austerity

The City of Port Adelaide Enfield, in Adelaide's northern suburbs, made history on August 8 when it became the first local government in Australia to publicly advocate for the Newstart Allowance to be increased.

The motion, calling on Port Adelaide Enfield Council to lobby the federal government to increase Newstart, as well as producing a report into how council can assist local unemployed residents who are struggling, was sponsored by Councillor Michelle Hogan, and seconded by Councillor Peter Jamieson. It was passed by 11 votes to 2.

The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) held their national conference in Chicago on August 5 and 6, at a gathering that confirmed its emergence as stronger, younger and more radical group than it has ever been.

Before last year’s US presidential election, the DSA boasted between 7000-8000 members. Since then, it has ballooned to 25,000 members — mostly young and hungry for a fight.

I know exactly where I was on August 9, 2007. It was a hot summer’s day — “debtonation day”.

Bankers all over the world had lost their collective nerve and refused to lend to each other. The globally synchronised financial system froze, and began its descent into sustained failure. It then took more than a year, and Lehman Brothers’ collapse, before the world understood the gravity of the crisis.

Ten years on, that slow-motion crisis, a prolonged period of disinflation, noflation and deflation, is still playing out.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court ruled unanimously on July 28 to disqualify the country’s prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, from office in relation to the exposure of secret assets as part of the Panama Papers leaks.

The court has referred Sharif’s case to the country's top anti-corruption authority for an investigation into his family's offshore assets. His party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, will have to appoint an interim prime minister to serve until the next election, due midway through next year.

In a New York Times op-ed in June titled “How Democrats Can Stop Losing”, Bernie Sanders slammed the Democratic Party.

“In 2016 the Democratic Party lost the presidency to possibly the least popular candidate in American history,” he wrote. “In recent years, Democrats have also lost the Senate and House to right-wing Republicans whose extremist agenda is far removed from where most Americans are politically.

Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte’s annual State of the Nation (SONA) address on July 24 reflected his government’s increasing trajectory towards dictatorship. Outside, protest marches converged on the parliamentary complex at Batasan, reflecting the growing grassroots opposition to the worsening dictatorial trend.

“Socialism is back. Unmentioned and unused, a dead concept and suddenly there was Corbynism.” That’s how Guy Rundle announced the resurrection in “The Death of Neoliberalism” in the July 15 issue of The Saturday Paper.

Disparaged and smeared by the Labour Party machine and corporate media for almost two years, Momentum — a grassroots group of Labour members committed to the socialist politics of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn — came out fighting during the campaign for the June 8 general elections.

Spurred on by a sense of idealism, this campaign came close to sweeping Labour into government on the most transformative manifesto for a generation.

Federal government hospital spending rose by 80% in the decade to 2014, from $23 billion to $42 billion. This has led to a renewed push by conservatives for a new state income tax to fund health costs.

The rise of Jeremy Corbyn in Britain and Bernie Sanders in the US has led many to ask where is our Corbyn or our Sanders and to question whether conditions in Australia are ripe for a similar break to the left.

Because Australia was buffered from the worst of the GFC, due mainly to the mining boom, some argue that conditions here may need to get a lot worse before people are prepared to get behind a left platform.

Let’s look at some social indicators in Australia today.

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