Comment and Analysis

GLW Issue 986

A leaked draft of the second Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, due to be released in March, gives a sobering picture of what lies ahead for Aboriginal communities in Australia as climate change intensifies.

Last month, the IPCC said it was 95% certain that human activity was the main cause of climate change. The recent leaked report did not look at the science, but rather the impacts climate change will have, particularly in areas of vulnerability and adaptation.

GLW Issue 985

Blue Mountains Mayor Mark Greenhill told ABC News Breakfast on October 18: “The climatic conditions that fuelled that fire yesterday were just unprecedented ... an unprecedented disaster.”

More than 100 fires broke out across New South Wales on October 17. By October 19, they had destroyed at least 193 homes in the Blue Mountains alone and caused at least one confirmed death.

In the ballot to elect the Australian Labor Party leader that concluded on October 9, 74% of the membership voted — 30,426 of the party’s 43,823 members — apparently energised by the novel prospect of having a say in the leadership.

Although the two aspirants, Bill Shorten and Anthony Albanese, are leaders of the party’s right and left factions respectively, both avoided controversy by saying next to nothing about policy.

A new free trade deal to be signed this year could allow foreign corporations to sue the Australian government for introducing environmental regulations on coal seam gas (CSG).

Australia has joined 11 other countries — the United States, Malaysia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam — in negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP). Unlike most trade deals, other countries can sign on in the future.

Mainstream media outlets gave substantial coverage to the UN’s new report on the climate change crisis late last month, which said the Earth’s climate is warming faster than at any point in the past 65 million years and that human activity is the cause.

Disappointingly, though not unsurprisingly, the news reports dried up after only a few days.

I recently had the misfortune of being granted an audience with Prime Minister Tony Abbott, and was unlucky enough to conduct an interview with him. I include the transcript below.

* * *

Well, thank you very much, prime minister, for agreeing to this interview.

Well, I am always very happy to be interviewed by my good friends at the Daily Telegraph.

Yes...

You’ve moved offices I see. Nice Che Guevara poster!

Yes... Can I get you something to drink? I’m having a beer.

You don’t have any Bollinger do you?

On Thursday October 17, New South Wales suffered the worst outbreak of bushfires in decades. Although it is not yet summer, the day was another one of high temperatures and hot, dry gusty winds. Fires raged out of control destroying hundreds of homes and killing one 63-year-old man trying to defend his home.

Sydney city and surrounding suburbs, as well as Newcastle and Wollongong, were covered by towering smoke plumes and ash, even though the nearest bushfires were tens of kilometres away to the north, west and south. It was apocalyptic.

GLW Issue 984

This speech was given at a rally for marriage equality held in Sydney on October 12.

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Today we are out in force to stand up to Prime Minister Tony Abbott, and to speak out against the Liberals' mad attack on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people (LGBTI).

And yes, it is a full scale attack. Liberal Party governments all over this country are doing everything in their power to destroy 50 years of progress towards equality for LGBTI people.

The Socialist Alliance released this statement on October 16.

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The Socialist Alliance is proud to gather with fellow feminists to Reclaim the Night around Australia this year.

We share the belief that women, when we organise and forge alliances, can make change. We fight the “victim” tag as we fight sexism and violence against women.

Last year, more than 5000 people gathered in Brunswick to protest violence against women. It was the largest Reclaim the Night mobilisation since the early 1990s.

Reclaim the Night (or Take Back the Night in the United States) is a global feminist movement that protests against the specific forms of harassment, victim blaming, sexual assault and violence experienced by women.

There is a perception in Australia that once people reach a certain age or become unable to care for themselves, the government will take care of them no matter their social or financial circumstances.

In Australia, the responsibility for funding and regulating residential aged care belongs to the Commonwealth. It is the federal government that sets the amount and distribution of residential aged-care funding across Australia.

Last month 20,000 people rallied against education cuts by the state government.

Following a stalemate over pay in enterprise bargaining negotiations, Murdoch University members of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) voted to go to a ballot for industrial action.

Students and staff rally at Sydney University in May.

After a hard-fought industrial campaign, the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) at the University of Sydney has just voted to accept a new workplace agreement.

NTEU branch committee member Nick Riemer told Green Left Weekly: “One of the most valuable results of the campaign has been the way it’s politicised and activated the branch.

With Tony Abbott ruling the roost in Canberra, it is important for the climate movement in Australia to take stock and have a discussion about where to go next.

It is easy to be discouraged by the election of Abbott. However, it should not be forgotten that the election was more than just a “referendum on the carbon tax”, it was also an electoral snapshot of a country that has been subjected to an exceptionally strong barrage of brainwashing for the past few years. The ideas spread through the media are powerful, but they are not invincible.

The proposed the East West tunnel in Melbourne’s inner north will be environmentally, socially and economically disastrous. It is not a solution to the problem of congestion on Melbourne’s Eastern freeway. It is draining money from other, useful projects all over Melbourne.

1. THE TUNNEL WILL NOT FIX TRAFFIC PROBLEMS

British Tory MP Douglas Hogg made world headlines in 2009 when he was exposed for claiming £2200 for “moat cleaning” as a political expense. Amid public uproar, he was forced to stand down while his claim was investigated. He insisted the claim was legitimate, but eventually repaid the money.


Refugee advocates defaced a Liberal campaign billboard in April. Now Abbott is literally trying to "disappear" the boats.

“We'll pretend we've stopped the boats and the conditions under which we pretend they've stopped,” seems to be the motto of Prime Minister Tony Abbott's government.

A socialist educational conference, “How to make a revolution”, is being held in Brisbane over December 13 to 15. This conference is being organised by Resistance Socialist Youth and the Socialist Alliance, and aims to be an event that gives young people the skills and perspectives to radically change the world.


University of Western Sydney, Bankstown campus. Student protest against course cuts

A student general meeting was held at the Bankstown campus of the University of Western Sydney on October 8, as part of the student campaign against the federal government’s $2.7 billion funding cuts to universities across Australia.

About 40 students and staff attended, with many speaking out about the impact the cuts will have on their education.


Santos will drill coal seam gas wells through recharge aquifers of the Great Artesian Basin

New regulations restrict coal seam gas (CSG) companies from residential housing areas in NSW, but do little to protect the rural landscape.

The opening session of the new parliament in Canberra next month will be met by a national convergence of refugee rights activists and campaigners.

GLW Issue 983

1. GM FOODS WON’T SOLVE THE FOOD CRISIS

A 2008 World Bank report concluded that increased biofuel production is the major cause of the rise in food prices. GM giant Monsanto has been at the heart of the lobbying for biofuels (crops grown for fuel rather than food) — while profiting enormously from the resulting food crisis and using it as a public relations opportunity to promote GM foods.

2. GM CROPS DO NOT INCREASE YIELD POTENTIAL

Something is looming in the shadows that could help erode our basic rights and contaminate our food. The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) has the potential to become the biggest regional free-trade agreement in history, both in economic size and the ability to quietly add more countries in addition to those originally included.

As of 2011, 11 countries accounted for 30% of the world’s agricultural exports. Those countries are the US, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Recently, Japan has joined the negotiations.

One of the more disturbing images on federal election night was that of Coalition MP-elect Barnaby Joyce welcoming mining magnate Gina Rinehart as the special guest to his election party. Few things could reveal more clearly the strong connection between corporate power and government under Coalition rule.

It is worth noting some of the policies that Rinehart is promoting for the Northern Territory because, let’s face it, they are likely to happen.

One of her big ideas, which Kevin Rudd adopted before his election defeat, is the creation of a northern Australia tax haven.

Schools across Western Australia were shut down by a statewide stop-work on September 17, called to fight education funding cuts proposed by the state Liberal government.

About 500 education assistants are set to lose their jobs. A change in the school staffing formula also means that there will be 585 fewer teaching places next year, in comparison to what there would have been under the previous funding model. Program cutbacks on top of this mean that altogether there will be up to 1000 less teachers next year.

Alexa O'Brien has become known as a "one-woman court record system" for her extensive coverage of whistleblower Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning's trial. She has also covered the WikiLeaks release of US State Department Cables, the Guantanamo Files, the global "war on terror" and the Arab Spring.

This is an edited extract from a speech she gave to a public forum called “Defending Dissent: from Manning to Occupy” in Sydney on September 17. The full forum can be watched here.

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Tony Abbott’s government will be a dangerous time for women in Australia unless we can unite and struggle together to win a better future.

Abbott is known for his conservative views about women. His party is responsible for a range of policies and programs that have punished, isolated and oppressed women in Australia.

Forty-eight hours to send newly arrived refugees back the way they came and a plan to conceal when boats are “turned around” at sea, were among immigration minister Scott Morrison's statements at his first weekly briefing under “Operation Sovereign Borders” on September 23.

A new investigation has shed light on Australia’s role in the overthrow of Chilean leftist president Salvador Allende and exposed the continued veil of secrecy surrounding the precise activities of Australian intelligence agents, 40 years on.

Allende was elected president in 1970, but was deposed on September 11, 1973 by a US-backed military coup that put General Augusto Pinochet in power. Pinochet remained in power for 17 years, presiding over a regime of terror that left thousands dead or disappeared.

GLW Issue 982

It has been 30 years since the death in custody of 16-year-old Yindjibarndi youth John Pat after he was assaulted by five off-duty police officers in Roebourne, Western Australia.

John Pat’s murder, and the subsequent acquittal of the five police, started the movement against black deaths in custody. That movement was built from the anger of ordinary people when, again and again, someone died or was murdered in custody, leaving their distraught relatives struggling to find answers.