Economy

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.
The revelations from the Panama papers continue to reverberate around the world. While the Australian angle has so far been a bit anticlimactic, it did kick off a discussion about the banking sector and tax havens. Bill Shorten, in an uncharacteristic display of spinal-cord solidification, seized the initiative and announced that the Labor Party would conduct a Royal Commission into the banking industry if elected.
"Let's take the big banks head on over their crimes and their attempts to cover up their massive financial rip-offs, and nationalise them under workers' and community control," Peter Boyle, Socialist Alliance candidate for the seat of Sydney in the upcoming federal election, said on April 14. Boyle was responding to reports the banks were considering a huge advertising blitz against plans by the Greens and the Labor Party to launch a Royal Commission into the banking and finance sectors.
As part of the Sydney Comedy Festival now under way, writers of satirical website The (un)Australian have put together a live show of political satire and sketches for May 3 — which also happens to be Budget night.
The Powerhouse Museum in inner-city Ultimo is a great place to take the kids for an educational and enlightening experience. The NSW Coalition government's plan to sell off the museum building to private developers and shift the collection to Parramatta in Western Sydney is facing growing opposition. Premier Mike Baird confirmed on April 11 the government's decision to shift the museum, to be constructed on the old David Jones car park site on the banks of the Parramatta River. Construction is due to begin in 2018 and finish by 2022.
On April 14 hundreds of disability workers rallied in Melbourne against the state government's proposal to privatise disability services. Privatisation will reduce service quality for people with a disability and make job security and wages and conditions less certain for disability workers. Before being elected, Premier Daniel Andrews promised he would not contract out public sector disability services.
Anyone following French politics in recent years should not be surprised by the recent explosion of public protest and resistance across the country. For years, France has simmered with a combination of a deeply unpopular government, a limping economy and a struggling, fed up populace.
At the edge of the south east, the Arctic is nebulous, but its ice shards are felt on the hands, and you can feel tingles of dim isolation in the wildness of Tasmania's oceans. Sequences and currents from Tasmania's Huon Valley rivers and Cygnet Bay dip to the deep-sea behind the pristine Bruny Island. The bio-network of inlets, bays and streams move lightly and serenely downwards with the humid vapour of the mountains. Sheltered water habitats protect rare crays, platypus, seals and southern right whales.
The Mike Baird government's push for local government to roll over to its forced amalgamation push is looking decidedly shambolic. The NSW government wants to reduce 43 Sydney councils to 25 and 109 regional councils to 87. It has argued that efficiencies and savings will be made by doing so. But it is facing stiff opposition from progressive and conservative councils alike. Even federal Liberal and National MPs, worried about their seats, have urged Baird to back off.
As a sagging economy cruelled their electoral chances, right-wing parliamentarians and power-brokers in the South Australian Labor Party decided in late 2014 that it was time to ditch a once fiercely-defended point of policy. The party's remaining opposition to the nuclear fuel cycle would have to go. Labor Premier Jay Weatherill soon came on board, and by March last year the state's Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission was under way.
In all the official Anzac 100-year commemorations to remember and celebrate the undoubted courage of World War I diggers, there is an extraordinary amnesia about how ambivalent Australians were about that war. This ambivalence grew as mounting casualties affected families all over the country and the 1916 Irish Easter Uprising was brutally supressed.
The Panama Papers provide proof that many politicians, capitalists and members of royalty use overseas tax havens to escape paying tax on their activities in the countries where they reside. What does the process involve and who benefits at whose expense? The Australian Tax Office (ATO) makes it crystal clear that individuals and businesses are legally obliged to declare all their worldwide income to the ATO every year. “Their” income does not only mean payments received in their name personally, but also includes any kind of income in which they have a “beneficial interest”.
Capitalism in the Web of Life: Ecology & the Accumulation of Capital By Jason Moore (2015) Verso Books Jason Moore’s book is a great new addition to our thinking about capitalist ecology. It is not an easy book — Moore draws on a wide range of ideas, in particular world-systems thinking and Karl Marx’s value theory, but it is well worth the effort of deepening our understanding in this vital area. Taking a cue from the title — it is capitalism “in” not “and” the web of life — one central theme is that capitalism and nature are co-produced.
Supporters of Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa rallied on April 7 in defence of his proposed tax reforms, the same day opposition-led protests were staged against them in the capital, Quito. Thousands of government supporters gathered in Independence Plaza in front of the presidential palace to demonstrate their support for the government in light of provocations from the country's right-wing opposition.
Thousands of protesters marched on Downing Street on April 9 to demand British Prime Minister David Cameron resign after revelations about his tax affairs emerged in preceding days in fall out from the huge Panama Papers tax haven leaks.

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