Economy

The University of New South Wales' management could face more student protests if it refuses to budge on key issues, the president of the Student Representative Council has told Green Left Weekly. Osman Faruqi told GLW that management’s decision to stand down about 80 staff had been the catalyst for the largest student demonstration in years at UNSW. The stand downs move came as the local National Tertiary Education Union branch imposed bans on the release of student results after management delayed bargaining over union demands for 16 months.
One year after workers occupied the Vestas wind turbine factory on the Isle of Wight in protest at the company’s decision to cease production, a new organisation, Sureblades set up by former Vestas employees has risen from the ashes. It is due to start making blades within two months just yards from the closed factory. Sureblades has been driven by Sean McDonagh, a National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) member. He was one of the sacked Vestas workers involved in the occupation, during which he ran operations from outside the gates.
Mortgage rates, we are told, are at historical lows. And yet, according to The experience of Mortgage Distress in Western Sydney report released in June by the University of Western Sydney, some mortgage holders are finding it so hard to pay, they are reduced to eating nothing but rice. The study sought to investigate the impact of mortgage distress as experienced by individual households. The accepted definition of mortgage stress centres on the borrower being in payment arrears of 90 days or more. The UWS study argues that this definition is not broad enough.
For 10 years, the former Tip Top bakery site in Brunswick East has attracted ambitious property players who later saw financial ruin. These include disgraced property spruiker Henry Kaye followed by Norm Carey’s property group Westpoint. Thanks to the new owner, Toll Holding’s CEO Paul Little, the heritage buildings of the site are sitting exposed to elements and vandals. In April, Little demolished all buildings other than the Harry Norris frontage.
Recent moves by the Venezuelan government, which now claims almost 50% of the shares in a pro-coup TV station and revoked the concession of another, represent new steps towards reclaim the media for the people. The moves came as US-Venezuelan writer Eva Golinger revealed on July 15 in a Chavezcode.com post that recently declassified documents showed the US State Department has funded opposition media to the tune of more than US$4 million.
In one of her first policy changes after replacing Kevin Rudd as leader of the Labor Party, Prime Minister Julia Gillard dumped Rudd’s idea of a “big Australia”. On June 26, Gillard said “Australia should not hurtle down the track towards a big population”. Instead, she called for a “sustainable population”. Almost four weeks on, however, Labor’s policy has no details — just lots of rhetoric designed to pander to fears that immigration (particularly asylum seekers) is causing a raft of social problems.
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.
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.
Green Left Weekly spoke to Peter Boyle, the national convener of the Socialist Alliance, about the political climate of the 2010 federal elections. * * * 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.
A draft program for the Climate Change Social Change conference, over November 5-7, has been released and is available on the conference website. Major conference sessions include topics such as: “A safe climate — what will it take?”; “Climate justice: their agenda and ours”; “Food sovereignty for surviva”l; and “The global economic crisis and the ecological revolution”.

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