democracy

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.

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!”

"It seems that the whole narrative of politics is going through a seismic shift”, said Greens lead candidate for the NSW upper house at the 2011 state election, David Shoebridge at an August 25 forum discussing the post-election political landscape.

Shoebridge told the meeting, which was organised by Socialist Alliance, that the result would impact on upcoming state elections in Victoria and NSW. In NSW, Labor is particularly hated.

Recent scenes of roadblocks, strikes and even the dynamiting of a vice-minister’s home in the Bolivian department (administrative district) of Potosi, reminiscent of the days of previous neoliberal governments, have left many asking themselves what is really going on in the “new” Bolivia of indigenous President Evo Morales.

Since July 29, the city of Potosi, which has 160,000 inhabitants, has ground to a halt. Locals are up in arms over what they perceive to be a lack of support for regional development on the part of the national government.

The Liberal Party has pulled controversial Google advertisements after criticism and complaints from candidates standing against them. When Google users searched for the names of many candidates running in lower-house seats — including Socialist Alliance candidate for Cunningham, Jess Moore, who raised the issue in the national media — the first link to appear was a sponsored link to a Liberal Party website.

PERTH — Members of the Perth Burmese community held a commemoration on August 8 for the democratic uprising that took place in Burma exactly 22 years before.

Speakers at the commemoration called for a restoration of democracy in Burma, including freedom for pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and for stronger action in support of democracy from the Australian government. A solidarity dinner for the Burmese struggle was also held on August 7.

Thousands of people took to the streets on August 14 in support of legalising same-sex marriage and against the discriminatory policies of both major parties.

In Sydney, Peter Boyle said about 3000 people rallied at Town Hall before marching to Taylor Square. Comedian and host of ABC’s Gruen Transfer Wil Anderson chaired the event.

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