austerity

On May 17, I received an email from Centrelink advising that I would no longer be eligible for the student start-up scholarship.

This means the $1035 payment that helped to pay for my textbooks, university car parking fees and other course materials will now only be available as a loan I will have to pay back on HECs.

Losing this start-up scholarship will hurt many students, with welfare payments hardly keeping up with the ever-increasing cost of living and rent.

The recent federal budget announced a terrible new policy — drug testing 5000 new recipients of Youth Allowance or Newstart. The drugs tested for will be cannabis, methamphetamine and MDMA.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has defended the policy as "aimed at stabilising the lives of people with alcohol and drug abuse problems by encouraging them to participate in treatment as part of their Job Plan". At the same time, people with diagnosed substance abuse disorders have been excluded from disability benefits.

In these almost two years of socialist government, it has been possible with the support of the left-wing parties, to reverse privatisations in public transport, restore four previously eliminated national holidays, reverse salary cuts for public sector workers, reduce the working week in the public sector to 35 hours, eliminate the surcharge on individual income tax and increase the supplementary solidarity payment for the elderly as well as family allowances and other social subsidies.

However, despite this progress, the current and future situations is not without cause for concern.

A year on from the parliamentary coup that ousted former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Brazil has become a neoliberal disaster and approval ratings for the incumbent right-wing government have slumped to record low levels.

The democratically-elected president was ousted in May last year without any proof of wrongdoing. Michel Temer, who then served as vice president, was installed as interim president. On August 31, Rousseff was formally removed from office.

Residents, unionists and supporters protested outside the NSW Department of Housing office in Redfern on May 10, following the first forcible eviction of a resident of Millers Point public housing.

Peter Muller, a 57-year-old electrician, was out working, when police broke into his home and removed a number of supporters who were defending the house.

Italian Democratic Party (PD) members re-elected former prime minister Matteo Renzi as party secretary with 70% of the votes in primaries on April 30. Renzi’s re-election carries important significance for both Italy and Europe.

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The Brisbane Labour Day rally was touted as "historic" and one of the largest rallies in recent years with approximately 30,000 unionists marching in Brisbane. Other rallies took place in regional centres around Queensland.

Opposition to penalty rate cuts was strong throughout the rally with most union contingents featuring signs on the issue. Queensland Council of Unions officials also highlighted the issue on the day.

This is going to be an election based more on competing policies and visions of society than any other election for a long time. Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services union, pointed out at the London May Day rally that this is completely different to the past two elections where the challenge was to spot the difference — elections that Labour lost.

“Labour is solidly ahead of the Conservatives with voters under 40 years old, despite being more than 20 points behind in the polls overall, according to a significant new poll,” The Independent said on April 26.

A survey found a mass uprising against the Irish government would be joined by more than half of young people in the country, an April 26 Independent article said.

Fifty four per cent of 18-34-year-olds said they would take part in a “large scale uprising against the generation in power if it happened in the next days or months”.

The survey polled nearly 20,000 people in Ireland as part of the European Broadcasting Union’s Generation What? research.

It showed that about 76% viewed politicians as corrupt or partly corrupt.

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