Comment and Analysis

GLW Issue 1013

When Muckaty traditional owners first heard about a proposed waste dump on their land seven years ago, it didn’t seem like such a bad idea.

Many thought it was a general rubbish tip that would recycle, sell reclaimed materials and provide work opportunities for people living in the remote area of the Northern Territory.

Millions of dollars were promised for roads and scholarships. In an area with few employment prospects or education opportunities, it is little wonder the offer seemed attractive.

GLW Issue 1012

There is one city in the world the indigenous people, who make up a third of the population, are officially classified by the authorities as having permanent residency, a legal status normally granted to migrants.

As non-citizens, Palestinians legal status in East Jerusalem is legally inferior to that of Jewish residents.

East Jerusalem, which was occupied by the Israeli army in the 1967 war and still contains refugee camps of survivors of the 1948 ethnic cleansing of large parts of Palestine, known as Al Nakba, bears the marks of an apartheid regime.

Australia is at risk of becoming a scientific backwater due to the federal government’s budget cuts to the CSIRO.

The government has proposed a $111 million cut to CSIRO funding in the May budget — about 20% of its total funding — and at least 1000 full-time staff will lose their jobs over the next four years.

Eight CSIRO sites around the country will close. Many are in regional country towns, which rely on the sites for employment.

The global financial crisis had its origins in the US when interest rates fell from 6% in January 2001 to 1% in mid-2003. This led to banks and other financial institutions awash with cheap money to conclude that lending to home buyers at obvious risk of defaulting their repayments was a safe bet.

Sham contracting — when a company lists employees as contractors to avoid having to pay tax and benefits — and charging workers illegal fines are widespread practices in the sex industry.

World Refugee Day is dedicated each year to raising awareness about the more than 43.7 million refugees and internally displaced people around the world. The United Nations and non-government organisations usually share refugee stories and make pleas for compassion and empathy.

But in Australia, refugees and asylum seekers are treated like the enemy in a war: the target of a highly resourced, military-led “deterrence” strategy complete with arbitrary detainment, detention camps, guards to terrorise them, forced deportations and the violent suppression of those who protest.

The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has again found former Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid guilty of corruption.

On June 5, he was found corrupt over the non-disclosure of the ownership of cafes at Circular Quay and attempts to renew the leases without them going to tender.

Social services minister Kevin Andrews has defended the Coalition government's attacks on welfare — including proposals to deny jobless under-30s any payment at all for six months — on the grounds that “too much intervention” denies citizens the opportunity to achieve something for themselves.

GLW Issue 1011

You know Australian politics has reached a low point when a lunatic billionaire coal magnate driving a Rolls Royce manages to appear less heartless and out-of-touch than the government.

And yet Clive Palmer managed the feat, driving up to Parliament House in his luxury vehicle on May 27 and somehow twisting the act into a statement against politician privileges — pointing out money spent on government cars would be better spent raising the pension.

Repealing the carbon tax, abolishing the department of climate change, and getting rid of the Clean Energy Fund were the top three wishes in “75 radical ideas to transform Australia”, released by the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) in 2012. Number six was to repeal the Renewable Energy Target (RET).

In the recent federal budget, the Coalition government is aiming to do all four.

Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance released this statement on May 30.

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The federal Coalition government plans to ramp up Work for the Dole for job seekers under 30.

From July 1, it will apply in 18 high unemployment regions across Australia, and will be rolled out nationwide from July 1 next year.

The demand of tens of thousands of people who marched through the streets in cities around Australia on May 18 was clear. They want the federal government’s killer budget blocked.

They want Labor, the Greens and independents to band together in the Senate to block the major bills implementing the attacks on Medicare, education and welfare.

They want the supply/appropriation bills (the three bills that authorise the funds from treasury required by the government to carry on its day-to-day business) to be blocked, thereby forcing the government to go to a new election.

If you were to take Prime Minister Tony Abbott and the Coalition on face value, they appear to be against debt.

All the pain imposed on the poorest in society by the federal budget and all the cuts to education, health and welfare are justified as being necessary “medicine” to solve a horrendous debt problem left to them by previous Labor governments. Yes, we've heard that line over and over again.

Never mind the fact that the government's debt as a proportion of gross domestic product is one of the lowest among the developed countries and lower than it was in the 1950s and 1960s.

While attacking pensioners, the unemployed, single parents and the marginalised, the Coalition government has stepped up its attack on the organised.

There are two inquiries aimed at unions underway — a Productivity Commission inquiry into the Fair Work Act and the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption. Both are designed to emasculate an already legislatively constrained union movement.

For good measure, Attorney-General George Brandis has now added a third.

Memo to concern trolls Annabel Crabb and Howard-era minister Amanda Vanstone: take your own advice and stop being selfish thugs and bullies. And if Fairfax journalist Crabb is going to criticise student protests for being “outdated”, she should drop the 1950s style housewife persona.

In a May 23 Sydney Morning Herald article, Crabb said she was “concerned” that thousands of students taking part in a recent national day of action against increased university fees were going about things the wrong way. Take notice students of Australia. Activism, you’re doing it wrong.

The Royal Commission into the Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was set up in January last year, after decades of campaigning by victims.

Led by Justice Peter McClellan, the first public hearings began in April last year and apply only to children sexually abused up to the age of 18. It does not include physical or emotional abuse.

Doug Jordan, a long-time socialist and union militant, who transformed himself in later life into an innovative labour historian, died on May 19 in Melbourne at the age of 63. Doug passed away after a hard struggle with cancer.

In recent years, Doug was a community activist, especially with the campaign to defend public housing, and co-presented the 3CR program City Limits on Wednesday mornings for 14 years.

The Australian government’s review of the February violence on Manus Island leaves critical questions unanswered and does not call for the detention camp to be closed.

Robert Cornall’s 107-page administrative review, released on May 26, includes a detailed account of 23-year-old Reza Berati’s death and identifies a Salvation Army employee as instigating the attack.

GLW Issue 1010

The federal government’s budget is a huge economic, social and ideological attack on women. At its heart are government spending cuts aimed directly at depriving working-class women of the means for economic independence.

A report released last week by the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM) said low-income households headed by women will bear the heaviest burden under the changes proposed in the budget.

The turnout and energy at the March in May rallies on May 18 proved that people are not going to take this budget lying down.

Numbers were up in several cities compared with March in March. In Melbourne, Hobart and Brisbane there were sizeable anti budget rallies on the day, even though March Australia groups had decided not to organise protests.

Student rallies against the cuts to education on May 21 were bigger than any seen for a decade.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Treasurer Joe Hockey are bare-faced liars. They sold their budget on the idea that we all had to share in the pain to pay for an unsustainable national debt.

But it has been proved beyond any reasonable doubt that we are not all sharing the pain and that the government's debt is not unsustainable.

Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance released this statement on May 22.

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The struggle against education cuts has exploded onto the national stage in the lead up to and following the budget announcement by the federal Coalition government, a budget set to massively increase student debt.

With a series of political stunts and protests against individual Liberal Party politicians, there has been a serious political response to these fee increases and cuts, not just by students, but by all young people.

Gemma Weedall gave this speech at the March in May rally in Adelaide on May 18. She is a member of the Climate Emergency Action Network and the Socialist Alliance.

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This week I heard some news that really scared and shook me. Believe it or not, I’m not talking about the budget – although that did too.

Love Makes A Way is a movement of Christians seeking an end to Australia’s inhumane asylum seeker policies through prayer and non-violent action. The group organised a sit-in protest in Tony Abbott’s office on May 19, leading to seven arrests. Below, Karl Hand explains why he took part in the protest.

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A forum titled “An Aboriginal Perspective on Inequality, The Intervention, Racism and Struggle” was held on May 6 in Adelaide. Hosted by the South Australia Aboriginal Coalition for Social Justice, the Socialist Alliance and SIMpla, the forum heard from an all-Aboriginal panel including Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy member Boe Spearim and Northern Territory-based activist Amelia Kunoth-Monks.

After the brutal budget comes the ceaseless round of insulting lies and justifications from the government.

GLW Issue 1009

I had a heart attack when I was just 55. It was a surprise and a shock. I'd never smoked, was not a big drinker and wasn't carrying too much weight. It was probably a genetic predisposition to heart disease. That was six years ago.

Last week I went through the annual tests and consultation with the cardiologist and was told I'm “doing very well” thanks to exercise, a supportive family and the public, universal healthcare system we have in Australia.

The NSW government's suspension of Metgasco's licence at Bentley in the Northern Rivers of NSW has lifted spirits across Australia.

For years, communities have been battling the bipartisan support for the unconventional gas industry's advance into prime agricultural land in NSW.

The licence has been only suspended, not cancelled.

Yet the decision is a vindication that people power — sustained mass community campaigning — can be a powerful force.

Curiously, NSW energy minister Anthony Roberts said the licence suspension was because Metgasgo had failed to consult the community.

Many people are looking for effective ways to fight and get rid of the conservative governments in power in Australia.

Some have chosen the tactic of a marginal seats campaign. This involves intensive campaigning in the individual electorates where a politician holds the seat by a very small majority and is therefore insecure.

Joyce Stevens was born on January 6, 1928 and was 87 when she died on May 6.

She was the third child in a family of four children, with two older brothers and a younger sister, Lorna, who survives her. Her father was a railway fettler and her mother had been a nurse.

The family lived in country NSW and Joyce enjoyed some of the pleasures and freedoms of country children. She moved to Sydney with her mother and two of her siblings when she was 14.