Economy

Last week was another ugly political week in Australia. There was much to be disgusted about, but one line disgusted me particularly. It was from an apologist for the Julia Gillard Labor government who dared to offer this whispered excuse for the PM's shameless embrace of racist scapegoating of desperate asylum seekers: “Julia Gillard is pretending to be conservative so that [Coalition leader Tony] Abbott can't use this issue to win the elections. Once Labor wins, they will implement a different policy. “It's clever politics.”
About 250 people attended the Students of Sustainability (SoS) conference at Flinders University in Adelaide over July 4-8. A highlight of the conference was the attendance of the Indigenous Solidarity Rides bus full of passengers on their way from Newcastle to the convergence at Alice Springs. They presented workshops on the NT intervention, its effects on Aboriginal communities and the struggle to repeal the racist laws.
A huge police crackdown on protesters at the June 26-27 G20 Summit in Toronto last week ended in the arrests of hundreds of primarily peaceful activists. Canadian group Socialist Project issued this statement on June 30 in solidarity with the protesters targeted by police. It is reprinted from The Bullet. * * * The massive police presence in Toronto over this week has been officially justified on the basis of protecting the leaders of the G8 and G20 countries meeting in Huntsville and Toronto.
From the standpoint of conventional political analysis, Julia Gillard has had a spectacular start to her reign as prime minister. She wrested the position from Kevin Rudd with minimal bloodshed, announced she was going to neutralise the mining tax controversy by negotiating with the mining billionaires and was rewarded with a dramatic turnaround in the opinion polls.
The June 26-27 Toronto summit of the exclusive Group of 20 club, to which the world’s richest countries invited the heads of state of the major emerging countries, raised great expectations — but it ended as empty as previous meetings As in London in 2008 and Pittsburgh in 2009, the Toronto G20 discussions focused on a way out of the economic crisis. But a capitalist way out — favouring creditors and great powers. For the past two years, global financial regulation has been an elusive sea serpent, unsurprisingly resulting in no concrete measures.
The statement below was released on July 2 by the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Association (IUF), a global trade union federation. Visit IUF website for more information and to send the Coca Cola Company a message that violence, dismissals and pressure on workers to prevent trade union rights and recognition are criminal acts. * * *
The Punjab government has been given three months to decide the fate of 68,000 hectares of agricultural land. The land is owned by the government and has been cultivated by tenants for more than 100 years. The tenants have demanded land ownership rights. Despite government promises, the land has not been allotted to them. The three months’ notice was given at the end of a huge peasants rally on June 29 at Okara. The rally was organised by the Punjab Tenants Association (AMP) on the eve of the anniversary of 10 years of the tenants’ struggle for land ownership rights.
The ongoing disaster in the Gulf of Mexico caused by the April 20 explosion at the Deepwater Horizon oil rig has exposed the obscene behaviour of the world’s fourth-largest corporation, British Petroleum (BP). Evidence has come from many sources revealing BP was aware of safety concerns, but did nothing about them.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard is enjoying a honeymoon in the polls since taking Kevin Rudd’s place. A July 2 Reuters Trend poll confirmed a series of polls since Gillard became PM on June 24, giving Labor the lead over the right-wing Coalition. The June 26 Sydney Morning Herald said a Herald/Nielson poll found Greens support since Gillard took over had fallen from 15% to 8%. But another crucial poll indicated the true nature of Gillard’s rise to power. As soon as she was installed as prime minister, the share price of the large mining corporations rose.
While G20 leaders barely made mention of the climate crisis at the June 26-27 G20 summit in Toronto, Pablo Solon, Bolivia’s United Nations ambassador, was in town to encourage action on the “Cochabamba protocols”. It is no surprise that Solon, also Bolivia’s chief climate negotiator, was not on the list of special invitees to G20 meetings. In April, Solon and the Bolivian government he represents organised the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Cochabamba.
On June 5, New South Wales Teachers Federation state council voted to initiate a “Stop the Privatisation” forum to organise against the state government’s privatisation plans for the public sector. The forum will invite participation from the Public Sector Association (PSA), Fire Brigade Employees Union (FBEU) and other public sector unions. After the forum, the federation will initiate a public sector delegates meeting to discuss and organise a public sector-wide response to the privatisation agenda.
The world’s worst ever oil spill is also the biggest methane leak in human history, US government scientists have said. The US Geological Survey’s “flow team” has estimated between 4.5 billion to 9 billion cubic feet of natural gas have escaped from BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig since it exploded in April, Associated Press said on June 19. John Kessler, an oceanographer at the Texas A&M University, told AP the leak was “the most vigorous methane eruption in modern human history”. Scientists think methane makes up 40% to 70% of what is spilling from the damaged BP rig.
On June 22, Queensland unions won a court victory with the ruling that Queensland Rail had broken the law by not consulting workers over privatisation plans. “Queensland Rail has been slapped with a $600,000 fine after it failed to consult its workers over plans to privatise part of the company”, the June 23 Courier-Mail reported. “A Federal Court ruling earlier this month found QR breached 20 of its enterprise bargaining agreements by not consulting workers about the planned sell-off before it was announced.”
In July, Socialist Alliance election candidates will be taking a trip to the Northern Territory to personally witness conditions under the federal government's intervention into Aboriginal communities. SA youth candidates — and Resistance members — Jess Moore, Zane Alcorn and Ewan Saunders will join Indigenous activists, students, community groups and campaigners from across the country in Alice Springs for an important gathering of intervention-affected Aboriginal communities.
Our children are still being fed racist messages by toy manufacturers and stockists. A recent browse through Northlands K-Mart toy department led me to wonder: If all Baby-Borns are white, where did Wrestler Action Man come from? Despite catering to one of the most multicultural parts of Melbourne, Northlands K-Mart does not have a single non-white baby doll in its massive display.
Multinational oil companies in Nigeria spill more oil every year than has been spilled by BP in the Gulf of Mexico. Unlike the gulf disaster, most people are unaware of this ecological crime. There have been major spills in Nigeria since BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on April 20, but they have received hardly any attention from the international media. A May 12 explosion at a Shell installation turned 39 hectares of the Niger Delta into an oil slick, BBC News said on June 15. Two weeks earlier, an Exxon Mobil oil pipeline ruptured. It spewed a million litres a day for a week.

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