Supporters of Fijian workers rallied in Melbourne on September 2 against a recent crackdown by the military regime. The same day, two Fijian trade unionists, Fiji Trades Union Congress president Daniel Urai and National Union of Hospitality, Catering and Tourism organiser Nitin Gounder, appeared in a Fijian court charged with unlawful assembly because they met with their union members to discuss a collective agreement. The Fijian trade union movement is under very heavy attack by the Fijian military government. New laws aiming to make it virtually impossible for unions to exist.
About 100 people rallied in Melbourne on September 1 in defence of the Kurdish Association of Victoria after a series of violent attacks. The Kurdish community has received numerous death threats. There have been many attempts to set the association's building on fire, ending on April 14 this year when the building was burnt down by arsonists and rendered non-functional. Just a few weeks ago, eight bullets were fired at the remains of the building. Fortunately, no one was inside at the time.
Students rallied on August 29 against RMIT’s decision to terminate the Bachelor of Applied Science (Disability) course in 2012. The course is the only disability specific degree available in Victoria and provides students with a professional education and a platform to offer leadership, innovation and quality service to community and disability-related groups. In a statement on its website, RMIT said the course was cancelled because: “Interest in the degree has diminished over several years, resulting in the lowest ever number of applicants in 2010.”
A new picket line was set up on August 10 to defend Melbourne’s only Indigenous school, Ballerrt Mooroop College (BMC) in Glenroy. The day before, electricity was cut to the school gym and the locks were changed as the education department announced that the school gym/community hall (which is a traditional gathering place), the spirit tree and the ceremonial grounds would be demolished to make way for the Glenroy Specialist School (GSS) to come on the site, leaving the BMC with only a few classrooms.
Forming in New York City around 1990, The Casualties started out with an idea to return to the “Golden Age” of street punk, something they felt had been on sharp decline since the mid 1980s. Having racked up eight full length albums, three EPs, three live albums and countless miles in the tour van, The Casualties continue to enjoy success more than 20 years after their inception. The band is touring Australia in September. Green Left Weekly's Chris Peterson caught up with them for a bite-sized interview. * * *
Public opposition has prevented the expansion of coal mining in south-west Victoria. “More than 250 residents gathered in the Deans Marsh town hall last night to question the managing director of Mantle Mining, Ian Kraemer, over the plan to explore for brown coal, south-east of Colac,” the ABC said on July 28. “The company had wanted to explore a 500 square kilometre area in the region. However, residents feared mining would damage the environment and lower property values.”
Victorian planning minister Matthew Guy has taken control of planning issues at Fitzroy and Richmond housing estates, enraging Yarra Council and tenants. In the July 26 Melbourne Times Weekly, Alana Schetzer: “The Department of Human Services last week informed the council of the decision, which took effect immediately. Mayor Alison Clarke said the council was shocked, adding the decision removed community consultation on future planning applications. The Federal government is due to fund a $113 million redevelopment of the estates.”
Members of the Textiles Clothing and Footwear Union Australia (TCFUA), rallied outside boutique called Scanlan and Theodore against job cuts on July 15. The workers were employees of a company called Blossom Road, which made products for the high-end fashion label. They were protesting because all Blossom Road’s 27 employees were suddenly sacked on May 19, without explanation and without being paid entitlements. The company was liquidated, but the very next day the company re-opened under a different name and owned by the previous boss Bill Jadilebovski’s son.
About 50 people attended a forum on July 8 titled "Rebuilding from the Ground Up: alternatives to the failed NT Intervention". The meeting heard from Valerie Martin, a Yuendumu resident in the Northern Territory, which is one of the "hub towns" under the government’s Northern Territory Intervention. She took part in the Prescribed Area People's Alliance conference in Darwin in June, which launched the “Rebuilding from the Ground Up” document.
About 50 people rallied on June 16 under the slogan, “Don’t derail Altona. Save our trains.” The rally was called to protest the Victorian government’s cuts to rail services on the Werribee line’s Altona Loop. The service cuts mean the Altona Loop will lose direct access to the city loop and all of its express trains. Services will be cut from 20 to 22-minute intervals during peak periods. Outside peak periods the service will be cut to a train shuttle from Laverton to Newport so most passengers will have to change trains.
Melbourne’s only Indigenous specialist school, Ballerrt Mooroop College (BMC), is again under threat from the state government. The Baillieu Liberal government plans to shift the Glenroy Specialist School (GSS) onto the site, which would push the BMC onto one third of the land it has occupied since 1995. The government provided $18 million to GSS to relocate, but the BMC received just $750,000 to upgrade existing buildings. It is clear that the Baillieu government is pitting disadvantaged schools against each other.
About 200 people protested outside Victorian government offices on April 11 against a proposed new gas-fired power station in Victoria. Five protesters locked themselves to a stepladder inside the building. The company HRL is planning to build its power station in Victoria, and the state and federal governments have committed $150 million towards it. The rally came at the end of the National Grassroots Climate Summit in Melbourne. The protest called for funding to be put toward renewable energy instead.
Nine Aboriginal people have sued Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt in Melbourne over four articles he wrote in 2009. The court has heard the articles questioned the motives of “light” or “white-skinned” people who identified as Aboriginal. The people taking the action under the Racial Vilification Act include activist Pat Eatock, former ATSIC chairperson Geoff Clark, artist Bindi Cole, academic Larissa Behrendt, author Anita Heiss, health worker Leeanne Enoch, native title expert Graham Atkinson, academic Wayne Atkinson and lawyer Mark McMillan.
About 2000 people rallied in Melbourne on March 26 to support equal marriage rights. Speakers included Sally Goeldner from Trans Victoria, comedian Joel Creasey and James Campbell from the Melbourne-based gay and lesbian underage group and Minus-18. Protesters marched to the Marriage Registry at Treasury Place. For more information on the campaign, visit www.equallove.info
AC4 are a hardcore punk band from Sweden who are touring Australia in April with US punk group Star Fucking Hipsters. Green Left Weekly’s Chris Peterson spoke to AC4 lead singer , also of The (International) Noise Conspiracy, who toured Australia last year. See also: Music can give 'voice to the voicless': Star Fucking Hipsters interview * * *
Australian tour Star Fucking Hipsters w/ AC4 April 7-14, www.newnoiseagency.com www.myspace.com/starfuckinghipsters Star Fucking Hipsters are a New York-based punk band. It was formed in 2005 by members from other punk acts, including Leftover Crack, Ensign and The Ergs! The band’s third album, From the Dumpster to the Grave, is due for release this year.