Australia

Workers' Liberty Australia

A page for and about Workers' Liberty supporters in Australia. WL Australia news Workers Liberty newsletter No 72 (Late 2019) Contents: * Change the politics to socialism. For a climate action manifesto. * Workers and trade unions, why no strike for the climate? * Climate activism for workers’ control (from Climate change activism in the workplace) * Demands on employers (from Intertwining the threads), and Organising in schools for climate action * Extinction Rebellion Lismore * Cool air, hotter climate? Design against waste * Changing the Rules under a Coalition government * John Setka and...

The virus: heed the warnings for winter!

Without precautions, the average infected person passes on the virus to maybe three others. That is an average of very uneven numbers. According to Adam Kucharski and others, if 100 sufferers generate 300 further infections, 240 of those infections will come from just ten of the sufferers. The ten may not be that medically different from the other 90. They may frequent closed and crowded spaces more favourable to transmission, or meet more susceptible people. The new outbreak of the virus in Victoria, Australia, highlights the chanciness of the process, and the foolishness of saying the answer...

Campaign launch draws 1,500

In Australia, the Living Incomes For Everyone coalition is working towards a week of action 17-24 September. The coalition was formally launched on 26 July, at a 1,500-strong online meeting. Wrapping up the launch, Janet Burstall explained the aims: Firstly, we stand for meeting people’s needs, and against capitalism. We’re grassroots, we’re a coalition, our demands link the needs of workers, and especially of everyone on low incomes, in or out of work... We are filling a gap in the Australian working class movement, and we will be part of shaking off decades of failure to fight back as a...

No "referees above politics"!

A piece of recent history made its way into the British press on 14 July. On 11 November 1975, the Governor-General of Australia, John Kerr, dismissed the elected Labour Prime Minister Gough Whitlam and installed Liberal Party leader Malcolm Fraser in his place. The Governor-General acts as representative for the monarch and is appointed by the Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister. In the run up to the coup Kerr was in frequent written communication with the Queen’s personal secretary, Baron Charteris. The letters were released on 14 July after a long campaign and legal challenge by...

Living income push in Australia

In Australia, between now and September, the income support schemes will end or be severely cut, along with the moratorium on eviction of tenants and banks’ deferral of mortgage repayments. Unemployment has already nearly trebled to 14.8%, and around 9.7% of the workforce want more hours. When the JobKeeper scheme [something like furlough] ends in September, more workers could get the sack. Repossessions and evictions are likely, along with a home price and construction slump. A workers’ program needs to take up the immediate issue of housing along the lines of “No evictions, no foreclosures...

Melbourne back to lockdown

The largest-yet surge of Covid cases in Australia hit the state of Victoria in early July. Unlike in March, when infections came from overseas, these are almost entirely community infections. There are now over 100 outbreaks, including in hospitals and aged-care centres. Two key sources of infection have been: • The staff of quarantine hotels, where returning citizens are kept for 14 days on re-entering Australia. They are poorly paid and trained private security sub-contractors rather than regularly-employed public sector workers. • An abattoir with poor working conditions and inadequate...

A shorter working week with no pay cut!

Janet Burstall argues the case from an Australian perspective. The same basic ideas are applicable in Britain and elsewhere. The most optimistic assessment by the Reserve Bank is that it will take a “few years” to reverse “much” (i.e. not all) of the increase in unemployment from the Covid-19 lockdown. The wages vs jobs trade-off debate is back with a vengeance. Unionists are arguing that keeping up incomes will stimulate demand and economic growth, while employer voices argue that they cannot afford a 4% rise in the minimum wage, and many will cut employment or go out of business. The system...

Keep the rate! No worker left behind! No harassment of the unemployed!

One of the biggest political surprises of the Australian government’s COVID-19 response was the sudden but temporary doubling of the $550 a fortnight NewStart unemployment benefit to $1100 a fortnight with a JobSeeker allowance, and the suspension of harassment through mutual obligation. The government intends to withdraw the JobSeeker top up and halve the unemployment benefit in September, in what it calls a snap-back. After 25 years of NewStart declining in real value, and repeated rejection by governments of demands for very modest increases, this is a critical moment for building working...

Australia closing borders

As part of its lockdown, Australia has banned entry to everyone other than citizens, and compelled returning citizens to quarantine for 14 days in a hotel before going home. Now Kristina Kenneally, immigration spokesperson of the opposition Labor Party, has picked up on that to call for the conservative government to put tighter permanent curbs on immigration. “Do we want migrants to return to Australia in the same numbers and in the same composition as before the crisis? Our answer should be no”. Some Labor MPs have complained that Kenneally was freelancing, or finessed the question by...

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