Comment and Analysis

GLW Issue 1014

The government is ducking and weaving in the face of combined resistance to its cruel budget.

Employment Minister Eric Abetz admitted to a Senate Estimates hearing on June 26 that the Productivity Commission's review of the Fair Work Act will now be delayed until the second half of this year.

The media say this is to allow the government to devote its energies into getting its budget measures through, and to avoid an all-out campaign by unions to "revive the spectre of Work Choices".

Breakthrough 2014, National Climate Restoration Forum, held over June 21 to 22 in Melbourne, brought together scientists, economists, engineers, business leaders and climate activists.

In some regards, the forum represented an important step forward for the Australian climate movement. It highlighted the urgent need to respond to the climate crisis and discussed the possibility of restoring a reasonably safe climate in which human civilisation could continue.

At its national conference over June 7-9, the Socialist Alliance adopted an amendment to its Charter of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Rights, which stated that it does not support Constitutional recognition in the current form put forward by the government and the Reconciliation Australia initiative Recognise.

The policy now states that Constitutional recognition must be accompanied by sovereignty, land rights and a treaty.


In handing down its first budget, the Coalition government echoed its National Commission of Audit, warning that a “business as usual” scenario for public spending on welfare, pensions, public services, health and education is “unsustainable”, even “irresponsible” in Australia today.

In 2011, the Maritime Union of Australia invited leaders of the Miscarriages Of Justice Organisation (MOJO) in Britain to Australia -- Gerry Conlon, Paddy Joe Hill and John McManus.

GLW Issue 1013

An opinion poll showing that only 24% of Victorians support the government's flagship road project, the East West Link, has sent shockwaves through the Victorian government.

The Socialist Alliance released this statement on June 19.


The US, Australia and other partners-in-crime in the more than a decade-long war on Iraq must not be allowed to use the latest conflicts in that country to increase their military intervention in the region.

The Socialist Alliance adds its voice to others in Australia rejecting Prime Minister Tony Abbott's all-the-way-with-the USA commitment made to US President Barack Obama over Iraq.

Prime minister Tony Abbott chalked up his first budget win on June 17 when the 2% “levy” on high income earners passed both houses of parliament. The next day, the Greens trumpeted the emergence of a double dissolution “trigger” when the Senate rejected the bill to abolish the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

It is no coincidence that Abbott wanted the temporary tax on high-income earners to be the first budget measure passed. He wants people to believe his lie that “the burden” of this budget is “shared” by all sections of the community.

More than half a million Iraqis have been displaced and hundreds killed after the fall of Iraq's second largest city of Mosul to Islamic fundamentalists. But even as the crisis in Iraq dramatically worsens, Australia is refusing to offer any reprieve for the thousands of Iraqi refugees in its care.

So apparently there is a crisis in Iraq. Really, who could have predicted this? Who among us could possibly have guessed a full-scale invasion and occupation of the country, destruction of its infrastructure and society leading directly to the deaths of at least 1 million people could have actually led to such problems?

The revolution might not be televised, but you can see the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption proceedings live-streamed into your lounge room.

Such is the overwhelming public demand for riveting daytime televised reality shows that the commission is competing with Judge Judy in bringing this much-awaited courtroom drama to a computer near you via a mere click on their website.

The proceedings began in earnest on June 10, but much of what was heard in evidence has been well rehearsed in the Murdoch press over the past couple of years.

Jo di Pietro gave the following speech to a “bust the budget” meeting organised by Unions NSW in Sydney on June 12.


I am a technical officer in the NSW Public Health laboratories at Lidcombe (otherwise called FASS) and a proud member of the Health Services Union.

NSW Health has decided to privatise food safety testing, to tender it to the private sector, so the government can distance itself from food safety work, and ultimately from its responsibility to the public.

Union activists have written an open letter to Victoria Trades Hall Council calling for a state-wide delegates meeting to organise a strike to bust the budget.

A similar petition has been launched in NSW, calling on Unions NSW to organise a mass delegates meeting to plan for a stop work protest against the budget. Sign the letter at

Read the letter to the Victorian Trades Hall Council below.


Much of the public debate on the Senate “blocking supply” suggests that it is an all or nothing tactic. However this is not the case. The Senate can carefully cherry-pick the elements in the budget that it demands be amended and force the Abbott government to either accept those amendments or see its budget fail.

This is a short explanation of the Senate’s powers and its ability to force a budget debate on its terms with the government-dominated House of Representatives.


The Federal budget contains two main pieces of legislation:

To summarise the NSW Coalition state budget announced on June 17: Sell off public electricity assets; build more private roads.

This first budget from new Premier Mike Baird is in line with the drive led by the federal government to privatise all remaining public enterprises in the interests of their big business masters.

NSW Treasurer Andrew Constance told state parliament: "We are now in control of the budget. It's no longer in control of us."

This is code for: We plan to sell off the remains of the people's property in this state, whether you like it or not.

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.

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.