democracy

At a September 7 Green Left Weekly forum, Andrew Bartlett and Ewan Saunders spoke about the possibilities that have opened for the progressive movements since the election. Bartlett was Greens candidate for the seat of Brisbane in the recent federal elections. E Saunders contested the same seat for Socialist Alliance. Bartlett gained 21% of the primary vote, a swing of 10%. He gave an assessment of the voting results.
The Socialist Alliance national council meeting on September 5, involving 72 members from around the country, grappled with the new and intriguing political situation opened up by the August 21 federal election result. At the time, it was unknown who would form a minority government. But it was already clear that the result presented a challenge and opportunity for the progressive social movements to mobilise to demand a just, equitable and sustainable response to the big problems facing society.
Barangaroo is one of the last waterfront development sites in the City of Sydney. Its controversial redevelopment is starting a brushfire of protests because of the way it is being handled. Once the heart of the docklands, was the birthplace of the bubonic plague in the early 20th century Barangaroo, which led to the takeover of much of the area and its wharves by the government-appointed Sydney Harbour Trust.
Independent Andrew Wilkie won the Tasmanian seat of Denison at the recent federal elections. Previously, the seat had been held by Duncan Kerr for 23 years and was considered a safe Labor seat. Wilkie came to prominence in 2003 when he resigned from his job at the Office of National Assessments in public protest against the then Liberal/National Coalition government's decision to invade Iraq. The invasion was based on the claim Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, a claim that later proved false.
In 2007, federal election candidates made much of the seven vultures that were feeding on the carcass of the Howard government as it flailed around shifting further and further to the right. Those seven vultures were: • the denial of climate change; • touting of the war in Iraq; • Work Choices; • policy failure on education spending; • poor vision of infrastructure; • destruction of research and development; and • persecution of refugees with the Pacific Solution.
On September 1, Luke Foley, the newest Labor member of the New South Wales Legislative Council, rose to make his inaugural speech to the chamber. Foley began: “It is with pride and humility that I enter this place, Australia’s oldest Parliament, as a representative of Australia’s oldest, and greatest, political party — the Australian Labor Party.” Oh dear. What a day for Foley to praise the ALP in NSW.
With the symptoms of social and environmental crisis all around us — runaway climate change, Third World poverty, seemingly endless wars — it is sometimes easy to feel discouraged about our ability to change “the way things are”. We can forget that millions of ordinary people have many times over said “enough is enough” and come together to take action to change history.
The Socialist Alliance national office has produced its analysis of the August 21 federal election. It traces the precise mix by electorate of the increased Green, Coalition, independent and informal vote, produced as voters deserted Labor. The differences among the seat-by-seat contests in an Australian federal election have never been so great. The general disillusionment with the two major parties expressed itself in quite different ways in different electorates and areas.
A high court challenge to Australia's offshore processing, on behalf of two Tamil refugees whose asylum claims were refused, has questioned the legality of the refugee processing policy. The case, heard in Canberra's High Court over August 24-26, occurred amid rising numbers of refugee claims being refused. Australia imprisons refugees in offshore detention and denies them full right of appeal in Australian courts. Access to legal advice and fair processing is greatly restricted. The lawyers acting on behalf of the Tamils labelled this practice unlawful and unconstitutional.
Ben Kohler, a year 11 student and member of the Socialist Alliance and Resistance, is running for the position of school captain at Woonona High, in Wollongong's northern suburbs. He spoke with Green Left Weekly’s Patrick Harrison about his campaign. * * * What motivated you to run for school captain? I was reading Stupid White Men by Michael Moore. He talks about schooling, and basically encourages students to take over the school. He also said we should “mock the vote” and I thought, “I have to do that!”

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