Alex Bainbridge

“We have a plan to withdraw from Iraq, while Mr Howard doesn’t” — with these words on October 14, ALP leader Kevin Rudd described the war on Iraq as one of five “critical areas where the difference [between Labor and the Coalition] couldn’t be clearer”. He then went on to virtually ignore the Iraq war throughout the rest of the election campaign.

The Sydney branch of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) hosted a function in support of Palm Island man Lex Wotton on October 7. Wotton is being targeted by state authorities for his role in protesting the death of Aboriginal man Mulrunji at the hands of police in November 2004.

“People before profits” was the message coming from the “rally for rights” organised by the Socialist Alliance in Newtown on November 9. The rally was addressed by Catholic priest Peter Maher, Your Rights At Work campaigner Michael Haines, three representatives from Community Action Against Homophobia (CAAH) and Greens candidate for Grayndler, Saeed Kahn.

The Socialist Alliance supports the struggle for democracy in Burma, and stands in solidarity with the democracy movement activists, political prisoners and exiles bravely defying its military dictatorship.

As preparation for APEC, the NSW Labor government made a list of every one of its tried and tested methods for suppressing dissent. Then it went away and thought up a few more! It used every measure it felt it could get away with — purchased a new water cannon, increased police powers, emptied jails — in order to intimidate people into not joining the September 8 “Stop Bush” protest.

Thousands of people will gather at Sydney Town Hall on September 8 in what is expected to be the largest protest demonstration during the coming Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit.

Lawyer Michael Bozic, unionist Peter McLelland and investigative journalist Wendy Bacon addressed 100 people at a July 16 Sydney public forum. The meeting was organised by the Stop Bush Coalition in the lead-up to protests during the September APEC summit, which US President George Bush will attend.

“John Howard is more than happy to welcome war criminal George Bush to Sydney in September, but he won’t even give the time of day to struggling workers, such as Botany Cranes union delegate Barry Hemsworth, who is still on the grass more than 300 days after being unfairly sacked”, Socialist Alliance activist Pip Hinman told Green Left Weekly.

Jasmine Ali was found not guilty on June 26 on charges relating to her involvement in a February 22 protest against US Vice-President Dick Cheney. The same day that she appeared before the court, the NSW government’s APEC Meeting (Policing Powers) Bill passed unamended through the NSW upper house. Ali was the second of two Cheney protesters to win court cases. There are six more trials to take place.

Twenty people gathered on June 22 in defence of civil liberties and in solidarity with Joanne Ball, who was facing trial. This was the first trial of an activist arrested during February protests against visiting US Vice-President Dick Cheney. By the end of the day, the prosecution’s case had collapsed and charges were dismissed.

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