Comment and Analysis

GLW Issue 1048

Within two months of the cliff-hanger election that resulted in the ALP forming a minority government, what seems like a re-run of the attempts to unseat the Julia Gillard government in Canberra is playing out in Queensland.

Despite pressure from the Labor and Liberal parties to resign his seat, in a statement issued on April 8, the former ALP, now independent, MP for Cook, Billy Gordon confirmed that he will not resign from parliament but will continue to represent his constituents.

New Greens MP Jenny Leong, who won the seat of Newtown in the March 28 NSW election, attributes the Greens’ high votes in several parts of NSW to its MPs standing up against corruption and over-development.

The Greens' support for community-led campaigns — in particular opposition to coal seam gas and the WestConnex road project — also won them a bigger hearing.

Former workers from the Nauru detention centre say the Australian government has “tolerated the physical and sexual assault of children, and the sexual harassment and assault of vulnerable women in the centre for more than 17 months”.

Refugees who have been released from the detention centre to live in the community have also faced ongoing violence. A woman reportedly called the Nauruan police on April 8 after being sexually assaulted by men in a car.

David Pocock is a rugby player in the Australian national rugby union team. He was also recently arrested. In reacting to his arrest and the reason for it, some have suggested that Pocock may not be the right man to captain the Wallabies in the future.

Two thousand people rallied in Federation Square on April 4 to oppose Reclaim Australia freely spreading racism and fascism on the streets of Melbourne.

Anti-racist participants included socialists, anarchists, feminists, refugee rights advocates, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and the politically unaligned. All were united in a common cause to stop the spread of racism in Australia.

The Guardian newspaper was first published in Manchester in 1821. It is generally regarded as a centre-left paper that employs some very fine journalists.

Its online edition is one of the most widely read in the world and its combined print and online editions reach some 9 million readers. The paper’s environmental coverage is provided by a team of seven environmental writers and each month four million visitors go to the Guardian for its environmental coverage.

Why would a 54 year-old woman make a decision to lock herself onto the train tracks of the world’s biggest coal port?

Annette Schneider, an artist and farmer from Monaro in NSW, explained to Green Left Weekly that her action on March 31 was a direct result of her fear of catastrophic climate change.

Sydney Staff for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions sent this open letter to University of Sydney vice-chancellor Michael Spence on March 25. The letter is in response to Spence’s email of March 19, in which he claimed anti-Semitism was the trigger for the university’s investigation into the student protest at the March 11 lecture by Colonel Richard Kemp and its sequel.

* * *

We are compelled to write to you to register our serious concern about the concerted campaign being conducted against Palestine activists at the University of Sydney.

This speech was given at the Refugee Action Collective protest in Melbourne on April 8.

* * *

We are here to protest against the indefinite detention of a group of refugees who are claimed by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) to be a security threat.

These are people who have been officially recognised as refugees who were at serious risk of persecution in the countries they fled. Yet they are detained indefinitely because of negative ASIO assessments.

At a G20 meeting last October, Rupert Murdoch surprised some with a speech that criticised world leaders for, as it was described in his Australian newspaper, “their policies [that] have caused a ‘massive shift’ in societies to benefit the super-rich with a legacy of social polarisation”.

In particular, Murdoch criticised youth unemployment: “The unemployment rate for Americans under the age of 25 is 13%, which sounds awful until I remember that in the eurozone that number is 23%, and it is twice as high in places like Spain and Greece, and parts of France and Italy.

Ten years ago, the uranium price was on an upward swing. South Australians were dazzled by the prospect of becoming the 'Saudi Arabia of the South' because of the state's large uranium deposits and the prospect of a global nuclear power renaissance.

Those comparisons didn't stand up to a moment's scrutiny — Australia would need to supply global uranium demand 31 times over to match Saudi oil revenue.

GLW Issue 1047

“The swing against the Coalition and vote for three, perhaps four Greens MPs, in the NSW elections represents an important political gain for the left in NSW. This is welcome news for those fighting for community need not corporate greed”, Susan Price told Green Left Weekly.

Price, a long-time unionist and co-convenor of Socialist Alliance, ran for the Socialist Alliance in the inner-west seat of Summer Hill.

It was always a big ask for the NSW Labor Party to follow their counterparts in Victoria and Queensland and win the election on March 29.

The corruption scandals involving former Labor ministers was a big handicap for the ALP at the previous election in 2011. As a result, Labor lost 32 lower house seats and the Coalition won 34 seats. The ALP was reduced to a rump of just 20 lower house members — the worst result for the party in more than 100 years.

The Australian Conservation Foundation has released a report titled Australia’s top 10 climate polluters. It reveals that these 10 polluters — and it’s no surprise that most are electricity suppliers - are responsible for generating nearly one-third of greenhouse gases through their production and use of energy.

Australian NGO Australia for Dolphins (AFD) has launched legal action in Switzerland against the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA), based in Geneva.

More than 100 people gathered in a park in Katherine on March 24 to launch the Frack-Free NT Roadshow, a group of pastoralists, traditional owners and environmentalists doing community education and outreach in the Roper and gulf country.

Thirty environmental, scientific and recreation groups have called on the new Victorian government to create the Great Forest National Park.

The proposed park would add 355,000 hectares of protected forests to the existing 170,000 hectares of parks and protected areas in the Central Highlands of Victoria by amalgamating a group of smaller parks. The park would stretch from Healesville to Kinglake in the west, through to Baw-Baw plateau in the east and north to Eildon.

Mesothelioma is a particularly virulent form of lung cancer. From the date of diagnosis the average life expectancy of a person with the disease is just 155 days.

There is only one way a person can contact mesothelioma: by exposure to the fine particles of asbestos dust that cannot be seen by the naked eye.

The latent period from exposure to diagnosis can be many decades. So the first battle for sufferers seeking compensation was overcoming the legal hurdle in Commonwealth and state jurisdictions known as the statute of limitations.

When neoliberal economics was being established as a hegemonic position in Australia in the late 1980s, 1.2 million workers were employed in the manufacturing industry — 15% of the workforce.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) latest employment analysis shows that 25,000 jobs were lost in manufacturing last year, bringing the total employed down to 920,000 — 7.8% of the workforce.

It is a trend that will only continue with the winding-down of the vehicle production industry and its related vehicle components sector.

International Women’s Day (IWD) — originally called International Working Women’s Day — was first proposed in 1910 as an initiative of the socialist women’s movement. The following year, on March 19, 1911, IWD was marked for the first time, by over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland.

The Victoria Marine Animal Defenders (VMAD) collective organised a rally at Eastern Beach in Geelong on March 22 to protest the imminent arrival of a super trawler in Australian waters.

While the numbers at the rally were relatively few — about 60 to 70 people — it was a diverse crowd that included recreational fishers, various political parties, independent activists and members of VMAD, which is itself a collective of activists from numerous other groups.

When then-immigration minister Scott Morrison made a video in September last year callously informing refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru that they would never be allowed to settle in Australia, he hoped at least some would ask to be returned to their home country.

But the video failed spectacularly. Not a single refugee or asylum seeker asked to be returned. Instead, angered by the video, they started a series of protests, hunger strikes, attempted suicides and instances of self-harm.

The motto of the University of Wollongong (UOW) promises “Personalised Experiences: World Class Results”. It would do well to tell the public which persons in the institution availed themselves of the experience of authorising political donations of $26,175 in the last four years, and what world class results they expected.

The signature on contribution donations in 2009 was the university’s director of government relations, Canio Fierravanti, brother of Liberal Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells.

Coincidentally, 82% of the donations since late-2010 have gone to the Liberal Party.

The Abbott government's metadata retention bill passed the Senate on March 26 with Labor support — deepening the mass surveillance of the public and further undermining the ability of investigative journalists to do their jobs.

And just to really rub this attack on civil liberties in, the government is headed by an idiot who has less of a clue about the huge technology powers his law grants the state, than the Catholic Church has historically had of “duty of care when working with children”.

Pat Eatock truly deserved the title “elder”. An elder passes on the lessons of the past to the next generation. This was her biggest activist contribution in the last years of her life.

Workers in the South Australian retail sector — particularly young, casual workers — could lose their penalty rates thanks to a deal between retail employers and the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA).

The Tony Abbott government’s moves to introduce the Healthy Welfare Card – income management on steroids – indicate that it remains committed to a welfare system based on deterrence and punishment. Once again, the government refuses to acknowledge years of negative data about the policy and its consistent failure to benefit those it will be forced upon.

GLW Issue 1046

A report has found that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement would be likely to adversely affect the health of the Australian population.

The TPP is a free trade deal being negotiated by countries on the Pacific rim: the US, Australia, Singapore, New Zealand, Chile, Brunei, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Vietnam and Japan. These countries represent about 40% of global GDP.

The silence around jobs in the NSW election is deafening.

Newcastle has been losing 200 jobs a year from the sale of state assets and the casualisation and retrenchment of state employees.

Up to 8000 workers in jobs such as fitters, boilermakers, welders, riggers and trades assistants in ship building and rail manufacture are also under threat.

Both major parties are focusing on other issues instead of the Hunter region’s jobs.

Imagine visiting your mum or dad, in an aged care facility, and finding that they had been left to deal with severe pain because there was no registered nurse on duty who could give them morphine.

This is a real prospect facing thousands of families in NSW if the state government changes the law requiring at least one registered nurse (RN) to be employed at nursing homes at all times. It would leave up to 48,500 vulnerable, high-needs nursing home residents, at risk in an already stretched healthcare system.