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Rob Pyne (MP) is now the independent Member for Cairns in the Queensland Parliament, following his shock resignation from the Australian Labor Party on March 7. Pyne was a student leader at James Cook University, then served on the Cairns Regional Council between 2008 and 2015 before becoming Australia's first quadriplegic member of parliament in last year's Queensland state election.
Faction Man: Bill Shorten's Path to Power David Marr Quarterly Essay No. 59 Black Inc., 2015 Even the usually perceptive journalist David Marr, in his latest political profile for Quarterly Essay, is defeated by the indistinct and bland Shorten who, in public opinion polls, trails behind “Someone Else” as preferred leader of the Labor Opposition.
The Labor-dominated Newcastle council has defied pressure from unions and senior ALP figures to rescind moves to investigate moving a $270 million investment portfolio away from banks that fund ‘‘socially and environmentally’’ harmful projects and industry. Labor’s Cr Declan Clausen, who moved the original motion, said it was not against the coal industry or coal jobs, but a symbolic move in support of ‘‘different jobs for the future’’ and a shift to renewables and a clean energy industry.
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.
Robert Menzies achieved many things in his long political career. To remain prime minister as long as he did, Menzies kicked the communist can for as much as it was worth. He also benefited from a split in the Australian Labor Party and the ALP’s remarkable talent for shooting itself in the foot. By choosing ineffectual leaders — Doc Evatt was brilliant but erratic, while Arthur Calwell was dour, dull and unelectable — the ALP was putty in Menzies’ clever political hands.
New polls show that had an election been held in mid-August, Tony Abbott's federal Coalition would have suffered a 7.5% swing against it. The Prime Minister’s prevarication on marriage equality and the scandal over entitlements are fueling the dissent. The IPSOS-Fairfax and Essential Research polls revealed that the Coalition would have lost between 36 and 44 seats — with Labor and the Greens being the main beneficiaries.
Over the weekend of July 24 to 26, the nation will be watching as the Australian Labor Party (ALP) holds its 47th triennial national conference at the Melbourne Convention Centre. The Labor Party’s national conference is its highest decision-making body, deciding its policies and future direction. The Labor party’s previous national conference was in Sydney in 2011. At that conference, it voted for a policy supporting marriage equality. Despite that vote, and the Labor Party being in government until the end of 2013, marriage equality was not made law.
Socialist Alliance’s Sue Bolton spoke to Green Left Weekly’s Dave Holmes about her work as an elected socialist local councillor in Moreland, a municipality in Melbourne. This is the fourth in a series of interviews with Bolton. You can find the whole interview at links.org.au. * * *

A Short History Of Social Democracy: From Socialist Origins To Neoliberal Theocracy By John Rainford Resistance Books $20, 184pp. The rise and then fall of social democracy as a movement for fundamental social change is a modern tragedy of Shakespearean proportions. It is one of the epic stories of the 19th and 20th centuries.

This statement was released by Billy Gordon on April 8. *** Last week I resigned from the Australian Labor Party. I will not resign from parliament. My decision is based on advice from the clerk of parliament, who gave detailed reasons why I did not have to resign over past events and allegations. I am also determined to honour my commitments to my constituents. During the election campaign I committed to tackling entrenched social and economic problems in Cook and helping communities seize economic development opportunities.

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