Kerry Smith

After consultations with the family of Hamid Khazaei, who died on September 5 after being detained on Manus Island, an agreement has been made to give his family an Aboriginal passport, in his name, to honour both their son and their offer to donate his organs to Australian citizens. The Indigenous Social Justice Association (ISJA) organised the passport proposal. ISJA president Ray Jackson said: “This gesture by his family shames the Tony Abbott government, in particular immigration minister Scott Morrison, for incarcerating innocent asylum seekers seeking sanctuary in this country.
The third round of March Australia rallies were held over the weekend of August 30 to 31. More than 40,000 people were estimated to have marched in 40 events around the country. Participants were marching about issues that included budget cuts, refugees, education, welfare and the environment.
The National Union of Students (NUS) organised a national day of action on August 20 against the federal government's changes to tertiary education. Students were protesting against the proposals in the federal budget that would lift the cap on fees, increase interest on HECS loans, and make changes to Newstart and Youth Alowance. Up to 700 people joined the protest in Sydney. Students marched from the University of Technology, Sydney to Town Hall. Students stopped the march on George St and burned a cardboard effigy of Pyne.
An estimated 3000 students have rallied in Sydney against the Coalition government's proposal to deregulate university fees. This was part of a national protest organised by the National Union of Students (NUS) on May 21. On the same day, staff at the University of Technology Sydney, went on strike for 24 hours and joined the protest. They have been in negotiations with the university for increased job security, fairer pay and equity in the workplace.
Thousands of people marched against the federal budget and took part in March in May rallies on May 18. About 15,000 people rallied in Melbourne against the proposed budget cuts. Viv Malo from First Nations Liberation told the rally that while $50 million was devoted to police in remote Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory and Queensland, $500 million will be cut from Indigenous services. She said: "You are killing us. This is not a lucky country. You won't have your freedom without ours."
Large numbers of police officers are expected to try to break up a blockade site in Bentley, near Lismore, where the community is opposing gas drilling by Metgasco in NSW's Northern Rivers. It is possible police will begin to move protesters as early as May 19. Hundreds of people are camping at the site to prevent trucks carrying drilling equipment from gaining access to the site. They warn that up to 7000 people will gather to defend the campsite from police.
About 2000 people rallied in Tasmania’s Upper Florentine Valley on April 27 to defend World Heritage listed forests. The rally was organised by the Bob Brown Foundation to oppose the proposed removal of the Upper Florentine from the World Heritage Area by the federal government. Organisers say the proposal will exclude some of the world’s most intact temperate forests and some of the tallest hardwood forests on Earth and would allow them to be opened up to environmentally destructive practices such as logging.
The Richmond Valley Council has asked a large protest camp in Bentley, near Lismore in NSW, to dismantle. The camp was set up to protect the local area from gas drilling by Metgasco. Several hundred people in the camp have maintained an ongoing blockade to prevent access to the site where test drilling is due to begin. Organisers of the camp, which is set up on private land, have refused the request.
About 120 people attended the Green Left Weekly 1000th issue celebration at the Annandale Neighbourhood Centre on March 15. Greetings to the milestone event were given by NSW Fire Brigade Employees Union vice president Jim Casey, Greens Sydney City councillor Irene Doutney, and Latin American Social Forum member Paula Sanchez. The speakers congratulated GLW on its achievement of 1000 issues, and noted the paper's special role in providing vital information on union, environmental and international campaigns.
The Socialist Alliance ran seven lower house candidates and a Senate team in NSW in the recent federal elections. Through letterboxing, campaign stalls, public forums and polling day, it engaged people who wanted to be involved in activism and politics in a meaningful way.


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