Comment and Analysis

The Australian Labor Party’s (ALP) new higher education policy, announced on September 21, risks being indistinguishable from that of the Coalition under Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

That is because the new Prime Minister has signalled a departure from the bully-boy antics of former education minister Christopher Pyne, who had threatened to introduce his doomed education cuts a third time to the Senate this spring.

Carol Hucker worked in Manus Island Detention Centre as a counsellor for International Health and Medical Services (IHMS) and as a case worker for the Salvation Army from June 2013 to July last year.

She has allowed Green Left Weeklyto publish her account so that people can become more aware of what is happening on Manus Island. She said: “It is my hope that through this brief account the men on Manus will not be forgotten.”

This is the fifth part of a multi-part series and covers November 2013 to January 2014.

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Canadian activist and author of This Changes Everything: Capitalism versus Climate Naomi Klein spoke to a packed audience at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas, Sydney Opera House on September 5. This is an edited transcript of her speech. Klein and Avi Lewis’ film This Changes Everything is about to be released.

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“When it comes to technology policy, [now Prime Minister] Malcolm Turnbull has been a disaster. The Member for Wentworth will be remembered as Australia's worst ever Communications Minister — the man who single handedly demolished the NBN [National Broadband Network] and put a polite face on draconian Data Retention and Internet Piracy Laws.”

The historian Geoffrey Blainey recently addressed staff at BHP headquarters in Melbourne on the 130th anniversary of the forming of Broken Hill Propriety Company Limited in 1885.

Blainey told the assembled audience “there is no commercial institution in Australia that has contributed so much to the nation’s history”.

To set the historical record straight, he should have added that there is no commercial institution that has fought so hard against the workers whose surplus value it expropriated than BHP.

Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance’s “A World to Win” series aims to give voice to the ideas and demands of radical young people who are involved in the struggle to make the world a fairer and more just place.

This week, Sarah Hathway discusses the struggle and exploitation of young people in the workplace.

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There are many issues facing young people in or entering the workplace that impact not just on young people but on the broader working class as well.

Somewhere wandering aimlessly through the hard streets of Sydney's North Shore, is a dishevelled man in a crumpled suit and a few days’ growth telling concerned passers-by, “I'm not crying, it's just the onion” as he bites into his umpteenth bulb since Monday night, eyes red and flakes of onion skin around his mouth and down his front.

The NSW government owns about 277,400 properties. Their combined commercial worth, according to finance minister Dominic Perrottet is $60 billion.

Most of the property is commercial, built up over many decades by successive Labor and Coalition governments, and financed by NSW taxpayers, on behalf of whom the present NSW government holds them in trust.

But the Mike Baird government doesn’t get this “holding in trust” thing. They believe the assets are theirs to sell; and this is precisely what Perrottet intends to do.

Ok, who didn’t cheer when they heard that Tony Abbott might be dumped as Prime Minister? And then before the reality that nothing had really changed sank in, who didn’t cheer when he actually was dumped?

Yes, you spoil sports out there, I know that we have just switched captains on a leaky boat — appropriate metaphor don’t you think — and the boat hasn’t actually changed. But you have to admit that seeing Abbott’s humiliation was enjoyable.

Few people would have shared tears — unless they happened to be chopping onions at the time — when Tony Abbott was ejected as prime minister in the latest of a string of Lib-Lab leadership spills.

Let's be honest. The rolling TV coverage of Malcolm Turnbull's political assassination of Abbott kept the nation entertained for a couple of hours on a Monday night. Who did not enjoy watching the grim faces of those Liberal MPs as they trooped into their party room for the spill, and the even grimmer faces of some as they came back out?

When he announced his bid to unseat Tony Abbott as Liberal Party leader Malcolm Turnbull promised a “new style of leadership”. The problem is that is about all we can hope for from the new prime minister: a change in style but not in substance.

As we head towards the November 29 People’s Climate Marches, reflecting on the successes of the struggle against the unconventional gas industry in NSW can provide useful tips on strategies to rebuild a serious campaign for climate action in this country.

Militant ordinary people have, since 2011, forced the unconventional gas industry in NSW into a holding pattern in some instances and a retreat in others. The community-led campaigns have changed the political landscape in a way that even hardened cynics would once have thought impossible.

Carol Hucker worked on Manus Island as a counsellor for International Health and Medical Services (IHMS) and as a case worker for the Salvation Army from June 2013 to July last year.

She has allowed Green Left Weekly to publish her account so that people can become more aware of what is happening on Manus Island. She said: “It is my hope that through this brief account the men on Manus will not be forgotten.”

This is the fourth part of a multi-part series and covers November 2013 to January 2014.

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What causes heart disease — high fat or the over-consumption of sugar?

Humans have been eating all sorts of foods for more than 200,000 years, since we evolved from the African savannah. But what should we be eating to stay healthy in the 21st century?

Should we eat large amounts of protein, or avoid meat? Should we avoid carbohydrates, including vegetables and fruit? Should we avoid all fats or just some? Should we follow the Aitkin’s diet, the paleo diet, the low GI or high GI diet, or just go vegan?

It is very confusing.

Newcastle is a major centre for coal exports. When Newcastle City Council flirts with any hint of fossil fuel divestment, expect controversy.

On August 25, the council approved a policy giving preference to “environmentally and socially responsible investments”. This was supported by Labor and Greens councillors, and opposed by Liberal and independent councillors.

Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance’s “World to Win” series aims to give voice to the ideas and demands of radical young people who are involved in the struggle to make the world a fairer and more just place.

This week, Resistance National Co-Convener, Mia Sanders discusses the importance of the ongoing struggle for full reproductive rights.

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“But we’re equal now! Why do we need feminism?”

Students of the Australian National University have launched a campaign to raise awareness about the current situation in Rojava, in northern Syria. The campaign, “Stand With Kobane” aims to raise money to help rebuild the Kurdish city of Kobane.

Kobane made headlines this year when it was the first Kurdish city to successfully break Islamic State's siege. A successful counter-attack resulted in the expulsion of all the IS fighters from the Kobane canton.

The federal government re­listed the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) as a terrorist organisation on August 11.

This means it is illegal for Australian citizens to belong to it, actively support it or raise funds for it.

The PKK was first placed on Australia’s list of terrorist groups in December 2005 by John Howard’s government after Turkey’s then Prime Minister — now president — Recip Tayyip Erdogan visited Australia. It was re­listed by Howard in 2007, by Labor under Kevin Rudd in 2009 and by Julia Gillard in 2012.

Labor and the Coalition will vote for new laws this week that will strip dual nationals of their citizenship at the discretion of the immigration minister.

Both major parties agree that the laws should also apply retrospectively to those sentenced to at least ten years’ jail.

A bipartisan committee released a report on the proposed laws on September 4 and recommended that some of its measures be watered down.

Reading Rupert Murdoch's Australian is always educational. For instance, Maurice Newman's September 11 op-ed exposed a media gang that represent “by far the major media presence in Australia and, from their bully pulpits, they present a common position on most social, economic and political issues”.

The cycle path known as the Iron Curtain Trail follows the boundary that separated east from west during the cold war period from 1947 to 1989. The 7650 kilometre route that stretches from north of Turkey to the Barents Sea, 400 kilometres inside the Arctic Circle, is not for the faint-hearted.

But such is the desperation of Syrian refugees that up to 20 people a month are using the route to get to the safety of the Norwegian town of Kirkenes on the Russian-Norwegian border. Here they make a formal request for asylum and are then flown to the capital Oslo for further processing.

Carol Hucker worked on Manus Island as a counsellor for International Health and Medical Services (IHMS) and as a case worker for the Salvation Army from June 2013 to July last year.

She has allowed Green Left Weekly to publish her account so that people can become more aware of what is happening on Manus Island. She said: “It is my hope that through this brief account the men on Manus will not be forgotten.”

This is the third part of a multi-part series and covers September and October 2013.

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As part of The Festival of Dangerous Ideas, journalist Helen Joyce presented a talk titled, “The Right to Die”.

Joyce is the international editor of The Economist, which, despite sounding like something millionaire bankers read on the way to work, has a long history of campaigning on issues. It has fought for equal marriage and the decriminalisation of prostitution and drugs — and now it is throwing its considerable weight behind the issue of assisted suicide.

More than 100 asylum seekers in detention on Manus Island have signed an appeal to Europeans for help. They say that just like the asylum seekers in Europe, they have fled war and persecution and like them they need safety and resettlement. They request European countries “to urge the Australia government to cease the illegal detention of us…”

Almost 1000 refugees and asylum seekers are indefinitely detained on Manus Island and a similar number, including families with children, are on Nauru.

The announcement on September 9 that Australia will accept only 12,000 refugees from Syria and that the government will seek to discriminate on the basis of ethnicity and religion is further proof that the government is lying about leading the world in welcoming refugees.


Vienna, September 1.

“Tony Abbott's bizarre proclamation that Australia is leading the world on a per capita basis in welcoming refugees is a lie,” says Sue Bolton, Socialist Alliance Councillor.

I am sure we all appreciate the federal government's bid to secure Melbourne's borders, but in the aftermath of its farcical Border Force debacle, I have a tactical suggestion. If you really want to catch visa violators, just invite Liverpool FC back to play another match at the MCG, then round up the 90,000 English visa over-stayers who rock up.

In fact, once everyone is in, just lock the stadium's gates and you have yourself a brand new ready-made detention centre.

“To change everything, we need everyone.” That is the slogan of the People’s Climate March being held globally on the weekend of November 27-29.

The rallies will coincide with the upcoming UN climate talks in Paris and will demand a transition to a safe climate that ensures jobs and social justice. But the rallies are not just about appealing to politicians to make a strong agreement in Paris — there is very little chance of that happening.

I don’t know about you, but I really enjoyed the August 31 episode of Q&A on the topic “Cheating, Climate, War & Democracy”.

It was thanks to three solid lefties from overseas, Naomi Klein, Laurie Penny and Tariq Ali, who were in Australia for the Melbourne Writers Festival and the Festival for Dangerous Ideas in Sydney.

The right-winger on the panel, US Studies Centre academic Tom Switzer, had a go at red-baiting Klein. Here is their exchange:

Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance’s “World to Win” series aims to give voice to the ideas and demands of radical young people who are involved in the struggle to make the world a fairer and more just place.

This week, Maryam Allami and Claire Thoen discuss the struggle of transgender people against systemic oppression and the possibilities of liberation.

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Carol Hucker worked on Manus Island as a counsellor for International Health and Medical Services (IHMS) and as a case worker for the Salvation Army from June 2013 to July last year.

She has allowed Green Left Weekly to publish her account so that people can become more aware of what is happening on Manus Island. She said: “It is my hope that through this brief account the men on Manus will not be forgotten.”

This is the second part of a multi-part series and covers September 2013.

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From 1954 to 1972, Australia’s official unemployment rate was under 2% as the economy grew at the most rapid rate in the country’s history. There was one exception, the credit squeeze year of 1961, in which unemployment rose to 2.4%.

It very quickly became “Border Farce”.

Within hours of the Australian Border Force — Prime Minister Tony Abbott's paramilitary amalgamation of the Customs Service and immigration department — announcing on August 28 that they would be joining the Victorian police and privatised public transport operators in Operation Fortitude to check the visa status of “anti-social” elements on the streets of Melbourne, hundreds of protesters had gathered at Flinders Street Station and social media had exploded in outrage.

Independent and Peaceful Australia Network (IPAN) released this statement on August 28.

Peace activists across the nation are united in anger at the prospect of Australia joining the US in bombing targets in Syria.

IPAN is a network of peace groups with affiliates in every state and territory. It has consistently opposed the use of military power to solve international problems and believes that Australia has lost its independence through too close an alliance with the US.

Visiting Canadian author and activist Naomi Klein believes she owes PM Tony Abbott “a debt of thanks”.

In Sydney to promote her new book Capitalism versus the Climate: This Changes Everything, Klein said the conflict between what the planet needs and what capitalism needs is exemplified in Australia.

Dyson Heydon will not step down as commissioner investigating corruption in trade unions, having decided to ignore the widespread perception of his political bias.

Whatever else he might be, Heydon is no fool. When he accepted the job as royal commissioner he knew what was expected of him.

The commission was set up as a political witch-hunt into unions, designed to give the Coalition government an issue which it thought it could win the next election with.
Heydon was happy to oblige and has been handsomely paid for doing so.

BlueScope Steel announced a full-year profit of $136.3 million on August 24. This is an improvement on last year’s loss of $83 million, but not by much compared to past profits.

The results were released on the day the Australian share market suffered its worst fall since the global financial crisis, yet BlueScope’s share price went up by almost 9%.


The only thing unclear about Abbott's likely response to a request to join the US air war in Syria is how many flags Abbott will stand in front of when he makes the announcement.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has denied reports his government lobbied the US to formally request for Australia to extend its involvement in the US-led air war against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) — and bomb targets in Syria, not just Iraq.

The University of Queensland Resistance Club has joined with other student clubs to call on the university administration to divest money from fossil fuels.

The university has an undisclosed amount of money invested in projects whose emissions jeopardise the future of the young people that UQ is supposed to be educating.

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