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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.

The global refugee crisis has its roots in the wars waged by global powers for resources and territory. These conflicts have left millions of people displaced and driven hundreds of thousands to seek safety and protection in countries like Australia.

Increasingly, climate change is becoming a second front of the refugee crisis as global food supplies are ravaged and sea level rises threaten the populations of island nations.

Under the guise of “law and order” and protecting the community from “criminal bikie gangs” Queensland Premier Campbell Newman has passed new laws that have implications for the civil rights of the wider community.

The Liberal-National Party used their majority to rush the laws through parliament on October 17. The Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment Bill, Tattoo Parlours Bill and the Criminal Law Amendment Bill specifically target bikies.

Moreland Council is proposing to install more CCTV cameras in response to concerns about safety after the murder of Jill Meagher last year. The expansion of CCTV cameras, already a civil liberties concern, would do little to make women safer on the streets at night.

The seat of Brunswick is arguably the most hotly contested seat in the November 27 Victorian parliamentary elections. Based on results at the recent federal election, the new Labor candidate, Jane Garrett, is tipped to beat Greens candidate Cyndi Dawes by only 0.6% of the vote.

Learning from the criticism of Labor’s negative federal election campaign, Garrett has adopted the slogan “equality, social justice and tackling climate change” in a bid to win back voters from progressive parties.

Twenty-two-year-old Mitch Cherry has been preselected to run for the Socialist Alliance in the seat of Bellarine in the November 27 Victorian state elections.

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Being heard is one of the biggest challenges facing young people.

We're forced into the workforce early to learn “work ethics” and the value of money. At 15 or 16, we might be working full time as an apprentice, or flipping burgers, but we’re not allowed to vote. We pay taxes but have no representation.

Coal rules. That was the message delivered last week by the new Labor government.

Freshly appointed climate change minister Greg Combet began his ministership by telling the September 13 Australian: “The coal industry is a very vibrant industry with a strong future. What you've got to do is look to how we can achieve in the longer term things like carbon capture and storage for coal-fired power stations.”

Soubhi Iskander is a Socialist Alliance Senate candidate for NSW in the 2010 federal elections. He was born in Sudan and has been a socialist for more than half a century. Despite being jailed and tortured, he remains a committed and active socialist and now is the editor of Green Left Weekly’s Arabic supplement, The Flame.

Iskander is furious but not surprised at the scapegoating of refugees and recent immigrants in the current federal election campaign.

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