Labor Party

The Australian Council of Trade Unions' new Change the Rules campaign is well underway.

In conjunction with a professional advertising and social media strategy, the campaign was launched on April 7, building up to the 12 Days of Action in early May around the May Day rallies. Thousands of people attended these rallies across the country, culminating in 120,000 workers marching in Melbourne on May 9.

The Barnett Liberal government, which had been in power for the past eight years, was definitively trounced in the March 11 WA state election. A defining theme was the government's accumulation of $40 billion of debt despite governing through an unprecedented mining boom.

The big winner was the Labor Party, which on the back of a 9.1% swing has won 42 seats, 12 more than the 30 needed to secure a majority. There was a 15.8% swing against the Liberal Party which lost votes to both Labor and One Nation.

The Labor Party announced a series of “savings” measures on June 10, including $1 billion worth of Abbott/Turnbull cuts that had previously been blocked in the Senate.

It has tried to make the attacks appear palatable by claiming they are directed at higher income families. However the truth is they reaffirm that a future Labor government's direction will be more about cutting government spending than raising revenue from the big end of town.

Further, they will have bigger impacts on ordinary workers than appears evident at first glance.

When donations to political parties from property developers in NSW were prohibited by then-NSW Labor premier Nathan Rees in November 2009 the decision was not well received by significant groupings in the state Labor and Liberal parties.

The ban followed an Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) inquiry into Wollongong City Council which, in 2008, found that local developers had received favourable treatment from elected councillors and staff.

Feminist, resident activist, popular educator, councillor, public transport campaigner, mother, academic, environmentalist and true democrat, Margaret Henry, who passed away late last year in Newcastle, had many sides to her wonderful life.

The campaign against savage cuts to public services in the recent South Australian budget is gaining momentum. More than 10,000 unionists rallied in Victoria Square on October 26 and marched through lunchtime crowds to Parliament House.

Nurses, prison officers and firefighters are among the many sectors angry at the cuts, which will cost up to 4000 jobs and affect vital services.

The following day, hundreds protested at Parliament House against cuts of $850,000 to the health budget, which threaten the viability of country hospitals at Keith, Moonta and Ardrossan.

Rather than giving us the government we deserve, the August 21 federal election delivered an outcome the two old parties deserved.

Because both Labor and the Coalition focused on negative campaigning, sloganeering and scapegoating refugees and other minorities, a large number of voters decided to vote for alternatives with some vision.

A hung parliament with the Greens holding the balance of power in the Senate was only a partial reflection of this growing disenchantment with the two-party system.

This federal election both Labor and the Coalition have failed to present any serious policies to address climate change. The Greens on the other hand have a plan to cut emissions, but does it go far enough?

The Coalition’s Tony Abbott rose to the leadership with the backing of a hardcore group of climate denier MPs. His “direct action” policy on climate change has two big problems: it’s not direct and it’s not much action.

In protests around the country on Workers Memorial Day, April 28, thousands of workers came out to remember those killed on the job and to protest against the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC).

Speakers pointed out that since the ABCC was formed, deaths in the construction industry had risen from 3.14 deaths per 100,000 workers in 2004, to 4.27 in 2008. The rate peaked in 2006, at 5.6.

The Rudd government’s home insulation program, under which four workers died and there have been 120 house fires, also came under attack.

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