MELBOURNE — About 200 people marched against the NT intervention and for equal pay and jobs with justice for Aboriginal workers on March 4. The rally was organised by the Melbourne Anti-Intervention Collective. It demanded an end to the exploitation of Aboriginal workers in the Northern Territory. The intervention, which quarantines the welfare payments of targeted people, has meant that Aboriginal people are in effect working for rations cards while living in extreme poverty.
Hundreds of University of Melbourne students have been told they are no longer eligible for public transport concession fares. This is a result of the new "Melbourne Model" at the university, which now defines several courses (such as medicine and law) as postgraduate study. The March 2 Age said the changes made “the full-time students ineligible for student concession cards and forced to pay double their previous public transport costs".
More than 400 people attended a February 7 forum that condemned the federal government’s intervention into Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory. The forum was organised by Concerned Australians. It coincided with the launch of a public statement addressed “to the people of Australia” by seven Indigenous elders. The statement asked for support to “help to put an end to the nightmare that Northern Territory people are experiencing on a daily basis”.
Climate activists gathered outside the Melbourne head office of mining giant BHP on January 21 to show solidarity with victims of the recent floods in eastern Australia. Evidence has emerged linking severe flooding in Australia with human-induced climate change. Shaun Murray, an activist from the Switch off Hazelwood group, said: "The recent catastrophic floods are the result of human-induced climate change. “As coal is the biggest contributor worldwide to emissions, the coal industry should pay the cost of clean-up and reconstruction for these disasters.”
Over October 8-9, about 70 people attended the Latin America Solidarity Conference, organised by the Latin America Forum in Melbourne, under the theme “Challenging corporate globalisation: people’s power is changing the world”. Feature sessions looked at various issues affecting Latin America today, including “Imperialism, war and resistance”, “Popular power and people’s governments”, and “The battle for environmental justice and survival”.
On October 10, the international day of climate action, climate activists will converge on Hazelwood, Australia’s dirtiest power station. Each year, Hazelwood burns 17 million tonnes of brown coal and consumes 27 million litres of water (the equivalent of using one month’s worth of Melbourne’s water supply every day). It accounts for 15% of Victoria’s emissions and 3% of Australia’s emissions.
On October 10, climate activists will converge on the Hazelwood power station in the Latrobe Valley in eastern Victoria. They will use mirrors to try to create Victoria's “first solar thermal power” station at the Hazelwood gate, to show solar is a viable alternative. Shaun Murray from campaign group Switch off Hazelwood told Green Left Weekly: “Hazelwood is the most carbon-intensive power station in Australia relative to its output, and has been an ongoing target by climate campaigners.”
The Decline are a punk band from Western Australia that formed in 2006. They “deliver catchy, melodic speedy punk rock, with humorous and socially aware lyrics”, TheDecline.com.au says. They have opened for groups such as Frenzal Rhomb, No Fun at All and the Flatliners. The Decline released their first full-length album, I’m Not Gonna Lie To You, in September 2009. Green Left Weekly’s Chris Peterson spoke to The Decline about the album. You can find out more, and buy the album, at their website.
At the conclusion of the New Way Summit in Melbourne over July 1-4, a proposal was adopted stating that: “Aboriginal people be encouraged to take possession of unoccupied and Crown lands, including abandoned buildings, to assert their ownership and original title.” This was the third New Way Summit on Indigenous rights to be held. The New Way Summit was initiated by Euahlayi man Michael Anderson from far-western New South Wales. The first summit was held in Canberra in January.
100 people picketed the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs on June 18 to protest the third anniversary of the Northern Territory intervention. Kevin Bracken from the Maritime Union of Austrlalia said “The intervention has turned the clock back 50 years to when people were working for rations.” The rally also heard from Alistair Nicholson, former Chief Justice of the Family Court, the Greens, the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union and local indigenous activists Richard Kennedy, Sharon Firebrace and Robbie Thorpe.
55 people attended a June 11 forum with Peter Inverway, a Gurindji worker from Kalkaringi, who said Gurindji people are being forced to work up to 30 hours a week for Centrelink entitlements. Inverway said: "I was working on [a] construction site. Working hard for up to 30 hours per week and maybe just getting $4 an hour on Basics Card. But just like working for ration like our people done in the past. If we don't work then they'll cut our Centrelink."
MELBOURNE — On May 25, about 50 people attended a forum on Burma's election, which is due to occur this year. The forum was addressed by Debbie Stothard, coordinator of Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma, who noted the many undemocratic structures set up by the military junta. She said: “The 2008 constitution will guarantee military control over the election and resulting parliament. Election commissioners are handpicked by the regime, political parties must exclude ‘convicted persons’ such as Aung San Suu Kyi and there is severe censorship and restrictions on campaigning.
When word started spreading that the far right wanted to relive the 2005 racist Cronulla riot organised an April 9 “mass rally against migrants and Islam” in Melbourne, anti-racist groups started organising a counter rally, to show that migrants were welcome and racism was not.
About 30 people rallied outside the office of Victorian Minister for Energy and Resources, Peter Batchelor, to demand “climate jobs not new coal” on March 29
On February 9, around 70 people attended the book launch of Will They be Heard.