Earlier this year it looked as if Labor4Refugees’ amendments to the Labor Party’s platform that specifically reject boat turnbacks might win enough votes from the ALP left and the Catholic right to get through at the ALP national conference in late July. However, the Labor leadership is committed to a policy of deterring asylum seekers and is working to prevent any policy change at the conference.
Melbourne Resistance Centre was packed on May 9 as people gathered to hear First Nations activists and other anti-racism activists talk about fighting racism in Australia today. The seminar began with Wendy Brabham, nationally-respected Aboriginal academic and traditional owner from the Wamba Wamba, Wergaia, Nyeri Nyeri and Dhudhuroa first nations. Brabham is the former director of the Institute of Koori Education at Deakin University. She outlined the history of colonisation as experienced by her family. Brabham’s mother was born on Ebenezer Mission.
The Moreland council in Melbourne became the first council in Australia to pass a motion last month condemning plans for forced closures of Aboriginal communities, and to send a letter of solidarity to those communities. The motion was moved by me as a Socialist Alliance councillor on Moreland council. The motion passed unanimously, with even the Liberal party councillor voting for it. On April 28, a second Melbourne council, the Moonee Valley council, passed the same motion. The motion was moved by Jim Cusack, a Labor councillor.
Otis lift workers in Melbourne claimed victory on December 17 after an eight-week lockout when they voted to accept an agreement that included all but one of their demands. The 174 Otis workers had been trying to negotiate with the company since April. With the company insisting on a below-inflation 1% wage increase, the workers began industrial action at the end of September with bans on overtime, shiftwork and the commissioning of lifts and escalators. The company responded by locking out the workers on October 21.
Days before the Victorian elections on November 29, the Labor opposition promised to scrap the East West Link, a massive road project in Melbourne with an estimated cost of $18 billion. On the back of a large community campaign to stop the project, this position helped Labor win the election. The history of the campaign to stop the tunnel provides lessons on how the community can successfully beat the power of corporations and governments.
The White Ribbon is a public symbol that family violence is a problem. Women have the right to live a life free from gender-based violence. The fact that White Ribbon Day exists is a tribute to the generations of women and men who have campaigned to have family violence recognised as a crime and a serious problem in society. The Maritime Union of Australia, with a predominantly male membership, has enthusiastically taken up White Ribbon Day.
Moreland City councillor Sue Bolton gave this speech to a rally in solidarity with Kobani in Melbourne on October 25. *** There are two reasons to support the Kurds of Kobane. One reason is humanitarian: to prevent a massacre. The other reason is to protect and defend the building of an alternative society which should be a beacon for all left and progressive people in the world.
The Ron Tandberg cartoon in the Age on September 24 sums up what a rort the East West Link is. In it, one person asks someone from the East West Connect consortium: “Are you concerned that Labor might stop the project?” They answer: “Either way we'll make a killing.” The cartoon is referring to the announcement by Labor opposition leader Daniel Andrews on September 11 that Labor would not build the East West Link if the Moreland and Yarra councils win legal action against the project in December.
The Victorian Coalition government faces an uphill battle to win a second term in the November state elections. Its commitment to building the controversial East West Link toll road and the impact of the federal budget cuts has made the Coalition very unpopular. Socialist Alliance candidate for Pascoe Vale Sean Brocklehurst said the East West Link is “a huge handout to big corporations.
One petition I saw circulating recently called for both Israel and Hamas to put down their weapons. I dispute this approach that blames both sides equally. Israel is the aggressor. Not only is Israel bombing indiscriminately with a view to maximising civilian casualties, it continues to maintain its inhumane and illegal siege of Gaza. The kidnapping and murder of the Israeli teenagers was simply a pretext. There is no evidence that it was a Palestinian or a Hamas member who killed the teenagers. Israel has set itself as judge, jury and executioner.