democracy

The Order of Mates celebrated beside Sydney Harbour the other day. This is a venerable masonry in Australian political life that unites the Labor Party with the rich elite known as the big end of town.

They shake hands, not hug, though the Silver Bodgie now hugs. In his prime, the Silver Bodgie, aka Bob Hawke or Hawkie, wore suits that shone, wide-bottomed trousers and shirts with the buttons undone.

A bodgie was an Australian version of the 1950s English Teddy Boy and Hawke’s thick grey-black coiffure added inches to his abbreviated stature.

This election campaign is crazy.

It’s crazy that so much fear is being whipped up about the few thousand of the world's 43 million refugees and displaced people who manage to get on a leaky boat to Australia.

But neither mainstream party is willing to stop sending troops to the decade-long military occupation of Afghanistan. This war is largely responsible for 2.8 million Afghan refugees worldwide — the same war is opposed by most in Afghanistan and most citizens of the countries whose armies occupy it.

Green Left Weekly spoke to Peter Boyle, the national convener of the Socialist Alliance, about the political climate of the 2010 federal elections.

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Many progressive people are feeling depressed about the federal election. How do you see it?

Labor and the Liberal-National Coalition are in a “race to the bottom”, as Socialist Alliance lead Queensland Senate candidate and Murri community leader Sam Watson aptly put it.

Forget about the climate science and the record high temperatures. Prime Minister Julia Gillard has decided she doesn’t need a serious climate change policy to win the federal election.

In its place, she kicked off her election campaign on July 18 with a “sustainable Australia” policy. It promised a future of low population growth, which “preserves our quality of life and respects our environment”.

Opposition leader and climate denier Tony Abbott was quick to say he fully agreed with this vision, but was even more committed to it than Gillard.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard was supposed to launch Labor's new policy to tackle climate change on July 23. But in essence she merely restated the same old Labor climate policy: delay, delay and delay again.

Gillard's speech was pages long, but her climate agenda can be summarised in just four words: more talk, less action.

On July 22, the trial of construction worker Ark Tribe was adjourned until September 13. Tribe is facing up to six months’ jail for failing to attend an interrogation by the construction industry police — the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC). Thousands of workers rallied around Australia to support him.

In Adelaide, 2000 people rallied outside the court over July 20-23. On the first day, the rally included a march on the ABCC's Adelaide office. One of the most popular chants on the march was “Johnny Lloyd you're a rat”. John Lloyd is the ABCC head.

In November 2008, Palm Island man Lex Wotton was convicted of "incitement to riot” and sentenced to six years' jail. His charge followed the Aboriginal community uprising and protest after the death in police custody of Mulrunji Doomadgee in November 2004.

The TV anchorwoman was conducting a split screen interview with a journalist who had volunteered to be a witness at the execution of a man on death row in Utah for 25 years.

“He had a choice”, said the journalist, “lethal injection or firing squad”. “Wow!” said the anchorwoman.

Cue a blizzard of commercials for fast food, teeth whitener, stomach stapling, the new Cadillac. This was followed by the war in Afghanistan, presented by a correspondent sweating in a flak jacket.

The people of Honduras are continuing their struggle for democracy more than one year after the June 28 military coup that overthrew elected President Manuel Zelaya.

The dictatorship tried to legitimise itself with fraudulent elections that brought President Profiro Lobo Sosa to power. The United States government, which was complicit in the coup, recognised the results despite almost no other government doing so. The US has since fully restored military assistance.

Wilder Marcano is a director of the network of communes in Caracas. The communes are part of the push, supported by President Hugo Chavez, to deepen popular power and create a new, revolutionary state. Venezuelanalysis.com said on February 8 there are 184 communes “in construction” across the country.

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