Sue Bolton

In a September address to the United Nations Human Rights Council, top UN human rights official Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, described the Myanmar military’s attacks on Rohingya as being “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.

Satellite photos show the Myanmar security forces and local militia burning entire Rohingya villages to the ground. There are consistent accounts of extrajudicial killings, including the shooting of fleeing civilians.

The Victorian Labor government plans to sell off inner city public land, which currently houses more than 2000 public housing tenants, to property developers. Under the misnamed Public Housing Renewal Plan, the government will give property developers access to land that is currently used for public housing.

This plan involves the forced removal of tenants and the demolition of nine or more public housing estates across Melbourne. Many residents have lived on the estates for many years and do not want to leave.

Andrew Bolt takes me to task for being “irresponsible” for “propagandising” about the colonial invasion and subsequent massacres of First Nations people.

He also takes issue with my support for the growing number of councils across Australia that are leading the debate on the so-called history wars and deciding against celebrating on January 26 in favour of something more inclusive.

Moreland City Council took a big step forward on September 13 when it voted to drop all references to January 26 as Australia Day out of respect for Aboriginal people. But it stopped short of cancelling its official Australia Day citizenship ceremony.

The National Union of Workers (NUW) joined with Melbourne’s Rohingya community on September 7 to protest the genocide against Rohingya in Myanmar. The NUW has formed a strong bond with the Rohingya community through its work organising Rohingya and other heavily exploited migrant farm workers to win better wages and working conditions.

Many members of the Rohingya community in Melbourne have family members who have been killed in the current genocidal attacks on Rohingya in Myanmar.

It is important to put socialists on council because we have a very different perspective from other political parties. Our “people and planet before profit” philosophy guides our approach and, increasingly, councils are being relied on to lead key political debates — such as recognising Australia’s colonial past.

The day after a public meeting to oppose development on a toxic site in a northern suburb of Melbourne, the developer put it up for sale on a real estate site, without any mention of the contamination. In Victoria, there is no legal requirement for the sellers of contaminated land, to indicate that a site is contaminated.

Local residents packed the Fawkner Senior Citizens Centre on May 11 to hear speakers about the issues around this toxic site.

Australian anti-racist athlete Peter Norman, who was born in Coburg and later became a trainer and player for West Brunswick Football Club, is to be recognised by the Moreland Council.

Norman remains Australia’s fastest sprinter — his Australian 200-metre record from the 1968 Mexico City Olympics still stands.

However, Norman was not just an extraordinary athlete. He also took a stand against racism and for human rights. He was the third man in the iconic photo of the medal ceremony for the 200-metre race.

Toxic sites in Australia are not well known or well managed. One such site is the old Nufarm chemical factory site in Melbourne’s northern suburb, Fawkner.

The factory operated from 1957 to 1974, making a wide range of noxious chemicals including dioxins; DDT; toluline-based emulsifiable concentrate; phenoxyacetic acid herbicide; 2,4-D; 2,4,5-T; esters; dichlorophenol and trichlorophenol and arsenic-based sheep dip.  

The seeds of the current crisis of confidence in the capitalist parties in Australia go back to the 1980s when the Bob Hawke Labor government implemented its version of Margaret Thatcher’s neoliberal economic policies. The Hawke government also managed to achieve what previous Coalition governments had failed to do — seriously weaken the union movement.

While these reforms did not immediately create right-wing populism, once the reforms started to really bite by the late 1990s, it began to develop around Pauline Hanson.

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