Australian Social Issues & Inequality

Australian state government drafts anti-free speech defamation laws

By Patrick Kelly, 12 January 2015

Having already banned anti-business protests, the Tasmanian government is preparing laws to allow companies to sue anyone criticising their activities.

Australian establishment lays out agenda after Sydney siege

By James Cogan, 23 December 2014

The prime minister signalled with a cabinet reshuffle how he intends to exploit the hostage crisis to implement austerity as well as boost the “war on terror.”

Eight children found dead in Cairns, Australia

By Will Morrow, 20 December 2014

A mother has been charged with murder, pointing to tragic circumstances and a worsening social crisis.

Jobless toll continues to rise in Australia

By Mike Head, 13 December 2014

There are now about five times as many unemployed workers as the number of job advertisements.

Australia: Eleven-year-old Aboriginal boy commits suicide

By Susan Allan, 8 December 2014

A record level of suicides by Aboriginal children and teenagers is a product of decades of poverty and a damning indictment of the profit system.

Youth in Australia worse off than their parents

By Zac Hambides, 3 December 2014

This generation of young people will become the first in the post-war period to have a lower standard of living than their parents.

The Australian Greens and “human rights” imperialism

By James Cogan, 29 November 2014

At the recent G20 summit, the Greens singled out Chinese President Xi Jingping to present a protest letter on “human rights”—in line with Washington’s confrontational stance towards Beijing.

Australian government outlines major cuts to public broadcasters

By Oliver Campbell, 21 November 2014

The spending cuts go hand-in-hand with disciplining the ABC to ensure that it functions more closely as a propaganda arm of government.

Australian state government unveils huge asset sales

By Barry Andrews, 29 October 2014

The Queensland government’s privatisation plan is in response to the end of the mining export boom in Australia and the collapse of its revenue base.

Poverty and inequality worsening in Australia

By Alan Leigh, 23 October 2014

Nearly 14 percent of the Australian population is living in poverty, according to a report by the Australian Council of Social Service.

Burqas banned in Australian parliament

By Richard Phillips, 10 October 2014

The ban was issued during a series of terror scares designed to justify the US war in Iraq and Syria and draconian new anti-terror legislation.

Australian paramilitary police kill man in Brisbane siege

By Mike Head, 30 September 2014

Television news footage showed police commandos firing multiple shots at pointblank range at the man.

Job cuts mounting in Australia as mining slump intensifies

By Terry Cook, 26 September 2014

In the past week alone, coal mine closures in central Queensland have directly destroyed another 700 jobs.

Australia: Tasmanian budget cuts public sector jobs, wages

By Patrick Kelly, 2 September 2014

Tasmania already has the worst poverty and unemployment levels of any Australian state.

Australian budget protests: A political balance sheet

By the Socialist Equality Party (Australia), 30 August 2014

Protest organisers have channelled public opposition into the dead-end of parliamentary manoeuvre, promoting the illusion that Labor and the Greens would block the budget measures.

Australia: Real wages cut as corporate profits soar

By Terry Cook, 21 August 2014

Pay levels of casualised workers in the private sector are increasing at less than half the inflation rate, while the wealthy elite reaps the benefits.

Australia: Deaths of young homeless couple highlight social crisis

By Daniel Saul, 20 August 2014

Homelessness has risen due to the pro-business policies of both major parties.

Australian journalist targeted under Racial Discrimination Act over Israel war coverage

By Laura Tiernan, 19 August 2014

Mike Carlton’s resignation was the result of a concerted campaign by Murdoch’s News Limited and the right-wing Zionist lobby.

Australian unemployment rate rises to highest level in 12 years

By Will Morrow, 8 August 2014

The July figures begin to show the impact of an ongoing tidal wave of job cuts, plus the lack of new jobs for young people.

Political crisis intensifies over Australian austerity budget

By Mike Head, 7 August 2014

Because of the popular hostility to the key social spending cuts, none of the “cross-bench” senators feels able to publicly support them.

Australian government moves to cut public sector pay and conditions

By Terry Cook, 7 August 2014

The proposed DHS agreement will create a benchmark to impose similar attacks on other federal public sector workers.

Unemployed Australians to be forced to apply for 40 jobs a month

By Mike Head, 30 July 2014

The new rules are designed to cut thousands off welfare benefits, and coerce them into low-paid work.

Australia: Queensland by-election highlights discontent over austerity

By Mike Head, 23 July 2014

The state government’s defeat reflects, in a confused form, the widespread outrage toward the assault by state and federal governments on social spending.

Australian youth and workers denounce cuts to Sunday pay rates

By our reporters, 16 July 2014

The decision will have devastating consequences for tens of thousands of poorly-paid workers.

Australia’s Rich List: “Big wealth is back”

By Alan Leigh, 3 July 2014

The number of billionaires reached a record of 39, primarily because of rises in property and share values.

Australian government report outlines dismantling of welfare system

By Richard Phillips, 1 July 2014

The proposed measures would see thousands of people forced into deeper poverty and low-wage employment.

Australian Senate pushes through budget appropriation bills

By Mike Head, 1 July 2014

While not ending the impasse of the budget, Labor and the Greens have quietly passed the essential legislation to allow the Abbott government to keep functioning.

Growing social inequality in Australia

By Richard Phillips, 20 June 2014

New data shows that Australia’s richest 1 percent own the same wealth as the bottom 60 percent of the population.

Australian minimum wage ruling grants a pittance

By Mike Head, 10 June 2014

According to the Fair Work Commission’s own data, many workers on the minimum wage will remain in poverty.

Freedom of speech and the debate over Australia’s Racial Discrimination Act

By the Socialist Equality Party, 10 June 2014

Principled socialist politics insists that the defence of democratic rights, including the fight against racism, can never be ceded to the capitalist state.

Students and workers consider SEP’s analysis

By our reporters, 3 June 2014

Workers in Sydney’s west speak out against Australian budget

By our reporters, 28 May 2014

Mount Druitt and Bidwill residents voice their concerns about the Abbott government’s social austerity measures.

Budget shock creates problems for Australian government

By Nick Beams, 26 May 2014

Opposition to the budget is growing as its measures are increasingly exposed as benefiting the wealthy at the expense of the majority.

Australia: Labor opposition pledges to match government’s budget austerity

By Mike Head, 22 May 2014

Shadow treasurer Bowen boasted that Labor had a proven track record of imposing the dictates of finance capital to slash public spending.

The Australian budget and the dictatorship of finance capital

By Nick Beams, 22 May 2014

The doctrine espoused by Hockey for ending the “age of entitlement” expresses the material interests of finance capital.

Australia: Financial ratings agency cracks the whip on budget

By Mike Head, 20 May 2014

Standard & Poor’s said Australia’s triple-A credit rating was at risk if the government did not overcome the popular opposition to the budget.

WSWS speaks with workers and youth about Australian budget

By our reporters, 20 May 2014

Australia: Victorian government promotes another pro-business austerity budget

By Patrick O’Connor, 10 May 2014

This week’s budget saw the state government trumpet its pro-business and pro-austerity credentials.

Australia: Storm of corporate protest against deficit levy

By Peter Symonds, 7 May 2014

Nothing could more clearly expose the entire political establishment than the hysterical opposition to a small, temporary tax on the top 15 percent of taxpayers.

Australian prime minister outlines budget attacks on welfare and health

By Nick Beams, 29 April 2014

Far from being for the good of the “country,” as Abbott claims, the planned budget cuts hit hardest at those on the lowest incomes.

More than a bottle of wine involved in ousting of Australian state premier

By Nick Beams, 17 April 2014

The scandal that led to NSW Premier O’Farrell’s sudden resignation is about effecting a further lurch to the right by governments at the state and federal level.

Australian treasurer calls for “a global age of responsibility”

By Mike Head, 11 April 2014

Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey outlined a fundamental assault on social spending in Australia and internationally, in line with the demands of the global financial elite.

Australian government instigates moves to quash PNG judge’s refugee inquiry

By Eduardo Ballesteros, 28 March 2014

The Papua New Guinea government, at Canberra’s behest, is blocking a judicial inquiry into abuses against refugees inside Australia’s detention camp on Manus Island.

“No section of public housing is safe”

Inner-Sydney tenants denounce government’s privatisation

By our reporters, 26 March 2014

Following the New South Wales Liberal government’s announcement that it was privatising all public housing in the area, WSWS reporters spoke with residents of Millers Point and The Rocks.

Australia: State government to sell off Sydney Harbour public housing

By Stephen Griffiths, 26 March 2014

The NSW government aims to drive low-paid workers and pensioners out of inner Sydney.

Australia: Mounting anger over coal mine fire health crisis

By Daniel Saul, 22 March 2014

The official response underscored the utter contempt for working class communities like Morwell and neighbouring towns.

Australia: Massive fire at Sydney’s Barangaroo building site

By Eduardo Ballesteros, 21 March 2014

A construction site blaze highlights the drastic deterioration of health and safety in Australian workplaces.

Australia: Ex-Labor minister urges sweeping attack on workers’ conditions

By Terry Cook, 19 March 2014

Martin Ferguson accused the Abbott government of being too “timid” on industrial relations “reform.”

Australian youth unemployment reaches “crisis point”

By Alan Leigh, 10 March 2014

Joblessness among young workers is comparable to levels across southern Europe, where governments have imposed savage austerity measures.

Australian trade unions move to enforce Qantas layoffs, wage cuts

By Patrick O’Connor, 1 March 2014

The unions have no problem with making workers bear the cost of the Qantas crisis, but want to maintain their privileged position within the airline industry.

Australian regional brewery closure announced

By Joshua Newsham, 1 March 2014

In one shutdown after another, the unions have functioned on behalf of management to suppress any struggle to defend jobs.

Australian coal mine fire endangers working-class town

By Daniel Saul, 28 February 2014

Despite health warnings about the dangers of toxic smoke and ash, residents of Morwell have received virtually no assistance from the government or the corporate mine owners.

Australia: Community services minister denounces public housing tenants

By Stephen Griffiths and Richard Phillips, 26 February 2014

New South Wales minister attacks residents, claiming they are responsible for conditions produced by decades of poverty, government cost-cutting and social neglect.

Job losses sweep through Australian economy

By Zac Hambides, 22 February 2014

The official unemployment rate in Australia has hit a ten-year high.

Australian state government closes disability support facilities

By Max Newman, 21 February 2014

The closure of Newcastle’s Stockton Centre exposes the purpose of the former Labor government’s National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Australian corporate profits soar at workers’ expense

By Mike Head, 20 February 2014

CEOs are being rewarded for slashing costs, along with the livelihoods of many thousands of people.

Australian government to expand “work for the dole”

By Mark Church, 11 February 2014

By forcing the unemployed to perform demoralising work, the program seeks to humiliate, harass and coerce them into low-paid jobs.

Tragic death of homeless woman in Sydney

By Mark Church and Mike Head, 8 February 2014

Despite the concerns of local residents, Monika Chetty’s plight was ignored by authorities until she was found with fatal burns.

Australian union leader backs government drive to lower wages

By Patrick O’Connor, 6 February 2014

Howes appealed for a new “Grand Compact” between unions, business and government.

Australian rich list: “A billionaire bounty”

By Will Morrow, 6 February 2014

The wealth of the top 50 Australians increased by 49 percent over the past three years.

Australian government SPC decision signals broad assault on wages and conditions

By Patrick O’Connor, 5 February 2014

The government has rejected calls for a subsidy for SPC and vilified workers for their “extraordinary” wages and conditions.

Australia Day 2014 used to promote the military

By Will Morrow, 29 January 2014

In contrast to previous years, the official celebrations last Sunday took on a distinctly militarist tone.

Australia: Glaring social inequality in Sydney

By Mark Church, 25 January 2014

A comparison between Mosman, on Sydney’s north shore, and the working class suburb of Liverpool provides a glimpse of Australia’s social polarisation.

Liverpool residents condemn Australia’s growing social divide

By our reporters, 25 January 2014

The WSWS interviewed people in Liverpool’s shopping mall about the increasingly obvious inequality in Sydney.

Australian government prepares sweeping welfare cuts

By Patrick O’Connor, 22 January 2014

The review is part of the preparations for an austerity budget but has a longer term agenda involving the elimination of entire welfare programs.

Scores of homes destroyed in Western Australian bushfires

By Joe Lopez, 18 January 2014

Following major bushfires in the Perth Hills, the state government attempted to blame residents for not maintaining “private” power poles.

Australia: Reactionary “law and order” campaign follows fatal assault on teenager

By Oliver Campbell, 17 January 2014

The political establishment cannot allow any objective discussion of the social factors that produced the death of 18-year-old Daniel Christie.

Australia’s construction industry claims another life

By Terry Cook, 16 January 2014

While the causes of the death remain unclear, the circumstances raise questions about poor conditions and safety standards on construction sites.

Australia: Former Labor prime ministers call on conservative government to slash spending more quickly

By Richard Phillips, 11 January 2014

Hawke and Keating are calling for immediate austerity measures to cut the projected $47 billion deficit.

Australian fruit cannery sacks workers, threatens closure

By Will Marshall, 9 January 2014

SPC’s closure would devastate Shepparton, which has a population of just over 60,000 and an already high official unemployment rate of 8.6 percent.

Australian union calls for auto funding switch to military spending

By Terry Cook, 8 January 2014

Under the AMWU’s plan, the very future of thousands of workers is to be tied directly to the war aims of Australian and US imperialism.

Australia: Defend Medicare rally promotes Labor Party

By Oliver Campbell, 7 January 2014

The protest was called in response to proposals for upfront fees for visits to doctors.

Australia: Teenage girl assaulted by train ticket inspectors

By Tania Baptist, 28 December 2013

Working class youth are systematically targeted and harassed by ticket inspectors, security personnel, and police, who know they are essentially immune from prosecution.

Australia: A tidal wave of job losses

By Zac Hambides, 18 December 2013

The gutting of manufacturing since the 2008 global crash is being compounded by rising job losses in the mining sector, retail closures and public sector cuts.

Australian government blocks US takeover of key agribusiness

By Patrick O’Connor, 30 November 2013

The decision underscores the sharp divisions wracking the unstable coalition government of Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Australian government moves to gut public education funding

By Patrick O’Connor, 27 November 2013

The Abbott government will next year unveil a new funding model that will be even more heavily skewed against public schools.

Australia: “Market rents” imposed on public housing tenants

By Gabriela Zabala, 30 October 2013

Many homes will be valued at a higher rate, which will push up the rents by $40 to $100 per week.

Sydney public housing residents denounce rent rises and poor conditions

By our correspondents, 30 October 2013

Tenants across the city discuss the impact of the new “bed taxes” and “market rents” and the government’s refusal to carry out basic repairs.

Australian state government announces “performance pay” school regime

By Will Marshall and Patrick O’Connor, 29 October 2013

Each year, between 20 and 40 percent of teachers will be arbitrarily declared “underperforming,” denied incremental salary increases and threatened with dismissal.

Australia: Escalating need for food handouts

By Alex Messenger, 22 October 2013

More than 50 percent of those receiving Foodbank services have a job, reflecting the rise of casual and part-time work, as well as declining real wages.

Australia: Greens promoted at refugee protests

By Will Marshall, 26 August 2013

Thousands joined protests in Australian capital cities against the brutal anti-refugee policies of the Labor government and opposition Coalition.

End the scourge of homelessness

By Zac Hambides—SEP Senate candidate for NSW, 20 August 2013

Rising homelessness is a product of the worsening social crisis generated by the global breakdown of capitalism and compounded by government austerity measures.

Australia’s new disability scheme: A vehicle for austerity

By Gabriela Zabala—SEP Senate candidate for Queensland, 13 July 2013

The National Disability Insurance Scheme is not just consistent with Labor’s broader cost-cutting agenda, but pivotal to it.

Australian PM outlines new pro-business “productivity” agenda

By Patrick O’Connor, 12 July 2013

The speech, a pro-business manifesto, marked the first elaboration of Rudd’s economic program since he returned as prime minister late last month.

Australian coroner’s report points to Labor’s responsibility for insulation deaths

By Terry Cook, 11 July 2013

Prime Minister Rudd cynically apologised to the families of four young men killed when working for contractors under the home insulation scheme.

Growing hardship in mining town of Cessnock

By our correspondents, 29 June 2013

Young workers spoke about the social impact of job destruction, rising levels of unemployment and financial stress.

Australian wage tribunal gives pittance to low-paid workers

By Terry Cook, 15 June 2013

The 41 cents an hour pay rise will further entrench the social hardship facing 1.5 million minimum wage workers.

Corporate Australia unleashes wave of job cuts

By Terry Cook, 12 June 2013

Slowing growth and falling international demand for minerals is producing escalating job destruction across Australia.

Two reports show escalating social inequality in Australia

By Terry Cook, 8 June 2013

There is a widening gulf between a thin super-rich layer and millions of ordinary people facing worsening economic hardship.

Sri Lankan correspondent explains why refugees are fleeing to Australia

By Mike Head, 12 April 2013

Hundreds of refugees are leaving because of severe economic hardship and repression by the Sri Lankan government and the military.

Social crisis to intensify after Western Australian election

By Dragan Slavkov and Celeste Lopez, 9 March 2013

The escalating assault on jobs, living standards and basic services will widen the already glaring levels of inequality.

Australian hospital funding cuts cause bed closures

By Will Morrow, 24 January 2013

While being presented as accounting corrections, these cutbacks are entirely in line with the federal Labor government’s so-called health care reform program.

Australian government cuts welfare payments to single parents

By Mark Church, 5 January 2013

As well as suffering a drastic drop in income, sole parents will be forced to actively search for work.

Australian dole recipients struggle to survive

By our correspondents, 5 January 2013

The WSWS interviewed unemployed workers in Sydney and Melbourne about the Labor government’s latest welfare cut.

Australian government rejects refugee protest letter

By Mike Head, 31 December 2012

At least 155 people, including about 30 children, are now detained on Manus Island, with many housed in tents and shipping containers.

Australia: Christmas period highlights mounting social crisis

By Mark Church, 24 December 2012

The sharp economic downturn, compounded by federal and state government cuts, is driving new layers of the working class into poverty.

Report details widespread poverty in Australia

By Patrick O’Connor, 16 October 2012

The findings are a devastating indictment of the Labor government and its pro-business restructuring agenda.

Australian police Taser attack kills Brazilian student

By Zac Hambides, 21 March 2012

All the evidence indicates that police used potentially lethal force against an innocent young man, Roberto Laudisio Curti.

Official report confirms growing inequality in Australia

By Alex Messenger, 26 October 2011

The statistics indicate that the wealthy have been able to exploit the global financial crisis to profit at the expense of ordinary people.

Mortgage stress rising in Australia

By Eduardo Ballesteros, 21 October 2011

The Moody’s report provides a glimpse of the mounting financial distress being experienced by working class households, even before the current barrage of manufacturing job losses.