Next Saturday the electorate of Canning, in Western Australia, will go to the polls for a by-election triggered by the death of the sitting member, Don Randall. All eyes* are on Canning because its outcome will likely determine the fate of Australia's current Prime Minister, Tony Abbott. In February, in the aftermath of an attempted leadership spill of his position and amongst flagging opinion polls, Abbott declared 'good government starts today' and pleaded with his party room to give him six more months in which to turn his position in the polls around. Canning is currently a government-held seat, sitting on a margin of 11.8%, and it seems that the metric on which Abbott will be judged is how much that margin shifts. [more inside]
The Australian Government has announced that parents who refuse to vaccinate their children (on the basis of a 'conscientious objection') will no longer have access to key government benefits, including taxpayer funded child care benefits, child care rebates and family tax benefit A. The plan is backed by the Australian Medical Association, and has bipartisan support. More coverage: Sydney Morning Herald. The Australian. Sky News. [more inside]
The UN has released a report finding that Australian policies may breach the international convention against torture. Prime Minister Tony Abbott's response? "I really think Australians are sick of being lectured to by the United Nations." * Not so much. Meanwhile, thousands of letters of support to detainees in Nauru have been returned, undelivered. [more inside]
Barry Spurr, an expert on T. S. Eliot and the Virgin Mary, is Australia's first Professor of Poetry and Poetics. Appointed as one of two English subject specialists to the new Australian Review of the National Curriculum PDF, his concerns that "the Western literary canon" has been neglected and "the impact of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on literature in English in Australia" overemphasized in the existing curriculum are quoted liberally in the final report, which recommends that: "There ... needs to be a greater emphasis on dealing with and introducing literature from the Western literary canon, especially poetry," in Australian schools. The report has met with approval in the right-wing Australian press. Now, emails leaked to the New Matilda show that Spurr has spent the past several years sending messages from his University of Sydney email account referring to Native Australians as "Abos" and human "rubbish" and Asians as "chinky poos," calling Nelson Mandela a "darkie," Desmond Tutu a "witch doctor," and his own Vice Chancellor "an appalling minx," comparing Methodists to "serpents," and referring to women generally as "whores." Now, in the wake of the New Matilda exposé, the University of Sydney is investigating the emails and the Australian Education Minister is denying that the Abbott administration had anything to do with Spurr's appointment. Spurr, meanwhile, maintains that the emails were nothing more than "a whimsical linguistic game" and "repartee" shared with friends, which went right over the heads of the New Matilda journalists. There is also a petition to dismiss Spurr from the Review Commission.
March in August: thousands rally against Tony Abbott by taking to streets:
Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets for the latest wave of protests against the federal government.[more inside]
Demonstrations were held in cities across the country, including Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide, to protest against a range of of social and economic policies being implemented by the Abbott government.
About 3,000 protesters marched through Sydney, voicing their concerns on a range of issues, from Australia's asylum seeker policies, to education cuts and the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
What would you do with an extra $550 a week? Australia is set to become the first government to repeal laws that put a price on carbon, and will instead begin directly paying polluters to stop, polluting. Called "Direct Action", Australia's freshly minted conservative government claims the scheme "will reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions and deliver improvements to our environment" Others think not The government also claims that the world is moving away from market based schemes to direct action schemes, but this claim seems uncertain. The government has also moved to close the Climate Change Authority as well as The Clean Energy Finance Corporation What is Direct Action and how does it differ from an emissions trading scheme? Australia's new Prime Minister has had varying points of view on the science of climate change, and the nations recent attendance at the recent climate change talks in Poland offer a glimpse.
Australia has just had an election and the new Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, has pledged himself to be the first Prime Minister for Indigenous Affairs. But has he properly consulted?
'The Other Election', run by the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME), features over 600 Indigenous kids from around Australia in years 10-12 putting themselves into the hypothetical role of delivering a speech as Australia's first Indigenous prime minister.Ten finalists were announced today. Voting for the top 3 closes 29 January, 2013. The three best are then headed to Canberra to deliver their speeches in parliament. [more inside]
"I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man, I will not. And the Government will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man. Not now, not ever. The Leader of the Opposition says that people who hold sexist views and who are misogynists are not appropriate for high office. Well, I hope the Leader of the Opposition has got a piece of paper and he is writing out his resignation." - The Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard, takes the Leader of the Opposition to task over his sexist views (link includes extracts and video of full fifteen minute speech) [more inside]
The man likely to be Australia's next Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, has used a lunchtime speech to the conservative think-tank the Institute of Public Affairs to call for Australia's racial vilification laws to be wound back. Section 18C makes race hate speech unlawful, but not illegal. Abbott's calls come in the same week that Facebook has been in the firing-line over hosting the controversial "Aboriginal Memes" page. [more inside]
Australian PM Julia Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott are dragged from an Australia Day lunch by their security details after armed Aboriginal protesters surrounded the venue. The protestors arrived from the nearby Tent Embassy after comments made by Tony Abbott that it was time for the Embassy to "move on" - comments particularly pointed on a day many are trying to rebrand as Invasion Day.
An Australian Government Member of Parliament (MP) will be trying to amend a crucial piece of legislation which, if the amendment is successful, will make it far harder (if not impossible) for Australian women to gain access to abortion drug RU486 because of fears that making it easier for women to access the drug will lead Australia down a path of Islamisation. "I've actually read in the Daily Telegraph where a certain imam from the Lakemba mosque actually said that Australia is going to be a Muslim nation in 50 years' time. I didn't believe him at the time but when you actually look at the birthrates... we are aborting ourselves almost out of existence." Liberal MP Danna Vale said today. Has she been reading Metafilter?