Monthly Archives: January 2015

Outcry as CPS drops trial of anti-drone protesters at last minute


Company refuses to hand over evidence about its exports of weaponry to Israel

The prosecution of arms-trade protesters who occupied a British drone engines manufacturer has been dropped at the last minute, after the company refused to hand over evidence about its exports of weaponry to Israel, The Independent can reveal.

The nine demonstrators had been due to go on trial next month for aggravated trespass after they halted production during a sit-in at the Staffordshire factory of UAV Engines Ltd, a subsidiary of the Israeli defence giant Elbit Systems – one of the largest manufacturer of military drones.

The activists were arrested after they targeted the company at the height of last summer’s assault by Israel on Gaza, to highlight claims that British-made weaponry was being used by Israeli forces.

But charges against them were dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service last week, just hours before a deadline expired to provide the defendants with details of arms export licences granted to UEL to send its hi-tech engines to Israel for use in the Hermes 450 – a drone widely deployed by the Israeli military. Although the drone was used in the Gaza campaign, UEL has insisted the version used by Israel’s armed forces is not powered by its engines.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/outcry-as-cps-drops-trial-of-antidrone-protesters-at-last-minute-10014839.html

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2015 National Indigenous Conferences”

“Call for Papers for the 2015 National Indigenous Conferences” Inspired by the hugely successful staging of last year’s Indigenous Conferences in Cairns, the event organizers are now calling for papers for the five exciting events being launched this month with … Continue reading

Premier vows to save Bleak House

Jarndyce and Jarndyce drones on. This scarecrow of 
a suit has, in course of time, become so complicated 
that no man alive knows what it means. 

The parties to it understand it least, but it has 
been observed that no two Chancery lawyers can 
talk about it for five minutes without coming to 
a total disagreement as to all the premises. 
Innumerable children have been born into the cause; 
innumerable young people have married into it; 
innumerable old people have died out of it. 

Scores of persons have deliriously found themselves 
made parties inJarndyce and Jarndyce without knowing 
how or why; whole families have inherited legendary 
hatreds with the suit.
                   -- Bleak House by Charles Dickens

Today (31 January 2015) my friend, Bernie Neville, was at his local polling booth in the seat of Ashgrove. Campbell Newman came up to him and asked: ‘how is that friend of yours, Xxxx? The Premier used the person’s name perhaps dumb to the prohibition of its publication under the Guardianship legislation.

Bernie gave Campbell Newman an update. Xxxx is still locked up in a high care dementia unit even though we have been to QCAT three times since 16 October 2014 when they abducted him from his home.

Campbell Newman responded that if he wins today he will make sure he will look after Xxxx. My friend gave the Premier the benefit of the doubt and cast his vote for his friend Xxxx and others in the same predicament, cast out of society and locked in a facility. It is not the first time Campbell Newman has given an undertaking to to support Xxxx. He gave it to me late last year.

So Bernie Neville voted for Xxxx and for people in Xxxx’s predicament and put 1 beside Campbell Newman’s name … note that Bernie, like many other workers, always voted ALP till Hawke & Keating sold out rank and file unionists … since then, many like Bernie  have voted green or independent, some have even crossed to the darkside and voted LNP … in 2012 Bernie went and asked for support from then Premier Anna Bligh who refused to meet with him … so he and a friend set up a stall at the West End markets by getting up at 3 am in the morning and claiming a spot – stalls are allocated on a first come first served basis – and asked for people’s support for AHIMSA house and for Xxxx.

After months of canvassing at the markets every week, they got over 600 signatures from the local community … only then did the local member and Premier Anna Bligh give her support and present the petition in the parliament in her last day in office.

In 2014 Bernie went back to the current member Jackie Trad but Jackie fobbed him off … today Campbell Newman, clearly desperate for votes, came up and asked Bernie about Xxxx by name (without prompting) and offered his support if elected.

This whole situation of starting a community centre (AHIMSA House) based on the earnings one worker’s accumulated savings was wrong, from the outset in 2003. Xxxx was poorly advised. He should have provided firstly for his own financial security in his retirement. Professional advice failed him. His own accountant stole his family home of 30 yars that he had slaved for.

Xxxx should never have got involved with Laver. It was political and financial suicide.

Laver had a group around him who were not capable of challenging the financial mistakes he made.  Ironically the one person who had sufficient nous to stop Laver from squandering Xxxx’s money … this person had given some good advice at the beginning  but then backed off and did not ensure that his good advice was followed by Laver. Never leave the details to ideologues.

Eventually it was another friend M. who saw through Laver and told Bernie. Bernie acted immediately and locked Laver out of AHIMSA house and set about trying to recover financially … but, by then, it was too late, the debt to the bank was too great.

A community centre resourced by one individual could never work … a community centre requires organization and participation by many and should not be left to the grandiose plans of the Lavers of this world. A sad lesson.

Bernie Neville submitted this statement to Qld Civil Administration Tribunal (QCAT) on Friday 30 January 2015 in support of the the rights of Xxxx. Bernie said:

Xxxx must be allowed to return to the life he lived before been taken into care at the RSL centre at Alexandra Headland, a life he enjoyed in the general community at Sunnybank. Xxxx will be able to enjoy and take part in activities in the general community with the support of his friends.

On 30th January 2015 Mr Les Clarkson and Ms Julie Ford both presiding members of QCAT refused Mr Neville’s application in support of his friend ordering that a needs assessment of Xxxx’s accommodation be done by the Public Guardian within the next three months.

That means Xxxx is locked up for over 6 months  just because Xxxx got ripped off by self-appointed libertarian Brian Laver and architect Will Marcus (who will be whoever he wants to be).

Not a single state institution was willing to help – the Public Trustee gave up, the Crime and Corruption Commission refused to deal with iOPG Fact sheet headerst as did the Qld Police Force and the Ombudsman, the Attorney General, QCAT and even the Supreme Court. All this was predictable.

 

Result: No Justice for the Vulnerable
This submission was prepared for but not heard by Queensland Civil Administration Tribunal  [QCAT]. The Presiding members, Clarkson and Ford, did not give time for this submission and ruled that any discussion of Xxxx’s finances to be irrelevant even though they relate directly to where Xxxx lives . In its judgement QCAT gave the Public Guardian three months to prepare a needs analysis concerning Xxxx’s accommodation. So Xxxx remains locked up. The Guardianship and Administration Act places a prohibition on the publication of the person’s name. In his judgement, Presiding Member Clarkson unilaterally upgraded Xxxx’s medical condition to Alzheimers without any consultation with medical opinion. Here is the submission that I did not get a chance to give. Here is the submission

We (Xxxx’s friends) have been coming here to Queensland Civil Administration Tribunal [QCAT] since 2009, that’s six years. How many times has QCAT ruled on matters relating to Xxxx [publication prohibited]? This is not the first time, not the second time … Ms Claire Endicott and Mr Les Clarkson have ruled on this matter. Ms Endicott refused our application for a stay of the decision to remove Xxxx and place him in a high care dementia facility. Ms Endicott put Xxxx at risk and he fell in the toilet at the facility breaking a vertebrae and causing a disc to bulge. From the outset, Mr Clarkson was disinterested in the theft of $168,032 by Mr Will Marcus of West End. Clarkson shut Bernie down when he raised the issue at the first QCAT hearing in 2009.

Still no fairness, still no justice for Xxxx in this place. The process in this place (QCAT) is unfair. We put in sworn affidavits and the Public Guardian responds with one hundred and fifty three pages (153) of innuendo, covert recordings of private conversations, and gossip. We are required to lodge our material first so that the Public Guardian can respond with lies. We were given little time. We are unrepresented but the Public Guardian and the Public Trustee have a building full of lawyers at their disposal.You cannot trust the public trustee

The Public Guardian locked Xxxx up in a high care dementia unit on the 16 October 2014 … at the time, it did not ask Xxxx, the Public Guardian consulted none of Xxxx’s friends … the Public Guardian claimed it was for a month but three months later [Xxxx] is still locked up … not even permitted to go out with friends on his birthday on the 21 January 2015. After Xxxx’s friends, P, M, Bernie, Mh and myself visited him on his birthday last week … on our departure, when we were hugging Xxxx and saying our goodbyes the security staff were heard to say: “Watch him, in case he tries to make a run for it.”

The two faces of Hassen Sabdia

The two faces of Hassen Sabdia

Even a cursory look at the quite voluminous QCAT file reveals that Xxxx’s incarceration at Alexander Headlands over 100 kilometres from his nearest friends has nothing to do with dementia but a lot to do with property. In 2009 Bernie Neville and Xxxx went to Caxton Legal Aid asking for pro bono legal advice about how to recover jewellery that belonged to Xxxx’s wife Ellen from Brian Laver.

They ended up having all Xxxx’s legal and financial affairs being dealt with by the Public Trustee, who charged him fees to mismanage his properties. The architect Will Marcus exacerbated this by making his own application to QCAT to have Xxxx declared to lack legal capacity … but only after Xxxx had gifted Marcus a sixth interest in the building at 26 Horan Street West End.

In an extraordinary transaction Xxxx’s accountant Suliman Sabdia (President of the Islamic Council of Queensland) had taken Xxxx’s freehold title to his family home at Sunnybank and placed it in the Sabdia Family Trust.

Sabdia claims that Xxxx had gifted the property to him.

But why would Xxxx give up his family home to an accountant? It beggars belief that an accountant would be allowed get away with such a transaction.

In an even more bizaare transaction, acting upon the sage but undisclosed advice of Queen’s Counsel, the public trustee cut a deal with Sabdia sanctioning the theft of Xxxx’s family home by Sabdia so long as Xxxx be permitted stay in his house.

No mention in the sage advice by Queen’s Counsel that Xxxx may need the assistance of a carer to live with him in the house.

Acting as Xxxx’s de facto guardian, this is exactly what Bernie Neville put in place, a responsible carer. Not the Public Guardian, not their outsourcing entity Centacare, Bernie Neville did this.

I immediately noticed the improvement in the house at Mains Road and in Xxxx after Rosslyn came to live there. No longer was the laundry lying on the floor, no longer were food parcels organised by the public guardian filling the refrigerator. The house was tidy, a proper regime of cooking was commenced with Xxxx’s full participation. The yard was cleaned up, and Rosslyn’s goat Billy was keeping the grass down. The appointed mower man at $100 a pop was a waste of Xxxx’s money.

Of course it did not take long for Centacare, the Lawsons and the Public Guardian gossip mill to start up. The one hundred and fifty-three page submission by the Public Guardian to this tribunal is full of it. The case officer Tim Brown had never met Xxxx, his then boss Therese Craig had not ether.

In the Public Guardian’s report it to QCAT [Lisa Pool, Principal Guardian, Office of the Public Guardian, Date report completed: 9/01/15] it states that:

In writing this report, the Guardian has attempted to gain the views of all key parties which are listed below in accordance with the General Principles and in accordance with the rules of natural justice.

In the same report it includes the following people as key parties:

Mr Mh T, Mr Ian Curr, Mr Bernie Neville, Ms R M, Ms M B.

Yet none of these people were consulted in the decision to remove Xxxx from his home to the RSL Care facility on 16 October 2014.

Section 8 of the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act 1992. says:

“This Act applies in relation to having a carer, assistant, assistance animal or disability aid in the same way as it applies in relation to having a disability.”

The public guardian says that it made a decision not to tell the support people listed about the decision to remove Xxxx because they would oppose the decision. No other reason was given.

For the past three and a half months while he has been locked up in the RSL Care, Xxxx has been deprived of his carers (his support network of Bernie, M, R, Mh, P and myself) by the public guardian.

It seems to me that Xxxx has been discriminated against by the public guardian in the terms laid down by the Disability Discrimination Act 1992.

Xxxx needs support – not just for personal care but more importantly in this case for advocacy and decision making.

Both the Public Guardian and the Public Trustee refuse to deal with us.

When we asked them to act to save Xxxx’s property they ignored us.

When we told the police that people were stealing Xxxx’s property, they refused to listen to our complaints.

When we told the Public Trustee that Sabdia, Laver and Marcus had de-frauded Xxxx out of his home and his rental properties, the Public Trustee claimed legal privilege from his client (Xxxx and his support group). The PT took the matter to the Supreme Court so that they did not have to act against the fraudsters.

Wouldn’t Xxxx be better off without the public guardian and without the public trustee?

Why did you think it necessary that Bernie put up his hand to be Xxxx’s guardian?

Wouldn’t it be better if the presiding member revoked the appointment of the Public Guardian and instruct the Public Trustee to deal with Xxxx’s support group?

We have never had support from the Public Guardian or the Public trustee.

They have discriminated against Xxxx by refusing to support people who care for him.

Will QCAT stop the discrimination?
We met with Natasha from Centacare after we went to the Supreme Court to get Xxxx’s home back. The Public Guardian officers Tim Brown and Therese Craig were using Centacare as their eyes and ears but they had never met Xxxx. Everything was being handled remotely through an outsourced entity that seemed oblivious to Xxxx’s real needs. It was left to Bernie Neville to pick up the pieces yet again after the relevant appointees had mismanaged both Xxxx’s finances and accommodation. The Public Trustee did not even have Xxxx on a full pension when we first came to this place asking for a review back in 2011.

I noticed a marked improvement in Xxxx and in his situation at Sunnybank. He was beginning to recover from the terrible loss of his beloved Ellen. Rosslyn was prompting him to look after himself.

What was the response from the Public Guardian? Order an ACAT assessment. This cursory examination lasting 45 minutes looks the same as the ones done previously … they could have been copied from one another … the main difference was a recommendation that Xxxx is high care. Xxxx is not high care, he does not wander, he does not fall over (excepting when placed on an unsafe slippery surface in a high care dementia unit), Xxxx is aware of time and place, he can cook light meals, he can visit his friends using public transport, he can walk to Garden City once a week. Xxxx has not changed in that respect in the past 10 years. Xxxx does have memory loss, he is confused by complex financial and legal transactions.

Yes Mr Manwaring, Xxxx’s concentration does waiver after 75 minutes of interview. Mine waivers after five minutes, it does not mean I am high care dementia sufferer. How do I know this? I have participated in the care of my mother and my aunty until they both passed away not so long ago. I have been through the ACAT assessments with my mother. I have been present in the room, I was forced to take Mum to a gerontologist because of the facile nature of the ACAT assessment to determine Mum’s ongoing care. I have seen the people that are housed with Xxxx in the RSL facility at Alexandra Headlands. It is a disrespect and a distortion of the language to say that Xxxx  is high care dementia sufferer. Xxxx came here today on the train from Landsborough. He has conversed with the people present, he knows what is going on. He wants to go home, this tribunal should respect that and order that the necessary arrangements are made by the public guardian to ensure it happens, now. Three months incarceration in that facility is long enough. Xxxx  has a right to reside in his house at Xxxx Road. He is entitled to have someone stay with him. Rosslyn has put her hand up. No one else has. Round the clock professional carers would cost a fortune.

Claims by Sabdia and the Public Trustee that only Xxxx is entitled to live in his home (i.e. without a carer) are absurd. And no tribunal properly instructed should sanction it.

Needless to say, Campbell-Newman never lived up to his word.

Ian Curr
30 Jan 2015

Please Note – xxxx is Ross Taylor

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In Australia, there is the Aboriginal rights struggle

In Australia there is no greater rights struggle than the Aboriginal rights struggle. It is a human rights struggle where not only the First Peoples of this continent were violently and murderously dispossessed of their lands but since the advent … Continue reading

Stranger Choices: Getting ready for the hangover

[Publisher’s Note: Public Assets vs Private Assets – which is better – Queensland State Election …. see also Julia could, Annastacia can]

The Word From Struggle Street

voted-for-kodos

In part four of our three part series on the Qld election we talk about what can we expect after the votes have been counted and what does this mean for emancipatory politics, where can we draw our hope and power from and what do we mean by ‘we’ anyway?

Music by Razar

You can listen here or

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8 little children on the streets; youngest less than 30 days old

This little bub and her 7 siblings and their mum deserve a home

On New Year’s Day a little girl was born, opening her eyes to the world, but to what kind of a world? Compassionate or merciless? By this Thursday, only 28 days old this little baby will be homeless. It is bullshit a 28 day old baby should be homeless. Not just this little baby but also her six sisters and her brother. A whole family is about to be evicted and they have not put a single foot wrong. What sort of society are we? Their mum is a good mum, who circumstance has betrayed. Where is society’s compassion? Where are all these government departments and agencies, and government funded support groups, including the government funded church run agencies. For many, like this mum and her 8 children, you learn that they are not there – not when you need them.

But where are ‘we’ in all this? We can do the blame game and the self-responsibility mantras but what we should recognise is the obligation of our shared responsibilities. We need to look out for one another.

This young bub’s seven siblings are 20 months old, 3 years old, 4 years old, 6 years old, 8 years old, 9 years old, 11 years old.

The family has gone through hard times but mum has kept all of them together. There is a lot of love among these children. My partner and I have spent time with them all. We see the good care that the mum has given them despite bouts of homelessness. We have seen the love that bonds and the hope in their eyes despite their terrible downs, which for many of us is unimaginable.

Mid last year this family was homeless. The mother, pregnant, taking care of her seven children – this is love. They were, and still are, on the Department of Housing priority waiting list. So are 3,000 other applicants, most of them families. If only you knew how many large homeless families are on our streets. It should be a shock to most Australians to know that there are 20,000 children under 12 years of age who are homeless. This inexcusable tragedy occurs in the world’s 12th largest economy, 2nd wealthiest nation per capita and with the world’s highest median wages. Damn you Australia. Damn our Governments. It is a shame job. But in blame is not where we should rest.

There is no urgency among our parliamentarians, no urgency among the ‘privileged’, no urgency among far too many for all those who in turn we leave behind.

Over many years we have been able to assist families find interim accommodation, and in a number of cases permanent accommodation. But this is a straw in the bale of what is homelessness. Last year we matched several families with accommodation.

My partner and I found interim accommodation for one family – the pregnant mum and her seven children. They were put up in a rental nearby a school that has benefited the children. The mum met the rent week in week out and the property was kept well.

Just before Christmas, the mum said, “Thank you. You have turned our lives around.”

“The children are doing well at school. They are happy.”

She was happy, looking forward to the birth of her young baby, and comforted by the love her children exude. Nothing, not even the fact of living below the Henderson Poverty line could get in the way. They appreciated everything they had.

But then the landlord instructed for the house to be vacated. The Department of Housing still has the family on the priority housing waiting list but the wait still carries on. Through the property manager, the landlord gave them notice – 14 days – to vacate. What a scumbag. There was no lease. They had rebuilt a life, nine months old, but now they are being up ended again. And what of the Department of Housing who push the line that it takes about a year or so to secure a home on the priority waiting list? Well it has been more than a year.

The mum and my partner have been frantically looking around for alternative interim accommodation. They have also completed one private rental application after another – but so far they have been knocked back at every twist and turn.

I am stating here, for anyone who may wish to be cynical or a know it all, that this is a very good family, a solid family, a loving family. I am stating here that this is a responsible mum, a great mum, an honourable person. There have been no issues with disorderly behaviour or rent arrears if some of you are thinking this.

This article is a call to all of you; let us help this family. Sometimes we have to do the work of Governments ourselves. Sometimes we have to do the work of those institutions that we suppose so much of and far too often are let down by them. We may not be able to change the world but we can change the lives of those who we come across, who need our help, who may need us to be there for them. This matters because we know it matters to those whom we come across, such as to this little newborn bub, to her seven siblings, to this decent mother.

The mum said to us, “I have tried to be strong for my kids but I’m a failure.”

No you are not. You have the love of your children, this makes you everything. Society has failed you but you are not a failure. You are a great mother. You give so much love and stability to your children. Love is everything and in that love is founded true stability.

“My kids settled in at the school and rebuilt their life. We are about to lose everything. School restarts next week and we are about to be kicked out this week.”

The baby was ill at birth and needs at this time constant monitoring and medical attention. But the landlord flatly refuses to give them a break, cannot even give them two months respite so we can look around for other accommodation.

This young mum is one of the most honourable people I have ever met. She was a victim of sexual abuse and violence, on the streets from the age of 15. Life dealt her a tough hand but she has always been able to keep her family together. The last thing that should happen to this family is that they are torn apart. The first thing that should happen is someone somewhere should put up their hand and say I have a vacant property you can rent.

They can pay up to $500 per week. They are good for it. They have always paid their way. Money is not the issue here, decency is. I do not want the responses to this article to be distracted by whipping cracks at our often useless Governments and at the many heavily funded agencies that claim they do more than they do. I have already had an adequate crack at them. Nor should we be distracted as to why the landlord is turfing them out. They are being evicted based on nothing but senseless prejudice. However do not distract with blame but instead let us rather focus on the ways forward. We may not be able to change the world here but we can change the course of life for this mum and her 8 children. Please someone come forward with a home for these people. There are vacant homes out there. Western Australia should be ashamed if it allows this young family to go homeless.

If we can find them a home in Perth, preferably north of the river, so the children can continue on at the school they have settled into this will be best. But, the mum is prepared to move to anywhere in Australia in order to keep her family together. So please contact us if you can assist. Society has got to start scrubbing up, being there, for one another. We cannot put any of our interests or strivings ahead of those of our most vulnerable.

by Gerry Georgatos
January 24th, 2015

http://thestringer.com.au/8-little-children-on-the-streets-youngest-less-than-30-days-old-9410#.VMv8dcbkIh1

In reference to accommodation for this family contact urgently my partner, Jenny at contact@thestringer.com.au

For any other inquiries contact me at 0430657309

Aboriginal children 10 times more likely to be in care

Aboriginal kids more likely to be in care

Indigenous children now make up more than a third of children in out-of-home care. Source: News Corp Australia

ABORIGINAL children are more than 10 times as likely as non-­Aboriginal children to be removed from their parents and taken into out-of-home care, and that gap is increasing, new figures reveal.

The Productivity Commission’s Report on Government Services, to be released today, will show that 5.7 per cent of all indigenous children were living in out-of-home care as at June 30, 2103, compared to just 0.5 per cent of non-indigenous children.

Indigenous children made up more than a third of all children in out-of-home care — 13,914 out of a total 40,624 children in care.

The figures show that the number and rate of children being taken into care across the nation has been increasing since 2009, but for indigenous children those figures have been increasing at a faster rate.

In 2009, the rate of non-indigenous children living in care was 4.9 per 1000 children — a figure that increased to 5.3 per 1000 children in 2013. The rate for all children was 7.7 per 1000 children.

However, for indigenous children, that rate has jumped from 44.8 per 1000 children in 2009 to 56.9 per 1000 children in 2013.

Indigenous children are also far more likely to be the subject of a child protection notification.

Nationally, 14 per cent of all Aboriginal children were the subject of a child protection notification in 2012-13. This compared to just 3 per cent of non-indigenous children.

NSW has by far the highest rate of Aboriginal children being removed from their families. As at June 30, 2013, 8.5 per cent of indigenous children were living in out-of-home care.

This was followed by the ACT, which had 6.3 per cent of Aboriginal children in care, South Australia with 6.1 per cent, Victoria with 5.9 per cent, Western Australia with 5.7 per cent, Queensland with 4.4 per cent and Tasmania with 2.8 per cent.

The Northern Territory had the lowest rate, with 2.2 per cent of Aboriginal children in care.

However, NSW had the best rate of placing indigenous children with relatives or kin, at more than 60 per cent.

This compared to a national ­average of just 52.5 per cent. A further 16.3 per cent of indigenous children in out-of-home care ­nationally were placed with other indigenous carers.

Nicola Berkovic
Reporter
The Australian
Sydney
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/indigenous/aboriginal-children-10-times-more-likely-to-be-in-care/story-fn9hm1pm-1227198855742

Queensland politicians’ $91 million property portfolios

[Publisher’s Note: If you think the ALP is the party of the working class, think again. The report below shows that average number properties per Labor member is 2.8, compared to 2.2 for LNP members. Labor’s Anthony Lynham owns 7 properties, but he is not in the same league as the LNPs Marguerete Maddern who owns 14 properties.. Compare this with the people who have been kicked out of their housing commission home because the LNP has decided to sell off half the housing commission houses, effectively privatising public housing and making way for slum lords.]

A new study by Paul Egan, Philip Soos and Lindsay David reveals the 89 members of Queensland’s legislative assembly have stake in a total of 195 properties, valued at around $91 million — so how does that affect their decision making?
IntroductionFollowing our analysis of Federal and Victorian Parliamentarians’ real estate holdings, attention turns to Queensland, where Premier Campbell Newman has called a snap early election for 31st January, 2015.

Australia, including Queensland, is facing a chronic housing affordability crisis. Housing price inflation has outstripped both rents and household incomes since 1996, leading to a residential property market that is unaffordable by both historic and international comparison. Queensland’s elected representatives, like their federal, state and territory counterparts have failed to address the root causes of the crisis. Policies appear purposefully designed to encourage speculation and rapid price appreciation, in spite of the skyrocketing household debt burden and the harsh economic impacts of expensive land.

The public should critically consider whether state politicians’ property holdings are negatively influencing their decision-making processes and causing them to ignore impartial evidence when formulating housing and state taxation policies. The parliamentary register of members’ interests provides a detailed report of the real estate holdings of Queensland state politicians; a small window into the potential conflicts of interest bedevilling our honourable members.

Real estate assets are often jointly owned with a spouse instead of being in the sole ownership of the registered member. Properties can form part of a family or business trust, or private superannuation fund, with control over these entities exerted by either the beneficiary or beneficiaries directly, or via a third party. Similarly, a politician may have a minority, equal or majority share of the property asset within established entities.

Analysis

Queensland parliamentarians are heavily invested in the property game. The 89 members of Australia’s only unicameral legislative assembly have stake in a total of 195 properties — an average of 2.2 properties per member, conservatively valued at around $91 million, calculated by multiplying the Brisbane median residential dwelling price of $466,500 (as at December 2014) by 195 properties.1

ScreenHunter_5776 Jan. 29 06.46

The actual value is probably significantly higher, for the Queensland register allows for fine-grained analysis of the total lot size (m2) for each politician, separated into the categories of residential, investment and farm/commercial/vacant/other properties (see Appendix B).

As hypothesised in previous reports, politicians:

  • generally have a principal place of residence on a large lot relative to the public average (often exceeding 1,000m2 in size) — nine Queensland parliamentarians live on a property exceeding 10,000m2;
  • have substantial commercial, retail and industrial property interests;
  • purchase a greater number of properties in prestige or premium locations, such as desirable inner-city and coastal areas;
  • have significant interests in vacant land (some already approved for large sub-divisions) and large grazing and cane farms — some individual farm holdings exceed 10,000 hectares (ha) in size (100,000,000m2);
  • regularly embed property assets in family and business trusts, and less often, private superannuation funds; and
  • possess a number of surplus and holiday homes, some in desirable international locations, such as Thailand.

Property investment has again proven to be popular right across the political spectrum.

ScreenHunter_5777 Jan. 29 06.50

Queensland’s political class possess a substantial property portfolio, with only 2 of the 89 members (2%) not owning any real estate. Only a minority of holdings appear incomplete or mistakenly undeclared in some register entries, usually for the lot size of investment properties.

ScreenHunter_5779 Jan. 29 06.51

The data demonstrates the majority of politicians have a vested interest in maintaining high housing and land prices, particularly the 76% of members with one or more mortgages over their own investments. It would be naïve to assume politicians will put the common good before their own self-interest, if it means the difference between a moderately comfortable or a highly secure future retirement, or there are significant family interests to consider. The risk of a sharp correction in real estate prices and negative equity are just as real for those three-quarters of parliamentarians in bondage to lenders, particularly if they have multiple investments or are highly leveraged.

Queenslanders should be very sceptical about the supposed good intentions of many of their elected members in addressing housing affordability. Cynicism is warranted, for nationwide, politicians regularly enact legislative and regulatory ‘reforms’ in direct contravention of objective evidence, accelerating price growth and enriching a multitude of land owners in the process.

Contrary to reason, parliamentarians assume heavy debt burdens and record-low first home buyers are the new market normal. The urgent entreaties from a series of Productivity Commission and Senate reports to reform broken tax systems at the state level have gone unheard, even though economic efficiencies and greater competitiveness would arise from a shift of the taxation base onto those appropriating geo-rent (the economic rent of land) and off labour and business.2

The property-rich Queensland Parliament cannot be trusted to act in good faith on matters concerning real estate. Aversion to guiding housing policy with firm evidence has a long history in many jurisdictions, notably influenced by the projected future value of a politician’s collective real estate holdings and corrosive lobbying by the FIRE (finance, insurance and real estate) sector. A voter backlash is also feared following any substantive reforms that reduce prices, with large pockets of the citizenry having also gone ‘all in’ on enormous property bets.

State and federal parliamentarians’ indifference to sound housing policy suggests an unrepresentative parliament is consciously ignoring the profound and negative outcomes of declining affordability upon social justice and economic efficiency. A two-decade long blind-spot is only possible if successive administrations have consistently disregarded empirical evidence and sound research in favour of lobby groups, populist measures and their own real estate portfolios.

Brisbane’s housing prices surged by 134% between the trough in 2000 and apparent peak in 2010. Prices softened after 2010, but rebounded slightly from 2013 onwards. As of 2014, prices are 6% below the peak set in 2010.3

ScreenHunter_5780 Jan. 29 06.53

Total Queensland land prices have similarly ballooned, with the prices to Gross State Product (GSP) ratio climbing from 141 to 304% between 2001 and 2010, a relative increase of 116%. While Queensland does not have the most inflated prices nationwide (which is Victoria), prices have still reached lofty heights, principally from a sharp rise in residential prices, rather than commercial, rural or other categories of land. The ratio has since fallen to 235% as of 2014, though still far above the long-run average.

ScreenHunter_5781 Jan. 29 06.55

ScreenHunter_5782 Jan. 29 06.55

Real housing prices have risen substantially in every Australian capital, though Brisbane is in the middle of the pack when considering the size of the increase.

ScreenHunter_5783 Jan. 29 06.56

Debt-financed speculation has divorced skyrocketing land prices from technical fundamentals, such as rents and household incomes. As a result, gross yields have been compacted to 4.4 and 5.5% for houses and units respectively as of December 2014.4 Net yields are around half of gross yields, reinforcing claims that Brisbane’s property investment model is strongly predicated on potential future capital gains instead of sound cash flows.

The long-term trend in the price to income ratio demonstrates a median-priced Brisbane dwelling could be purchased for around four times household income until the early 2000s, but has since risen by 50% to around six times in 2010.

ScreenHunter_5784 Jan. 29 06.57

Recommendations

A range of matters influencing housing affordability are outside the remit of Queensland parliamentarians, for instance, population growth, broad economic settings and the provision of finance. Nevertheless, state and territory governments are not powerless, wielding control over an array of policy areas that can help prevent rapid price inflation and reduce land prices.

What practical measures can Queensland politicians take to improve housing affordability?

Recommendation #1: More efficient use of the State Land Tax (SLT)

The SLT is an ideal tool to moderate both land price bubbles and their subsequent devastating busts, and is already in the toolkit of state and territory governments. Unfortunately, this tax has been rendered comatose by a host of exemptions and concessional treatments. The SLT requires broadening to include owner-occupied housing and agricultural land, calculated on a per-square-metre value basis. The narrow existing base and progressivity of the SLT incurs only a small deadweight loss; the complete removal of exemptions and concessions would reduce this deadweight loss to zero. The SLT should apply per land holding, but not on an entity’s total holdings to encourage development.

Recommendation #2: Changes to municipal rates calculations

Queensland local government rates correctly using site value (SV) rating, which taxes the underlying land only. However, they are to be condemned for the widespread use of minimum rates which provides a direct subsidy to those owning more valuable sites. Ratepayers should be outraged by this wealth transfer — an impost on their capital values as well as annual charges.

Recommendation #3: Abolition of Stamp Duty tax

Conveyencing stamp duties should be removed, with the revenue shortfall met from an improved SLT.

Recommendation #4: Removal of the first home owners grant and boost

All housing grants act as a demand-side stimulus that further erodes affordability. When combined with highly-leveraged mortgage loans, the result is rapid price inflation that substantially outstrips the size of the grant. These grants are a gift to vendors, not FHBs.

Recommendation #5: Greater investment in public housing

A substantial increase in funding for public housing would assist long-term, low-income individuals and families reliant on social welfare to exit the private rental market, ameliorating their financial stress. We have an obligation to look after those who have difficulty managing their affairs.

Recommendation #6: Tenancy law reform

Australian tenancy laws should adopt the higher standards enjoyed by other Western nations. Queensland tenants’ limited rights include less stability and security in tenure due to shorter lease terms (6 to 12 months on average), lower rental vacancy rates favouring landlords during contractual negotiations, termination of leases for no reason, and requisite landlord permission for minor alterations and pet ownership.6

Recommendation #7: The adoption of ‘right to build’ laws

This policy encourages timely development of residential and commercial property. Planning delays and uncertainties may raise land costs, thus, this effect is negated by a right (positive presumption) for developers and home builders to undertake activity, within specified local and state government guidelines. If a development is opposed, then the onus is upon the aggrieved party to take the developer to the civil tribunal to prevent construction.

Recommendation #8: Elimination of state/local government infrastructure charges and levies

Government should reverse their preference for imposing direct charges on developers to finance local infrastructure, resulting in lower land costs. Governments can either adopt the Texan Municipal Utility District (MUD) model or return to the original system of issuing municipal bonds to finance local infrastructure and paying down debts through council rates.

Recommendation #9: Streamlining of zoning processes

Land subdivision and zoning vacant land for residential use in capital cities takes too long, generating considerable costs, uncertainty and reducing developer competition. Comprehensive betterment taxes should be applied to agricultural land that is rezoned for commercial and residential purposes.

Recommendation #10: Removal of most urban growth boundaries (UGBs)

Except for ecologically or culturally sensitive regions of land, there is no sound rationale for UGBs, as only a tiny fraction of Queensland’s land mass is urbanised. Building further out on the fringe may lower housing costs, but this may be more than offset by the rise in transport costs.

Conclusions

A wide range of practical policies are available to policymakers to lower housing and land costs, improving the lives of all Queenslanders. Sadly, the aforementioned recommendations are not in the financial interests of the political class and their ultimate constituents: concentrations of capital, especially the FIRE sector. The sizeable percentage of Queenslanders living as public (3%) and private tenants (33%) are generally treated with contempt.7

State governments have squandered the opportunity to independently pursue constructive, competitive federalism by simultaneously increasing land value taxes and reducing inefficient, damaging payroll, insurance, motor vehicle and stamp duty taxes. Similarly, councils were able to lower construction costs by financing infrastructure through municipal rates rather than developer charges, but chose not to do so.

Poor government decisions are attributable to the FIRE sector’s deleterious effect on democratic processes, a stacked parliamentary deck, and extensive lobbying and soft corruption that undermines the public good. The political parties and rentier class have an unspoken accord to preserve privilege for the rich and to further redistribute wealth and income upwards in a ‘flood up’ effect. The degenerate state of contemporary politics means voters generally do not understand the rampant inefficiencies wrought by the FIRE sector.

Substantive reforms are not certain even if politicians were aware of the economic harm unfolding, because they lack courage to confront the powerful FIRE sector. The stranglehold over democratic processes virtually guarantees maintenance of the status quo, unless a fresh reform movement challenges unjustified privilege. Honest public discourse, genuine taxation reform, decentralisation of political power and a complete reconstruction of the FIRE sector is essential to Queensland moving to a more efficient, productive and meaningful economy that serves the common interest.

Paul Egan, Philip Soos and Lindsay David 29 January 2015, 

This is the complete version of an abridged article by the authors published by Fairfax Media earlier today.

Endnotes

1 RP Data (2015). See Appendix A for each individual Parliamentarian’s holdings.

2 PC (2004); Senate (2008).

3 The ABS measure of housing prices is not quality-adjusted, so the index overstates the trend.

4 RP Data (2015).

5 Fox and Finlay (2012: 18 – Graph 4).

6 Kelly (2013).

7 HPW (2013: 4).

References

  • Fox, Ryan and Richard Finlay. (2012). ‘Dwelling Prices and Household Income’, Bulletin December Quarter, Reserve Bank of Australia, Sydney.
  • HPW. (2013). ‘Housing 2020 Strategy’, Department of Housing and Public Works, Queensland Government, Brisbane.
  • Kelly, Jane-Frances. (2013). ‘Renovating housing policy’, Grattan Institute, Melbourne.
  • PC. (2004). ‘First Home Ownership’, Productivity Commission, Melbourne.
  • RP Data (2015). ‘RP Data CoreLogic December Hedonic Home Value Index Results‘, RP Data
  • Senate. (2008). ‘A good house is hard to find: Housing affordability in Australia’, Select Committee on Housing Affordability in Australia, Canberra.

Invasion Day Cupcakes

Brisbane Solidarity Network [BSN]'s photo.
Brisbane Solidarity Network [BSN]'s photo.
Brisbane Solidarity Network [BSN]'s photo.
Brisbane Solidarity Network [BSN]'s photo.
 

On 26th January 2015 a group of non-First Nations people attempted to show people celebrating Australia Day the reality of what they’re doing: celebrating the ongoing genocide of First Nations people. We went dressed in Australian flag paraphernalia, and gave out free cupcakes to Australia Day revellers in Brisbane.
The cupcakes were white on the outside (white liners, white icing), and red in the centre, there was a small paper Australian flag on top, with red syrup drizzled around it. There was a small piece of paper with “Genocide: it Tastes Better Whitewashed” written on it.
We invited people to confront what they are doing when they “bite into” Australia Day. A day that represents the beginning of genocide of First Nations people in so-called Australia, a day that celebrates the destruction of land, stories, traditions, languages, songs, ways of being, that have existed for tens of thousands of years. This is what the 26th January is, it is nothing else. No pride in genocide.

Brisbane Solidarity Network [BSN] added 4 new photos to the album: invasion day cupcakes.

Do people rise up?

Over the past four years, the Unist’ot’en clan of the Wet’suwet’en nation have literally built a strategy to keep three proposed oil and gas pipelines from crossing their land. Concerned about the environmental damage a leak could cause on land they’ve never given up, they’ve constructed a protection camp to block pipeline companies. As opposition to the development of Alberta’s tar sands and to fracking projects grows across Canada, with First Nations communities on the front lines, the Unist’ot’en camp is an example of resistance that everyone is watching …

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Israel’s Crimes

Subject: Israel’s Crimes To: letters Dear Sir,The Israeli Human Rights Group B’Tselem’s Black Flag report claims there was a deliberate policy of attacking civilian targets in the 2014 Gaza offensive formulated at the highest levels of the Israeli military and … Continue reading

“Unblocking the Solar Industry – Vote for Solar”

Australians strongly support the use of solar energy as they know it saves them money, creates jobs and is clean. So you would think they would like to vote for a government that supports the solar industry’s continued growth. Solar system costs have fallen dramatically since 2000 when strong policies to support solar and help bring down costs were introduced at State and Federal government level. As a result, rooftop solar grew rapidly to over 2 million homes with either solar electricity, water heating or both.

Partly this has led to solar becoming cost effective without government handouts (Mitchell, 2015; Bloomberg, 2013). However, the main reason was the rapid scaling up of the solar industry as a result of German and Chinese government policies to develop the industry. But now the solar industry’s development is being actively blocked by conservative government policies in Australia (Grimes, 2015). This is at a crucial time when urgent action is being called for to address climate change that threatens our economy and natural assets such as the Great Barrier Reef.  Solar is an essential ingredient to addressing this global problem. So what has happened to the solar industry over the past 3 years of LNP government in Queensland?

Whilst the LNP has been criticised for not keeping election promises, they did keep some from the last election; the removal support for renewable energy and energy efficiency measures implemented by the Bligh government (LNP, 2012). They did this almost immediately. These industry sectors were creating thousands of jobs in Queensland whilst saving home owners and businesses millions of dollars each year in energy costs as electricity prices spiralled upwards.  The Australian Solar Council estimates that in the solar industry alone, jobs would have grown from around 5000 (2012) to 7500 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions by the end of 2014 (Grimes, J. 2015). This would have partially offset job losses in the coal industry, which fell by about 5000 jobs from 2012/13 to 2013/14, according to the Department of Energy and Water’s Coal 5 Year Summaries. Unfortunately, solar jobs have also fallen by about 1500 over the last couple of years. Now a recent report by Professor Carmignani (2015), from Griffith University Business School, shows that Queensland is not faring as well under the LNP as the last 6 years of the Bligh government, with unemployment increasing. A part of this is due to the jobs lost in the solar industry.

Queensland was becoming a leader in this field with renewable energies growing at about 12 percent per annum under the last 3 years of the Bligh Labor government. If this growth had been maintained, many more jobs would have been created and the Queensland electricity sector could have transitioned to almost 100 percent clean energy by 2030 (Berrill, 2012).

Instead of supporting solar, the Newman Government continued to attack the solar industry. They chose to slash electricity feed in tariffs for solar on homes, even suggesting that solar system owners could somehow negotiate a feed in rate with electricity retails. They also increased fixed charges for access to poles and wires. Now the LNP, via Energex regulations, are disallowing solar systems on commercial premises from exporting any excess energy to the electricity network. Technical reasons are given but the main reasons are political. All these measures discourage larger systems from being installed and increase the payback time for solar systems. Furthermore, the LNP have not supported any large scale solar and wind energy projects in the Sunshine State since they came to power, even though some very large projects have been proposed.

So why would the LNP wish to ‘’block” the development of the solar industry, both at State and Federal government levels? Firstly much of the State’s electricity generation capacity is State owned coal and gas power stations. Historically these returned millions of dollars to the State Treasury each year through electricity sales. This income stream has slowed dramatically, not just in Queensland, but right across Australia, with some coal fired power stations running at a loss. This occurred partly because rooftop solar on homes and businesses, combined with improvements in energy efficiency, have reduced the national demand for electricity from coal and gas power stations. Secondly, the finance industry is increasingly seeing coal power stations as a risky investment, given increasing calls for action to address an emerging climate crisis. China and the US have finally reached an agreement to act on this issue and this is likely to strongly influence other countries such as India, a buyer of Australian coal. So the Queensland Government is seeing the increased likelihood of our coal reserves, mining infrastructure and power stations becoming “stranded assets”. This has been highlight by former Liberal leader and economist, John Hewson (Caldecott, 2014). It means that the asset value could fall, right at a time when the State LNP government wishes to sell or give 99 year leases on some of these assets in order to pay for their election promises. Furthermore, a reduction in coal and gas sales would reduce royalty payments to Treasury, currently at about $2 billion per year or about 4 percent of the State’s annual budget. Finally, the State government has chosen mining as one of the four pillars of its economic strategy and has been spending between 1 and 2 billion dollars each year for investment in coal and gas infrastructure, effectively a form of subsidy costing Queensland households about $500 to $1000 per home each year. (Peel et al, 2014; Berrill, 2014). This means less money available to support other industry development.

What is required to address climate change is a carefully planned transition to a low carbon future, where renewable energy, combined with energy efficiency measures, will play the dominate role in energy supply, and much of the fossil fuels reserves will have to remain unburnt. This is recognized as necessary now by many respected institutions such as the International Energy Agency (IEA, 2014), the IMF (IMF 2013) and the IPCC (2013) if global warming is to be contained below a 2 degree Celsius rise. It is both technically and economically possible as research by Beyond Zero Emissions (2010), the University of UNSW (Elliston, 2011), Bloomberg (2013) and others has clearly shown. This transition was starting to happen in Queensland under the Bligh government’s Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency plans, as my own research showed (Berrill, 2012).   Note that it took many years for the Bligh government to develop and implement these policies before they were thrown out by the LNP. Unfortunately, the current Queensland Labor opposition’s energy policy is very weak and vague in this regard, with minimal promises being made. So it seems that even if Labor was returned to power on Saturday, they would be unlikely to strongly support the solar industry.

Industry groups such as the Australian Solar Council are calling on voters to support solar and other renewable energies at the coming election by carefully choosing who they vote for. The ASC is asking the next State government to get behind the solar revolution, not block it. This is most unlikely to happen if the LNP is returned and a minimalist approach is likely to be taken by Labor. As University of Queensland Researcher, Guy Pearse’s reports have shown, Coal is still King in Queensland (Pearse, 2010).

Trevor Berrill
Sustainable Energy Systems Consultant & Educator
www.solarissustainablehomes.com.au 29 Burnett St
Wellington Point
Queensland 4160
Phone 61 7 3207 5077 or Mobile 0400 177 283

References

Berrill, T. (2014). Acland Sustainable Energy Plan: An Alternative to the New Hope Acland Mine – Food, jobs and clean energy production on Acland land. Report prepared for the Oakey Coal Action Alliance. Available at www.solarissustainablehomes.com.au

Berrill, T. (2012). Clean Energy Pathways? – A Review of Energy Policy in Queensland with a Regional Case Study of the Impacts on the Felton Valley. A report for Friends of Felton. Available at: www.solarissustainablehomes.com.au

Beyond Zero Emissions (2010). Stationary Energy Plan. www.beyondzeroemissions.org

Bloomberg New Energy Finance (2013). Renewable energy now cheaper than new fossil fuels in Australia. http://about.bnef.com/press-releases/renewable-energy-now-cheaper-than-new-fossil-fuels-in-australia/

Bloomberg New Energy Finance (2013). Strong growth for renewables expected through to 2030. http://about.bnef.com/press-releases/strong-growth-for-renewables-expected-through-to-2030/

Caldecott, B. (2014). Stranded Down Under: Are fossil fuels bankrupting our nation both financially and ecologically? Lecture at Uni. Sydney. http://sydney.edu.au/sydney_ideas/lectures/2014/ben_caldecott.shtml

Carmignani, F. (2015). The true state of Queensland’s economy, without the spin. The Conversation 13 Jan, 2015. http://theconversation.com

Clean Energy Council (CEC) (2013). Clean Energy Australia 2013 Report.

www.cleanenergycouncil.org.au

Department of Energy and Water (2014). Coal 5 Year Summaries. Available at https://data.qld.gov.au/dataset/coal-industry-review-statistical-tables

Elliston, B. et al (2013). Least cost 100 percent renewable energy scenarios in the Australian National Electricity Market. Energy Policy. http://newsroom.unsw.edu.au/news/science/fully-renewable-electricity-could-be-competitive

Grimes, J. (2015). Personal Correspondence with J. Grimes, CEO of Australian Solar Council.

Hearps et al (2011). Renewable Energy Technology Cost Review. Melbourne Energy Institute Technical Paper, Uni. Of Melbourne.

IEA (2014). World Energy Outlook – Executive Summary. International Energy Agency report. www.iea.org

IEA (2011). Deploying Renewables – Best and Future Policy Practice. www.iea.org

IMF (2013). ENERGY SUBSIDY REFORM: LESSONS AND IMPLICATIONS. Report prepared by the International Monetary Fund.

IPCC (2013). Climate Change 2013 – The Physical Science Basis – Summary for Policymakers. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

LNP (2012). The CANDO LNP Resources and Energy Policy. www.candoqld.com.au

Mitchell, B. (2015). There’s a sunny future ahead for rooftop solar power: here’s why. The Conversation 26 Jan 2015 http://theconversation.com

Pearse, G. (2010). King Coal. Article in The Monthly, Issue May, 2010.

Peel, M. et al (2014). Mining the age of entitlement – State government assistance to the minerals and fossil fuel sector. The Australia Institute Technical Brief No.31. www.tai.org.au

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National #BoycottWoolworths Day of Action

11th Floor, Braamfontein Centre 23 Jorissen Street Braamfontein, 2017 Johannesburg South Africa 28 January 2015 Dear Friends and Comrades, EMBARRASSING END OF YEAR AGM FOR WOOLWORTHS BDS activists bought shares to attend the Woolworths 2014 end of year AGM. BDS, … Continue reading

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Vale Tom Uren

This gallery contains 1 photos.

News has come through that Tom Uren has died at the age of 93. It may seem strange saying goodbye to a Labor politician on these pages, but Tom Uren was only one of two Labor politicians who was arrested … Continue reading

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17 Group Meeting Feb 2015

The first meeting of the 17 group for 2015 will be held on Wednesday the 4th of February at 7 pm in unit 6 at 20 Drury St, West End. It will be introduced by a panel of five keen … Continue reading

Julia could, Annastacia can

They do not by and large like politicians – I suppose that, by and large, they do not really like anyone much – but they have a certain respect for them, the same way they might have for a horse or a gun dog. There is of course a lot of Texan among this strata of billionaire. A lot of them are sort of high class John Wayne’s – enormously rich John Wayne’s who don’t feel it necessary to do their own bar room brawling. — John Hepworth on International Capitalists.

Hung parliament
Government ministers and their Directors General do not like hung parliaments and what they spawn – minority governments at the mercy of independents. It makes it that much harder for them to do the bidding of big coal shipping companies when they want to dredge the barrier reef. It is so inconvenient to have to include an independent member of parliament in these decisions. Firstly, from the directors general’s point of view these independents know so little of what real government is all about. As Sir Humphrey said:

Bernard: But surely the citizens of a democracy have a right to know.
Sir Humphrey Appleby: No. They have a right to be ignorant. Knowledge only means complicity in guilt; ignorance has a certain dignity.

In a word, Public Service Directors General think independents are ‘looney tunes’.

From the relevant Ministers point of view they are ‘loose cannons’ capable of insisting on anything.

No, Prime Minister!
Take, for example, in 2010 when Bob Katter became one of ‘the big three’ independents who would determine which party formed government a round of negotiations led to demands by Bob that government do more for rural areas. In a private telephone conversation Abbott asked Bob to back the coalition. Bob said he wouldn’t because the LNP had sold out the bush. So Abbott turned on Bob shouting down the phone line:

“ I am going to fuck you, you are fucked Bob, fucked, fucked, fucked!”

To which Bob replied:

“ No Tony in this case I am the fucker and it is you who is the fuckee!”

and hung up the phone.

It’s all about power.

Ironically Bob did not end up helping Julia to power, that juicy job was left to the member for New England, Tony Windsor and the member for Lyne, Rob Oakeshott who wanted modest reforms like a Speaker of the parliament free from party rules, a deputy Speaker from the Opposition party and time limits on questions and answers in Parliament. Julia delivered and formed minority government until Rudd ruined it all in 2013 and the country got Abbott at the next election.

After selling Queensland Rail, it’s a long way back for Labor…
In the case of the January 2015 election in Queensland there will not be a hung parliament unless the Labor Party with the help of the Greens wins enough seats. This will not be easy, as the ALP holds only 8 seats in a parliament of 89 seats after Anna Bligh pulled the plug and sold Queensland Rail in the previous parliament. To do this Labor needs a swing of 12% across the state for Labor to win. This is known and worked out by party hacks and pundits alike. Swings are rarely uniform. Metropolitan seats may change hands but what of country seats.

DemocraticRights.jpgWhen Bjelke-Petersen banned democratic rights like street marches, the right to organise in unions and the right to free speech in 1977, there was a 10% swing against the government in the metropolitan area but not in the bush. And One Nation still lurks out there, with its strange mixture of racism, protectionism and opposition to sale of public assets. Clive Palmer is in the wings. Alan Jones who grew up on the Darling Downs is talking up ditching Campbell because Newman is suing the pants of Jonesie and 4BC for sticking up for the farmers of Acland and opposing the New Hope mine expansion. A bit like the falling out between Bob and Tony, Abbott that is – townies and farmers versus mining when Campbell is big capital’s gun dog.

Financial Crisis
Very few of the issues that affect people ever surface in the street fighting of electoral politics. Rising youth unemployment, the gap between rich and poor, the terrible plight of Aboriginal people with youth suicide and another stolen generation. Government sell-off of public and affordable housing, the rising cost of living, overcrowding in our cities, the demise of country towns.

The major parties have sold off nearly all public assets that the private sector want and have done so at bargain prices. The shift of wealth from workers to capitalists increases. The electricity grid is losing its value because coal-fired power is in decline. Roof top power is now the size f a pretty big powerhouse and it comes online every afternoon at a time that coal fired power makes big profits as household demand goes up. The whole pricing structure of electricity is thrown out of whack. Private retailers are in dismay as PV arrays soak up the extra demand that used to make big bucks. Owners of coal fired power stations are biting their nails as their assets that take billions to build and years to construct look like being lemons as they lose access to big profits. But capitalism will work out a way of making big profits out of solar.

All this goes over the heads of Campbell and Annastacia – they have been told to balance the budget (code for ‘make workers pay through austerity’) and, this, in a world of virtual money, is hard to do. Selling real assets can’t stop the crisis in finance. $37B from the leasing of the power grid won’t stop the financial crisis. Campbell is facing carnage at the grass roots. Take Algester where the first aboriginal woman to be elected in Queensland parliament is bookies favourite at $1.40. And you know who Leeanne Enoch, a proud Nunukul/Nughi woman from North Stradbroke Island, will be looking out for. Well it won’t be Campbell Newman’s favourite mining company, Sibelco. One Nation won’t like Leanne getting up either, but that is politics.

unimin-sand-mining-on-north-stradbroke-island_thumb.jpg

Enterprise mine on Straddie

Straddie may sink Campbell
At this stage it is all speculation cos Campbell is struggling to win his own seat which he won with Sibelco’s help last time. If Campbell does lose in Ashgrove then I predict a minority ALP government with the backing of independents. Who they’ll be we will have to see. If Julia could do it why can’t Annastacia?

But Annastacia had better keep saying that she learnt a big lesson from Anna Bligh, don’t sell the farm!

And for the rest of us ordinary people … only one choice really: live to fight, fight to live!

Queensland does not have representative government
What will the Greens do if there is a hung parliament? Well, not much, because it is unlikely the Greens will win a seat in the parliament; but if they did win a seat, the Greens would back Labor after insisting on some principles beforehand e.g. don’t dredge the reef, don’t sell public assets … but only after insisting that ministerial leather be conferred on the person who won the seat. Why? Labor can only win government with Green preferences.

It is a weird system, not really democracy, aye? Where the Greens with 8% of the vote across the state can’t win a single seat in an 89 seat parliament and yet Katter’s Australia Party can get two seats with less than 2% of the vote. Voters can be urged by one of the major parties to ignore the preferential system and cast their vote for one party alone. The European system permits minor parties some representation because they have proportional representation system like the Hare-Clarke system that exists in the Australian Senate and in the ACT.

Well, you can blame the Goss Labor government for the undemocratic nature of the Qld parliament and Peter Beattie’s campaign slogan to “just vote 1″ when he won with that slogan and by calling an early election in 2004. Of course the parliament was rigged by Bjelke-Petersen government using a gerrymander.

Ian Curr
26 Jan 2015

The king of love is dead

REV. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.: I want to talk with you mainly about our struggle in the United States and, before taking my seat, talk about some of the larger struggles in the whole world and some of the more difficult struggles in places like South Africa. But there is a desperate, poignant question on the lips of people all over our country and all over the world. I get it almost everywhere I go and almost every press conference. It is a question of whether we are making any real progress in the struggle to make racial justice a reality in the United States of America. And whenever I seek to answer that question, on the one hand, I seek to avoid an undue pessimism; on the other hand, I seek to avoid a superficial optimism. And I try to incorporate or develop what I consider a realistic position, by admitting on the one hand that we have made many significant strides over the last few years in the struggle for racial justice, but by admitting that before the problem is solved we still have numerous things to do and many challenges to meet. And it is this realistic position that I would like to use as a basis for our thinking together tonight as we think about the problem in the United States. We have come a long, long way, but we have a long, long way to go before the problem is solved.

Now let us notice first that we’ve come a long, long way. And I would like to say at this point that the Negro himself has come a long, long way in re-evaluating his own intrinsic worth. Now, in order to illustrate this, a little history is necessary. It was in the year 1619 when the first Negro slaves landed on the shores of America. And they were brought there from the soils of Africa. Unlike the pilgrim fathers who landed at Plymouth a year later, they were brought there against their wills. And throughout slavery, the Negro was treated in a very inhuman fashion. He was a thing to be used, not a person to be respected. The United States Supreme Court rendered a decision in 1857 known as the Dred Scottdecision, which well illustrated this whole idea and which well illustrated what existed at that time, for in this decision the Supreme Court of the United States said, in substance, that the Negro is not a citizen of the United States, he is merely property subject to the dictates of his owner. And it went on to say that the Negro has no rights that the white man is bound to respect. This was the idea that prevailed during the days of slavery.

With the growth of slavery, it became necessary to give some justification for it. You know, it seems to be a fact of life that human beings cannot continue to do wrong without eventually reaching out for some thin rationalization to clothe an obvious wrong in the beautiful garments of righteousness. And this is exactly what happened during the days of slavery. There were those who even misused the Bible and religion to give some justification for slavery and to crystallize the patterns of the status quo. And so it was argued from some pulpits that the Negro was inferior by nature because of Noah’s curse upon the children of Ham. Then, the apostle Paul’s dictum became a watchword: “Servants be obedient to your master.” And one brother had probably read the logic of the great philosopher Aristotle. You know, Aristotle did a great deal to bring into being what we now know as formal logic in philosophy. And in formal logic, there is a big word known as the syllogism, which has a major premise, a minor premise and a conclusion. And so, this brother decided to put his argument for the inferiority of the Negro in the framework of an Aristotelian syllogism. He could say all men are made in the image of God—this was a major premise. Then came the minor premise: God, as everybody knows, is not a Negro, therefore the Negro is not a man. This was the kind of reasoning that prevailed.

While living with the conditions of slavery and then, later, segregation, many Negroes lost faith in themselves. Many came to feel that perhaps they were less than human. Many came to feel that they were inferior. This, it seems to me, is the greatest tragedy of slavery, the greatest tragedy of segregation, not merely what it does to the individual physically, but what it does to one psychologically. It scars the soul of the segregated as well as the segregator. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority, while leaving the segregated with a false sense of inferiority. And this is exactly what happened.

Then something happened to the Negro, and circumstances made it possible and necessary for him to travel more—the coming of the automobile, the upheavals of two world wars, the Great Depression. And so his rural plantation background gradually gave way to urban industrial life. His economic life was gradually rising through the growth of industry, the development of organized labor and expanded educational opportunities. And even his cultural life was gradually rising through the steady decline of crippling illiteracy. All of these forces conjoined to cause the Negro in America to take a new look at himself. Negro masses all over began to re-evaluate themselves.

And then something else happened, along with all of this: The Negro in the United States turned his eyes and his mind to Africa, and he noticed the magnificent drama of independence taking place on the stage of African history. And noticing the developments and noticing what was happening and noticing what was being done on the part of his black brothers and sisters in Africa gave him a new sense of dignity in the United States and a new sense of self-respect. The Negro came to feel that he was somebody. His religion revealed to him that God loves all of his children and that all men are made in his image, and that the basic thing about a man is not his specificity, but his fundamentum, not the texture of his hair or the color of his skin, but his eternal dignity and worth.

And so the Negro in America could now cry out unconsciously with the eloquent poet, “Fleecy locks, and black complexion cannot forfeit nature’s claim; Skin may differ, but affection dwells in black and white the same,” and, “Were I so tall as to reach the pole, or to grasp the ocean at a span, I must be measured by my soul; the mind is the standard of the man.” And with this new sense of dignity and this new sense of self-respect, a new Negro came into being with a new determination to suffer, to struggle, to sacrifice, and even to die, if necessary, in order to be free. And this reveals that we have come a long, long way since 1619.

But if we are to be true to the facts, it is necessary to say that not only has the Negro re-evaluated his own intrinsic worth, the whole nation has come a long, long way in extending the frontiers of civil rights. I would like to mention just a few things that have happened in our country which reveal this. Fifty years ago, or even 25 years ago, a year hardly passed when numerous Negroes were not brutally lynched by some vicious mob. Fortunately, lynchings have about ceased today. If one would go back to the turn of the century, you would find that in the Southern part of the United States you had very few Negroes registered to vote. By 1948, that number had leaped to about 750,000; 1960, it had leaped to 1,200,000. And when we went into the presidential election just a few weeks ago, that number had leaped to more than two million. We went into that election with more than two million Negroes registered to vote in the South, which meant that we in the civil rights movement, by working hard, have been able to add more than 800,000 new Negroes as registered voters in the last three years. This reveals that we have made strides.

Then, when we look at the question of economic justice, there’s much to do, but we can at least say that some strides have been made. The average Negro wage earner who is employed today in the United States earns 10 times more than the average Negro wage earner of 12 years ago. And the national income of the Negro is now at a little better than $28 billion a year, which is all—more than all of the exports of the United States and more than the national budget of Canada. This reveals that we have made some strides in this area.

But probably more than anything else—and you’ve read about it so much here and all over the world, I’m sure—we have noticed a gradual decline, and even demise, of the system of racial segregation. Now, the legal history of racial segregation had its beginning in 1896. Many people feel that racial segregation has been a reality in the United States a long, long time, but the fact is that this was a rather recent phenomenon in our country, just a little better than 60 years old. And it had its legal beginning with a decision known as thePlessy v. Ferguson decision, which said, in substance, that separate but equal facilities could exist, and it made the doctrine of separate but equal the law of the land. We all know what happened as a result of the old Plessy doctrine: There was always the strict enforcement of the separate, without the slightest intention to abide by the equal. And the Negro ended up being plunged into the abyss of exploitation, where he experienced the bleakness of nagging injustice.

And then something marvelous happened. The Supreme Court of our nation in 1954 examined the legal body of segregation, and on May 17th of that year pronounced it constitutionally dead. It said, in substance, that the old Plessy doctrine must go, that separate facilities are inherently unequal, and that the segregated child on the basis of his race is to deny that child equal protection of the law. And so, we’ve seen many changes since that momentous decision was rendered in 1954, that came as a great beacon light of hope into millions of disinherited people all over our nation.

Then something else happened, which brought joy to all of our hearts. It happened this year. It was last year, after the struggle in Birmingham, Alabama, that the late President Kennedy came to realize that there was a basic issue that our country had to grapple with. With a sense of concern and a sense of immediacy, he made a great speech, a few days before—rather, it was really on the same day that the University of Alabama was to be integrated, and Governor Wallace stood in the door and tried to block that integration. Mr. Kennedy had to have the National Guard federalized. He stood before the nation and said in eloquent terms the problem which we face in the area of civil rights is not merely a political issue, it is not merely an economic issue, it is, at bottom, a moral issue. It is as old as the scriptures and as modern as the Constitution. It is a question of whether we will treat our Negro brothers as we ourselves would like to be treated.

And on the heels of that great speech, he went in, recommended to the Congress of our nation the most comprehensive civil rights bill ever recommended by any president of our great nation. Unfortunately, after many months of battle, and for a period we got a little tired of that—you know, there are some men in our country who like to talk a lot. Maybe you read about the filibuster. And you know they get bogged down in the paralysis of analysis, and they will just go on and on and on. And they wanted to talk that bill to death.

But President Lyndon Johnson got to work. He started calling congressmen and senators in and started meeting day in and day out with influential people in the country and making it clear that that bill had to pass, as a tribute to the late President Kennedy, but also as a tribute to the greatness of the country and as an expression of its dedication to the American dream. And it was that great day last summer that that bill came into being, and it was on July 2nd that Mr. Johnson signed that bill and it became the law of the land.

And so, in America now, we have a civil rights bill. And I’m happy to report to you that, by and large, that bill is being implemented in communities all across the South. We have seen some surprising levels of compliance, even in some communities in the state of Mississippi. And whenever you can find anything right in Mississippi, things are getting better.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Martin Luther King, speaking in London, December 7, 1964. We’ll return to the speech after this break.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. In this Democracy Now! exclusive, we return to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in his own words from a recording recently discovered the Pacifica Radio Archives. This is from December 7th, 1964, in London, just days before Dr. King received the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway.

REV. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.: We can never forget the fact that just this summer three civil rights workers were brutally murdered near Philadelphia, Mississippi. All of this reveals to us that we have not achieved the level of brotherhood—we have not achieved the brotherhood that we need and that we must have in our nation. We still have a long, long way to go.

I mentioned voter registration and the fact that we have been able to add about 800,000 new registered voters in the last two or three years, the fact that it’s over two million now. I guess that sounded like real progress, and it does represent some progress. But let me give you the other side, and that is the fact that there are still more than 10 million Negroes living in the Southern part of the United States, and some six million of the Negroes living in the Southern part of the United States are of voting age, and yet only two million are registered. This means that four million remain unregistered, not merely because they are apathetic, not because they are complacent—this may be true of some few—but because all types of conniving methods are still being used to keep Negroes from becoming registered voters. Complex literacy tests are given, which make it almost impossible for anybody to pass the test, even if he has a Ph.D. degree in any field or a law degree from the best law schools of the world. And then actual economic reprisals are often taken out against Negroes who seek to register and vote in some of the Black Belt counties of Mississippi and Alabama and other places. Then, some are actually faced with physical violence, and sometimes physical death. This reveals that we have a great deal that must be done in this area.

I mentioned economic justice, and I am sure that that figure, $28 billion, sounded very large. That’s a lot of money. But then I must go on and give you the other side, if I am to be honest about the picture. That is a fact that 42 percent of the Negro families of the United States still earn less than $2,000 a year, while just 16 percent of the white families earn less than $2,000 a year; 21 percent of the Negro families of America earn less than $1,000 a year, while just 5 percent of the white families earn less than $1,000 a year. And then we face the fact that 88 percent of the Negro families of America earn less than $5,000 a year, while just 58 percent of the white families earn less than $5,000 a year. So we can see that there is still a great gulf between the haves, so to speak, and the have-nots. And if America is to continue to grow and progress and develop and move on toward its greatness, this problem must be solved.

Now, this economic problem is getting more serious because of many forces alive in our world and in our nation. For many years, Negroes were denied adequate educational opportunities. For many years, Negroes were even denied apprenticeship training. And so, the forces of labor and industry so often discriminated against Negroes. And this meant that the Negro ended up being limited, by and large, to unskilled and semi-skilled labor. Now, because of the forces of automation and cybernation, these are the jobs that are now passing away. And so, the Negro wakes up in a city like Detroit, Michigan, and discovers that he is 28 percent of the population and about 72 percent of the unemployed. Now, in order to grapple with that problem, our federal government will have to develop massive retraining programs, massive public works programs, so that automation can be a blessing, as it must be to our society, and not a curse.

Then the other thing when we think of this economic problem, we must think of the fact that there is nothing more dangerous than to build a society with a segment in that society which feels that it has no stake in the society, and nothing more dangerous than to build a society with a number of people who see life as little more than a long and desolate corridor with no exit sign. They end up with despair because they have no jobs, because they can’t educate their children, because they can’t live in a nice home, because they can’t have adequate health facilities.

We always hear of the various reasons why and the various myths concerning integration and why integration shouldn’t come into being. Those people who argue against integration at this point often say, “Well, if you integrate the public schools, for instance, you will pull the white race back a generation.” And they like to talk about the cultural lag in the Negro community. And then they go on to say, “Now, you know, the Negro is a criminal, and he has the highest crime rate in any city that you can find in the United States.” And the arguments go on ad infinitum why integration shouldn’t come into being.

But I think there’s an answer to that, and that is that if there is cultural lag in the Negro community—and there certainly is—this lag is there because of segregation and discrimination. It’s there because of long years of slavery and segregation. Criminal responses are not racial, but environmental. Poverty, economic deprivation, social isolation and all of these things breed crime, whatever the racial group may be. And it is a torturous logic to use the tragic results of racial segregation as an argument for the continuation of it. It is necessary to go back. And so it is necessary to see this and to go all out to make economic justice a reality all over our nation.

I mentioned that racial segregation is about dead in the United States, but it’s still with us. We are about past the day of legal segregation. We have about ended de juresegregation, where the laws of the nation or of a particular state can uphold it, because of the civil rights bill and the Supreme Court’s decision and other things. We have passed the day when the Negro can’t eat at a lunch counter, with the exception of a few isolated situations, or where the Negro can’t check in a motel or hotel. We are fastly passing that day. But there is another form of segregation coming up. It is coming up through housing discrimination, joblessness and the de facto segregation in the public schools. And so the ghettoized conditions that exist make for many problems, and it makes for a hardcore, de facto segregation that we must grapple with on a day-to-day basis. And so, this is the problem that we face, and this is a problem that we are forced to deal with. And we are going to deal with it in a determined way. I am absolutely convinced that segregation is on its deathbed, and those who represent it, whether they be in the United States or whether they be in London, England, the system is on its deathbed.

But certainly, we all know that if democracy is to live in any nation, segregation must die. And as I’ve tried to say all over America, we’ve got to get rid of segregation not merely because it will help our image—it certainly will help our image in the world. We’ve got to get rid of segregation not merely because it will appeal to Asian and African people—and this certainly will be helpful, this is important. But in the final analysis, racial discrimination must be uprooted from American society and from every society, because it is morally wrong. So it is necessary to go all out and develop massive action programs to get rid of racial segregation.

Now I would like to mention one or two ideas that circulate in our society—and they probably circulate in your society and all over the world—that keep us from developing the kind of action programs necessary to get rid of discrimination and segregation. One is what I refer to as the myth of time. There are those individuals who argue that only time can solve the problem of racial injustice in the United States, in South Africa or anywhere else; you’ve got to wait on time. And I know they’ve said to us so often in the States and to our allies in the white community, “Just be nice and be patient and continue to pray, and in 100 or 200 years the problem will work itself out.” We have heard and we have lived with the myth of time. The only answer that I can give to that myth is that time is neutral. It can be used either constructively or destructively. And I must honestly say to you that I’m convinced that the forces of ill will have often used time much more effectively than the forces of goodwill. And we may have to repent in this generation, not merely for the vitriolic words and the violent actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence and indifference of the good people who sit around saying, “Wait on time.”

And somewhere along the way it is necessary to see that human progress never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and the persistent work of dedicated individuals who are willing to be co-workers with God. And without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the primitive forces of social stagnation. And so we must help time, and we must realize that the time is always ripe to do right. This is so vital, and this is so necessary.

Now, the other myth that gets around a great deal in our nation and, I’m sure, in other nations of the world is the idea that you can’t solve the problems in the realm of human relations through legislation; you can’t solve the housing problem and the job problem and all of these other problems through legislation; you’ve got to change the heart. We had a presidential candidate just recently who spoke about this a great deal. And I think Mr. Goldwater sincerely believed that you couldn’t anything through legislation, because he voted against everything in the Senate, including the civil rights bill. And he said all over the nation throughout the election that we don’t need legislation, that legislation can’t deal with this problem. But he was nice enough to say that you’ve got to change the heart.

Now I want to at least go halfway with Brother Goldwater at that point. I think he’s right. If we’re going to get this problem solved in America and all over the world, ultimately, people must change their hearts where they have prejudices. If we are going to solve the problems facing mankind, I would be the first to say that every white person must look down deep within and remove every prejudice that may be there, and come to see that the Negro, and the colored peoples, generally, must be treated right, not merely because the law says it, but because it is right and because it is natural. I agree with this 100 percent. And I’m sure that if the problem is to be solved, ultimately, men must be obedient not merely to that which can be enforced by the law, but they must rise to the majestic heights of being obedient to the unenforceable.

But after saying all of that, I must go on to the other side. This is where I must leave Mr. Goldwater and others who believe that legislation has no place. It may be true that you can’t legislate integration, but you can legislate desegregation. It may be true that morality cannot be legislated, but behavior can be regulated. It may be true that the law can’t change the heart, but it can restrain the heartless. It may be true that the law can’t make a man love me, but it can restrain him from lynching me. And I think that’s pretty important also.

Change in the air across Southern Europe

Change is in the Air Across Southern Europe

Last night (Thursday, January 22, 2015), Pablo Iglesias of Podemos spoke at a massive Syriza rally in Athens, just three days before the Greek elections that Syriza is expected to win. The fates of Syriza and Podemos are increasingly seen as linked – both by their own leaders and the European establishment. In late December, a headline in Bloomberg Businessweek asked, “Is This the Dawn of the #Tsiglesias Era in the Euro Zone?” (12/30/2014). Both parties have surged into the lead in their respective countries on the basis of their rejection of years of austerity imposed by Brussels, and on a pledge to recuperate national sovereignty and democracy. Their programs call for a renegotiation of their national debts, higher taxes on the rich, major jobs programs, and the restoration of rights and benefits taken away during the economic crisis.

Below is the text of a speech given by Iglesias at a Syriza event in October. The video of the speech can be seen here. — Dan DiMaggio.

Good evening. Change is in the air in Greece. Change is in the air in Southern Europe. Brothers and sisters, it’s an honor to speak in front of you today. It’s an honor to be in Athens just a few months before this country will finally have a popular government headed by Alexis Tsipras. This government will be the first in a series of governments through which we will have to regain the sovereignty and dignity of the peoples of Southern Europe.

Brothers and sisters, we are called upon to reconstruct democracy—European democracy—against the totalitarianism of the market. Some will want to call us “Euro-skeptics.” To all those hypocrites, I want to remind them today, from Greece, from a country that was a model of anti-Nazi resistance, that the best of the European democratic tradition is anti-fascism. And that our program to regain our social rights and our sovereignty is inspired by the example of our grandparents, who confronted this horror and fought for a democratic Europe which could only be based on social justice and liberty.

Many things are bringing the Greek and Spanish people together to lead a new European project. But today I want to highlight the historic example of our populations in the anti-fascist resistance and the struggle for liberty and democracy. They’ve tried to look down on us as “Mediterraneans.” They’ve called us “PIGS.” They’ve tried to turn us into a periphery. They want us to be countries of cheap labor forces. They want our young people to be the servants of rich tourists. To all those jackals on the payrolls of the financial powers, today we say that we are proud to be from the South, and that from the South we are going to return to Europe and to all its peoples the dignity that they deserve.

But I don’t want my speech today to be a compendium of sterile encouragements. We are among comrades, and it’s time now to accept responsibility for the difficulty of the tasks confronting us. I just got back from Latin America. There I was able to meet with Evo Morales, with Rafael Correa, and with Pepe Mujica. I am sure that many of you were as excited as I was when you saw “State of Siege” by Costas Gavras and learned about the Tupamaros. Today, an ex-guerrilla, a Tupamaro, is president of Uruguay.

I also met with many government ministers and political leaders. Among them was the son of Miguel Enriquez, leader of the MIR [the Movement of the Revolutionary Left], who died in combat in 1974 in Chile. It was moving to remember the Chilean experience—the experience of democratic socialism to which we also aspire. But upon seeing the son of Enriquez, I remembered what Salvador Allende said to the young members of the MIR: “We didn’t choose the terrain. We inherited it. We have the government, but we don’t have the power.” Allende’s bitter insight is something I also found among our brother-presidents in Latin America. What we have ahead of us is not going to be an easy road. We first have to win the elections—and only afterwards will the real difficulties begin.

The polls say that in Greece Syriza will win the next election. In Spain the polls say that we have already passed the Socialist Party [PSOE], that we are competing to become the second strongest electoral force in the country, and that every day we are seen more and more as the real opposition force. We already have more than 130,000 members, and we will leave our Constituent Assembly next month with our organizational muscle ready. It will be hard, but it’s entirely possible that Podemos in Spain, like Syriza in Greece and Sinn Fein in Ireland, will lead a political change. But it is essential that we understand that winning an election does not mean winning power.

Our program lacks maximum demands although we, like you, are being accused of extremism. To speak of fiscal reform, of auditing the national debt, of the collective control of the strategic sectors of the economy, of the defense and improvement of public services, of the recovery of sovereign powers and of our industrial fabric, of employment policies through investment, of favoring consumption, and of making sure that public financial entities protect small and medium enterprises and families is what any social democrat in Western Europe would have talked about 30 or 40 years ago.

But today, a program like this means a threat to the global financial powers, to German Europe, and to “the caste” [la casta]. There is a worldwide party that is much stronger than the Third International was. It’s the party of Wall Street, which has servants everywhere. These functionaries have carry different ID cards. Some have cards from New Democracy, others from PASOK, others from Merkel’s CDU, others from the Socialist Party in Spain or France. [But] Juncker, Merkel, Rajoy, Samaras, Hollande, and Renzi are all members of the same party – the party of Wall Street. They are the Finance International.

This is why, no matter how modest our objectives are, no matter how wide the consensus in our societies regarding them is, we must not lose sight that we are confronting a minority with a lot of power, with very few scruples, and fearful of the electoral results when their parties don’t win. Don’t forget that the powerful almost never accept the results of elections when they don’t like them.

Comrades, we have a historic task of enormous dimensions ahead of us. What we have to do goes far beyond getting electoral support. We are called upon to defend democracy and sovereignty, but what’s more, we have to defend them on a terrain, like Allende said, that we ourselves have not chosen.

That’s why we have to deal with sectarians firmly. Revolutionaries are not defined by the t-shirts that they wear. They are not defined by their conversion of theoretical tools into a religion. The duty of a revolutionary is not to take pictures of themselves with a hammer and sickle—the duty of a revolutionary is to win.

That’s why our duty is to get closer to civil society. We need the best with us. We need the best economists, the best scientists, the best public sector workers, in order to manage the administration and carry out viable and effective public policies.

We need to listen to and connect with the professionals in the police and the Armed Forces. I am Spanish, and I know just like you do what it means to have a police and an army that in the past worked for a dictatorship. But I know that in my country the majority of these armed professionals are democrats and have families and friends beaten down by the injustice of this swindle that they call “the crisis.” Let me share an anecdote with you: After a meeting of Podemos in Zaragoza during our electoral campaign, a man approached me. He told me, “I’m an officer in the Air Force. I want you to know that many of us would be ready to defend our sovereignty and social rights against the threats of the Troika.” That’s the type of military we need.

Patriotism is not threatening someone, or believing you are better because you have another skin color, or because you speak a language, or because you were born where your mother’s water broke. True patriots know that to be proud of your country is to see that all the children – no matter where they come from – go to schools clean, clothed, well-fed, and with shoes on their feet. To love your country is to defend your grandparents’ pension and to ensure that if they get sick they will be cared for in the best public hospitals.

We also need to strengthen our ties with workers in the Public Finance office, and all other public offices. Some believe it’s the political leaders who make the hospitals, schools, media, and transportation work. They’re not the ones who make sure that public facilities are clean, so that they can be used – that’s a lie. It’s workers who take countries forward. And I know that many of those who work in public administration wish that people like us were governing, so that they could do their jobs, and that they are sick of corrupt and useless leaders like we have had up until now.

We must finally work together – in Europe and for Europe. It’s not necessary to read Karl Marx to know that there are no definitive solutions within the framework of the nation-state. For that reason we must help each other and present ourselves as an alternative for all of Europe.

Winning the elections is far from winning power. That’s why we must bring everyone who is committed to change and decency together around our shared task, which is nothing more than turning the Universal Declaration of Human Rights into a manual for government. Our aim today, unfortunately, is not the withering away of the state, or the disappearance of prisons, or that Earth become a paradise. But we do aspire, as I said, to make it so that all children go to public schools clean and well-fed; that all the elderly receive a pension and be taken care of in the best hospitals; that any young person—independently of who their parents are—be able to go to college; that nobody have their heat turned off in the winter because they can’t pay their bill; that no bank be allowed to leave a family in the street without alternative housing; that everyone be able to work in decent conditions without having to accept shameful wages; that the production of information in newspapers and on television not be a privilege of multi-millionaires; that a country not have to kneel down before foreign speculators. In one word: that a society be able to provide the basic material conditions that make dignity and happiness possible.

These modest objectives that today seem so radical simply represent democracy. Tomorrow is ours, brothers and sisters!

Pablo Iglesias Turrión is a Spanish politician, spokesman and General Secretary of the party Podemos.

Translation by Dan DiMaggio.

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/01/23/change-is-in-the-air-across-southern-europe/

Gallery

Invasion Day 2015

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The Earth asks: what has the LNP done for me?

If you can’t decide who to vote for in the Queensland state election, lend me your ear.  Today I’m wearing my Friends of the Earth hat and this week, the week of the hastily cobbled together Queensland election, the Earth … Continue reading

Gallery

Invasion Day and the Nation State

[PShift friday 23 Jan 2015 4zzz fm 102.1] Ian discusses how the modern nation state overcame aboriginal resistance and went on to colonise Australia. Interview with Les Malezer, co-chair of Aboriginal Congress about recognition of aboriginal and Torres Strait Island … Continue reading

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Australia Day: Indigenous people are told to ‘get over it’. It’s impossible

When Aboriginal people boycott celebrations, we are told to move on. It’s like the breathtaking legacy of disadvantage we have to endure did not exist Every year, Australia tries to wash away its hidden history with displays of overt nationalism. … Continue reading

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Arrested Manus protesters face jail conditions until refugee status decided

[PN: Who can sanction this?] None of the 58 asylum seekers who were arrested following protests have been charged yet face living in prison for an indeterminate time Fifty-eight detainees forcibly removed from the Manus Island detention centre could be … Continue reading

Gallery

Queensland Election 2015

This gallery contains 2 photos.

WBT gives its analysis of the Queensland Election 2015, and the issues raised by the extra-parliamentary opposition. Will Campbell-Newman follow Dennis Napthine in Victoria and be a ‘oncer’? This article gives a roundup of activities by those that would like to see the back of Campbell Newman. In another article Julia could, Annastacia can WBT looks at what may happen if there is a hung parliament.] Continue reading

Protected: Mick Miller – the struggle for Land Rights.

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Anarchy

[PN: Suppose, in the example given, ‘Pompelonia’ is Catalonia, one of the most industrialised parts of Spain in the 1930s; and “C” is Madrid (run by Franco and his supporters). Why then, instead of everything returning to normal as the video says, did Catalonia lose its autonomy and Spain endured 40 years of fascism? Ian Curr, Jan 2015]

Why did Anarchism fail in Spain?
The main weakness of anarchism lies not in ideas but in the struggle itself which becomes a contest for power against the state. The author of the video alludes to this when he states that anarchism does not seem possible. One of the best accounts of what happened in Spain is given in ‘The Communist Movement: From Comintern to Cominform‘ by Fernando Claudín. [Claudín was a Spanish communist who devoted his life to the revolution. He was expelled from the Spanish Communist party in 1964.]

What is the state?
Modern nation states came about through the decline of feudalism … however in 1922, when the Reds defeated the White armies, the Soviet Union was formed. The Reds had wrested control of ‘the state’ previously controlled by the Tsar before 1917 and under siege by imperialists from 1917-1922. [But then, what do i know – my history lecturer, Mrs Cribb, only gave me a credit for my essay on the 1917 Revolution.]

Why voting changes nothing
The modern democratic republic, the freest and most progressive form of the bourgeois state, with universal suffrage, is still an instrument of exploitation of wage labour by capital. The capitalist state is organised coercion and oppression achieved by splitting society into irreconcilable classes.

Monty Python said it best in their satirical Communist Quiz [World Forum]:

Eric Idle: The contestant is Karl Marx and the prize this week is a beautiful lounge suite. (curtains behind Eric sweep open to reveal a beautiful lounge suite; terrific audience applause; Karl comes out and stands in front of this display)

Eric: Now Karl has elected to answer questions on the workers control of factories so here we go with question number one. Are you nervous? (Karl nods his head; Eric reads from a card)

Eric: The development of the industrial proletariat is conditioned by what other development?

Karl: The development of the industrial bourgeoisie.
(applause)

Eric: Yes, yes, it is indeed. You’re on your way to the lounge suite, Karl. Question number two. The struggle of class against class is a what struggle? A what struggle?

Karl: A political struggle.
(Tumultuous applause.)

Eric: Yes, yes! One final question Karl and the beautiful lounge suite will be yours… Are you going to have a go? (Karl nods) You’re a brave man. Karl Marx, your final question, who won the Cup Final in 1949?

Karl: The workers’ control of the means of production? The struggle of the urban proletariat?

Eric: No. It was in fact, Wolverhampton Wanderers who beat Leicester 3-1. Sorry you miss out on the lounge suite.

Karl: Shit!

Eric: No one leaves the show empty handed, so we are going to cut off his hands.

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Photos don’t lie – Manus

This gallery contains 2 photos.

Delta Compound has gone 24 hours without drinking water, after Transfield removed the water bottles from outside the fence. Pictures attached show Delta detainees catching rainwater to try and relieve the water shortage on Monday 20 January. Also pictured are … Continue reading

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