More 150 people turned out in Darwin on August 3 for the launch of the Australian Greens Northern Territory Senate campaign. The Greens are running two Aboriginal candidates: country music performer and Arrente man Warren H. Williams and Aboriginal rights activist Barbara Shaw A big part of their campaign is opposition to the NT intervention, launched in 2007 in response to allegations of child abuse and neglect in remote Aboriginal communities.
Brami Jegan, a young campaigner for social justice who is standing for the Greens in the New South Wales Senate, is very critical of the ALP’s policies on asylum seekers and the war in Afghanistan. Jegan told Green Left Weekly she understands the challenges migrant communities face in settling in this country. She also had first-hand experience of the devastating impacts of war. “During my visits back to Sri Lanka between 2002-2006, I was able to spend time with Tamils affected by the war.”
Aboriginal activist Michael Eckford, better known as Michael Anderson, launched his campaign for the NSW Senate on August 3. Eckford was forced to stand under his birth certificate name because of Australian Electoral Commission regulations. Eckford is running with former ALP member Criselee Stevens, who said she quit Labor because “they are so out of touch with the real grassroots concerns and priorities”.
From August 9 to 12, high school students will be able to take part in a mock election thanks to the Google Student Voice initiative. Students aged 15 to 17 will be able to participate in the online poll. Google sent information packs to schools around Australia The vote will allow students to choose between the candidates standing in their electorates for the federal election. Results of the simulated election will be released on August 15.
Ben Courtice, Socialist Alliance candidate for the seat of Gellibrand, launched his election campaign on July 31 outside the Maribyrnong Detention centre. Courtice told Green Left Weekly the Socialist Alliance calls for an immediate end to mandatory detention and offshore processing. It also supports increasing Australia’s low refugee intake to a minimum of 20,000 per year .
A group of sixty refugee rights activists visited the Villawood Detention Centre on July 25 to take part in a planned soccer match and BBQ with refugees. It was organised by Socialist Alliance and Greens members and supported by the Construction Forestry, Energy and Mining Union (CFMEU) and Union Aid Abroad (APHEDA). We wanted to show solidarity with refugees and highlight both the ALP and the Liberal’s inhumane refugee policies. However, when we arrived we were turned away, deemed a “security threat.”
This federal election both Labor and the Coalition have failed to present any serious policies to address climate change. The Greens on the other hand have a plan to cut emissions, but does it go far enough? The Coalition’s Tony Abbott rose to the leadership with the backing of a hardcore group of climate denier MPs. His “direct action” policy on climate change has two big problems: it’s not direct and it’s not much action.
The “world’s first dedicated climate election website” Vote Climate, which rates political parties climate change policies, has recommended a vote for the Socialist Alliance in the upcoming August 21 federal elections. Vote Climate provides detailed policy analysis based on available policy as the primary source, and public documents and public statements as a secondary source. SA is ranked first as the only party that has “policies that might stop runaway climate change” and “adopt a climate emergency response”.
Soubhi Iskander is a Socialist Alliance Senate candidate for NSW in the 2010 federal elections. He was born in Sudan and has been a socialist for more than half a century. Despite being jailed and tortured, he remains a committed and active socialist and now is the editor of Green Left Weekly’s Arabic supplement, The Flame. Iskander is furious but not surprised at the scapegoating of refugees and recent immigrants in the current federal election campaign.
“I’ve never felt so good about an election”, an upbeat Senator Bob Brown told a packed crowd at Leichhardt Town Hall on July 29. The Greens parliamentary leader urged people to help his party out in the August 21 election in which the Greens hope to win the balance of power in the Senate. Having been excluded the previous week from the “great debate” featuring Labor Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Coalition leader Tony Abbott, Brown used the opportunity to talk up policies that, had he been included, may have made it worth watching.
Barbara Shaw, a well-known Indigenous activist and leader of the Intervention Rollback Action Group in Alice Springs, said on July 27 that she would stand as a candidate in the Northern Territory seat of Lingiari in the August 21 federal election. Shaw will stand for the Greens against Labor’s Warren Snowdon, who holds the seat and is federal Indigenous health minister.
No one won the so-called Leaders’ Debate on July 27 — not even the “worms”. It was no debate at all, and showed that people and the environment will lose with either the ALP or the Coalition in government. Coalition leader Tony Abbott hasn’t convincingly shed his climate change denialism and his promise that Work Choices is “dead, buried and cremated” is even less credible. Prime Minister Julia Gillard presided over Work Choices-lite and shares with Abbott an irresponsible determination to avoid serious action on climate change.
The First Nations Political Party (FNPP) is a new party contesting the upcoming federal election. The party will contest two lower house seat a and field a four-person senate ticket in WA. It will also run a senate candidate and content a lower house seat in the Northern Territory. Aboriginal activists Marianne Mackay and Glenn Moore began working towards forming an Indigenous political party in late 2009. They have a goal to getting Aboriginal people elected to parliament. “We need a pure Aboriginal voice in parliament”, Moore told Green Left Weekly.
What do right-wing columnist Gerard Henderson and Australian Workers’ Union national secretary and ALP factional player Paul Howes have in common? A visceral hatred of Greens and socialists. As the already widespread disillusion with politics-as-usual deepens, the Greens have a chance of holding the balance of power in the Senate after the August 21 poll. This is grist to the mill for the right-wing commentators. Henderson sounded yet another furious warning in his article in the July 27 Sydney Morning Herald titled “Radical roots seep through at the heart of Greens”.
Alarm bells should be ringing as the threat of war looms on the horizon, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez warned in his July 18 weekly column. The warning came after tensions again flared with neighbouring Colombia, and the Central American nation of Costa Rica agreed to 6000 US troops being deployed on its soil. Chavez placed Venezuela on high alert and broke diplomatic relations with Colombia after a July 22 meeting of the Organisation of American States (OAS).
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.