BRISBANE — Despite heavy rain, 3500 unionists turned out for the annual Labour Day march from the Trades Hall to Albert Park on May 5. Members of a wide variety of unions marched behind their union banners, with floats, placards and flags in support. A strong feature of the day was opposition to the federal and state Coalition governments' anti-union laws and attacks on living standards and the public sector.
The driving rain had earlier caused the ACTUQ leadership to cancel the planned festival at Albert Park, which normally follows the May Day march.
Nevertheless, Labor Party leaders addressed the crowd briefly at the end of the march. State ALP opposition leader Peter Beattie won loud applause when he called for an end to enterprise bargaining and a return to centralised wage fixing in industrial agreements.
In Canberra, after more than a decade's absence from the streets, May Day was again celebrated with a spirited march and rally on May 3. The rally was organised by the ACT Trades and Labour Council, and some 200 people joined the march.
On arrival at Petrie Plaza, the crowd was entertained by performers from the Turkish community and speakers from many groups. A speaker brought greetings from the Wagga Wagga Trades and Labour Council outlining the effects of federal government attacks in rural areas.
David Gosling of Action in Solidarity with Indonesia and East Timor called for a message of solidarity for recently sentenced trade unionists and activists in Indonesia.
More than 700 people marched in Darwin on May 5. With an anti-racism theme, the march was led by a significant contingent of Aboriginal people, including many from Darwin's town camps.
In addition to contingents from trade unions, and ALP candidates carrying placards with their own photos on them, there was an East Timor contingent, an Education Action Group contingent and a lively contingent from the Democratic Socialist Party and Resistance chanting and banging drums.
The march concluded with speakers and bands at the Esplanade. Speakers included Bill Risk from the Larrakia Association, who protested against repeatedly misleading statements made by the NT government about the Larrakia land claim in the Darwin region.
Norman Fry from the Northern Land Council told the crowd that John Howard's plans to amend native title amounted to the biggest land grab this country has ever seen.
In Sydney, nearly 100 guests attended a lively Green Left Weekly May Day dinner at the Resistance Centre on May 3. The gathering heard speakers from Bougainville, Indonesia, the Philippines, CPSU National Challenge rank and file and the free education campaign. Songs of struggle were performed by local musician Peter Hicks and a hip hop group.
On May 4, 1500 people took part in the annual May Day march. At the rally at Circular Quay, marchers listened to speeches by sacked Qantas apprentices, Aboriginal activist Jack Beetson and ACTU president Jennie George.