economy

About 400 activists from across Australia converged on Sydney over June 21-23 for Australia’s Climate Action Summit 2013.

As the science of climate change becomes ever more alarming, and as the refusal of business and political elites to act becomes ever more glaring, the activists met to share ideas and strategies to build a strong movement for a safe climate.

The Illawarra regions of Shellharbour, Shoalhaven and Kiama combined have the highest unemployment rate in the country, at 15.3%, the Australia Bureau of Statistics said.

This is 178% higher than the national average of 5.5%. If Wollongong is included, the average figure is 10.2%, 85% higher than the national average.

The decline in manufacturing has hit the region hard. In 2011, Bluescope announced it would sack 700 workers at its Port Kembla steelworkers. In response to those sackings, Patrick Stevedoring announced the next month that it was sacking 160 wharf workers at Port Kembla.

In the wake of Ford's decision to close up in Australia, at the cost of 1200 jobs directly and potentially more 10,000 manufacturing jobs all up, fellow corporate giant Holden publicly said it was “ready to seek” more government subsidies.

"By keeping, if needed, all Labor's budget cuts and by not implementing any of their budget spending measures unless specified, we will achieve the first duty of every government -- namely, to preserve the nation's finances," said Tony Abbott in his budget reply speech.

This is what is to come under an Abbott government -- a continuation of Labor's cuts and restraint when it comes to spending.

After a week of being subjected to headache-inducing politicians posturing and spinning about the Great Budget Deficit, all that was needed was that speech from Richest-Australian-and-Walking-ATM Gina Rinehart.

Billionaire Numero Uno was only outdone by Billionaire-Would-Be-PM Clive Palmer, who successfully outflanked, on Q&A, Labor and Liberals from the left on the treatment of refugees.

The Socialist Alliance estimated in 2010 that its key policies for social justice and environmental sustainability would cost a minimum of $81-140 billion a year. Any budget devised by a party focused on putting people and the planet before profits would look significantly different to the “safe” yet largely austere budget the federal Labor government released last week.

The United Nations General Assembly met after World War II in 1948 and committed to 30 articles on human rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) has been signed by most nations and serves in many cases as a legally binding document on human rights. Article 25 in the UDHR says: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing, and medical care.”

University students across Australia will take to the streets on May 14 to protest the federal Labor government’s $2.8 billion cuts to higher education. The call by the National Union of Students (NUS) for a “student strike against education cuts” has not only received support from students, but also the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU), which covers university staff. On a number of campuses, NTEU members have been resisting cuts that university administrations claim are necessary due to lack of government funding.

Finally, we have a reason to get excited about elections. Yes, billionaire mining magnate Clive Palmer has formed a political party and is determined to become Australia’s next prime minister.

For the first time in god knows how long, we have a real alternative to the tweedledum-tweedledee politics of the big parties. Palmer's bid for PM poses a crucial question: why shouldn’t those who own this country, run it too?

Economic forecasting agency BIS Shrapnel has reported that engineering work, spurred on by the mining boom, would be about $128 billion in Australia this financial year. It may be easy to suggest that, despite the rumours, the mining boom is set to continue long into the future. However, the report was quite downbeat. ABC Online said BIS Shrapnel predicted that a "slowdown in mining investment and its related infrastructure is expected to reduce activity by 5.4% next financial year … engineering construction will be 20% below this year's peak by 2016-2017."

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