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MELBOURNE — On March 5, the Melbourne-based Women for Palestine group endorsed the call issued on January 31 by the International Coordination Network on Palestine and the Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign for global protests on June 9-11 under the slogan “The world says no to Israeli occupation”.
With global warming increasingly dominating mainstream political discussion, the debate about solutions has intensified. While PM John Howard has thrown his weight behind the lie of “clean, green” nuclear power, the ALP has maintained its opposition to this deeply unpopular option.
Rallies and other events took place around Australia on March 8-10 to mark International Women's Day. Pictured is Brisbane's rally. In Melbourne, around 300 people gathered on March 8 for a rally initiated by the Victorian Trades Hall Council under the theme of "women and work". Delegations from a wide range of unions and community groups protested the Howard government's vicious anti-union and anti-worker laws, which are having a disproportionately negative impact on women.
In the run-up to the NSW elections both major parties are claiming to be able to run the economy better. But the release of the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ December quarter figures on March 7, which revealed that NSW is not technically in a recession, is likely to help the state ALP government’s lead over Peter Debnam’s Liberals on March 24.
A spirited demonstration of 200 people marched to state parliament on March 9 to protest the poisoning of Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan, who is imprisoned in Turkey. Waving Kurdish and Australian flags and holding pictures of Ocalan, the founder of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), the protesters chanted “Freedom for Ocalan, long live Kurdistan” and called for an end to the war in Kurdistan.
On March 7, 60 people joined with three “comfort women” survivors — Jan Ruff O’Herne AO, Hsie Mei Wu and Gil Won Ok, from Australia, Taiwan and Korea — outside the Japanese Consulate in Martin Place.
Adelaide backpacker David Hicks will be arraigned before an illegally constituted military tribunal at the Guantanamo Bay concentration camp on March 20 and face the retrospective and ill-defined charge of “material support for terrorism”.
The vice-president of Geelong Trades Hall, Christine Couzens, has been awarded the Jenny George Award for the advancement of women in unions. Couzens was presented with the award by Australian Council of Trade Unions president Sharan Burrow on March 7.
On March 8 at the Brisbane Activist Centre, 30 people attended a forum to discuss the Aboriginal movement in Australia and indigenous struggles in Bolivia and Venezuela. Sam Watson, Aboriginal rights activist and Socialist Alliance member, spoke about recent developments over the Palm Island killing of Mulrunji and how the case has galvanised the whole of Aboriginal Australia. He said it has renewed activism within the community and made Aboriginal people aware of the broader support for their struggle.
Political fervour, passion and a fighting spirit marked the “Fighting racism in the NSW state election” forum held by the Socialist Alliance Parramatta branch on March 6.

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