Forty thousand people marched against the federal government and its budget in over 30 locations on the weekend of August 30-31. This was smaller than the three similar mobilisations in March, May and July, but shows there is still a strong community sentiment against the budget. All campaigns have ups and downs — no grassroots movement ever grows continually upwards. The smaller numbers reflect the fact that the initial raw anger against the budget has passed. To maintain a campaign in this context, people need to have confidence that their efforts can bear fruit.
Evil is one of those strange things isn't it? It is a very particular characteristic that always seems to be found in people who just happen to be in places our governments really want to bomb.
Rallies were held in cities around Australia on August 30 to demand the extradition to Chile of former Pinochet regime secret police agent Adriana Rivas. This follows revelations shown on SBS last year about her involvement in repression of political prisoners as a member of the National Intelligence Agency of Chile during 1976-77.
The University of New South Wales acting vice chancellor Iain Martin cancelled a Town Hall meeting on September 3, organised to brief staff on the University’s response to proposed fee deregulation. UNSW students had planned to protest their exclusion from the meeting. In cancelling the meeting, Martin told staff: “We have been advised this morning by police and security that the meeting was being targeted by protest groups, which we understand were predominately external to UNSW. Our advice is that the intention was to disrupt the Town Hall.”
Domestic violence is the only criminal charge that is increasing in NSW. In Australia, one woman dies from it every week and one is hospitalised every three hours. Under such circumstances, one would hope the political will would exist to increase funding for services proven to help vulnerable women at risk. Instead, the NSW government is reducing 336 existing services to just 149 services run by 69 lead agencies, 75% of which are Christian organisations.
People gathered outside the World Bank office in Sydney on September 5 to protest the bank’s involvement in an Australian mining company’s attempt to sue the government of El Salvador for US$301 million. Pacific Rim, a Canadian company that was bought by Australian OceanaGold last year, applied to mine gold in northern El Salvador in 2004. The Salvadoran government refused it permission, arguing the company did not own or have rights to the land it proposed to mine, it did not have environmental permissions and it did not submit a final feasibility study for the project.
Medicare is 30 years old and is the scheme that publicly funds Australia’s universal health care system. Medicare has always generated political conflict. From 1972 to 1984 Australia became the first developed country to introduce a universal health care system (under Gough Whitlam), then discard it (under Malcolm Fraser). In those 12 years Australia tried, on five separate occasions, to balance public and private insurance schemes. Finally, in 1984, the Bob Hawke government reintroduced a universal health care system, Medicare.
Two representatives from Irish republican party Sinn Fein toured Australia from August to September 7, speaking to hundreds of people at public meetings about the campaign for Irish reunification. Sinn Fein vice-president and member of the Dail (Irish parliament) Mary Lou McDonald and Sinn Fein MP for Mid-Ulster in Ireland's north Francie Molloy, spoke in support of the campaign to end partition and unite the six counties still claimed by Britain with the 26 counties that make up the southern state in a democratic republic.
Nick Riemer gave this speech to the March Australia rally in Sydney on August 31. He is an activist with the Refugee Action Coalition. *** The Gadigal and the other first peoples of this country were — and still are — the objects of a relentless war of attrition. That merciless frontier war has been hidden and denied. Another war that the government tries to conceal and rationalise away is its war on asylum seekers.
The United Motorcycle Council has taken the Queensland government to the High Court to challenge the Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment (VLAD) Act. Introduced last year, the laws make it an offence for more than three members of an outlawed group to meet in public. Penalties include six months to three years in solitary confinement for being “associates” of a designated motorcycle club.