Why I’m Shaw about Choice

Abortion-MelbourneThere is more impetus than ever for the Left to be vocal about the right of women to bodily autonomy, writes Sarah Christie.

Abortion law reform has always been a contentious and hotly debated political issue in Victoria. Unfortunately, this statement is still as true today as it ever was. Conservative politicians, religious organisations and bigoted individuals without uteruses continue to view abortions as a procedure that should be criminalised, abolished and banished from society. These people, some of whom are currently elected representatives in the Victorian Parliament, stand between the freedom of choice of all women to decide what happens to their bodies and when. Whilst this is a fight many thought was won back in 2008, it appears that the right to choice is not over yet.

In 2008 the Brumby Labor government (alongside members of the Greens and some Coalition politicians) passed the Abortion Law Reform Act (2008), which decriminalised the act of having an abortion. No longer were women who sought out the procedure faced with the prospect of being a criminal or having to get doctor’s approval and argue their ‘psychological circumstances’ warranted the procedure. Women, for the first time, could choose to have an abortion simply because it was their choice. It was a momentous reform that had been fought for every inch of the way.

Fast-forward to 2014 and, disappointingly, whispers of winding back the clock are afoot.Read More

Why LGBTQI people need Labor – and Labor needs them

Rainbow-Labor-image-CopyThe power of the Labor movement to change society is weakened by progressive LGBTQI youth choosing not becoming involved in the party, writes Rowan Payne.

As a young gay man interested in progressive politics it was easy enough for me to get swept up in the marriage equality debate. Like many LGBTQI youth, I was bitterly disappointed to see a Labor Prime Minister argue against marriage equality. Although I consider it such a shame to see queer youth so disengaged with the Party, I can understand it. I wasn’t sure either when I got involved with Young Labor.

As my involvement in LGBTQI politics grew, I soon realized marriage equality was only one important issue among a swath of policy areas where our community faces discrimination – in healthcare, housing, mental health, the workplace, education and legal rights. I learned about the Rudd/Gillard government’s abolition of discrimination against LGBTQI couples, from healthcare to taxation, after commissioning a report to root out discrimination faced by such couples – changing 85 separate laws in total.

I saw Victorian Labor introduce the Equal Opportunity Act that made it illegal to fire someone just for being gay. This reform was shamefully repealed by the Liberal State Government, highlighting how important Labor governments are to the protection of our rights.Read More

We really must talk about climate change

Climate-ChangeWe can learn an essential lesson about how better to pass meaningful reforms in this country from the collapse of the carbon price, writes Michael Chaitow.

In writing this essay, I do not intend to perform yet another post-mortem on the life and times of the carbon price. Ultimately, we know all too well why this policy failed, and we know exactly how to apportion the blame.

It was a perfect storm. An unfortunate confluence of global financial peril, an unrelenting Opposition Party, and an ideologically intractable Greens Party.

But most prominently, it was the Australian Labor Party. The Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme was an effectively designed suite of policies, developed to address one of the most significant problems that the modern world has ever faced. However, we failed to reflect the seriousness of the issue, by refusing to do whatever was necessary to address it.Read More

Unemployment: Why Governments Create It and How to Eliminate It

Unemployment-1024x409A job-guarantee program, providing unconditional employment to those unable to find work, would solve the serious social and economic problems of unemployment, writes Sam O’Leary.

Unemployment is the biggest economic and social scourge that Australia faces. The existence of unemployment is the cause of unimaginable social ruin. It is the leading cause of poverty in Australia, it is a major cause of family breakdown, of mental and physical illness, of social unrest, of crime, and the list goes on. The worst part is that as well as being the most socially destructive force in the country, unemployment is also an economic tool used by governments in the misguided pursuit of price stability.

The fiscal and monetary policy pursued by all Australian governments since the 1980s has presented inflation as our biggest problem, and the way to solve it is with unemployment. Government policy actively seeks to keep Australians unemployed, as their unemployment is said to be the only way to prevent inflation breaking out in the economy. Government policy aims to keep the official unemployment rate at 4-5%, as any lower and we are told we risk serious and destructive inflation. On one hand we are told that having 750,000 people unemployed and a further million or so underemployed is the equivalent of full-employment, and on the other hand we hear the government demonise the very people they are keeping unemployed as ‘dole bludgers’ and provide only the most meagre of support to them. This is the great contradiction of Australian social and economic policy, and it is based on defunct economics.Read More