Save our services!
By Jeremy Smith
BALLARAT— One hundred and fifty people braved the worst of Ballarat's weather to attend a public meeting on May 6. The meeting was organised by the Save Our Services committee to initiate a campaign to defend public and community services.
Speakers from Ballarat Outreach, Ballarat Lifeline and the Community Legal Centre condemned state and federal governments for attacks on the public sector and on regional welfare agencies.
Speeches focused on the erosion of secondary and tertiary education, on Aboriginal welfare, public housing, council services and jobs, the ABC and community child-care services.
The Reverend Graeme Sutton, the chair of Ballarat Lifeline, noted that the churches felt compelled to involve themselves in the campaign: "It's pretty hard for us to be non-political or apolitical ... [The government's policies on] privatisation and competition are based on a Darwinian theory of the survival of the fittest. Where does this leave the poor?"
Discussion from the floor was fiery. The sentiment for a large rally in Ballarat in defence of the public sector was strong.