Jacob Andrewartha

“Don’t let our community be destroyed” was the message of the Gronn Place community meeting organised by Friends of Public Housing and Socialist Alliance on August 30.

About 50 public housing tenants and supporters of public housing gathered to discuss their rights. This was the second meeting on the estate. The first meeting was held on July 15.

The Radical Ideas Conference organised by Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance over August 18 to 20 attracted young and older radicals committed to “sparking the resistance”.

Celeste Liddle, an Arrente woman, union activist and writer joined abortion rights and Socialist Alliance activist Kamala Emanuel and Mia Sanders from Resistance in a fascinating panel “Women fight back against misogyny and rape culture”.

Local comedian Pauline Fartson (aka Helchild) summed up the sentiment of the Busk for Free Speech rally on August 6 when she held up a giant permit, which said “Permit to breathe in public places in Moreland”.

Busk for Free Speech was held to highlight some of the anti-democratic and discriminatory local laws being proposed by Moreland City Council as part of its review of local laws. Most of the proposed laws already exist under the current local laws but they are also being included in the draft general local law.

Many councils across Australia have local laws that restrict free speech. Most people are unaware of these laws, until there is an issue that engages them enough to want to exercise their right to free speech and set up a stall, hand out leaflets, get petitions signed and maybe organise a protest rally.

Only when a council officer tells them they have to pack up and leave, do they realise there are undemocratic laws on the books.

We condemn the terror attacks in London and Manchester, but we also need to call out the cynical and dangerous response from those in charge who have one solution — more of the same.

British Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May and US President Donald Trump are using these tragedies to ramp up Islamophobia, expand police powers, weaken civil liberties and strengthen the “war on terror” — the same policies that have failed to stop individuals from carrying out terror attacks.

Federal Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham has outraged students with his announcement of cuts affecting higher education that will come in the federal budget on May 9. Speculation is rife about the impact the cuts could have on students.

The cuts revolve around a 7.5% increase in university fees. But the reality of the fee hike could be much worse.

In conjunction with the budget’s $2.8 billion in cuts to university funding, universities could be forced to raise student fees by a minimum of 25%.

About 300 people rallied outside the Queen Victoria Market on April 28 to protest the City of Melbourne’s $250 million plans to “redevelop” the market as an entertainment space and gourmet food precinct.

The council bought a prime piece of land next to the market in 2014 for $76 million. It then sold it to developer PDG for $33 million which plans to build a 200 metre high-rise tower. The council plans to use the cash to fund the redevelopment.

A public forum on March 17 discussed the implications of Melbourne City Council's proposed amendments to Activities Local Law 2009.

The changes would broaden the definition of “camping” to mean people currently sleeping rough could be forcibly moved on by police and face fines for possessing a piece of cardboard or bedding. The city of Melbourne would be effectively criminalising homelessness.

Friends of Victoria University and National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) organised a protest outside the university’s Flinders Street campus during a Victoria University (VU) council meeting on March 14.

The protest was in response to plans by VU’s management to sack 115 academic staff affecting undergraduate courses in the creative industries, marketing, communication, and professional and creative writing. Six post-graduate courses in communication and education will also be affected.

A protest was held on February 18 in response to the City of Melbourne’s proposed by-law amendments that ban any form of public camping and make it easier for the confiscation of unattended property — essentially criminalising rough sleepers in the streets of Melbourne.

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