Comment and Analysis

We can blame the livestock corporations for the destruction of antibiotics' ability to fight human infection.
They routinely inject all the animals we eat — chickens, cows, sheep and pigs — with huge amounts of antibiotics so that the animals grow faster and plumper, without any infection. The faster they can put meat on the kitchen table for us to consume, the greater their profits.

A survey of 604 Australian youths undertaken by Our Watch has come up with some dismaying findings about their attitudes towards sex and consent.

Of those polled, one in four said it is normal for men to pressure women into sex, and 60% said it was “up to the girl to make it very clear if she does not want to have sex”.

Thirty seven per cent reported that it was hard to respect a female when she was drunk and 27% said it was hard to respect a woman in revealing clothing.

Why is the government so keen to reform Senate voting with the threat of a double dissolution election hanging in the air?

The government and the Greens are supporting legislation to enact some recommendations of a parliamentary committee into the 2013 election while Labor and most small parties and independents are opposing them.

Green Left Weekly hosted a forum on February 17: “After the Paris Climate Talks: Which way forward for the climate movement?”, with John Englart (citizen journalist, observer at Paris Talks); David Spratt (climate policy analyst, People's Climate March organiser) and me (Socialist Alliance and grassroots climate activist).

Paris Agreement

John Englart summarised the main parts of the Paris Agreement:
• A warming target of well below 2°C, with efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C;

Politicians in the Coalition government are attempting to destroy a campaign aimed at making schools safe for queer youth.

Urged on by arch-conservatives such as Senators Corey Bernardi and Eric Abetz, the federal education minister Simon Birmingham has announced a federal review into the funding of the Safe Schools program. This program is an attempt to eradicate homophobic and transphobic bullying from schools and encourage diversity and tolerance among young people.

At a talk given at the Newcastle Resistance Centre in the mid-1980s, visiting US activist Peter Camejo mentioned that a socialist, Bernie Sanders, had just been re-elected Mayor of the largest city in the state of Vermont.

Camejo described his meeting with Sanders in the Burlington City Hall. Banners were stacked in the corner and posters in solidarity with the Third World and women's, black and labour struggles decorated the walls.

“It was just like being in an activist centre like this,” he quipped.

I am not sure if I fully understand recent political developments, but the message I am getting from the Malcolm Turnbull government is that we have to send babies to hellish prison camps or else the gay lobby will persecute Christian students.

And we need a big increase in military spending or house prices will tragically collapse, or tragically rise, depending on which tragedy you wish to choose. Say what you will about the Turnbull government, it offers no shortages of tragedies.

I feel privileged to have been able to spend several hours on the community picket outside Lady Cilento Children's Hospital in Brisbane where people were rallying in solidarity with Asha.

Asha is the refugee baby who was being treated for burns after an accident in Australia's notorious offshore refugee detention camp, in the increasingly dictatorial Pacific island state of Nauru.

Hundreds of environmental protestors made their voices heard against coal and coal seam gas (CSG) mining over the weekend of February 20 and 21.

In the Pilliga, more than 300 people defied a police roadblock to protest the construction of Santos' Leewood waste water treatment facility and in the Leard State Forest a group of about 30 people blockaded the gates to Whitehaven and Idemitsu's Tarrawonga coal mine.

Protest in the Pilliga

"The Malcolm Turnbull government's proposal to privatise the Medicare payment system is a slippery slope to selling off the whole of Medicare," Peter Boyle, the Socialist Alliance candidate for the seat of Sydney in the upcoming federal elections, said on February 24.

"The Socialist Alliance strongly opposes any privatisation of our public health system, as well as any further pathology cuts, co-payments or attacks on our public hospitals."

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull began the annual Prime Minister's “closing the gap” speech on February 10 with a few lines in the Ngunnawal language. But, as an Aboriginal woman, all I heard was more Turnbullshit.

“We recognise that prior to the arrival of European settlers, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians spoke hundreds of languages and over 600 dialects," he said. In my mind this means that, despite the Mabo High Court judgement of 1992, he still believes Australia was "settled".

The #LetThemStay vigil outside Lady Cilento Hospital is a rare and remarkable moment for Brisbane, not only because it makes visible the resurgence of public concern about our government's inhumane treatment of asylum seekers, but because it's already one of the most significant radical uses of urban space this city has seen in decades.

The Gonski Review was commissioned by the Julia Gillard government in 2011 to make recommendations about funding for public education.

This is the final part of a three-part feature on an exposure tour of Malaysia hosted by the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM), in which five Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance members participated over January 15 to 26.
Part 1 can be found here.
Part 2 can be found here.

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Kate Carnell, the CEO of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), the bosses' main lobby group, was blunt in explaining what she wanted to do with the four out of five people on the age pension who own their own homes. The pension they receive should be treated like a loan, she said, which would then be repaid to the government out of the proceeds of the sale of their homes when they die.

Not for some years has there been so much justifiable outrage over bipartisan cruelty towards refugees and asylum seekers in Australia.

The groundswell of community organising to keep the 267 asylum seekers, being threatened with deportation to Nauru and Manus Island, is a bright spot on an otherwise bleak horizon.

Jim Casey, until recently the secretary of the Fire Brigade Employees Union in NSW, has been preselected for the Greens candidate in the seat of Grayndler in Sydney. I interviewed Casey for Green Left Radio on February 5.

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Last week Anthony Albanese, who is the Labor MP for Grayndler, lambasted you for being a socialist.

"WOW. This is something you don't often see. Goldman Sachs says it may have to question capitalism itself." So went the tweet from Bloomberg TV correspondent Joseph Weisenthal.

I wondered what could possibly cause one of the world’s largest investment banks, a company that is heavily invested in capitalism (both literally and figuratively) to “question capitalism itself”? Why isn't this bigger news?

Do we need to debate whether Australia should become a republic?

After all, it is not just parties that say Australian society should be transformed (Socialist Alliance) or reformed (the Greens) that want a republic. The national leaders of the major capitalist political parties and all the state premiers agree on ending the situation where a British monarch is Australia's head of state.

I suspect this is in line with what most Australians think: who gave birth to you should not make you the head of state, even nominally. So why is there an argument about this?

Green Left Weekly is marking its 25th anniversary this week, which is a truly remarkable achievement for an independent paper without corporate funding — and one that could not be achieved without a lot of hard work over many years by more people than could be named.

Some of these Liberal politicians must think that the rest of us are stupid. Take NSW Premier Mike Baird, the always-smiling poster boy for this deeply right-wing party, whose latest pitch for raising the GST from 10% to 15% is a politician's promise that he would spend the proceeds on health and education.

This is the second part of an article on an exposure tour of Malaysia hosted by the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM), in which five Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance members participated over January 15 to 26.

Part 1 was published in #1082 and can be found here. Part 3 will published in the next issue.

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The geologically recent volcanic activity across western Victoria created a landscape with rich, but often shallow, soils, that supported a unique grassland ecosystem.

Climate, soil, herbivory and fire history, among other factors, have combined to maintain tussock grasses, such as kangaroo grass, as a dominant species, with small herbs including diverse orchids, daisies and lilies growing in the spaces between tussocks and few or no trees over large areas.

Although about 99% of Victoria's volcanic plains grasslands have been destroyed by development, some outstanding remnants of this unique ecosystem persist, especially on the western fringes of Melbourne.

The grasslands ecosystem was listed by the federal government as critically endangered in 2008. But at the same time, the then-Labor government of Victoria was initiating an expansion of Melbourne's Urban Growth Boundary that would severely impact some of its best remaining areas.

The high court just threw out a challenge by the Human Rights Law Centre alleging the government had unlawfully detained people on Nauru, before they were brought to Australia temporarily for medical reasons.

Now the government is free to send 267 vulnerable people back to Nauru.

Here are 5 reasons to come and join protests on Thursday 4 February calling for the government to #LetThemStay and not send them to Nauru.

1. Babies

On December 15, the Queensland Land Court recommended the giant Adani-Carmichael open-cut coalmine be given the go-ahead in central Queensland subject to several conditions including the protection of the endangered Black Throated Finch.

The hearing was prompted by a number of objections to the mine, including from the conservation group Land Services of Coast and Country.

As the demand for Australian farm products skyrockets in Asia, corporate Australia is buying up drought-crippled but viable rural properties at bargain prices.

Boys at Xavier College, an expensive Catholic boys school, abused students from government schools on a Facebook VCE forum late last year, according to the Herald Sun.

The Xavier students' put downs included “retards” and “povo fucks”. Girls were told to “let the men handle business” and “Could all woman please refrain from expressing there (sic) opinions thank you.” Obviously, the $25,000-a-year school isn't very good at teaching literacy skills.

From January 15 to 26, five Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance members participated in an exposure tour of Malaysia, hosted by the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM).

Day 1: Arriving in Kuala Lumpur and Bersih rallies

We arrived in Kuala Lumpur late on Friday evening and stayed in dormitories that served as a training facility for the Catholic Church.

That night, PSM members told us about the Bersih rallies, which have been among the largest demonstrations to have taken place in Malaysia.

North-western Tasmania is home to one of the world's last remnants of primeval temperate rainforest, part of an ecosystem that once spread across the supercontinent of Gondwana.

Thousand-year-old trees tower above ancient ferns, their roots growing in peat accumulated over millennia. This is why the region has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Eucalyptus forests in the rest of Australia need fire to regenerate. But these plants evolved before the cycle of conflagration and renewal began. If they burn they die.

The New South Wales Baird government has announced an historic decision to privatise public housing.

In a $22 billion bonanza for the government's property developer mates, public housing estates will be torn down and rebuilt into places where private tenants and homeowners outnumber social housing tenants by 70% to 30%.

NSW Coalition Minister for Social Housing Brad Hazzard announced the state government's "Future Directions for Social Housing" policy. It includes the transfer of 35% of public housing to community housing organisations.

Clive Palmer, mining magnate, politician, “citizen of Queensland” — who accused the Greens and Greenpeace of being CIA-funded traitors — has left 237 employees of his Queensland Nickel refinery out of work and robbed of their entitlements.

Palmer asserts that he bears no personal responsibility for the workers' entitlements. The focus is now on whether Palmer was still authorising expenditure for Queensland Nickel after having announced his withdrawal as a director of the company.

Waterfront workers at Hutchison Ports terminals in Sydney and Brisbane are "back in the gate now," and "normal work is proceeding" Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) Sydney branch assistant secretary Joe Deakin told Green Left Weekly on January 20. Settlement of the long-running dispute which began on August 6 last year was finally achieved in December.

The latest advertisement from Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) depicts the military “rescuing” Australians from overseas so they can eat lamb on Australia Day.

Families struggling on low incomes and the environment will benefit from an innovative crowdfunding campaign to install solar hot water systems made by the Earthworker Cooperative in homes. The campaign is supported by organisations such as the Father Bob Maguire Foundation, Aboriginal Housing Victoria and Common Equity NSW.

The first installation of a solar system funded by the "Give Tanks" campaign took place on January 12 in a home managed by Aboriginal Housing Victoria.

Well my only New Year's resolution was to have no hope the status quo would somehow miraculously change itself in 2016 — and it is a resolution that has proven all too easy to keep.

For instance, any hopes that changing the “five” to a “six” on the annual calendar would lessen the misogyny strangling decency in this country were pretty quickly defeated.

In the past few years, private investors backed by corporate interests such as global banks, financial firms, hedge funds and food giants have bought a huge amount of farmland across the global South.

The Northern Territory has the highest rate of youth detention in the country. The detention rate of young people is six times the national average and 97% of those detained in the juvenile justice system are Aboriginal youth.

There have been a number of reports and investigations in the past two years into the treatment of Aboriginal youth while held in custody. They show quite clearly that by deliberate design and policy Aboriginal youth in are treated in a barbarous, inhumane and illegal way.

Resistance members are currently taking part in a tour of Malaysia with the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM).

The tour has visited Buntong where the PSM has set up an after-school care program for children from poor families who work long shifts.

They also traveled to Pusing, a 100-year-old tin mining town where many farmers are engaged in a struggle for land rights against developers.

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