Comment and Analysis

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is seeking to make changes to Australia’s national environment act to stop conservation groups from challenging ministerial decisions on major resource developments and other matters of environmental importance.

The socialisation of essential services is fast becoming a formidable policy in the “contestable marketplace of ideas”. Nowhere is this more so than with railways and bus services; an everyday service all social demographics touch daily.

British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn believes nationalisation and socialisation will save millions of pounds a year, get community members back to work, augment sustainable transport and retool British industries.

Since Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull replaced Tony “coal is good for humanity” Abbott, the Adani Carmichael mine, the Galilee Basin and environmental “lawfare” has been out of the news. But an increase in the coal price and Turnbull’s apparent change of view means the Coal Wars are back. This is a review of some of the key claims at the heart of the Australian coal debate.

CLAIM: The Adani mine will create 10,000 jobs.

 

In August, Pamela Curr from Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC), and Sister Brigid Arthur, from the Brigidine Asylum Seekers Project, travelled to Christmas Island to visit the men seeking asylum, who are currently held in the detention centre, more than 2600 kilometres from the nearest capital city, Perth. On their return they presented this report.

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The Mining and Energy Division of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) released a statement on October 28 calling for tougher laws to hold employers accountable for workers’ deaths on site.

This follows reports that mining company Anglo American has pleaded guilty to failing to meet their safety obligations, causing the death of Paul McGuire.

The maximum penalty is a fine of $550,000, but Anglo had been offered a deal of a fine of $100,000 and $15,000 in investigation costs.

Guardian journalist and self-proclaimed “socialist feminist” Van Badham’s latest article is entitled “Time to hail Hilary — and face down the testosterone left”.

Stop the war on refugees banner at rally

After ripping up Australia's commitment to the 1951 Refugee Convention on several occasions in the past, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced on October 30 that the Australian government intends to do so again.

In the latest iteration, the government is threatening to formally prevent any refugee who arrives by boat from ever getting an Australian visa. This would include short-term tourist and business visas, let alone the permanent protection envisioned by the Refugee Convention.

Canadian author, journalist and activist Naomi Klein has been selected as the recipient of the 2016 Sydney Peace Prize for, as the Sydney Peace Prize Jury put it, “exposing the structural causes and responsibility for the climate crisis, for inspiring us to stand up locally, nationally and internationally to promote a new agenda for sharing the planet that respects human rights and equality, and for reminding us of the power of authentic democracy to achieve transformative change and justice.”

Celebrations of multiculturalism happened in 26 cities and rural locations across Australia on October 22 as part of Welcome to Australia events organised under the theme of “Walking together to welcome refugees”.

In Sydney, helium balloons, musical performances, bright red shirts and smiles gave it a carnival like atmosphere. For some it would have been their first refugee rights event.

Campaigning for Sue Bolton brought the issue of elder care into stark relief for Susan Price.

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Out door-knocking for Sue Bolton in Moreland during the local council elections, we came across a dilapidated block of flats in an otherwise gentrified part of Brunswick.

One of the last doors in the block was answered by an elderly man still in his pyjamas, breathless and clearly in distress. All he could manage to say was, “Can you please call someone?” I took one look at him and said, “Are you ill? Would you like us to call an ambulance?” He nodded.

Green Left Weekly is launching a subscriptions drive for the final months of the year as part of expanding our base of readers who regularly receive Australia's premiere weekly socialist publication.

A new report has found that methane leakage and fugitive emissions from unconventional gas fields are likely to be much higher than industry estimates, largely because it is neither accounting for nor reporting on them.

Long-term US activist Angela Davis addressed an overflowing lecture theatre at Melbourne University on October 24.

In a wide-ranging lecture and discussion, Davis looked at the criminalisation and incarceration of communities most affected by poverty and racial discrimination.

Davis drew upon her own experiences in the 1970s, when she spent 18 months on trial after being placed on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted List”.

The NSW government wants to privatise hospitals in Maitland, Wyong, Goulburn, Shellharbour and Bowral. But people are fighting back. Brett Holmes, general secretary of NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association, lays out the arguments.

Ultimately, the only way to ensure a secure future for jobs is to replace the whole capitalist system with one in which human need is prioritised above corporate profits.

Wind and solar may be leading the way in Australia’s renewable energy race, but there’s another contender lurking in the nation’s oceans.

A personal carer is so seriously injured that two surgical operations fail to correct a hand injury. The surgeon's post-operation report says: “The worker requires significant time off and work cover”.

On October 12, police cars descended at high speed on a laneway in the western Sydney suburb of Bankstown to arrest to two 16-year-olds. For the next few days the media uncritically reported police claims that they had foiled an imminent terrorist attack.

The trigger for the arrests was that the youths had just purchased M9 hunting knives at a local gun shop. This type of knife is not illegal in NSW.

As October comes to a close, the feminist “Reclaim the Night” marches, also known as “Take back the night”, draw near.

Reclaim the Night is an annual global protest against gendered violence and inequality traditionally held on the last Friday in October.

As is the case with much of women’s history, the origins of Reclaim the Night are poorly documented and little known.

CFMEU members and police

The Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) and Registered Organisations bills passed in the House of Representatives on October 18. These bills, first introduced by the Tony Abbott government in 2013, were twice rejected by the Senate, triggering the double dissolution election earlier this year. 

This is the latest attempt to extend the John Howard era’s union busting agenda. The ABCC was first established by the Howard government in 2005, targeting the militant unions that covered workers in the construction industry. It was opposed by the union movement.

Doctors and health professionals, with community support, have won a significant victory against the government’s agenda of suppression, fear and secrecy. Health professionals have been made exempt from the secrecy and disclosure provisions of the Border Force Act.

Group of women holding pro-choice placards

Unlike the other states and territories, abortion is a criminal offence in New South Wales and Queensland, except under certain circumstances.

The doctor who provides the termination, anyone assisting and the woman herself could all be prosecuted under the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) or the Criminal Code Act 1899 (Qld).

In NSW and Queensland, bills have been developed that, if successful, will lead to the decriminalisation of abortion in both states.

This is what things have come to.

The Greatest Democracy In the World™ is subjecting its people, and the world, to an election campaign to determine who gets to order new crimes against humanity, in which one candidate is a far-right, racist, woman-hating, tax-avoiding failed property mogul, reality TV star and serial sex offender, and the other is, by all available evidence, a robot built by Goldman Sachs.

Workers at the Geelong oil refinery, with the support of community members, maintained a 24-hour picket from October 5 to 11 at four refinery access gates over serious safety concerns at the site. The refinery, previously owned by Shell, has been managed by Viva Energy for the past two years.

It is now less than one week until the Moreland City Council election.

Campaigning for Sue Bolton at the early polling centre in the suburb of Fawkner, you can sense the level of community recognition for the socialist councillor. When a group of school kids and their teacher were looking for a public toilet at the playground adjacent to the polling centre, one of them suggested I “get Sue Bolton onto it”.

It is amazing how radical believing in the simple notion of welcoming refugees in Australia has become. ABC’s Q&A program on alternatives to detention on October 10 gave some insight into how convoluted the debate on refugees has become.

A number of “compromise solutions” are being put forward but none of them address the worldwide refugee crisis or end Australia’s cruel detention system.

Jafri Alexandra X has been conducting a one-person crusade against racism in Melbourne for almost two years. He is well known as the person who holds a “stop” sign with “Stop Racism Now” on it every Friday afternoon outside Flinders Street Station.

This interview with Jafri and Dilman Ramadan was broadcast on 3CR's Solidarity Breakfast show on October 1. 

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Low-income people, activists, community workers and others will gather in Adelaide on October 21 and 22 for “Power to the Poor — Silent No More”, a two-day Anti-Poverty Week conference.

The event — organised by Anti-Poverty Network SA, a grassroots group composed of welfare recipients struggling with poverty and joblessness — promises to be one of the largest Anti-Poverty Week events in the country.

The Queensland government once again demonstrated its commitment to progressing Adani’s mega coal mine project in the Galilee basin on October 9.

State development minister Anthony Lynham announced that the government had invoked special powers to ensure the controversial Carmichael coal and rail project starts next year.

The combined mine, rail and associated water infrastructure have all been declared critical infrastructure. Lynham says the decision will mean less red tape for the proposed $21.7 billion Adani venture.

Activists from all over Australia converged at Pine Gap, the US spy base, 50 years since it was first established for a series of protests. Robyn Marshall reports.

“Don’t go around acting holier-than-thou about this like you’ve never heard anyone say anything like that before,” said Tomi Lahren, 24-year-old Trump-supporting commentator for right-wing US media network The Blaze, over Donald Trump’s leaked comments boasting about sexual assault. “Give me a break.”

A 19-year-old Aboriginal man, charged with sexually assaulting two children and who later had the charges dropped, is still living under a conditional release order. Green Left Weekly's Janet Parker spoke to the CEO of Developmental Disability WA Taryn Harvey about how the law is failing people with disabilities and how it can be changed.

I have no doubt that the plebiscite would have been won: it would have been a huge opening to build a mass movement for marriage equality and demolish the opposition. But I shared fears that the “No” campaign would have hurt our youth.

The NSW government has announced plans to privatise hospitals in Maitland, Wyong, Goulburn, Shellharbour and Bowral. It is a symptom of a disease: our public services are threatened by politicians who want to privatise them so companies can run them for profit.

Australia's Big Four banks — the Commonwealth, NAB, ANZ and Westpac — are the most concentrated and profitable set of banks in the world. These mega-banks are cutting their workforces, while paying their executives huge salaries and bonuses. They should be placed in public hands.

Just as in the 21 countries where marriage equality has been won, we will have to win this democratic right on the streets here too. This is the resounding conclusion supporters of equality must draw if we are to push back an emerging tide of conservatism unleashed by this latest round of major party politicking over the plebiscite.

[Ross Garnaut is a Professor of Economics at the Australian National University. In 2007 he was appointed to examine the impacts of climate change on the Australian economy and recommend medium to long-term policies and policy frameworks to improve the prospects for sustainable prosperity. The Garnaut Climate Change Review was finalised on September 30, 2008, with an update released on May 31, 2011. This is a speech given by Garnaut to the renewable energy summit hosted by the South Australian government on October 6.]

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Beginning on September 26, International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, hundreds of peace activists converged on the Pine Gap Joint Defence Facility, less than 20 kilometres from Alice Springs, to expose its role in war, surveillance and nuclear targeting.

Yes, climate change was right there in the picture when a massive storm cut off power supplies throughout South Australia on September 28, forcing electricity workers to carry out a first-ever “black start” to get the state’s grid operating again. Estimated as a one-in-50-years occurrence, the storm left high-voltage transmission pylons bent like paper-clips.

When then-Minister for the Environment and Water Tony Burke signed over more than 1500 hectares of native vegetation, including endangered woodlands, to Whitehaven Coal in 2013, he did so amid contention and uncertainty. It would not go unchallenged.

Today, a parapet of accumulated earth protrudes from the Leard State Forest. The Maules Creek open-cut coalmine is now fully operational. But when exploitation ceases, the crater left in the mine's place will not be filled for centuries.

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