Public disgust at Bronwyn Bishop's $5000 helicopter ride from Melbourne to Geelong is entirely justified. However, Tony Abbott's “root and branch” review of politicians' “entitlements” is designed to whitewash, not solve, the problem. After all, it is not as if we haven't had “root and branch” inquiries into politicians' entitlements before.
Our Common Cause
The results of the recent Australian Labor Party (ALP) conference vote on boat turnbacks shows why building a progressive alternative to the left of the ALP in Australia today is urgently needed.
On the weekend of July 18 and 19 there was another round of right-wing Reclaim Australia (RA) protests. The stated aim of RA and its offshoot, the United Patriots Front (UPF), was to defend what they call “Australian values” from the threat of “Islamicisation”.
Statement of the Socialist Alliance national executive July 16, 2015: The Socialist Alliance condemns the effective imposition of colonial status on Greece by the ruling institutions of the European Union (EU), which represent the interests of the big banks whose speculative excesses contributed in great part to the accumulation of the “Greek debt” they are now seeking to recover. This is a coup and a brutal assault on democracy.
We, the undersigned, stand in solidarity with the people of Greece and the SYRIZA-led government as they prepare for a referendum on July 5, 2015, on whether to accept the continuation of the program of neoliberal austerity or chart a new course free from the debilitating stranglehold of the Troika — the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank, and the European Commission. We support the call of SYRIZA for a “no vote” as the only option for the people of Greece, especially the working classes, to assert sovereign control over the country's economy and their own future.
If you suspect that neoliberal capitalist governments, including the Australian government, act as kleptocracies for the richest 1% and the large corporations, you have good reason to. Whether you look at their tax system, the various privatisation or part-privatisation schemes they are forcing on the public, the “user-pays” drives or the publicly subsidised private insurance scams, you can see how the public is being forced to subsidise the profits of powerful corporations and the super-rich.
The Tony Abbott government’s illegal “Turn Back the Boats” policy is under further scrutiny, following media revelations that in late May, Australian customs officials paid $US30,000 to six crew members on a boat carrying 65 asylum seekers from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Myanmar, which was heading to New Zealand, from Indonesia.
The campaign against racism and the far right needs a clear understanding of racism and fascism and how to fight these threats. Racism is not inherent in human beings. It is a product of capitalism. Racist scapegoating is used by the corporate rich because it undermines solidarity among workers, opening the way for conservative policies such as privatisation and cuts to social spending.
Marriage Equality has come to Ireland through a popular referendum. The result was hailed by the May 23 New York Times as placing Ireland “at the vanguard of social change”. This will be surprising to many, considering Ireland is a country in which transgender status is not recognised by the state, abortion is illegal, gay couples are denied access to surrogacy, unmarried couples cannot adopt, and homosexuality was decriminalised as recently as 1994.
The toll of Australia's bipartisan anti-refugee policies in death and suffering is rising. In the past fortnight more than 3000 Rohingya refugees from Arakan state in Burma (Myanmar) have turned up on the shores of Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, having either swum ashore or been rescued by local fishing boat crews. An estimated 7000 more are trapped on boats that have been described as “floating coffins”.
Joe Hockey may have been hoping that his spin about a "dull" budget would lull the public into a stupor, but the budget is anything but dull if you're a woman, a parent, pregnant, a student, a pensioner, on welfare, need legal aid or are unemployed. The government faced significant, organised, public opposition to its 2014 budget measures, many of which failed to pass in the Senate. It was forced to back down on a number of policies, however it is under increasing economic pressure to get its neoliberal agenda through.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott's harsh regime of cutbacks and user-pays charges has been rejected by the Australian people in poll after poll. But this has not stopped the pro-business media from trying to wear people down and pressure Labor and the Greens to accept some of the government's demands. Typical of this drumbeat was the widely reported Deloitte Access Economics report, which likened the growing budget deficit to a novel by horror writer Stephen King. In an effort to massage a consensus for cutbacks it demands, "For our budget to be sustainable, our politics has to be sustainable".
Australia's age pension system is under attack from the federal government and right-wing, neoliberal forces. The whole community, current and future retirees, needs to mobilise to defend and extend the age pension system and change the superannuation system to more adequately meet the needs of working people. The age pension in Australia dates back to 1909. It was established as a non-contributory scheme, largely as a result of the demands of unions and community pressure.
The Socialist Alliance stands in full solidarity with the burgeoning movement against the forced closure of remote Aboriginal communities in WA. This movement can win and if it does it will be a victory for all working people in Australia. Without any consultation, the federal government announced in September that they would cut funding that, for more than 40 years, had been provided to support these communities. The state government, equally contemptuous in their lack of consultation, then announced that up to 150 communities would have to close.
Lines of grey muttering faces, masked with fear, They leave their trenches, going over the top, While time ticks blank and busy on their wrists, And hope, with furtive eyes and grasping fists, Flounders in mud. O Jesus, make it stop! — Siegfried Sassoon. Implausible as it might seem, it was the violent protest of a group of Bosnian high school students that sparked World War I.
The far right Islamophobic “Reclaim Australia” movement burst onto the streets in what was the biggest racist mobilisation since the Cronulla riots, in 16 places across Australia on April 4. They were armed with swastika tattoos, Australian flags and a few simplistic slogans such as “No halal food”. They were also met by counter protesters who stood up to reject racism, chauvinism and bigotry.