Hundreds of people in Lismore woke up on Monday morning trapped in their houses. Most of them went to sleep with the reassurance that, despite flood warnings, their houses had never been reached by flood water before—including during the “big floods” of 1954, 1974 and 2017. But after the Wilsons River broke the town’s levee wall, it kept rising far beyond what had been projected. An evacuation order was issued at 1am, while most people were sleeping. They woke to water in their houses—which are mostly on stilts—climbed into attics and onto roofs, and waited.
Aran Mylvaganam, union organiser and founder of the Tamil Refugee Council, is running for the Senate with the Victorian Socialists in the upcoming federal election. One of the most respected activists in the country, he spoke to Red Flag’s Meg Leigh about why he wants to build a socialist electoral alternative to Labor and the Greens.
Wittenoom is an abandoned town in the desert north of Perth. Once, it had a population of almost 1,000, making it the biggest town in the Pilbara. Now, it’s been removed from maps and cut off from all essential services, to stop people from visiting. Wittenoom is a kind of Australian Chernobyl, poisoned not by radioactivity but by the deadly blue asbestos dug up from the town’s mine, where most of the population worked.
Citrus farmers in Queensland dumped tonnes of fruit in May, complaining they wouldn’t make a profit this year. The scenes were reminiscent of what John Steinbeck called a “crime beyond denunciation” in his classic novel The Grapes of Wrath: while the poor starved during the Great Depression, the orange harvest was left to rot in order to keep prices—and therefore profits—from falling.
Anti-lockdown lunacy isn’t the exclusive preserve of right-wing commercial media. Since the coronavirus first hit Australia last year, the ABC has been keen to get in on the act. Take the example of Leigh Sales, one of Australia’s most prominent journalists and an important public representative for the ABC as host of the primetime current affairs program 7.30. Sales has wielded that influence to undermine public health, campaigning for Australia to move away from Covid-19 elimination.