Peter Boyle

When it is suddenly announced that an eight-lane toll road is about to be tunnelled underneath a neighbourhood, it is no surprise that the community springs into action.

This is exactly what has happened over the past month in my neighbourhood of Newtown, one of the oldest suburbs of Sydney.

It is an old trick in the neoliberal capitalist handbook for selling austerity to try to gain public support for another cutback by claiming to address “intergenerational inequity”.

First, young people were told they should not think that they are entitled to rights, such as free education, permanent jobs, unemployment benefits and even pensions when they are too ill or old to work.

Solidarity actions were held in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth on November 16 as 100,000 people joined in the Bersih 5 democracy march in Kuala Lumpur on November 19.

Bersih is the Campaign For Free and Fair Elections in Malaysia and this was its fifth major mobilisation since 2007.

The US Declaration of Independence declares: “When a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government”.

Err, like now, when we have just seen the racist, misogynist, billionaire bully Donald Trump “elected” US president by only 25% of the eligible vote and with 700,000 fewer votes that his opponent Hilary Clinton?

When the majority of US residents did not vote for either of these two candidates of the richest 1%?

The first time residents in Newtown — one of the oldest suburbs in Sydney — heard of a new Westconnex tunnel route under their homes was when a couple of test drill sites were set up in the neighbourhood. They immediately responded with a series of early morning protests at these sites.

Then an article in the November 11 Sydney Morning Herald reported that the Mike Baird Coalition government had decided to bring forward the construction of an eight-lane tunnel to link the M4 and M5 tollways.

The Bersih (“Clean”) movement for free and fair elections in Malaysia is planning its fifth major mobilisation — dubbed “Bersih 5” — on November 19 despite attempts by authorities to ban the march and threats from the right-wing “Red Shirt” gang to attack the march.

Bersih 5 rallies and marches are also being organised by Malaysian democracy activists in more than 50 cities around the world.

Sections 18C and 18D of the Racial Discrimination Act — the law against racial vilification — are under renewed attack from the right. These attacks have the backing of Rupert Murdoch's media empire and the support of the federal government, which has announced a parliamentary inquiry to determine whether this law imposes unreasonable limits on free speech and recommend whether the law should be changed.

The Labor opposition has voted for the $6.3 billion in public spending cuts over four years proposed by the Malcolm Turnbull government. The opposition agreed to support 20 of the 24 cuts originally proposed by the government in its "Omnibus Bill" and put forward more cuts of its own to prove how committed Labor is to “budget repair”.

Since 2003, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) has had the power to detain people for up to seven days, without charge, for questioning in relation to a terrorism investigation.

That person does not have to be a terrorism suspect or even an associate of a terrorism suspect; is compelled to answer questions; and is forced to keep the detention and interrogation secret.


Thousands of students took to the streets on August 27. Photo by Dinesh Selvarajoo.

Students took to the streets of Malaysia's capital Kuala Lumpur on August 27 to call for the immediate arrest of Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak for corruption.

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