ADELAIDE — A meeting here on August 3 began planning the 1997 International Women's Day (IWD) march, which will mark 25 years since the first women's liberation march in Adelaide. Initial ideas for the day include a concert and a "herstory" speak-out to publicise the original demands of the movement.
An IWD collective member told Green Left Weekly: "While we have much to celebrate since that time, the Howard government now threatens further cuts to women's services and rights. We must fight to retain what we have gained."
Students walk out
ADELAIDE — Around 50 students from Christies Beach High School walked out of class and rallied on the steps of Parliament House on August 30, protesting cuts to education and proposed changes to Austudy. The students marched to Amanda Vanstone's electorate office, where a loud and lively speak-out occurred in the foyer. The rally voted unanimously to strike with teachers and university students on September 17.
ACT universities gear up for wages struggle
CANBERRA — Meetings of National Tertiary Education and Industry Union branches on ANU and the University of Canberra during the last week of August endorsed a campaign of enterprise bargaining negotiations for a 15% wage rise with no trade-off in jobs or conditions.
Both branches unanimously passed motions condemning the Coalition government's attacks on the public sector in the budget, particularly the erosion of tertiary education. The meeting noted that budget cuts impose differential outcomes for universities. Universities with reserves will be able to afford wage increases while others will face staff cuts, heavier work loads and declining conditions.
FREMANTLE — Sixty people gathered outside the Arts Centre, the venue for the annual Shell Fremantle Print Award, on August 13 to protest Shell's activities in Nigeria. The walls of the centre rang to the chant "Boycott Shell. People before profits." Shell Nigeria Action Coalition members will picket and distribute leaflets at service stations around Perth. They can be contacted on 472 4227.
Forum on welfare
HOBART — Thirty people attended a discussion on defending social welfare at the Mecca Cafe on August 29, organised by Green Left Weekly. Speakers included Ros Harvey from the Health and Community Services Union, Simon Vanderra from the National Tertiary Education and Industry Union, Sarah Stephen from the Education Action Coalition, Ben Courtice from the Democratic Socialist Party and Dave Abbott from the State Public Service Federation.
Speakers noted the need to build stronger alliances between all forces battling the economic rationalist agenda of the Howard government. Participants debated whether a revitalisation in grassroots campaigning and workers' organisation should be directed into changing the Labor Party, building a new party, or whether political parties should be ignored altogether.
'Hit list' public servants could sue
BRISBANE — Senior Queensland public servants who were sacked or demoted after being named on a Coalition "hit list" could take legal action for unfair dismissal, Labor opposition spokesperson Anna Bligh said on August 29.
The Criminal Justice Commission is investigating the list, which names 118 people targeted for action. State public sector unions and the ACTU have called for a full public inquiry.
TWU leader condemns Howard's violence
CANBERRA — In response to media outcry about violent protests against the Howard government, Trevor Santi, ACT branch secretary of the Transport Workers Union, told Green Left Weekly, "The government is provoking the violence by their policies and attitudes to workers".
"The TWU expects that this sort of violence will occur more often, given the federal government's refusal to deal with the union movement. No consultation and no industrial democracy create a situation where people are driven into a corner and will react."