Our Common Cause

Remember last year when federal Treasurer Scott Morrison, picking up where Joe Hockey left off, declared that we had a spending problem not a revenue problem? That seems like a long time ago now. They did try to increase revenues by floating an increase in the GST but soon after came the revelation that 600 of Australia's biggest companies paid no tax and hundreds more pay less that the 30% they could be paying. This is all the more galling when you consider that the rate has been cut from the 48% it had been in the early 1980s. And then came the Panama Papers!
The federal government's move to reintroduce the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) is an attempt to make it harder for the unions to go in and fight for workers' rights and conditions in all parts of the construction industry. Conditions in the building industry are now extremely varied. At the Barangaroo development the big builders are doing massive hours but their workers are paid decently and their safety is reasonable to good.
Thousands of jobs are once against at risk in Australia's shrinking steel industry as Arrium, the company that owns the steelworks in Whyalla, South Australia, announced it was having difficulty servicing its more than $2 billion loan. The company wants the government to bail it out and that seems to be the only “solution” that the union movement and the major parties can imagine. But will a bailout save jobs or even save what is left of the steel industry in Australia? The historical record suggests otherwise.
On April 3, the Queensland mines minister Anthony Lynham and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk approved the three mining leases of Indian multinational Adani for the Carmichael coalmine and rail project in the Galilee Basin. Federal approval was granted by federal environment minister Greg Hunt in October.
The Socialist Alliance released this statement on March 31. * * * The Senate reform pushed through by the Turnbull Liberal-National government with the support of the Greens does not make federal Parliament more democratic. While it will end the “gaming” of the Group Voting Ticket for people voting above the line on the Senate ballot paper, it also weakens the preferential system and could give the Coalition an advantage in the next federal election.
My name is Ken Canning. My traditional name is Burraga Gutya. My people are the Kunja clan of the Bidjara Nation of what is now called south-western Queensland. I was raised mainly on the coast of Queensland and in Brisbane and, although I have lived in Sydney since the late 1970s, I am still a very proud Murri. I have been fortunate that since living in Sydney the local Koori community has always taken me in and I feel very much at home here. Many First Nations peoples now living in Sydney are from all over this country and from many different nations.
The powers-that-be in NSW have deemed that there are so many examples of “unsafe protest activities” across the state that, to make everyone safe, we need new laws that will protect “lawful business activity”. Protesters will be able to be jailed for up to seven years for “intentionally” or “recklessly” interfering with a “mine” — the definition of which has been changed to include an exploratory or test site.
A controversy broke out at Sydney's Mardi Gras on March 6 when organisers threatened to ban the No Pride In Detention refugee rights float if they criticised Opposition leader Bill Shorten's refugee policies. And fair enough. The Mardi Gras was begun by people demanding basic human rights and an end to dehumanisation and unjust repression, so there's obviously no connection with the current bipartisan treatment of refugees.
Why is the government so keen to reform Senate voting with the threat of a double dissolution election hanging in the air? The government and the Greens are supporting legislation to enact some recommendations of a parliamentary committee into the 2013 election while Labor and most small parties and independents are opposing them.
I feel privileged to have been able to spend several hours on the community picket outside Lady Cilento Children's Hospital in Brisbane where people were rallying in solidarity with Asha. Asha is the refugee baby who was being treated for burns after an accident in Australia's notorious offshore refugee detention camp, in the increasingly dictatorial Pacific island state of Nauru.

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