Julia writes again…from Australia
Our NZ cartoonist, artist and campaigner Julia Forbes Winby has resumed writing from Melbourne, Australia.
It all seems a long way from her former home on Waiheke Island, but she is now able to let us know what the Aussies are up to.
And it seems they’re well and truly on the road to the right. Here’s Julia’s piece —
Life with the Aussie rightwingersBy Julia Forbes Winby in Seddon, Melbourne, Victoria
I am happily settling into life in the Seddon suburb of Melbourne — and I must say things are a bit different from Waiheke in New Zealand.
When it comes to commenting on the politics of Australia, like politics everywhere, there are worries. Since the last Federal Elections last year, Australia has a rightwing Coalition government led by Tony Abbott.
Rightwingers love these – dollops of money come in and responsibilities vanish. The question is always about long term effects. On the list are; Snowy Hydro, co-owned by the NSW govt. and Victoria; Australia Post, which has to change some of its systems as circumstances alter; also earmarked for sale are Australian Hearing Services, Australian Submarine Corp, Defence Housing and Australian Rail Track Corp. They are called businesses, although many argue that they are important to the community as services.
It’s is a vital function. The continent of Australia is rich in underground resources. Prudent management of mines and exploitation of those resources are of vital importance to Australia’s future. One recent disaster was a fire at the opencast coal mine of Hazelwood, where the resultant air pollution badly affected the health of residents of nearby Morwell. Often in the news is mining magnate, Gina Reinhart, whose family are warring over money, which family members hold office on Trusts.
Refugees and Asylum seekers
International law is very clear on the obligation on all countries to respect the rights of refugees and asylum seekers,
The Abbott government, however, has stated firmly that those arriving or attempting to arrive in Australia by boat without the necessary documentation will be turned away, sent to camps on Manus or Christmas Islands or sent back whence they came to face whatever hostilities caused them to flee in the first place.
The latest callous act has been to commandeer a boatload of Sri Lankan refugees and hand them over to the Sri Lankan navy to be returned there to face imprisonment and possible torture.
Press headlines announce a projected military alliance involving Australia, India, Japan and the USA, its purpose being to “contain China”.
Military , especially naval, exercises are planned cooperatively. This does not look good for the marine environment. Already the Great Barrier Reef, a world heritage site, is threatened by run-offs from the mainland of Australia. The last thing the oceans need is the noise and pollution from warships playing war games, with a view to warfare developing in earnest.
And that’s it for now — more in my next column.