Australia

“Richard Di Natale, I am a member of Left Renewal and I hope you can hear this because the Greens are my party too,” a woman said to great applause at a meeting of Left Renewal (LR) on January 25.

More than 100 people, including from Newcastle and Wollongong, came to the first public meeting of LR, an anti-capitalist grouping within The Greens, to hear about its aims and objectives.

Melbourne's trams to be solar powered

The Victorian government announced on January 19 that Melbourne's tram network will soon be powered by the first large-scale solar plant to be built in Victoria.

The solar plant, which will be completed by the end of 2018, is expected to be located in Victoria's north-west.

The project is expected to create 300 new jobs and will produce 75 megawatts of power, with about half of that production to be linked to the tram network.

The rest of the energy produced by the plant will flow into the broader electricity system.

Cuts to the age pension, legislated in 2015, have begun. The main change is to the assets test taper rate.

For every additional $1000 in assets, pensioners now lose $78 a year (raised from $39). Previously, a homeowner couple with $1,178,000 in assets would have qualified for a part pension. This upper limit has dropped to $816,000. (These figures do not include the family home.)

There can be no doubt about it. Capitalism is eating the future, destroying it with systematic greed and exploitation.

Just one year ago, according to calculations by anti-poverty group Oxfam, the 62 richest people on the planet owned as much wealth as the poorest half of the world's population (3.5 billion). This year that number has dropped to eight as inequality spirals out of control.

Eight super rich men have more wealth than half the people in the world and the richest 1% have more than the other 99%. Does anyone believe this is sustainable, let alone conscionable?

Most of the arms companies that made submissions to the Inquiry into Government Support for Australian Defence Industry Exports said government assistance in the promotion and facilitation of overseas arms sales should be increased.

I became aware that Centrelink were trying to pin a cooked-up “robo-debt” of $5558 on me through a text message from the aptly named Probe group debt collection agency.

There resources about how to dispute a Centrelink debt letter, including GetUp! which has a page that sends a bunch of letters to key places in one go. 

The Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA) and The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Postgraduate Association (NATSIPA) support renaming January 26 as “Invasion Day”. The two organisations decided this on January 15.

They are encouraging a rethink of the meaning of "Australia day" on January 26 to support justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. They are also urging people to attend one of the many nationwide protests on January 26 (see below).

In an overt case of political censorship, the unelected Inner West Council (IWC) sent contractors to remove Invasion Day graffiti on a wall in Camperdown Memorial Rest Park on January 24.

The graffiti — which read "Only fuckwits celebrate genocide" — was only painted alongside the First Nation flag the night before on a wall backing on to the Camperdown Cemetery.

Anyone who walks through this park knows that the walls, built in 1848, are full of graffiti, only some of which is political.

So now former Greens parliamentary leader Christine Milne has come out of political retirement to invite — via the pages of Fairfax media — the young lefties in the Greens NSW who have formed "Left Renewal" to leave the building and establish their own party.

Newtown firefighters have once again set a fine example of international people-to-people solidarity by posting "Peace be with them" in Farsi on their noticeboard.

They are showing solidarity with 20 or more firefighters in Tehran, Iran, who sacrificed their lives fighting a fire in the 17-story Plasco building on January 20. The high rise was built in the early 1960s and was the tallest building at the time of its construction.

I came across members of the Iranian community who had come to thank Newtown firefighters for their solidarity.

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