at the end of February, even though I enjoyed working there. I was receiving second-class wages for the same work as older workers with the same position.

When I originally applied for the job in June last year, I was told that my pay would be scaled down a certain percentage for every year under 21 years of age I was.

GLW Issue 999

An anonymous post to the Facebook group “Parenting Payments for Parents — not Newstart” (PPPNN) on February 26 read: “It’s been a very long, long, tiring road with no help from police regarding the violence ... I am now settled in a new private rental of $355 a week but I just can’t get back on track … I can’t put food on the table or nappies on my children’s bottoms this week.

Outside the city of Port Augusta in South Australia, the firm Alinta Energy runs the ageing brown coal-fired Northern power station. Environmentalists and local campaigners want the plant replaced with state-of-the-art solar power generation. But Alinta would rather solar power were used to pre-heat water for the existing plant, which would then stay in operation for further decades.

“You don't want a wimp running border protection,” Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on February 21. “You want someone who is strong, who is decent, and Scott Morrison is both strong and decent.”

Abbott was defending immigration minister Scott Morrison for his actions and comments after a young asylum seeker was killed in the Manus Island detention centre on February 16.

As approaches its 1000th issue, more than 20 years after it first hit the streets, we will be looking back at some of the campaigns it has covered and its role as an alternative source of news. This week we look at women's liberation.

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Well the fun just never stops, does it, when it comes to the Abbott government’s asylum seeker policies, or as they call it, “border protection”. Because when it comes to needing protection, fleeing war, torture and genocide is one thing, but won’t someone think of all the poor, downtrodden borders?

How many more times must our vulnerable borders be subject to assaults by desperate people using their international right under a convention Australia has signed to sail right over them in their boats without so much as a “Sorry Australian maritime borders! Didn’t see you there!”

Institutionalised corruption in New South Wales stretches from the Rum Corps of the late 18th century to present-day politicians from the Labor and Liberal parties.

The pattern has been consistent: public exposure, followed by the confected outrage of “shocked” politicians that comes with contrite promises of reforms. After a suitable time has elapsed, the cycle repeats.

Two important things were revealed when immigration minister Scott Morrison was finally forced to admit he had been wrong about most of the facts when one man was killed and at least 70 others were injured on Manus Island on February 16.

The first was that asylum seekers who rang and messaged advocates, supporters and friends in Australia in a panic over the outbreak of violence, saying that G4S security guards and angry locals were brutally attacking dozens of people, were telling the truth.

GLW Issue 998

The Socialist Alliance released this statement February 19.

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Over the weekend of February 15-16, the socialist youth organisation Resistance merged into the Socialist Alliance of which it was previously an affiliate. Members of the Socialist Alliance aged 26 and under are now part of a new youth wing called “Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance”.

After the collapse of Ansett Airlines and National Textiles in 2001 — both of which owed their employees millions of dollars in unpaid entitlements — the then-John Howard government was forced to introduce legislation establishing the General Employee Entitlements and Redundancy Scheme, which guaranteed basic entitlements for workers if a company went broke.

It’s impossible to ignore any longer just how cruel and irrational the government’s war on refugees has become after violent attacks in the Manus Island detention centre left one dead and scores injured.

The threat of expulsion to Manus Island is particularly terrifying for some asylum seekers given the criminalisation of homosexuality in Papua New Guinea. Amnesty International said last year that staff would be forced to report suspected same-sex activity in the detention centre.

PNG can prosecute same-sex people with a penalty of 14 years jail.

From its inception, Green Left Weekly has reported on the fight against discrimination suffered by the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community.

Sue Bolton was elected to Moreland City Council in north Melbourne in November 2012 on the platform of “community need not developer greed”.

As a member of the Socialist Alliance, Bolton sees it as important to take up the “bread and butter” issues as well as broader social justice issues.

Bolton does not seek to just represent residents, but encourages residents to get involved in local community campaigns and feel empowered to take up issues with the council themselves.

The federal Coalition government is conducting a review of Australia's Renewable Energy Target (RET), which aims to have 20% of Australia’s energy produced from renewables by 2020.

The recent appointments of prominent climate change deniers and fossil fuel industry heavies make the review panel look more like a lynch mob for renewable energy. Dick Warburton, who will head the review, is on the public record denying climate science.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott recently toured drought stricken areas of north-west New South Wales and southern Queensland, promising that his government was close to finalising subsidies to farmers affected by the drought.

The National Climate Centre says in the past two years “most of Queensland and New South Wales inland of the Great Dividing Range as well as much of South Australia have received less than 70% of their long-term average rainfall, with a substantial area having received less than half the average for the period.”

You know, unless asylum seekers somehow managed to sneak into this country and made it all the way to Geelong to pose as Alcoa executives to announce yet another plant closure at the cost of nearly a thousand more jobs, then I really think this nation has some bigger goddamn problems than boats carrying refugees asking for help.

GLW Issue 997

The consequences of the inhumane policies by successive Coalition and Labor governments to make life as unbearable as possible for asylum seekers are unfolding on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island.

As approaches its 1000th issue, more than 20 years after it first hit the streets, we will be looking back at some of the campaigns it has covered and its role as an alternative source of news. This week we look at climate change.

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When Green Left Weekly first hit the streets in 1991, the hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica was the biggest climate-related worry for most people. Twenty-three years later, most people accept that climate change is, to quote Kevin Rudd, the biggest moral challenge of our generation.

The Tony Abbott government has announced another Royal Commission into corruption in building industry unions.

But Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary Dave Oliver said the terms of reference for this Royal Commission “are narrowly directed at unions and will not adequately deal with corruption or unlawful behaviour by businesses or employers”.

Australia’s central bank, the Reserve Bank of Australia, gets its powers from the Reserve Bank Act (1959). Its two primary functions are to ensure the stability of the currency and the provision of full employment.

Besides managing Australia’s gold and foreign exchange reserves, it supposedly meets these objectives by setting the cash rate to meet an agreed medium term inflation rate, which is now set at a target band of 2% to 3%.

There are some cynics who argue that Tony Abbott is a lying scumbag who wouldn't know the truth if it was tattooed on Rupert Murdoch's arse. Or, to put it another way, if it was right in front of his face.

But this is demonstratively false, because Abbott told us in his February 1 YouTube video “Delivering on Our Promises” that “not a single illegal boat has arrived since mid-December”.

Australia's latest official unemployment figures only confirmed what everyone already knew — jobs are being destroyed by the thousands.

The announcement of Toyota's plan to close down car-making, after a decision by General Motors Holden and Ford to do the same, dominated the headlines. But a host of other lesser known manufacturing companies are also shutting down.

An unemployment rate of 6% and rising is not as bad as in other parts of the world, but it doesn't tell the full story.

In its written submission to the four-yearly review of the award system, the federal government has called on the Fair Work Commission to introduce comprehensive changes that will include cuts to minimum award rates of pay and conditions.

GLW Issue 996

When the Black Power movement emerged in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane in the late 60s, thousands of Aboriginal people took to the streets demanding national uniform land rights legislation and recognition of our right to self-determination.

The establishment of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in 1972 further galvanised this groundswell of Black activism. Thousands of Aboriginal people converged on Brisbane to protest the ’82 Commonwealth Games, and then came the call for a Treaty.

Victoria’s scorching January heatwave has focused a lot of attention on the problem of coping with the immediate fallout from climate change.

According to the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine, in the period January 13 to 23 there were 139 deaths in excess of the expected average. There were reports of homeless people being forced away from airconditioned areas as they sought relief from the relentless heat.

http://m.smh.com.au/victoria/anger-over-spike-in-deaths-during-record-vi...

As Green Left Weekly approaches its 1000th issue, more than 20 years after it first hit the streets, we will be looking back at some of the campaigns it has covered and its role as an alternative source of news.

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Green Left Weekly began its life in a time of war in the Middle East, increasing attacks on the environment — and the Hawke government’s Prices and Incomes Accord which lasted from 1983 until 1996.

If you want evidence that the corporate rich are turning “sustainable” into a dirty word, then consider the recent award won by Australian bank Westpac. At last month’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the bank was named the most sustainable company in the world.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) has approved plans to dump 3 million cubic metres of sand and mud in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
 
This waste will come from dredging the sea floor during construction of the Abbot Point coal terminal near Bowen and will be dumped about 25 kilometres away within the boundaries of the marine park.
 
Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt initially approved the proposal, before passing it on to the GBRMPA to make the final decision.