Economy

There is a joke in Australia that there will be a high-speed rail service linking the major cities on the Eastern seaboard that will run about once in every three years — whenever there is an election looming. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has, like the previous Labor government, again floated the idea.
The federal government has succeeded in scrapping the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT). Legislation to abolish the tribunal passed the Senate without Labor and the Green's support on April 18 after two hours of debate. The bill passed 36 to 32 with the support of the crossbench except Ricky Muir from the Motoring Enthusiast Party.
Queensland Natural Resources and Mines minister Anthony Lynham announced on April 18 that the government has banned underground coal gasification (UCG) in the state, arguing the environmental risks outweigh the economic benefits. He said the ban, which would apply immediately as government policy, would be legislated by the end of the year. Underground coal gasification involves converting coal to a synthesised gas by burning it underground. The syngas is processed on the surface to create products such as aviation fuels and synthetic diesel.
Concerned residents gathered outside Lismore City Council on April 19 as the NSW Planning Department briefed council on the Draft North Coast Regional Plan. Spokesperson for Gasfield Free Northern Rivers, Dean Draper said: “They should be offering a community briefing in Lismore so we can clearly send our message that this regional plan must be amended to remove the current references to CSG. As well as this removal we are demanding that the plan clearly spells out that there will be no unconventional gas exploration at all for the life of the plan.
Activists from Stop CSG Sydney and the Australian Student Environment Network toured the AGL Camden CSG gasfields on April 17 to see for themselves how close gas wells are to homes. AGL has promised to end gas mining in Camden by 2023. Residents want them shut down now. The NSW government has said that gas wells cannot be drilled within two kilometres of homes, but it is happy for Landcom, the government's own developer, to sell house and land packages within a few hundred metres of major gasfields.
I live and work as a nurse in Fremantle and I'm the Socialist Alliance candidate for the seat of Fremantle in this year's federal election. The Socialist Alliance recognises that not only has corrupt, business-as-usual politics caused a deepening social and climate crisis, but that those entrenched and greedy interests are unwilling and incapable of providing real solutions. Major system change is needed. There is a growing despondency amongst large sections of the community; real anger and frustration in the way things are going. And rightly so.
Okara, April 17. A gathering of thousands of peasants in the Okara District of Punjab, to mark International Peasants Day on April 17, went ahead despite a violent crackdown by the police, paramilitaries and the army. The gathering was organised by the Tenants Association of Punjab (AMP) and supported by the Awami Workers Party (AWP).
Chants of "MUA, here to stay!" rang out outside the electoral office of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on April 13, as around 200 members of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) rallied in protest against federal government attacks on the shipping industry, threats to reduce penalty rates and the Coalition's industrial relations agenda.
The first screening of the cinematic tale of women fighting for jobs at Port Kembla steelworks screened to 250 people at the Gala Cinema in Warrawong on April 17. Set in 1973, The Women Who Were Never There tells a dramatic story, based on real events, of women who chained themselves to the front gates of BHP to protest the lack of jobs for women. The film brings to life the drama of the women who took on Australia's biggest corporation in their fight for equality.
Mainstream media chatter about recent polls showing the Coalition's honeymoon has dramatically ended has ignored another revealing statistic: there is a growing slice of the population that rejects the politics-as-usual model. They are the people the surveys lump into the category of “don't know”. These are the people who do not engage with the pollsters' questions. They have a variety of reasons, but disengagement from the whole political process as they see it on TV and hear it on the radio is one of them.
Photo: Venezuelanalysis.com. Venezuelans took to the streets on April 14 to protest a new housing law proposed by the new right wing-controlled assembly that seeks to privatise public housing. TeleSUR correspondent in Caracas Iain Bruce reported: “Government supporters are protesting against a law passed by parliament to allow public housing to be sold.”
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner came under fire on April 1 in a day of action by teachers and others who took to the streets to protest their austerity policies. Revealing the bipartisan support for austerity un US politics, Emanuel is a Democrat who was Barack Obama’s White House Chief of Staff during his first term while Rauner is a conservative Republican.
Wal-Mart, Apple, Walt Disney, Goldman Sachs and Coca-Cola are just a few of the US corporate giants who have more than a trillion dollars hidden in offshore tax havens, according to a report released on April 14 by Oxfam. The report, titled Broken at the Top, reveals the 50 biggest US companies' dodgy tax practices, which includes owning more than 1600 subsidiaries in tax havens which have helped them stash US$1.3 trillion between 2008 and 2014. According to Oxfam, “This is more than the entire GDP of countries such as Spain, Mexico or Australia.”
Five hundred Toronto-area supporters crowded into a west-end school auditorium March 29 to support the Leap Manifesto, for a “justice-based” energy transition to renewable economy.
United States: Large arrests at Democracy Spring protests In Washington, DC, police arrested about 85 more protesters taking part in the "Democracy Spring" actions against corporate lobbying and big money in politics on April 13, Democracy Now! said that day.
A wedge is being quickly driven through Pretoria's political elite. Among the victims of this power struggle are vast numbers of poor people. The poor are starting to bear the brunt of the diverse shakeouts in the ongoing confrontation now underway between the country's two most powerful 21st century politicians: President Jacob Zuma and his predecessor Thabo Mbeki. That battle began in 2005, when Mbeki sacked then-deputy president Zuma following a corruption conviction against a long-time Zuma associate.

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