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Issue #1708      October 28, 2015


The fascist group carrying out a racist campaign against the construction of a mosque in Bendigo are not locals. The local council and businesses support its construction. In mid-September the group stormed the meeting of Bendigo Council in the Town Hall, causing it to be postponed. The group formed by the locals, Believe in Bendigo, is backed by 130 local businesses. It was formed to demonstrate that the overwhelming majority of the 110,000 Bendigo residents have no objection to the mosque for the town’s 300 Muslims. A planned Council meeting prior to the protest was also cancelled as was a major food and wine festival that cost the town more than $500,000. The Bendigo-based anti-mosque group announced it didn’t attend last week’s actions because the out-of-town fascists were “too aggressive” for them.

In Victoria, the human trafficking of workers by criminal middle-men is a growing problem, according to the state’s Industrial Relations Minister Natalie Hutchins. “There’s been a growth area of small to medium-sized middle-men that set themselves up as labour hire companies and base themselves on the underpayment of wages and undermining conditions and standards,” she said. A survey of 1,000 foreign language job advertisements for work in Australia has found 80 percent paid below the minimum wage or award. This follows the revelations of widespread underpayment of 7-Eleven convenience store workers.

A Senate inquiry into credit card lending has heard that the Commonwealth Bank’s Dollarmites campaign which promotes banking to children should be banned from schools because it is a marketing tool used by the country’s most profitable bank to lure future credit-card customers. The bank’s chief executive Ian Narev resonded to criticism of the influence of the big four banks in schools by calling primary school children as young as five “customers”. Labor Senator Sam Dastyari said, “This is like Dracula running the blood bank.”

Australia’s deputy sheriff war footing in sync with the US was given lip service by new Defence Minister Marise Payne as she tried to stamp her name on the portfolio. She told a high level naval audience, including a representative from China, “While we don’t take a position on competing claims, Australia continues to oppose the use of intimidation, aggression or coercion” in reference to China’s legitimate presence in the South China Sea.

The removal by the NSW government of all price controls on electricity has resulted in escalating household bills. Research by the St Vincent de Paul Society shows that the retail competition margin of gas and electricity retailers has risen to $600 per user per year. The myth of complete deregulation – in Victoria and NSW – that it gives people “choice” is exposed by the report. There are a lot of households who cannot “shop around” for the lowest prices on offer. Also, when households move onto a contract it typically runs for only 12 months, so that the household has to seek out a new supplier each year to ensure they don’t face price gouging.

Next article – Region Briefs

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