Comment and Analysis

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.

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.

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.

On July 19, Reclaim Australia will lead a coalition of conservative, Christian fundamentalist and fascist organisations in another set of rallies to “defend Australian values” from “Muslim invasion”.

The recent elections in the Maritime Union of Australia made Bob Carnegie secretary of the Queensland branch.

Carnegie is a committed socialist who has been a union, social justice and community activist in Queensland since the Joh Bjelke-Petersen era. More recently he risked prison, under the then-Campbell Newman government’s anti-union laws, leading a community campaign in defence of construction workers on the Brisbane Children’s Hospital building site.

Green Left Weekly’s Margaret Gleeson spoke to Carnegie about his plans for the union.

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Earlier this year it looked as if Labor4Refugees’ amendments to the Labor Party’s platform that specifically reject boat turnbacks might win enough votes from the ALP left and the Catholic right to get through at the ALP national conference in late July.

However, the Labor leadership is committed to a policy of deterring asylum seekers and is working to prevent any policy change at the conference.

From his late teens, Bill Shorten would tell anyone who listened that his ambition was to be Labor prime minister, following in the footsteps of his heroes Bob Hawke and Paul Keating. But first of all he had to find a faction because, in the Labor Party, it is the factions who have the power to select MPs, premiers and prime ministers.

Greece's austerity-and-debt-driven crisis has prompted a humanitarian catastrophe.

The Australia-Greece Solidarity Campaign says half of all young people cannot find work, there is a growing shortage of essential medicines and child malnutrition rates have reached levels not seen since World War II.

A report undertaken by the Department of Education and Training shows that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students made up 1.1% of the total higher education enrolments across Australia last year. There were a total of 12,730 Aboriginal students, up from 11,684 students, a 9% jump from 2013.

According to Victorian Aboriginal Education Association Incorporated, the Gunditjmara Languages Program at Heywood and Districts Secondary College has been running for three years now, and received positive feedback from Year 7 and Year 8 students.

The radioactive exposure tour — the RadTour — organised by Friends of the Earth and the Anti-uranium and Clean Energy collective (ACE), was on again this year from June 27 till July 8. Twenty-five people travelled from Melbourne through south and western NSW then onto South Australia.

Green Left Weekly's Rachel Evans caught up with the RadTour at Lucas Heights and spoke to Dr Jim Green from Friends of the Earth.

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How has the campaign to make Australia nuclear free been going?

The Aboriginal Medical Service Western Sydney (AMSWS) is an Aboriginal community-controlled health service based in Mt Druitt. The federal government has decided to stop its $4 million annual funding from July 1 this year, effectively forcing it to close down.

AMSWS services the largest Aboriginal population in Australia. It has more than 11,000 active patients from greater Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains. Its closure will leave thousands of community members without access to essential services and put pressure on local hospital services and systems.

"Another bloody bogan. Shows she can't manage her money", the Coles cashier said as Sally left the store. It was Sally's first time using the Basics Card, and things were not off to a good start.

Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy (RATE) has led a successful occupation of the Redfern Block for more than a year, calling for affordable Aboriginal housing to be built on the site. RATE has been fighting off attempts by the Aboriginal Housing Corporation (AHC), led by Mick Mundine, to develop the site with a $70 million commercial and residential development.

In the 1960s and ’70s the Block became a focal point for the modern day urban land rights movement. Protests led to grassroots organisations such as the Aboriginal legal, medical cultural and housing services.

The Defence Department’s website says: “Exercise Talisman Sabre 2015 is a biennial combined Australian and US training activity, designed to … improve the combat readiness and interoperability between our respective forces. This exercise is a major undertaking that reflects the closeness of our alliance and the strength of the ongoing military-military relationship” and is “focused on the planning and conduct of mid-intensity ‘high end’ warfighting.”

The Border Force Act came into force on July 1. Under this Act, people working in immigration detention centres risk two years’ jail for disclosing evidence of the horrendous, inhumane conditions in those places.

We are at a point in time in which we face a huge ecological threat.

A research article by six leading biological and environmental scientists published on June 19 in Science Advances estimated that vertebrate species were becoming extinct at more than 100 times the normal rate.

Institutional corruption and lack of governance are serious issues requiring forensic and transparent public examination both in Australia and throughout the rich world.

The global economy has been stagnant since 2008, thanks to unregulated financial derivative markets estimated at the time at one quadrillion (one million billion) US dollars. Betting on interest rates and foreign exchange rates accounted for more than half of this amount.

Things can seem overwhelmingly dark these days, but at least we get to watch conservatives losing their shit over marriage equality.

Reactionary heads exploded across the US over the June 26 US Supreme Court decision to effectively legalise same-sex marriage in all 50 US states. And in Australia, panic grows at the prospect that we may follow suit.

Behind the Wire is an oral history project documenting the stories of men, women and children who have experienced mandatory detention. It seeks to bring a new perspective to the public understanding of mandatory detention by sharing the reality of the people who have lived it.

Green Left Weekly photographer and Socialist Alliance member Ali Bakhtiarvandi was one of those interviewed. This is a brief excerpt of his story. You can read the full story here.

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It has become a disturbing hallmark of the current government that the degree to which Prime Minister Tony Abbott adopts the style of a Nazi leader addressing the Nuremburg Rally is a reflection of the policies being foreshadowed. At Abbott's June 23 press conference, the flag count was up to 10. The parliamentary sitting week that followed was an assault on democratic rights.

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