Gillard: new leader, same racist, pro-big business politics

On June 24, Julia Gillard was sworn in as Australia’s first woman prime minister after the right-wing faction withdrew its support for Kevin Rudd. Rudd’s support had evaporated so quickly that he didn’t even contest the leadership ballot. This made Rudd one of the shortest serving prime ministers, the shortest being Frank Forde who held the office for eight days in 1945. As Rudd’s deputy and his minister for workplace relations, employment, education and “social inclusion”, Gillard proved to be as conservative as any other Labor cabinet member.

Bipartisan racism

The Northern Territory Emergency Response legislation, commonly referred to as the NT Intervention, is a prime example of the ALP’s and Coalition’s bipartisan approach to racism. Initiated by the Howard government months before it lost the 2007 election, the intervention was readily continued by the Labor government. It has proved to be what Aboriginal people and their supporters feared — a racist attack on Aboriginal self-determination and a land grab.

'Small Australia' is implicitly racist

Racism is at the forefront of the 2010 Australian election. Both Labor and Coalition politicians use some of their most passionate language to convey the false idea that the few thousand Afghan and other Asian asylum seekers who have arrived by boat are responsible for a host of problems caused by their own decisions to prioritise corporate profits before social needs, such as their encouragement of suburban sprawl and lack of funding of public transport and public health services.

Direct Action Fund Appeal: Help fight racism

In a surprising turn of affairs, the Queensland Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC) confirmed on June 18 that it was commencing two separate investigations in relation to the death in custody in 2004 of Palm Island man Mulrunji Doomadgee. A report released by the CMC noted that it will investigate compensation claims made by previously exonerated officer Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley, who was responsible for Mulrunji’s death, as well as matters surrounding the initial police investigation.

Labor's refugee policies open way for Coalition attacks

The federal Labor government is increasingly rejecting Afghan refugees — at a rate of more than 40%, compared with only 5% a year ago, according to a report in the June 17 Australian. More than 220 Afghans had been denied “in the last month or two”, said immigration minister Chris Evans. Afghans were the biggest group of asylum-seekers arriving at Christmas Island in the past year and half.

Population control: environmentalism or racism?

Australia’s population, currently 22.4 million, is predicted to rise to 35.9 million by 2050, according to the Australian Treasury Department’s Intergenerational Report 2010, released by federal treasurer Wayne Swan on February 1. On April 3, then-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd appointed Tony Burke as Australia’s first population minister to “help guide the development of policies to meet Australia’s future population needs”. The predicted population growth and the appointment of Burke as population minister elicited commentary from across the political spectrum on the desirability of such growth and the supposed effects it will have.

Rudd challenges Gillard

Revolutionary Socialist Party federal election candidate Van Rudd, June 25, outside newly sword-in Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s electorate office in the south-western Melbourne suburb of Werribee. ABC News Online reported the same day: “Former prime minister Kevin Rudd’s nephew says he now has more reasons for fighting Julia Gillard in her seat at the next election.

Labor re-opens Curtin 'hell hole'

About 200 male Afghan asylum seekers who have had their asylum claims suspended were taken to the re-opened Curtin air base detention centre in Australia’s remote north-west on June 19-20, ABC News reported. Over a 1000 asylum seekers were once held in this remote location by the previous Howard government.

Afghanistan war: Let the refugees in!

The Rudd Labor government is supporting US President Obama’s intensification of the war in Afghanistan, which can only increase the number of Afghan refugees. Yet at the same time, Labor is preparing to deport en masse Afghan asylum seekers, who have had their claims for protection visas frozen. According to the Melbourne-based Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, refugee and humanitarian entrants are at the lowest level in 35 years: just 6.6% of the government’s overall immigration program.

Labor scapegoats overseas vocational students

On February 8, Australian immigration minister Senator Chris Evans announced a review of the skilled migration program. The skilled migration program is aimed at attracting workers from abroad who hold skills that Australia’s capitalists especially need. These skills, listed on the immigration department’s Skilled Occupation List (SOL), contribute to eligibility for permanent residency.