Sarah Hathway

Say Yes Geelong held a local Equality Walk on September 9 to promote the Yes campaign for marriage equality. The crowd of almost 1000 people, who gathered in the centre of Geelong, was very diverse and included a number of families with young children, teachers, religious ministers, unionists, students, local council candidates, local MPs and more.

Speakers included Beth McNiven, a member of Geelong Rainbow Inc, who spoke about feelings of isolation living in a smaller town and the support she has found since moving back to Geelong.

1. Legislating marriage equality will impact on rights to freedom of religion, freedom of speech and freedom to practice or implement one’s personal values.

FALSE: Marriage equality and freedom of religion/speech/values are governed by two distinct pieces of legislation. The equality campaign only wants a change in the definition of marriage as determined by the Marriage Act 1961. Religious exemptions are already contained in the Sex Discrimination Act 1984. Changing the definition of marriage in one act does not remove religious exemptions in different act.

According to an Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) tweet, between August 8 and 22 the electoral roll increased by 54,545.

There were 577,879 total enrolment transactions processed in that time, including checking and updating enrolment details. This data does not include the last two days of the enrolment period, which closed at midnight on August 24, so these numbers are likely to increase.

In the past fortnight, many of us thought we were right on the edge of FINALLY winning marriage equality in Australia as dissent within the ranks of Malcolm Turnbull’s Coalition government came to a head.

Liberal MP Dean Smith and others put up the Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill and called for a free vote. Even Turnbull, a self-declared supporter of marriage equality even as he called for a plebiscite, said he supported the right of Liberal MPs to cross the floor to vote for the bill.

The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) released its long-awaited national report on sexual assault and sexual harassment at Australian universities on August 1. While much of the corporate media coverage deemed the results “shocking”, they are not really surprising.

Students of Sustainability (SoS) is an annual student conference organised by the Australian Student Environment Network (ASEN).

This year’s SoS conference was held in Newcastle on Awabakal and Worimi land at the Hunter TAFE campus from June 30 to July 5. Conference attendees camped on the campus oval for four days of workshops and plenary sessions, stunts and actions, film screenings, field trips, guerrilla gardening, an anti-fashion show, an open mic night and a dance party.

As the federal government continues to shirk its responsibility to legislate for marriage equality, councils are increasingly being called on to take a lead.

On April 26, former mayor Councillor Rose Hodge moved a motion that the Surf Coast Shire Council fly the Pride flag continuously from May 17 (International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexphobia and Transphobia) until the federal government passed a law in support of marriage equality.

Geelong Trades Hall Secretary Colin Vernon, along with other union and community activists raised the rainbow flag above Geelong Trades Hall on June 27. The flag symbolises support for marriage equality, the LGBTI community and Surf Coast Shire residents who have been campaigning to keep the flag flying at their local council building.

Unless you lived in West London, you would not have known about a 24 story, 70-metre-high apartment block that served as public housing London before June 14.

Grenfell Tower housed low paid workers, single mothers, migrants — those who could not afford to live anywhere else. It is located in an affluent area of London surrounded by luxury apartment blocks, many of which are empty.

The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) has called for a national day of rallies for June 20 to stop the attacks on workers.

This is the second national day of action called by the CFMEU this year, with a previous round of rallies having taken place in March.

The federal Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham will release a report on May 8 commissioned by the government that will allegedly indicate that universities receive adequate funding for most courses and that their revenues are growing faster than their costs.

This report will be used to justify a proposed $2.8 billion funding cut that will raise the costs of course fees and mean that students will need to repay their HECS debts sooner.

News Limited’s Geelong Advertiser launched a personal attack on its front page on March 27 against local Geelong Greens secretary and activist Matt Hrkac. The front page read: “Greens red faced. Obscene rant: Party’s Geelong ‘branch secretary’ in shocking foul-mouth tirade after missing out on job”.

The Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) was originally set up by former Prime Minister John Howard in 2005. Another former Prime Minister Tony Abbott tried but failed to reintroduce it in 2014.

It was the reason Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called a double dissolution election last year. The result was a Senate willing to pass ABCC legislation, thanks to the likes of Pauline Hanson and Derryn Hinch who voted with the Coalition.

The so called Fair Work Commission made the decision on February 23 to cut Sunday and public holiday penalty rates, affecting nearly 500,000 workers in the retail, hospitality and fast food sectors.

The cuts to public holiday penalty rates will take effect from July 1, however it has not yet been decided when the cuts to Sunday rates will take effect.

In the six months since the federal election we have seen an acceleration of the ruling class’s neo-liberal agenda. The continuing cuts and privatisations are rationalised by Turnbull’s three-word slogan, “Jobs and Growth”, but the effect seems to be quite the opposite.

In the early hours of last December 12, 55 Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) workers returned to work to the sound of bagpipes and applause.

Five hundred unionists and community members turned out to congratulate the workers on their successful 180-day campaign.

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