8 February 2021.
Editorial Peter Whiting
Hopeful signs have emerged in recent months:
- The inauguration of Biden as US President and a return to more humane priorities.
- Containment of Covid infections in Australia, with vaccine rollouts around the world.
- The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons came into effect on 22 January, signed by 86 countries (although not Australia).
- Momentum is growing towards net-zero emissions by 2050, amid signs the Morrison Government is moving to embrace this ambitious target.
The government’s mantra is technology not taxes: populist drivel designed to avoid having to argue substance. It makes you wonder whether those in government are capable of an argument of substance. Instead, they emphasise some hoped-for technology improvement, so they can continue to back coal.
The invasion by Trump supporters of the US Capitol has exposed fractures not only in US society and among Christians, but also dismal and divided leadership among US bishops, and a failure to be well guided by Catholic social teaching. The so-called ‘culture wars’ helped undermine resistance to neoliberal ideology, and left many Americans vulnerable to right-wing political machinations. Pope Francis is insisting against neo-conservative Catholics that the teachings from the Second Vatican Council are not up for negotiation, including teachings on social justice and globalisation.
It’s true that the per-capita emissions of the super-rich are likely to be far greater than those of others in the top 1%. But this doesn’t negate the uncomfortable fact Australians are among a fraction of the global population monopolising global wealth. This group causes the vast bulk of the world’s climate damage.
Perhaps we will also see humane solutions for those who came by boat seeking Australia’s protection, but are still detained in hotels and remote detention facilities, including young children.
There are glimmers of hope. In recent days, for instance, the Australia government released dozens of refugees and asylum seekers from detention.
What I’ve found suggests that the ‘casual’ employment relationship is not about doing work for which employers need flexibility. It’s not about workers doing things which need doing at varying times for short periods. The flexibility is really in employers’ ability to hire and fire, thereby increasing their power. For many casual employees, there’s no real flexibility, only permanent insecurity.
The Government’s fetish for deregulation plays right into the hands of predatory multinationals Uber and Deliveroo, which exploit Australia’s tax and labour laws to siphon profits overseas. Michael West and Callum Foote report on Uber’s exploitation and the prospective tsunami of lawsuits rolling its way.
Picture the Uber or Deliveroo driver belting down the expressway in the pouring rain on a moped. It’s night time, the trucks are whizzing past. The rider is hell-bent on getting that pizza to its destination on time and getting that $15 fee. No sick leave for this worker: no holiday leave either, no superannuation, no workplace cover, no insurance.
There is strong evidence of progress in Australia’s journey towards reconciliation. This is despite some well-founded disappointments, particularly over the response of the Australian Government to the Uluru Statement from the Heart. This progress is borne out of data in the Australian Reconciliation Barometer, the RAP Impact Measurement Report, the many case studies of success and progress, and is the consensus from the stakeholders interviewed by Reconciliation Australia. We are moving closer than ever to becoming a reconciled nation.
Photo PINKE. flickr cc.