Australia's four biggest banks — the Commonwealth Bank, ANZ, NAB and Westpac — dubbed the "banksters", were condemned for crimes against people and the environment during a protest in Melbourne on June 29. Protesters marched to each bank, cordoned of the entrance to create a symbolic crime scene and read out a charge sheet. The action was called by the Socialist Alliance. Margarita Windisch, the Socialist Alliance candidate for the seat of Wills, argued the big banks, mines and energy companies should be nationalised and put under community control.
Taxi drivers at Melbourne airport have started a hunger strike in protest at changes that will see their pay cut by up to 40%. The Australian said on June 11 that drivers rallied against "a new fares system implemented at the airport earlier this year, which sometimes sees them wait two hours for a fare of less than $10." Previously drivers could skip the general queue after returning to the airport after a short fare, but this queue has now been axed. As drivers are paid based on fares collected, rather than a fixed wage, this amounts to a pay cut for drivers.
The Victorian government continued its attack on civil rights last week with the announcement that new prison cells would be built at train stations for use by protective services officers (PSOs).
About 200 people rallied in Melbourne against media baron Rupert Murdoch in Melbourne on April 4. Murdoch was speaking at the 70th anniversary dinner of the Institute of Public Affairs, a right-wing think tank dedicated to preserving and strengthening a pro-big business, neoliberal agenda. Attendees at the $400-a-head dinner included former prime minister John Howard, Murdoch-columnist Andrew Bolt, Opposition leader Tony Abbott, conservative shock jock Alan Jones and Catholic Archbishop George Pell.
Activists rallied in Melbourne on December 8 to defend and extend public housing. The Victorian government and housing minister Wendy Lovell are attempting to privatise public housing and give greater power to the non-transparent Housing Associations. These Housing Associations have been criticised for not being accountable to the people and communities they claim to serve.
Refugee activists in Melbourne organised a candle lit vigil on November 30 to condemn the federal government's racist policies against refugees. Mohammed Bakhtiari, a former detainee on Nauru, said: "We need to demonstrate to people that we have rights too". Photos by Ali Bakhtiarvandi:
Green Left Weekly spoke to Evan McHugh, the co-organiser of the first Equal Love rally in the Albury-Wodonga area that took place on November 17. Why did you organise this protest?
About 600 people rallied in Melbourne to defend Gaza on November 23. They gathered to protest against Israel's siege and to remember the victims of Israel's bombing attacks that killed 120 people that week. Indigenous community leader Robbie Thorpe said "Australia is based on stolen land. It is part of the global genocide network that supports Israel." Photos by Ali Bakhtiarvandi:
About 600 people rallied for marriage equality in Melbourne on November 24. Other rallies took part around Australia. Jason Ball, the first openly queer AFL player, was a guest speaker at the event. "I figured I was gay when I was 16 years old," he said. "I knew that I would be treated differently. I was terrified I would disappoint my family. It was no surprise to me that queer and transgender youth are six times [more] likely to suffer depression or contemplate suicide. I wanted to be myself.
Activists in Melbourne rallied on November 22 to protest the decision to send asylum seekers to detention on Manus Island.
About 300 people rallied in Melbourne to stop Israel's bombing of Gaza on November 17. This week Israel launched a wide-scale attack on the densely-populated Palestinian Gaza Strip. Moreland Councillour Sue Bolton said "There have been three reactions to the bombing of Gaza: the first is by the Australian Government and corporate media, is victim blaming. Where the victim is blamed by the perpetrator. "It is shameful when the victim is blamed.
The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal last month approved a deeply unpopular McDonald's restaurant in Tecoma in Melbourne's Dandenong ranges. Since the approval the local community has organised to reclaim space and created a garden, maintained an around-the-clock protest vigil at the proposed site and gathered thousands of signatures on petitions against the proposal. Below is a statement from Murrundindi, Headman of Melbourne’s Wurundjeri nation against the development. ***
More than 60 people met in Footscray on October 17 to plan the next steps in the Save TAFE campaign. Community group “Friends of Victoria University” hosted a public forum to discuss the Victorian state government’s $300 million cuts to the TAFE system and its impacts on communities in Melbourne’s western suburbs.
About 200 people rallied in Melbourne for refugee rights on October 21. The Refugee Action Collective Victoria called the protest. Michelle O'Neill from the Textiles, Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia told the rally: “In reality, we are condemning asylum seekers to languish for indefinite periods of time. The effect of this on many asylum seekers will be extraordinarily severe psychological harm.
Photos by Chris Peterson
About 200 people staged a pro-choice counter protest on October 13 in response to a fundamentalist Christian-organised "March for the Babies", which called for the criminalisation of abortion in Victoria. Pro-choice protesters were joined by people who took part in Global Noise rally in Melbourne that day.