ALP

Refugee rights activists representing groups and individuals from Darwin, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Canberra, Wollongong, Sydney, and the Blue Mountains met on December 3 to plan campaign activities for this year.

It was the first national gathering of refugee rights campaigners since federal Labor's 2007 election, and fittingly occurred on the same weekend as the ALP's national conference. Labor further entrenched its anti-refugee policies, in particular offshore processing.

Sydney lord mayor Clover Moore made clear at a Sydney City Council meeting on November 6 that she supported the “principles” of the Occupy movement but did not support Occupy Sydney.

Greens councillor Irene Doutney put a motion to investigate the dawn police raid on the group in Martin Place and help find Occupy a site for the protest.

But Moore replied that she had to “balance the rights of residents, visitors, workers and others to have access to the public domain”.

Phil Golby was the president of the Port Curtis and Hinterland branch of the ALP until October 20. Then, along with five leading members, he publicly resigned to protest against the Queensland Labor government’s proposal to sell off public assets despite mass opposition from rank-and-file ALP members.

Until October, Golby was also the president of the Gladstone branch of the Queensland Council of Unions (QCU). He is a state organiser with the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, working out of the union’s Gladstone office.

In 2007, federal election candidates made much of the seven vultures that were feeding on the carcass of the Howard government as it flailed around shifting further and further to the right.

Those seven vultures were:

• the denial of climate change;
• touting of the war in Iraq;
• Work Choices;
• policy failure on education spending;
• poor vision of infrastructure;
• destruction of research and development; and
• persecution of refugees with the Pacific Solution.

On September 1, Luke Foley, the newest Labor member of the New South Wales Legislative Council, rose to make his inaugural speech to the chamber.

Foley began: “It is with pride and humility that I enter this place, Australia’s oldest Parliament, as a representative of Australia’s oldest, and greatest, political party — the Australian Labor Party.”

Oh dear. What a day for Foley to praise the ALP in NSW.

The Socialist Alliance national office has produced its analysis of the August 21 federal election. It traces the precise mix by electorate of the increased Green, Coalition, independent and informal vote, produced as voters deserted Labor.

The differences among the seat-by-seat contests in an Australian federal election have never been so great. The general disillusionment with the two major parties expressed itself in quite different ways in different electorates and areas.

Whichever major party wins the August 21 elections, the real job of fighting for progressive change will remain.

Not just because Labor and the Liberal-National Coalition have made this election campaign an ugly race to the right, but also because real change never comes simply through a vote.

Even an election that registered real victory, such as the defeat of the hated John Howard Coalition government in November 2007, came on the back of sustained political action by millions of ordinary people focused primarily around the campaign against Work Choices.

Breaking story (last updated June 25): Socialists and progressive trade union and social movement activists have reacted sceptically to the leadership change in the Australian Labor Party (ALP) federal government of Australia. Julia Gillard displaced Kevin Rudd as PM on June 24 after a surprise leadership challenge that came into the open the night before. She became the country's first woman PM. Wayne Swan replaced Gillard as deputy PM.

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