Our Common Cause

The decision by state and territory leaders at the recent Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting to give the federal government real time access to data, including driver's licences, is the latest measure likely to undermine civil liberties in the government’s so-called war on terror.

In a September address to the United Nations Human Rights Council, top UN human rights official Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, described the Myanmar military’s attacks on Rohingya as being “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.

Satellite photos show the Myanmar security forces and local militia burning entire Rohingya villages to the ground. There are consistent accounts of extrajudicial killings, including the shooting of fleeing civilians.

I had the privilege of spending five days with more than 100 activists from around the country taking front-line action to stop Adani’s Carmichael coalmine in the Galilee Basin from being built. 

We camped just outside Bowen, about 1000 kilometres north of Brisbane, on the Whitsunday coast. A large proportion of the activists were women. There were also babies, kids, campus activists, experienced veterans of campaigns against coal and unconventional gas mining, forest blockaders and Knitting Nannas. 

The time has come to scrap the misnamed Fair Work Act (FWA) and introduce genuine pro-worker and pro-union industrial relations legislation in this country.

Rising pressure on federal employment minister Michaelia Cash to resign over her cover-up of the illegal actions by former Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) head Nigel Hadgkiss merely underlines the fact that Australia’s industrial relations system is badly broken.

Since the High Court challenge to the federal government’s marriage equality survey was dismissed and the survey received the green light, streets have been painted all the colours of the rainbow as historically large protests and displays of solidarity sweep the country.

The campaign for marriage equality has been fighting the delaying tactics and homophobic policies of Labor and Liberal governments for the past 13 years.

The threat of nuclear annihilation is closer than at any time since the end of the Cold War as two heads of state use nuclear weapons as props in what looks like a fight between two adolescent boys.

On one side is a narcissistic bully, born to inherit great power and with credible reports that his personal life includes indulging in acts of sadism, whose policies in government are driven by a combination of xenophobia, ego and whim and who is threatening nuclear Armageddon if he doesn't get his way.

On the other side is North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.

Thanks to a passing reference in this column only a week ago about statues and other monuments featuring colonial "founding fathers" that participated in massacres of Aboriginal people and other wrongs, I got lumped into Andrew Bolt's collection of "statue haters".

Others in the corporate media suggested that even having the discussion was like Nazi book burning. Right. And we're the ones disrespecting history!

What local councils do or don’t do on January 26 has burst into the national political debate, and what a good thing that is. No matter the frantic condemnation from the corporate media or the pompous and arse-about assertion by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull that councils were “using a day that should unite Australians to divide Australians”.

These opponents of an honest examination of Australia’s history may want to shut down the conversation but the opposite has happened.

In the past fortnight, many of us thought we were right on the edge of FINALLY winning marriage equality in Australia as dissent within the ranks of Malcolm Turnbull’s Coalition government came to a head.

Liberal MP Dean Smith and others put up the Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill and called for a free vote. Even Turnbull, a self-declared supporter of marriage equality even as he called for a plebiscite, said he supported the right of Liberal MPs to cross the floor to vote for the bill.

Opposition groups in Venezuela are currently engaged in a campaign to overthrow the democratically-elected government of President Nicolas Maduro.

Portrayed by the media as a peaceful, democratic movement, it is clear that what Venezuela is experiencing is a right-wing destabilisation campaign that not only seeks to remove Maduro but to roll back the important gains of the country’s Bolivarian Revolution.

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