Comment and Analysis

GLW Issue 1024

The United Motorcycle Council has taken the Queensland government to the High Court to challenge the Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment (VLAD) Act.

Introduced last year, the laws make it an offence for more than three members of an outlawed group to meet in public. Penalties include six months to three years in solitary confinement for being “associates” of a designated motorcycle club.

Domestic violence is the only criminal charge that is increasing in NSW. In Australia, one woman dies from it every week and one is hospitalised every three hours. Under such circumstances, one would hope the political will would exist to increase funding for services proven to help vulnerable women at risk.

Instead, the NSW government is reducing 336 existing services to just 149 services run by 69 lead agencies, 75% of which are Christian organisations.

Evil is one of those strange things isn't it? It is a very particular characteristic that always seems to be found in people who just happen to be in places our governments really want to bomb.

Forty thousand people marched against the federal government and its budget in over 30 locations on the weekend of August 30-31. This was smaller than the three similar mobilisations in March, May and July, but shows there is still a strong community sentiment against the budget.

All campaigns have ups and downs — no grassroots movement ever grows continually upwards. The smaller numbers reflect the fact that the initial raw anger against the budget has passed. To maintain a campaign in this context, people need to have confidence that their efforts can bear fruit.

Australian resident Natalie Lowrey was refused entry into Malaysia on August 31. She was travelling as an observer to the trial of 15 environmental activists who were arrested for protesting against Australian rare earth mining company Lynas.

On arrival in Malaysia, Lowrey was held by customs officials who said she had been blacklisted by Bukit Aman — the police headquarters in Kuala Lumpur — and that she would be deported home. Lowrey was informed of a strict denial of entry to Malaysia. No reasons were given.

A petition is calling on the Monash University Clubs and Societies Executive to overturn its decision to deregister the Socialist Alternative Club.

The text of the petition is below. Click here to sign the petition.


We should never forget the image of Treasurer Joe Hockey and finance minister Mathias Cormann smirking as they announced the end of the mining tax introduced by the former Labor government.

Along with that other image of them enjoying their post-budget cigars, they should be preserved as evidence for the day when the exploiters and oppressors face justice.

Scientists at the CSIRO have published research that shows there is a 99.999% chance that rising temperatures are caused by human activity.

Writing in The Conversation they say: “Ignoring the problem is no longer an option.”

“It’s socialism for the rich and capitalism for the rest of us in Britain” writes Owen Jones in an article in the Guardian on August 29.

Jones’ argument is based on the bailouts given to the banks and subsidies given to big businesses by the British government in the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis. These government bailouts allowed the banks to survive, but individuals suffered and received limited government intervention or support.

The Socialist Alliance released this statement on August 29.


"The Independent Commission Against Corruption's uncovering of corrupt political dealings between corporations and the two major parties in NSW shouldn't come as a surprise,” said Susan Price on August 29.

Price is standing as a candidate for the Socialist Alliance in the new seat of Summer Hill on a platform of “People before Profit — NSW is not for sale”.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) fought for an independent Tamil homeland in the north and east of the island of Sri Lanka.

The group was formed in response to discrimination against the Tamil people by the Sri Lankan government, after peaceful protests had been repeatedly met with violent repression. It waged an armed struggle for nearly three decades.

The LTTE was militarily defeated in 2009, and no longer exists. Yet people are still being penalised for alleged links with the group. This is happening in Sri Lanka, in Australia, and in other countries.

Anti-war groups IPAN-NSW, Stop the War Coalition, Australian Anti-Bases Campaign Coalition, Marrickville Peace Group and People for Nuclear Disarmament (WA) released this statement on September 5.


Both major Australian political parties are once again standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the US, in support of what amounts to a new military intervention in Iraq.

The process began with the dropping of humanitarian aid supplies to the Yezidi. It has now moved on to the delivery of weapons and munitions to Kurdish Peshmerga forces.

Nick Riemer gave this speech to the March Australia rally in Sydney on August 31. He is an activist with the Refugee Action Coalition.


The Gadigal and the other first peoples of this country were — and still are — the objects of a relentless war of attrition.

That merciless frontier war has been hidden and denied. Another war that the government tries to conceal and rationalise away is its war on asylum seekers.

Medicare is 30 years old and is the scheme that publicly funds Australia’s universal health care system. Medicare has always generated political conflict. From 1972 to 1984 Australia became the first developed country to introduce a universal health care system (under Gough Whitlam), then discard it (under Malcolm Fraser).

In those 12 years Australia tried, on five separate occasions, to balance public and private insurance schemes. Finally, in 1984, the Bob Hawke government reintroduced a universal health care system, Medicare.

GLW Issue 1023

Finance minister Mathias Cormann has threatened the opposition parties that if they continue to block key budget measures — such as the demolition of universal health care and welfare, the deregulation of university fees, and the hike in the interest rate on student HECS debts — then the government would be forced to look at raising taxes.

One of the most frightful ironies of climate change is that it will wreak the most havoc on the people who have done the least to cause it. Pacific Island nations are in the climate frontlines — affected by rising oceans, coastal erosion and extreme weather.

The imperial war drums are beating loudly again and the big parties in Australia, Liberal and Labor, are once more shoulder-to-shoulder for a new military intervention in Iraq.

Defence minister David Johnston says the Australian armed forces are in a “high state of readiness” to join the US in bombing missions with Super Hornet warplanes.

“They're incredibly capable,” he said. “They're exactly what flies off US aircraft carriers. Now, that's an obvious first port of call were we to consider it necessary to participate with our friends and our ally.”

A new environmental battleground is shaping up in Western Australia over the controversial issue of fracking. A small victory was won on August 20 when councillors from the Shire of Coorow, a group of small towns 250 kilometres north of Perth, voted unanimously to suspend all fracking activity in the area pending a full environmental assessment and public inquiry.

Forty per cent of Australians do not believe that democracy is the best form of government, the Lowy Institute found in a poll it conducted earlier this year.

The main reasons given were that what now passes for democracy is serving vested interests rather than the interests of people, and that there is no real difference between the two big political parties.

This is a perfectly logical reaction to the convergence of the major parties around the economic doctrine of neoliberalism.

The Renewable Energy Target could become a victim of its own success. A review into the scheme, released on August 29, has recommended the federal government close new investment into renewable energy because it has produced more energy than originally planned.

But Labor, Greens and Palmer United Party senators have vowed to block any changes to the scheme.

At the same time, a debate has emerged among climate activists about whether we should “change tack” when it comes to campaigning on the issue of climate change.

The first asylum seeker to be forcibly returned to Afghanistan begged an Australian court for help the day he was due to be deported.

The judge used a two-year out-of-date security assessment of Afghanistan to rule that the 29-year-old ethnic Hazara’s home district, Jaghori, was “reasonably stable”.

“Jaghori is confined, it’s like a prison,” the man said through an interpreter, the Sydney Morning Herald reported. “The surrounding areas are all controlled by the Taliban. Many people die on the way to Jaghori.”

There has been a dramatic rise in the female prison population in Australia in the last 10 years. This increase is largely due to the rising number of Aboriginal women going to prison.

In 1996, about 21% of women in prison were Aboriginal, last year it was 33%. The rate of increase is much greater than that of men.

Australia has the dishonour of jailing the highest proportion of its Indigenous female population in the world. Aboriginal women are 17 times more likely to be incarcerated than non-Aboriginal women.

The Coalition dominated Senate will vote on a raft of amendments to the Fair Work Act in July next year that includes the Building and Construction (Fair and Lawful Building Sites) Code.

The code will be voted in as a piece of retrospective legislation. This means it will be backdated to April 24 this year. This is so the code will apply to all new enterprise bargaining agreements (EBA) due to be negotiated by all construction unions with the respective employers.

Nick Riemer, senior lecturer at the University of Sydney, addressed a Town Hall meeting on August 25 on the proposed deregulation of fees at Australian universities. Riemer is a member of the NTEU Sydney University branch committee.


Fee deregulation means the entrenchment of educational disadvantage and the enclosure of knowledge in our society.

That’s not irresponsible exaggeration: it’s an accurate characterisation that follows from the careful modelling done by a number of authorities.

Immigration minister Scott Morrison has angrily slammed allegations by Labor Senator Sue Lines that the federal government was using the “war on terror” to distract voters from its cruel and deeply unpopular budget.

And fair enough, it was a ridiculous comment when you consider the huge number of terrorist attacks Australia has been subjected to in recent times.

After four venues cancelled bookings under pressure from protesters, the World Congress of Families announced a fifth venue for its conference in Victoria — the headquarters of notorious anti-Muslim hate group Catch the Fire Ministries.

A coalition of groups opposing the WCF called a media conference on August 28 to explain why they were determined to stop the right-wing fundamentalist Christian conference from going ahead in Melbourne on August 30.

GLW Issue 1022

The age of entitlement might be over for some, but the spooks are not among them. There are six security and intelligence services in Australia, the largest of which is the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO).

In 2004, it was getting by with 700 staff and a budget of $150 million. Now it has a staff of 1780 with a budget of $600 million at their disposal.

Save Medicare Sydney, a campaign group committed to defending universal public health care, is calling on the Australian Medical Association (AMA) and the Palmer United Party to reject any compromise over the federal government's proposed $7 GP co-payment.

The AMA released an alternative plan on August 21. It proposed a $6.15 co-payment, excluding concession card holders and children.

Premier Mike Baird’s apology to the people of NSW, delivered after the resignation of two Newcastle Liberal MPs, is about as sincere as Treasurer Joe Hockey’s mea culpa to the poor.

Baird’s statement that the Liberal Party would not contest the byelections caused by the resignations — “we strongly believe we have forfeited our right to represent those electorates” — is also a political ploy. The only reason the Liberals are not standing is to avoid the humiliating loss they knew was coming.

The release of up to 150 children under the age of 10 from residential detention is not a humanitarian move by the government, in case you were wondering.

Immigration minister Scott Morrison claimed that issuing bridging visas to 150 children and their families to live in the community was a “dividend of stopping the boats”.