Australian Social Issues & Inequality

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.

Workers struggle in “boom” state of Western Australia

By Joe Lopez and James Cogan, 29 July 2011

Official figures disguise the immense contradictions and regressive social impact of the mining boom.

Australia: Labor’s “welfare quarantining” trials target unemployed

By Will Morrow, 1 July 2011

The WSWS spoke to unemployed people in the Sydney suburb of Bankstown, one of the working class areas selected by the Gillard government for welfare-cutting trials.

Australian government to stop welfare payments to teenage mothers

By Tania Baptist, 29 June 2011

The scheme is part of various measures aimed at forcing the disabled, the long-term unemployed, and single mothers off welfare and into the workforce, where they will become a new source of cheap labour.

“Putting mothers and babies under grossly unfair pressure”

By Tania Baptist, 29 June 2011

The WSWS interviewed advocates for single mothers and welfare recipients about the implications of the Gillard government’s trials, which will suspend welfare payments for teenage parents.

Australian tribunal allows greater exploitation of student labour

By Mike Head, 27 June 2011

The ruling is part of a concerted government-backed drive to slash wages and conditions of low-paid retail workers amid falling sales, a wave of store closures and signs of deepening slump.

Mining boom boosts Australia’s ultra-wealthy

By Peter Byrne, 15 June 2011

Four out of the top five on the Rich 200 List made their fortunes in the mining sector, pointing to the growing weight of the major miners within the ruling elite.

Corporate executive pay hits “stratospheric new heights” in Australia

By Terry Cook, 1 December 2010

Two reports on executive remuneration reveal that Australia’s corporate and financial elite are taking home millions of dollars while workers and their families suffer increasing levels of financial and social stress.

Australia: Labor government accelerates rundown and privatisation of public housing

By Will Marshall, 24 November 2010

Successive Labor and Liberal governments in Victoria have starved public housing of funds. The most disadvantaged people in the state currently languish on waiting lists for almost three times as long as they did when the Labor government was first elected in 1999.

Australia: Privatisations send electricity prices surging

By Alex Messenger, 16 November 2010

With privatisation driving an expected rise in electricity prices by 100 percent in the next five to seven years, growing numbers of working people are having difficulties paying their bills.

Global financial crisis leaves two million Australians in poverty

By Mike Head, 4 November 2010

Beneath the surface of the mining-led “recovery”, millions of ordinary people are suffering economic insecurity, acute financial difficulties and housing stress.

Australian election: The Labor government’s childcare backdown and the profit system

By Tania Baptist and Socialist Equality Party candidate for Gellibrand, 23 July 2010

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has made clear that Labor’s construction halt on new childcare centres, which was imposed at the behest of the private for-profit childcare operators, will be maintained.

Australian government targets diabetes sufferers to cut health costs

By John Mackay, 23 June 2010

Diabetes patients are to be a test case for a new health blueprint designed to ration access to medical care.

Australia: Unemployment statistics mask job crisis

By James Cogan, 12 June 2010

Hundreds of thousands of people who want and need full time jobs do not show up in the figures because they are not counted as unemployed.

“Casemix”: The model for cutting Australian hospital spending

By Margaret Rees and Mike Head, 26 April 2010

The Rudd government’s hospital plan centres on using the “casemix” funding model to slash costs and ration patients’ access to services.

Australia’s wealthiest executives “back in the money”

By Chris Johnson, 6 April 2010

Australia’s richest 200 executives saw their wealth rebound 72 percent last year, in a list dominated by mining and finance companies.

Australia: Media demands stricter health care “rationing”

By Patrick O’Connor, 2 April 2010

Encouraged and emboldened by what was said during the televised debate between Rudd and Abbott, the media is now urging the Labor government to go further.

Australia: Rudd government unveils plan to cut health spending

By Mike Head, 6 March 2010

Despite being presented as an historic “reform,” the plan has nothing to do with resolving the worsening crisis in the chronically under-funded health system.

Australia: Queensland trials scheme to punish parents of truants

By Tess Gordon, 16 February 2010

In a trial scheme in Queensland, parents in the impoverished working class suburbs of Logan are having their welfare payments stripped if their children fail to attend school.

Australia: Victorian government attempts to pre-empt findings of bushfire investigation

By Margaret Rees, 11 July 2009

In an extraordinary political manoeuvre, Victorian premier John Brumby has moved to pre-empt potentially damaging findings by the state’s royal commission into the February 7 “Black Saturday” bushfires.

Australia: Low-wage workers’ pay cut

By Mike Head, 9 July 2009

Australia’s Fair Pay Commission has inflicted a real pay cut on 1.3 million low-paid workers by freezing the minimum wage for the first time in 27 years.

Indian student protests spread to Sydney: “We came here to study, not to fight”

By Laura Tiernan, 10 June 2009

Protests by Indian students studying in Australia that erupted in Melbourne on May 31 have spread to Sydney over recent days.

Australia: James Hardie court ruling another affront to asbestosis victims

By Noel Holt, 26 May 2009

Just as a court ruled that former directors of James Hardie Industries had issued a false statement in 2001 about the company’s asbestosis compensation fund, the company revealed that its current fund might be unable to meet its commitments by 2013.

Australia: Royal Commission inquiry forced to investigate “stay or go” bushfire policy

By Margaret Rees, 16 May 2009

Criticism of the government’s “stay or go” policy has followed the devastating firestorm, now known as Black Saturday, that hit the Australian state of Victoria on February 7.

Australia: Unemployment study highlights “new face of disadvantage”

By Tess Gordon, 2 May 2009

A research report has warned that suburbs in Australia’s middle and outer suburban mortgage belts could become “hot spots of home repossessions” as unemployment strikes.

Australia: Survivors of Victorian bushfires receive minimal compensation

By Will Marshall, 28 April 2009

Labor government promises to support the victims of the “Black Saturday” bushfires have proven hollow. The small amount of compensation for those whose homes were destroyed will mean that hundreds may never rebuild again.

Australian bushfire victims speak with WSWS as evidence of government culpability grows

By a reporting team, 16 February 2009

As evidence grows of government culpability in last week’s Australian bushfires, hundreds of survivors are living in temporary accommodation across Victoria or in tents.