Comment and Analysis

The WA government released its plan for remote Aboriginal communities on July 14. The spin is all about “better living conditions”, “supporting families” and “more opportunities”. However the substance is still entirely about penny pinching and withdrawing resources. Communities will close if it is implemented.

When WA premier Colin Barnett first announced that up to 150 communities would be forced to close, people responded with a massive, international protest movement to save the communities.

A joint review by Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance members.

This year's Students of Sustainability (SOS) conference, organised by the Australian Student Environment Network (ASEN), took place in Musgrave Park, Brisbane on Jagera and Turrbal country July 7-11. SOS started in Canberra in 1991 and is the longest running, annual student conference in Australia.


The killing of two African American men in Minnesota and Louisiana in early July created an uproar across the US and around the world. In Australia there was lots of social media commentary and letters to the press about US racism.

Twenty-five per cent of Australian Rules football players are now women and girls, a figure that has doubled in the past five years. From February next year, eight new women's teams will compete in a national, six-round, AFL competition. Announcing the women's league last month, AFL chairman Mike Fitzpatrick said it would “change the game forever, [… uneasy pause …] for the good”.

Some weeks can bring mixed blessings. For instance, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull claimed a narrow victory for the Coalition in the federal election and on July 12 deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce was assaulted twice by a sheep on his farm.

This election was very tight. I don't think any party can claim a mandate. Malcolm Turnbull barely fell over the line. There is no mandate in that.

Turnbull claims to have a mandate — to not tax the rich and keep giving it to Blackfellas. That is his mandate, and it would be the same if Labor had won.

Another disappointing factor is that in the lead-up to the election, and in the post mortem, we have heard nothing about First Nations people. We are still dying in great numbers and they are arguing about who got the most votes in what seat.

Malcolm Turnbull's very slim majority is no mandate to re-introduce the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) and other anti-worker legislation that he could not get through the previous Senate.

The silence from the government was deafening during the election campaign, even though the ABCC legislation was the trigger. The ABCC was hardly mentioned. It only highlights the fact that Turnbull did not want to give the average worker the opportunity to scrutinise the finer details of his proposals to attack workers' rights.

In May, the ABC's first female managing director Michelle Guthrie was introduced by the ABC Board as bringing “business expertise, international contacts, a record in content-making across an array of platforms, a deep understanding of audience needs and corporate responsibility for promoting issues like diversity”.

There is ample evidence of systematic cruelty and regulatory failure with which to justify the New South Wales government's decision to ban greyhound racing. But this is a single industry in a single state. If we step back and look at the wider picture we see a telling lack of consistency in animal welfare policy and practice around the nation.

The federal election is now over and the final outcome is still being worked out, but the winners and losers are becoming clearer by the day.

The two biggest losers were the major parties. While the Coalition retained enough seats to still be able to govern, it lost its sizable majority in the lower house and is facing an even more hostile Senate.

The Labor Party recovered several seats overall, but it still managed to record its second lowest number of votes in a Federal election since World War II.

The 2016 federal election has confirmed the continuing decline of Australia's two-party system. The relative stability that characterised the decades after World War II was shaped by a phase of unprecedented economic growth, record low unemployment and mass home ownership. But that is long gone, in fact it was an aberration. Our system of single member electorates helped paper over the current period of rising economic insecurity, but inevitably politics is catching up.


The Mt Thorley-Warkworth "final void" is too expensive to fill in.

Early this month mining giant Rio Tinto sold its mothballed Blair Athol coalmine to a tiny ASX-listed company called TerraCom for $1. Rio Tinto had been trying to sell the mine since it closed in 2012.

Working women have lost their finest advocate. Lynn Beaton was one of the first of her generation to take up the fight for women's rights within the Australian trade union movement. Throughout her life Lynn was an active campaigner for the rights of women at work, as well as a researcher, strategist and historian of the labour movement.

Lynn was born in Victoria, but in 1960 the family moved to London. Lynn spent her teenage years in swinging London, returning to Melbourne in 1966.

While the votes are still being counted and the deals brokered, the resurrection of Pauline Hanson's racist party has sparked concern and outrage.

Pauline Hanson's One Nation party has won at least one, possibly three Senate seats: Hanson claims it could be as many as six. It polled the fourth highest nationally of all parties contesting the Senate, after Liberal, Labor and the Greens,.

The election platform One Nation presented was blatantly racist and anti-Muslim, and poses a threat to civil rights.

Pauline Hanson is back in the Senate after 18 years, riding the wave of anti-Muslim hatred spawned by various confected Wars on Terror™.

But liberal commentators are warning we should take her more seriously this time. She and her 10% are “not just racists” they say. And they're right.

Since the election, Hanson has made it clear that she has two major priorities this time around: protecting Christian fish'n'chips from Middle Eastern halal fast food, and tender-hearted men from the feminist Family Court.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has declared that, if re-elected, his government still plans to present the bill reinstating the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) to a joint sitting of parliament, even as Resources and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg admitted on the ABC's Q&A program that the bill's prospects are effectively "dead".

Turnbull said on July 5 that the reason he had called a double dissolution of parliament was that it was the "only way" to revive the building industry watchdog and crack down on the militant unions.

The hole in the ozone layer was first discovered in 1985 by scientists from the British Antarctic Survey, who described how ozone levels above the Antarctic were steadily dropping compared to the previous decade. This was quickly recognised as a severe environmental problem — and the culprit was identified as the unchecked use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).

In the same way that women had to organise and struggle to win the vote, equal pay and access to higher education, women have also had to fight for their reproductive rights, including access to contraception and access to safe medical and surgical abortion.

The impact of pregnancy and childbirth on a woman is so great that no matter what other political, social or economic rights women have, if they do not have control over whether or when to have children, it is meaningless to speak about women controlling their own lives.

The Chilcot Inquiry into Britain's role in the Iraq War has prompted calls for a similar inquiry into the Coalition government, then led by John Howard, taking Australia into war in 2003.

Andrew Wilkie, the only intelligence official from the US, Britain or Australia to dispute the official explanation for the Iraq War, said on July 7 there should be an investigation into the Howard government's decision to go to war.

Armed with the findings of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission, South Australian Labor Premier Jay Weatherill is pressing ahead with plans to import as much as a third of the world's high-level nuclear reactor waste and store it in the state's outback.

There are compelling reasons to reject it. The project, it now emerges, could go ahead only over resistance from Indigenous traditional landowners, some of whom took part in the Lizard Bites Back convergence in early July.

Election after election of racist and Islamophobic rhetoric from both major parties, combined with a growing swarm of far-right outfits, is resulting in violent hate crimes.

A car firebombed at the Thornlie mosque in Perth on June 28 and racist graffiti on the wall of an Islamic college are the latest in a string of attacks. Hundreds of people were praying inside the mosque and it was only a matter of luck that no one was injured or killed.


Tacloban, Leyte, Philippines, after Typhoon Haiyan in 2013. Photo: Tony Iltis.

Millions of people fleeing storms that flood major cities within hours, or intense fires that burn towns to the ground — welcome to a climate change apocalypse. It is not a scene from science fiction film, but a fast approaching reality.

Recently Facebook reminded me of a “memory” of an article I posted three years ago. I had said that I was doing the happy dance because we were making progress and were finally being heard.

A growing number of local councils and universities are divesting from financial institutions that invest in fossil fuel extraction. This is a great credit to climate change campaigners around the country. It points the way forward towards the even greater shift in investment priorities that we will need to make if we are to stop catastrophic runaway global warming.

The Victorian Labor government has announced an “ambitious and achievable” Victorian Renewable Energy Target (VRET). This target will commit the state to generating 25% of its electricity from renewable energy by 2020, and 40% by 2025.

Refugee rights activist Stephen Langford was at Waverley Court on June 29 facing charges for writing "Omid" on the electorate office of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Omid Masoumali was a young asylum seeker detained in Nauru who died after he set himself on fire.

After an initial hearing, the case was adjourned to July 27. Langford made this speech outside the court.

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"The Coalition government's plan is not only to privatise Medicare, but to destroy it as a universal, national healthcare system," Peter Boyle, the Socialist Alliance candidate for the seat of Sydney, said on July 1. "The plan is based on a form of 'creeping privatisation,' together with undermining its coverage of the majority of community health services around the country."

Regardless of which major party, or coalition of parties, forms government after the July 2 election one thing we can be certain of is that the struggle for a people's movement will still be as necessary as ever.

The attacks on our class will not stop; of that we can be sure.

We have one common enemy. For decades and decades governments have been trying to annihilate unions and this has got to stop.

More than 20 prominent Australians have called for emergency-scale action on climate change in an open letter to the new parliament, published in The Age on June 23. Signatories include business leaders, scientists, a former Australian of the Year and a Nobel Laureate.

The open letter and associated website and petition are part of a growing campaign by a coalition of more than 20 grassroots climate action groups to pressure political leaders to step up and do what is needed to address the climate crisis.

The third annual March to Close all Slaughterhouses was held in Sydney on June 4. The march is part of an international event that began in Paris about 10 years ago.

This event is both a solemn reflection on the abuse and exploitation suffered by millions of animals every day and a celebration of the increasing number of people choosing a cruelty-free lifestyle around the world.

Former Triple J presenter and member of punk band Frenzal Rhomb Lindsay McDougall gave this speech at the march.

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I want to start by taking you inside the life of a living being in a slaughterhouse.

At the Perth Vigil for Orlando on June 15, our community stood in unity and mourned the lives lost. By candlelight we stood together in the Perth Cultural Centre and listened to heart-warming speeches from our queer siblings, as well as from the Socialist Alliance, the Greens and the Labor Party, before observing two minutes of silence to remember the 49 lives lost.

MaryBeth Gundrum is a candidate for the Senate in Queensland for the Renewable Energy Party. She spoke to Angela Walker in Cairns.

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We know you here as a Knitting Nanna active in the campaign against coal seam gas fracking. How did you become involved in the Renewable Energy Party (REP)?

[Below is the platform that Socialist Alliance is taking to the federal elections.]

We need a radically different future: one that provides for human development, meets community need, protects our environment and guarantees a safe climate; one where our economy operates to ensure social and ecological need; one where participatory democracy means people make the decisions in society; one that promotes cooperation, solidarity and justice for all — an ecosocialist future.

"The NSW state budget brought down by the Mike Baird government on June 21, which was trumpeted by Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian as 'the strongest in the country,' is a scam, based on stamp duty from overpriced housing sales and the sell-off of the state's electricity assets," Peter Boyle, Socialist Alliance candidate for the seat of Sydney in the federal election, said on June 23.

In the week that brought to light television personality Eddie McGuire's “banter” about sports journalist Caroline Wilson, the voters of Leichhardt, covering an area stretching from Cairns to Cape York and the Torres Strait, have been treated to campaign signs depicting a witch.

Pork-barrel politics and scare tactics have dominated the final weeks of the “longest election campaign ever”. Voters in marginal seats have been warned to “vote carefully”, to not “waste your vote” or “risk a protest vote” which might result in — shock horror “the chaos of a hung parliament”.

We have had “tradies” in political ads trying to convince workers that the Liberal National Party (LNP) is their party, and Labor trying to convince the public that they have “rediscovered” labor values.

On July 2 Australian voters head to the polls — although by that date up to 40% of voters will have voted at early polling centres across the country.

Despite a number of minor parties and progressive independents running in lower house seats and the Senate, we know that come July 3 we will be looking at three more years of evil bastards or the lesser of two evils.

This election campaign. Eight weeks. Eight long, drawn out weeks of two gangs of rich white bastards in suits battling over who gets the honour of overseeing the next three years of irreversible ecological catastrophe, with extra Barnaby Joyce. It must violate articles in the Geneva Conventions banning torture.

Tanya Plibersek, the deputy leader of the Australian Labor Party and MP for Sydney, made a speech on June 15 where she tried to fend off the political pressure Labor is facing from the Greens and other smaller parties to the left.

Her basic argument was that Labor still remained loyal to its “light on the hill” and she urged younger people in particular to be more patient and allow her party to slowly make progressive change.

WestConnex is a $17 billion, 33 kilometre toll road proposed by the New South Wales government and backed by the federal government. Its tunnels, multi-layered interchanges and four to six lane highways will cut a swathe through the inner west of Sydney.

Pauline Lockie is a spokesperson for the WestConnex Action Group, one of the groups opposing the project. This is an edited version of a speech she gave at the Rally for Fair Fares in Sydney on June 21.

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