Showing the way forward:Australian union disaffiliates from Labor Party

The Spark October 2010
Philip Ferguson

In July this year, the Victorian branch of the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) took an important step forward and disaffiliated from the Australian Labor Party (ALP). Over 85% of those who took part in the vote voted to disaffiliate. Dean Mighell, the secretary of the Victorian union, told the paper Green Left Weekly, “Our members have watched over a long period of time as the ALP has attacked their union. . . They like the idea of their union being politically independent and putting their interest first and not the interests of any one party. We didn’t get any sense that members don’t want us campaigning on political issues that affect them. But they don’t see themselves as wedded naturally to the Labor Party.”

Affiliation hinders workers

Mighell noted the affect that being affiliated to the ALP has on unions campaigning for their members, saying, “What I’m bitterly disappointed about is that the union movement only seriously campaigns when the conservatives are in power. In reality, we’ve got conservatives in power now.” The union “looked at how we achieve political change for our members and what the most effective way was to do it”. They decided that they would be much more effective politically by ending their affiliation to Labor. [Read more…]

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Free the Tamil asylum seekers

People protested outside the Australian consulate in Auckland, on 18 January, as part of an international day of action to support the Tamil Asylum Seekers who have spent 100 days on a boat in Indonesia in appalling conditions.

A protest organiser  spoke of how 254 Tamil Asylum Seekers refused to leave the boat for fear of being locked up in an Indonesian detention centre or being deported back to Sri Lanka.

Returning to Sri Lanka is not an option, as one man who had returned to see his ill mother had been thrown in prison, without charges being laid, and is still locked up.

“The refugees are rightly demanding that they be given basic human rights and that Australia, as a signatory of the UN Refugee Convention, adhere to its international responsibilities” Priyaksha said. [Read more…]

Australia builds military capacity

The Spark August 2009
Joel Cosgrove

 

Continuing a precedent followed over most of the last decade, the Australian government has increased the military budget well above inflation, with a 56% increase in the last seven years and 9% in the last year, to $25.66 billion dollars, with expectations that it will rise to $29.47 billion in 2010, a rise of 12.9%.

This is an important development in the attempts by the Australian ruling establishment in their move away from the traditional Australian defence position of border control and response to one of regional projection and incursion to maintain and develop Australia’s interests. [Read more…]

Go Harvey Norman, go!

Retailing billionaire Gerry Harvey has lamented that Australian charity is being wasted on “no-hopers”. Asked in a new book about his community role, Mr Harvey said giving to people who “are not putting anything back into the community” is like “helping a whole heap of no-hopers to survive for no good reason”.

A whole heap of no-hoper homeless
Why  on earth should we help them survive?
They don’t buy our chairs or appliances
When their dole payments arrive
Even if we display them on special
The homeless won’t buy a tv
They say they’ve got nowhere to plug the thing in
They’re plainly not like you and me.
They don’t have 600 race horses
Or a hundred and sixty odd stores
Or a fortune of one point six billion
And they’re probably covered in sores.
Survival should be for the fittest
Those who get up and get to the goal
Like the beast in the depths of a jungle drought
Who governs the water hole.

Don Franks

Australian Labor Government looks to preserve most of Howard’s industrial reforms

In November last year the Australian Labor Party was elected to office on a tidal wave of opposition to the previous Howard government’s industrial reforms, which had threatened to scrap award conditions as well as undermine collective bargaining rights.

However, just like the New Zealand Labour Government’s introduction of the Employment Relations Act shortly after their election in 1999, the ALP’s proposed new industrial legislation actually promises to change very little for workers, as the following report from the Socialist Party of Australia makes clear.

[Read more…]

Australian elections: ­ Howard’s out, but it’s still the same old bullshit

Alastair Reith

In the recent Australian General Elections, the eleven year reign of John Howard and his Liberal-National Coalition government was ended with a victory for the Labor Party and its leader Kevin Rudd.

The elections saw a significant voter shift towards Labor, with Howard even losing his own seat in the election to Labor challenger Maxine McKew.

While no one is sorry to see Howard and his Coalition thrown out, the facts are that “Kevin07” and Labor will be no better than Howard was.

[Read more…]