Economy

Socialist Alliance WA launched its election campaign launch on May 7 at a well-attended function at the Navy Club in Fremantle.
John Bellamy Foster is the editor of US-based Marxist journal Monthly Review. His most recent book, written with Paul Burkett, is Marx and the Earth: An Anti-Critique (Brill, 2016). The French magazine La Revue du Projet asked him to reply to three questions on ecology and Marxism. A translated version below is reprinted, slightly abridged, from Climate & Capitalism.
In the wake of Obama's historic visit, the Cuban Communist Party held its 7th Congress on April 16-19 in the Havana Convention Centre. Beneath a backdrop featuring a huge likeness of Fidel Castro, PCC secretary Raul Castro delivered the main report on behalf of the Central Committee. Fidel being Fidel, many Cubans would have been reassured by his surprise appearance at the closing session on the eve of his 90th birthday. Traditionally, PCC congresses are the culmination of a months-long process of consultation with the Party's activist base and the wider Cuban society.
Supporters of British Labour Party's socialist leader Jeremy Corbyn. Despite his insurgent campaign scoring a string of impressive against-all-expectations wins, Bernie Sanders’ campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination was declared all but dead-and-buried after Hillary Clinton won a clear victory in a controversial New York primary marred by irregularities on April 19.
The Victorian budget, presented by Treasurer Tim Pallas on April 27, is in surplus, due largely to a big increase in stamp duty revenue, to a record $6 billion a year. This revenue is a result of Melbourne's real estate boom. House prices have been rising rapidly. But the number of homeless people has also been rising rapidly. There has been a marked increase in the number of homeless people begging on the streets.

Could things get any worse for the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) deal between the United States and the European Union? On May 2, a hugely damaging leak of TTIP texts confirmed exactly what everyone had feared about the deal — with all its hugely pro-corporate provisions on display for everyone to see.

Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party defied expectations and Labour's Sadiq Khan has ended Conservative Party rule in London in May 5 local elections across Britain. In what some labeled the most racist British election campaign in years, Khan won the London mayoralty to become the city's first Muslim mayor. The victory capped off a series of results where Labour's socialist leader Jeremy Corbyn, under fire from the mediaand right-wing of his own party, defied expectations that his party would suffer serious losses due to his left-wing views.
Scott Morrison and Malcolm Turnbull have delivered a budget for the billionaires. They claim that opposition to their tax cuts for the rich is “class warfare”. But the truth is that they are the ones waging naked war against the ordinary people of Australia. People earning less than $80,000 — the large majority — get absolutely nothing from this budget. The top 10% of taxpayers get three quarters of the benefits while the top 1% get almost half (47%) of the tax cuts.
As a First Nations activist I’ll be joining the harbour blockade on May 8. Newcastle’s beautiful harbour is a fitting place to take a stand against coal exports and environmental destruction. People hunger for a different world based on cooperation and treating the land with respect, values at the heart of all First Nations cultures. The violation of these values is illustrated by the failure of Hunter-based coal companies to sign land use agreements with the traditional owners. As a First Nations activist I'll be joining the harbour blockade on May 8.
The Bob Brown Foundation launched a new website, SaveBrunyIsland.org, on May 3 with a peaceful demonstration outside Hobart’s Parliament House. Conservationists held placards of the swift parrot, with an image drawn by cartoonist First Dog on the Moon. The new campaign is designed to mobilise members of the community to urge the Prime Minister and Tasmania’s Premier Will Hodgman, to protect all swift parrot habitat in secure reserves. The campaign will also target customers of logging company Ta Ann, asking them to reject timber logged in swift parrot habitat.
Volunteer conservationists forced a last minute stay of execution for a section of forest near Toolangi that they had shown was home to the critically endangered Leadbeater's possum, which VicForests contractors were due to clearfell within days. Despite finding evidence of the possum in mid-April, posted as a video on facebook, “citizen scientists” monitoring logging operations were alarmed on May 4 to find the Imperium logging coupe where the possum was found was due to commence logging any day.
Treasurer Scott Morrison presented his budget for 2016-17 on May 3. What does it mean for young people today? Does it address higher education and growing youth unemployment? No. From April 1 next year, jobseekers under 25 who are receiving welfare payments such as Newstart and have been looking for a job for at least six months, will be able to participate in intensive pre-employment skills training within five months of registering with the Centrelink program “jobactive”.
Melbourne's Age newspaper has run a series of articles highlighting what it calls middle class “white flight” from inner north state schools closest to the Housing Commission towers, leading to unofficial segregation along race and class lines. Experts say this phenomenon is mirrored around the country in areas where public housing meets affluent areas, such as the inner-Melbourne suburb of Carlton and inner-Sydney suburbs of Redfern and Glebe, as the gentrification of public schools with booming enrolments impacts on poorer students' access to a good education.

A conspicuous absence from the weekend No Coal protests in Newcastle will be Greens MP John Kaye. He would have certainly been there but for his sudden death on May 2 aged 60 of bone cancer.

According to a new report Australia will have to increase the pace of large-scale renewable energy development sevenfold to reach its Renewable Energy Target (RET) this year.
Senator Glenn Lazarus’s 117-page interim Senate report on unconventional gas mining in Australia was released on May 4. It makes a case for much tighter federal control of the industry and the public resources it has access to, but does not recommend its closure. If anything the report underscores the need for a royal commission into the toxic industry that relies on commercial in confidence provisions to get away with poisoning people and the environment.

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