Comment and Analysis

Build the alternative, build it now

The 2016 federal election has confirmed the continuing decline of Australia's two-party system. The relative stability that characterised the decades after World War II was shaped by a phase of unprecedented economic growth, record low unemployment and mass home ownership. But that is long gone, in fact it was an aberration. Our system of single member electorates helped paper over the current period of rising economic insecurity, but inevitably politics is catching up.

Major parties the election's biggest losers

The federal election is now over and the final outcome is still being worked out, but the winners and losers are becoming clearer by the day.

The two biggest losers were the major parties. While the Coalition retained enough seats to still be able to govern, it lost its sizable majority in the lower house and is facing an even more hostile Senate.

The Labor Party recovered several seats overall, but it still managed to record its second lowest number of votes in a Federal election since World War II.

Companies shirking rehabilitation of mines


The Mt Thorley-Warkworth "final void" is too expensive to fill in.

Early this month mining giant Rio Tinto sold its mothballed Blair Athol coalmine to a tiny ASX-listed company called TerraCom for $1. Rio Tinto had been trying to sell the mine since it closed in 2012.

Nuclear waste dump case unravels

Armed with the findings of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission, South Australian Labor Premier Jay Weatherill is pressing ahead with plans to import as much as a third of the world's high-level nuclear reactor waste and store it in the state's outback.

There are compelling reasons to reject it. The project, it now emerges, could go ahead only over resistance from Indigenous traditional landowners, some of whom took part in the Lizard Bites Back convergence in early July.

ABCC, double dissolution and the Heydon royal commission

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has declared that, if re-elected, his government still plans to present the bill reinstating the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) to a joint sitting of parliament, even as Resources and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg admitted on the ABC's Q&A program that the bill's prospects are effectively "dead".

Turnbull said on July 5 that the reason he had called a double dissolution of parliament was that it was the "only way" to revive the building industry watchdog and crack down on the militant unions.

How can we tackle the rise of Islamophobia?

Election after election of racist and Islamophobic rhetoric from both major parties, combined with a growing swarm of far-right outfits, is resulting in violent hate crimes.

A car firebombed at the Thornlie mosque in Perth on June 28 and racist graffiti on the wall of an Islamic college are the latest in a string of attacks. Hundreds of people were praying inside the mosque and it was only a matter of luck that no one was injured or killed.

Shrinking ozone hole shows what collective action can achieve

The hole in the ozone layer was first discovered in 1985 by scientists from the British Antarctic Survey, who described how ozone levels above the Antarctic were steadily dropping compared to the previous decade. This was quickly recognised as a severe environmental problem — and the culprit was identified as the unchecked use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).

Abortion: women's bodies, women's lives, women's choice

In the same way that women had to organise and struggle to win the vote, equal pay and access to higher education, women have also had to fight for their reproductive rights, including access to contraception and access to safe medical and surgical abortion.

The impact of pregnancy and childbirth on a woman is so great that no matter what other political, social or economic rights women have, if they do not have control over whether or when to have children, it is meaningless to speak about women controlling their own lives.

Coalition aim is to 'destroy' Medicare: socialist

"The Coalition government's plan is not only to privatise Medicare, but to destroy it as a universal, national healthcare system," Peter Boyle, the Socialist Alliance candidate for the seat of Sydney, said on July 1. "The plan is based on a form of 'creeping privatisation,' together with undermining its coverage of the majority of community health services around the country."

Climate, capitalism and refugees


Tacloban, Leyte, Philippines, after Typhoon Haiyan in 2013. Photo: Tony Iltis.

Millions of people fleeing storms that flood major cities within hours, or intense fires that burn towns to the ground — welcome to a climate change apocalypse. It is not a scene from science fiction film, but a fast approaching reality.

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