Comment and Analysis

GLW Issue 1038

A study conducted by Oxfam and released on January 19 highlighted the widening gap between rich and poor, showing that by 2017 the world’s richest 1% would own more than half of the world’s wealth.

The study, titled Wealth: Having it all and wanting more, was released to coincide with the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos. It analysed data from Credit Suisse and Forbes about the makeup of the 1% and the global distribution of wealth.

People with a disability or a mental illness and their families have not had sufficient access to the services, programs and funding necessary for fully independent inclusion in society.

For a person with a disability to participate in the community, in many circumstances, equipment and organisational assistance is needed.

Under the cover of Christmas, 10 peak representative bodies of people with disability were defunded by the federal government.

Hang on, how does that work? Is this government not rolling out the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) that seeks to consult widely with people with disabilities and their advocates? Is this not the promise of a new arena of flexibility and choice, a “consumer-led” initiative that puts disability rights and voice front and centre?

Every week, on average, in Australia, more than one woman is murdered by her present or former partner. Family violence is now the leading cause of death and injury for women under 45, and a staggering one-in-three women experience violence by a former or present intimate partner.

On International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on November 24 last year, Telstra announced the introduction of an employment policy that provides for 10 days paid domestic violence leave each year for its employees.

The shocking bipartisan cruelty towards refugees and asylum-seekers continues to expose the moral bankruptcy of the federal coalition government and the equally culpable ALP opposition.

The latest despicable acts of criminal neglect and denial of human rights by our government towards asylum-seekers have been tragically playing out in a Darwin detention centre and in the Australian detention centre on PNG’s Manus Island, to our daily horror and disgust.

Iranian asylum-seeker “Martin” is now at a point of no return after more than 80 days on hunger strike in a Darwin detention centre.

A popular argument suggests Aboriginal people always burned country so non-Aboriginal Australians should too, albeit for modern purposes, such as fuel reduction burns. Historian Bill Gammage argued this in the popular and influential book The Biggest Estate on Earth (2011).

Remarkably, the book has attracted the praise of writers from both the left wing Green Left Weekly and the far-right Institute of Public Affairs (IPA).

"They took my boy’s body away," said mother, Gwen Sturt. "I wanted to go with my son. They left us behind. They didn’t care to listen."

GLW Issue 1037

1. A GLOBAL CALL FOR CLIMATE ACTION

Last year, more than ever before, people stood up to demand action from world leaders to address the climate crisis. On September 21, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of New York to insist on the need for stronger climate policy and more renewable energy.

2. EUROPE BANS PESTICIDES LINKED TO BEE COLLAPSE

In the search for a rationale to justify his assault on pensioners, the poor and the welfare dependent, Scott Morrison has reached back to the 17th century work of the English political theorist and philosopher Thomas Hobbes.

Hobbes published Leviathan in 1651, a work that gave rise to social contract theory. He was an advocate of strong central government, without which, he maintained, life would be solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.

Lisa Cruickshank, long-time activist, feminist, union stalwart, friend, sister and mother died peacefully at home surrounded by family and friends on November 2.

Lisa lived her life with courage, commitment, determination and love. She once wrote that: “I’m not about to prioritise class v gender v ethnic struggles — if there’s a decent blue going on, it deserves support.”

Releasing the interim report of the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption on December 19, employment minister Eric Abetz said the findings showed the decision to hold a royal commission into unions had been “vindicated”.

However, the fact that almost every substantial case examined by the royal commission was already making its way through the legal system, suggests the system is working. A royal commission is a tool government can effectively employ when there is a serious failure by the existing regulatory system.

Fee deregulation will be resurrected this year. This gives education activists that general zombie-slayer feeling any sane human gets from fighting a piece of legislation you thought you had killed already.

Last year, fee deregulation was booted out of the Senate, with student boots doing most of the kicking. But it doesn’t want to die and is set to return to parliament, presumably with enough amendments to appeal to the biggest fence sitters.

It’s 8pm and I’m sitting in the main section of the carriage. A weathered, middle-aged man in a tracksuit and peak hat is swaying around by the doors, muttering. I watch him out of the corner of my eye as he ambles over.

“How’s it going?” He slurs.

“Yeah good mate.”

The train soon shudders to a stop, the doors open and he springs out like some manic racehorse into the night.

Below is a Charter of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Rights was adopted by the Socialist Alliance in 2013.

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Introduction

The rate of Aboriginal children removed from their families has increased each year since Kevin Rudd said sorry to the Stolen Generations, and more and more Aboriginal children are being placed with non-Indigenous carers, a new report into Indigenous disadvantage has revealed.

In 2008, Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd apologised to the victims of past policies of forced removal that led to the Stolen Generations, promising that the “injustices of the past will never, never happen again”.

The Socialist Alliance national conveners released this statement on January 9.

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The Socialist Alliance condemns the massacre of journalists, cartoonists and others at and around the offices of the Paris-based publication Charlie Hebdo.

However offensive anyone may have found some of the cartoons published by Charlie Hebdo, this act of brutal violence is not justified.

A bushfire that swept through the Adelaide Hills in early January has destroyed 27 homes, ravaged the local environment and killed many pets and animals.

Large smoke plumes were visible from the Adelaide CBD and several Adelaide suburbs were evacuated.

It is similar to other severe fires, such as in the Blue Mountains in NSW last year and the Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria in 2009, which climate scientists say will occur more frequently.

On January 5, with most of the country still in holiday mode, Queensland Premier Campbell Newman called on the acting governor (even the governor was still on holidays) to issue writs for a state election on January 31.

The Liberal National Party (LNP) won government three years ago in a landslide against the Labor government’s privatisation of public assets, reducing the ALP to a rump of seven seats (now increased to nine after two byelection victories).

Joseph Elu, chair of the Torres Strait Regional Authority, told Radio National’s PM on January 5 that the islands that have been home to Indigenous people for thousands of years are “being inundated”, right now because of climate change.

“A couple of our islands, the tide rises over the sea walls of the beachfront and it flows under the houses and out the other end ... They’re predicting that in 100 years, then they’ll go under.”

NSW Labor has anointed a new leader less than three months before the state election in March. With the ALP trailing Mike Baird's Coalition government in the polls, it must have calculated that it has nothing to lose by dumping former leader John Robertson.

GLW Issue 1036

The statement below was released by Socialist Alliance national co-conveners on January 9.

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The Socialist Alliance condemns the massacre of journalists, cartoonists and others at and around the offices of the Paris-based publication Charlie Hebdo. However offensive anyone may have found some of the cartoons published by Charlie Hebdo, this act of brutal violence is not justified.

The statement below was released by the Tamil Refugee Council in Australia on January 9. The day before, opposition-backed presidential candidate Maithripala Sirisena beat incumbent president Mahinda Rajapaksa, who oversaw war crimes and abuse of the human rights of Tamils and others in Sri Lanka.

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The Tamil Refugee Council urges the Australian government to use the change of leadership in Sri Lanka to push for a resolution to the country’s most pressing issue – the long-standing oppression and persecution of Tamils.

The federal Treasurer Joe Hockey has foreshadowed further major cuts to public sector jobs and services in the Mid Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) released on December 15. The MYEFO is an update on the draconian federal budget brought down by the treasurer in May this year.

The National Union of Students (NUS) Conference 2014 kicked off at the Mannix College in Monash University, Melbourne last week to decide policy and administrative reform for the next year. They also voted to for the reintroduction of a new series of Office Bearing positions for 2015.

The conference was dominated by Young Labor Right, Student Unity, The Labor Left, National Labor Students, Socialist Alternative and Grassroots Collective. A scattering of independents also attended.

Last month, Rolling Stone ran an article on rape culture in US colleges, focusing primarily on the experiences of a young woman who told the magazine she was gang raped at a frat party.

Rolling Stone has been accused of letting rape survivors everywhere down by not properly fact checking the claims of the woman in question, Jackie, and for running a story with inconsistencies.

The magazine did let rape survivors down, but not by believing Jackie. They let us down by abandoning her for not being a good enough victim.

The statement below was released by Socialist Alliance on December 16.

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The Socialist Alliance has warned of a dangerous escalation of incitement of racial violence against Australia's Muslim communities in the wake of the tragic hostage incident in Sydney.

“Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to the families and loved ones of the two victims who died and to all those caught up in the terrifying and tragic siege in Sydney's Martin Place over the past 24 hours,” said Socialist Alliance national co-convener Susan Price today.

"The Abbott government's proposed back-door GP tax is a massive scam, and should be totally rejected by the whole community," Susan Price, Socialist Alliance candidate for the seat of Summer Hill in the March 2015 NSW state election, said on December 10.

"Today, International Human Rights Day, is a good time to stand up for universal public health as a basic human right. Abbott's proposed cut to the Medicare rebate for doctors still means the beginning of the end of our treasured universal, national public health system, Medicare," she said.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott signed an agreement in September to allow sales of Australian uranium to India for the first time. Uranium sales were initially approved by then-Coalition PM John Howard in August 2007 but Howard’s successor, Kevin Rudd, reinstated the ban.

Rudd’s action was in accordance with long-standing Labor Party policy that uranium should only be sold to countries that have signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). A 2008 Lowy Institute poll found that 88% of Australians supported this policy.

As parliament wound up for the year, the Coalition government was desperate to salvage a symbolic “win” in the Senate to save some face. It was reeling from the defeat of the one-term Liberal government in Victoria, which was seen as a vote against Prime Minister Tony Abbott in the second most populous state in Australia.

Almost 70% of NSW voters oppose the partial sale of state-owned electricity "poles and wires" assets, according to a Fairfax/Ipsos opinion poll reported in the November 24 Sydney Morning Herald. Only 29% say they support the NSW Coalition government's plan to lease 49% of the power facilities to private corporations.

The same 69% of people also believe that electricity prices would rise if the sale goes through; while only 7% think prices would fall. About 20% consider prices would remain the same.