Cross-posted from Larvatus Prodeo. Thanks to Mark Bahnisch for convincing me to return to this subject.
I have to confess that I couldn’t bring myself to watch Monday’s Four Corners on the scandal of Australia’s “offshore” asylum seeker processing regime. I’m on the Sydney Refugee Action Coalition email list and read horrifying stories from Manus Island on an almost daily basis. Rather than being numbed by this atrocity exhibition I am scared I will simply lose control of my rage and frustration if I have to actually see the human cost on TV.
What makes me doubly angry is that it is a Labor government doing this. Now, I’m one of those hardened Marxist types who expects the reformists to do bad stuff, but there is something debased in this government’s attempts to surpass Howard’s record in “toughness” on refugees. To hear that Labor is now back-flipping on its policy of keeping children out of mainland detention centres just days after the Four Corners special suggests that their strategy is to plough ahead undeterred by basic questions of human decency. Clearly this government is not for turning; at least not in this race to the bottom. Continue Reading
Golden Dawn’s MPs in the Greek parliament
by KEVIN OVENDEN
Below are the points, updated and a little amplified, I made in a contribution to the highly successful Unite Against Fascism conference in London on 2 March. The speech (and I’ve incorporated my summing up) was in a workshop with Petros Constantinou from Greece, Marwan Mohammed from France and Glyn Ford MEP from Britain, who all made extremely clear and thought-provoking contributions.
Asylum issues behind them, Gillard and Bowen address, er, new asylum issues
When I wrote the Overland blog entry below, it was just before Newspoll showed a big jump for the ALP to a (still disastrous) 35 percent primary and 47 percent 2PP. As usual many in the commentariat saw this brief upward blip as an excess of swallows presaging summer, replaying the familiar tropes about Gillard having “cleared the decks” on asylum seekers and the carbon tax, and now being able to focus on “Labor” issues like disability and education. Suddenly Tony Abbott had to shape up or face losing the next election. And the chances of Kevin Rudd being an option were evaporating (although one would’ve thought that the ritual character assassination of Rudd in February was enough to make him an improbable choice no matter how bad polls got).
Tears in parliament, but no solution in sight
Left Flank has been away on holiday, but we’re back now. Below is a repost of my response to the sickening asylum seeker “debate” that happened in late June. Since then the issue has been shifted off to an elite “expert” committee which, as The Piping Shrike has pointed out, represents the exhaustion of the Gillard government’s agenda in political terms.
MUA protest against the Enterprise Migration Agreement
I’m reposting a recent piece I wrote for Overland Journal’s blog, in response to the debate over the contentious Enterprise Migration Agreement negotiated between the Gillard government and Gina Rinehart to allow the mining billionaire to import up to 1700 skilled workers from overseas. It was written as an open letter to Paul Howes after an op-ed he wrote. He has indicated he’s interested in responding formally at some point.
For some background on the question of migrant workers in the context of the notorious “British Jobs for British Workers” campaign a few years ago, this excellent essay by UK-based political economist Jane Hardy is highly recommended.
And here is an excerpt from a speech by AMWU Western Australian State Secretary Steve McCartney at a fringe event at the recent ACTU conference.
Welcome to the first post of the new Left Flank. We’ve moved from Blogger to WordPress, hosted at the lovely http://brellabee.com/ As you can see we’re still working on porting all the old comments from Disqus to the new platform. Time to change your RSS feed or subscribe by email (see the sidebar on the right of the page).
While we’ve been effecting that change, we’ve also started our new fortnightly blog at the Overland Literary Journal website, which has also had a spiffy redesign! My first post went up on 29 March, a review of David Marr’s latest book on the politics of fear, which is reposted below for your pleasure.
ABC’s The Drum Unleashed has published my analysis of refugee policy today. I take on Robert Manne’s recent surrender to the inevitability of coercive state policy towards asylum seekers as a fact of political life: