Socialist Alliance news

August 1, 2001

No bank closures!

CANBERRA — Socialist Alliance activists held a speakout outside the Bunda Street branch of the Commonwealth Bank on July 27 to protest its closure.

The action was the culmination of weekly Socialist Alliance campaign stalls demanding an end to bank closures and the nationalisation of the banking system. More than 400 people signed a petition opposing the closure of the centrally-located and well-frequented Bunda Street branch. Speakers highlighted the $1.135 billion half-yearly profits recorded by the Commonwealth Bank, which have been increased by branch closures, staff sackings and hikes in transaction fees for small depositors.

Protesters entered the bank to present the petitions and Socialist Alliance activist Phil Griffiths explained the opposition to the closure. The manager demanded they leave. Commonwealth Bank chief executive officer David Murray made an appearance at the action in the form of a very well-fed effigy, and was particularly unpopular. He was questioned about his union-busting tactics, the closure of 500 branches, and large increases in account fees as well as his $2 million annual salary (plus shares and options). He had nothing to say in his defence.

Refugee rights meeting

SYDNEY — Participants at a July 26 Auburn public meeting discussing the refugee rights campaign were dismayed to hear that a detainee at the Villawood Refugee Detention Centre had hanged himself just hours earlier. The meeting, convened by the Socialist Alliance Parramatta branch, was called to discuss how the alliance could step up its refugee rights campaigning in Sydney's western suburbs.

The Socialist Alliance has held very successful weekly stalls in Auburn during the last month, in an attempt to counter mainstream media portrayals of refugees as "bludgers" and "queue jumpers".

The meeting reaffirmed the alliance's goal of forcing the permanent closure of the detention centres. Participants decided to approach other refugee rights organisations about organising another demonstration outside of Villawood sometime in August.

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