Comment and Analysis

On November 27, early in the morning, Jorge Castillo-Riffo was found on the scissor lift at the new Adelaide Hospital construction site. He had been crushed against a beam and died the following day.

Castillo-Riffo cared about his fellow workers and was diligent about Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) at his work site. About 1400 construction workers walked off the site and did not return to work until the following Monday.

The dramatic dumping of Campbell Newman’s Liberal National Party government in Queensland and the leadership spill against Abbott have starkly revealed the ongoing popular opposition to the Coalition's program of cutbacks and privatisation. It has thrown the federal Liberals into a crisis.

This is a tremendous boost for progressive people in Australia and the anti-Abbott campaign in particular.

Elephants, rhinoceroses and lions are being killed in Africa in record numbers. Despite the work of authorities to stop the practice of poaching, 1020 rhinos were poached in South Africa last year. The Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa says only 344 arrests were made that year. At the same time, more lions were killed in South Africa than rhinos. At this rate, lions will be extinct in the wild in less than 20 years.

Climate change will threaten the viability of grassroots sport in Australia, and elite tournaments will have to adapt to rising temperatures, extreme rainfall and shrinking snow cover, a report has warned.

Scientists had long thought the giant East Antarctic ice sheet was barely affected by global warming and that its glaciers were stable. It turns out those assumptions were wrong.

A team of scientists returned on January 26 from a 7-week expedition to East Antarctica with the bad news: warm ocean water is melting the huge Totten glacier from below.

People with a disability, especially young people, are facing another wave of attacks and victimisations by the federal government in a new crackdown on those receiving the Disability Support Pension (DSP).

In mid-December, the then-minister for social services, Kevin Andrews, announced that his department would begin investigating people on the DSP. This will be carried out by the Coalition’s leading attack-dog, Scott Morrison, who inherited the ministry after a cabinet reshuffle removed him from the position of immigration minister.

One of the pre-election promises of Tony Abbott’s government was to initiate an inquiry into workplace relations by the Productivity Commission.

But the spectre of former prime minister John Howard’s WorkChoices, which lost the Coalition the 2007 election and the PM his seat, meant there was no great rush.

The plan was to pave the way for an assault on wages and working conditions by first attacking unions through a Royal Commission specially set-up for the purpose.

Harold John (Hal) Alexander passed away on December 19 in Sydney. He was born on April 9, 1924 and was for many years an electrician, mostly in heavy industry. He joined the then-illegal Communist Party in 1941, at the age of 17, and was a member until its dissolution in 1991. He was an organiser from 1954 to 1967 in Sydney, then Adelaide.

He suffered many arrests for his political activities and served three jail terms, two involving hunger strikes. He worked and lived with the Arrente people of Central Australia on and off from 1985.

“Greece is turning the page,” SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras told an ecstatic crowd on January 25. The radical left party had just come first in historic elections in Greece with 36.3% of the vote.

“Greece leaves behind the austerity that caused its destruction. It leaves behind fear and intimidation; it leaves behind five years of humiliation and grief. Greece advances with hope, with dignity and steady steps towards a changing Europe.”

The news from Greece has spread hope around the world.

I have decided there’s no longer any point trying to write these columns while we have a government as truly mad as this one. What’s the point of trying to think up witty ways to mock this bunch of heartless, cruel, out-of-touch, poor-hating, Tory scum if their leader just wanders about doing bat shit insane things like “knighting” Prince Philip?

On a blistering hot Sunday in January, a group of Aboriginal activists and allies delivered their impassioned accounts to a captivated crowd at The Block, Redfern. The banners behind them displayed powerful messages: “Justice Now! Reopen the TJ Hickey inquest”, “Black Law on Black Land”, and “You may kill our warriors, but you’ll never kill our fight for justice”.

These are certainly interesting times — where growing inequality, ongoing injustice and the threat of climate disaster make a potent brew of deep uncertainty.

Noted journalist John Pilger directed and is the lead investigator in an extraordinary documentary, Utopia: An Epic Story of Struggle and Resistance.

Pilger incisively and tenaciously reveals the brutal conquest and continued racist treatment of the Aboriginal people in Australia. Against this appalling historical documentation of conquest, discrimination and neglect, Pilger also highlights the continued resistance of the original inhabitants of the land stolen by British settlers.

This is Part two of an interview with Greens candidate for the seat of South Brisbane, Jonathan Sri. He spoke to Green Left Weekly's Evan Verner about the state of politics in Queensland, his position on various policies and what it is like to run a political campaign.

What are the causes of unemployment and how do we secure jobs?

Forty Australian economists have issued a statement prior to the Greek national elections on January 25 to condemn the debt recovery program imposed on the nation as unsustainable.

The wide ranging list includes nine professors of economics, among them Professor John Hewson from the Australian National University (former federal leader of the Australian Liberal Party).

The Abbott government is very keen to tell us all that the new Productivity Commission review into workplace relations is not, in any way, a bid to revive the Coalition's deeply unpopular WorkChoices laws. Which, of course, as they keep saying, are totally “dead and buried”.

Despite the brutal cuts to leading renewable energy bodies by the Coalition government last year, incredible benchmarks in the field have been achieved.

BABY FEROUZ AND HIS FAMILY RELEASED FROM DARWIN DETENTION

Baby Ferouz Myuddin and his family have been released from detention in Darwin. Ferouz was born in Brisbane two months after his Rohingya parents arrived on Christmas Island seeking asylum. The family have been involved in a long-running legal battle with the government over whether the boy could apply for a protection visa as he was born in Australia. The government argued that he could not because he was an unauthorised maritime arrival and the Federal Court agreed.

As the Queensland election campaign enters its final days, a Labor victory seems unlikely.

Labor and the Liberal-National Party (LNP) say they will not do deals with minor parties. Recent opinion polls indicate the LNP will be re-elected with a clear majority.

However, Campbell Newman could still be replaced as premier. Opinion polls are predicting between 10% and 11% swings to Labor. It needs a swing of 5.4% to unseat Newman in his electorate of Ashgrove.

The Socialist Alliance released this statement on January 23 on the Queensland election.

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The re-election of the Liberal-National Party (LNP) for a second term on January 31 — with or without Premier Campbell Newman — would be devastating. A re-elected LNP would claim a mandate to complete the sale of public assets, begun by the previous Labor government and extended during the first three years of LNP.

The policy objective of most central banks, including the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), is full employment, even though it continues to be the failed promise of governments at every level.

The federal government pledged to create one million jobs over five years when it was elected in 2013, a rate of more than 16,500 jobs a month. Yet in its first year of office less than 12,000 jobs were created each month as the official unemployment rate went up.

Jonathan Sri, Greens candidate for the seat of South Brisbane, joined Evan Verner to talk about the state of politics in Queensland and Australia, what made him run as a politician and his views on different political issues.

In this interview, Sri discusses his views on politics and how music has influenced his view of the world.

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The first time I saw Jonathan Sri was at a rally where he was on stage delivering one of his slam poems.

"This is Queensland, where no man is carried
we like our blacks in jail and our gays unmarried

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."

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).

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