The Melbourne media have ignored the raised vote for socialists in the October 27 local government elections. The Socialist Party’s sitting councillor Steve Jolly increased his vote from 29.2% in 2008 to 34.24% in the inner-city City of Yarra council. In other wards of Yarra Council, the Socialist Party increased its vote but did not retain its other sitting councilor, Anthony Main. Since Jolly was elected, his vote has continued to rise. This is because he and the Socialist Party have used the council position to build campaigns in the local area.
Despite bleak weather, about 50 people took part in a May 31 protest to call on the Australian government to “bring Julian Assange home”. The protest took part the day after the British supreme court ruled that Assange, WikiLeaks’ editor-in-chief, had to be extradited to Sweden. Rally chairperson Chris Jenkins said the protest was important because “Sweden has not ruled out handing Julian Assange over to the US” where he faces danger due to a sealed indictment with unspecified allegations.
The Socialist Alliance Queensland state conference was held at the Brisbane Activist Centre on May 19, attended by more than 40 members and supporters. Themed "Towards a Socialist Australia", the conference discussed rebuilding the socialist movement in Australia and in Queensland, in the framework of a rise in international struggles for radical change. Peter Boyle, SA national co-convenor, set the scene by challenging the movement to re-imagine socialism in the new period of international crisis, beginning with the polarisation in a Greece faced with economic disaster.
A lively picket was held outside Arrow Energy’s main Brisbane office on Albert Street on March 23. Called by Socialist Alliance candidate for South Brisbane, Liam Flenady, the picket protested the recent revelations that BNG, a subsidiary of Arrow Energy, has a permit for coal seam gas (CSG) exploration in the western suburbs of Brisbane, including the suburbs Pullenvale, Karara Downs and Moggill.
Last year, students of Political Economy at the University of Sydney stood up to threats to merge their department into either a politics or straight economics department. They protested because they believed in the value of learning alternative economics, refused to accept cuts in staff or subjects and believed students have the right to have a say in the institution at which they choose to study.
About 1000 people took part in a march on the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Perth on October 28. The peaceful march and rally involved people from many different movements and causes who united under the banner: “Justice and climate action, not racism and war.
Occupy Sydney activists have been buoyed by motions of endorsement by the NSW State Council of the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union (CFMEU) and the Canterbury-Bankstown Teachers Association, the Maritime Union of Australia and the NSW division of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU). The CFMEU and MUA donated money to assist the Sydney occupation. See also Unions throw weight behind Occupy Melbourne
Right-wing independent federal MP Bob Katter is famously on record as saying he would “walk backwards to Bourke” if a gay community could be found living in his north Queensland electorate. A 70-strong protest for equal marriage rights outside Katter’s Mt Isa electorate office on September 11 showed that he does indeed have gay constituents. However, the MP has not made good his promise.
The Victorian government has proposed a new law that will allow police to give on-the-spot fines for “indecent, offensive or disorderly language”. In response, a protest has been organised at 2pm, June 25 at Melbourne’s Flinders St Station. By June 11, more than 10,000 people had said on the event Facebook page that they would attend the “Fuckwalk”. Below, protest organisers explain the politics behind Fuckwalk. * * *
Despite efforts by teachers, the Australian Education Union (AEU) leadership prevented a motion in support of Melbourne’s only Aboriginal school from being put to the AEU state council. A speaker from the College was also denied the opportunity to address AEU Council. AEU councilor Mary Merkenich said she was disappointed that AEU councilors didn’t get a chance to hear that the Ballerrt Mooroop College in Glenroy is under threat and why its school community has been organising a community sit-in in the school gymnasium.