About 50 Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) members and supporters occupied the foyer of the Brisbane offices of Rio Tinto on March 28.
Rio Tinto has reneged on its agreement with the MUA to have 70–80% Australian crew on its coastal fleet. Instead it is using exploited foreign workers who are paid $3–4 per hour. This is despite posting a $6 billion profit last year.
A bill to remove the controversial "gay panic" defence from Queensland law was passed on March 21. It had been used by people accused of murder to claim they were provoked due to an unwanted homosexual advance.
Those who pleaded under section 304 of the Criminal Code (killing on provocation) reduced their criminal responsibility to manslaughter and avoided life in jail.
Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath said the bill delivered on an important promise to the LGBTI community of Queensland.
Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk should hang her head in shame. She has proven once again that the word “Labor” in “Australian Labor Party” has no connection with the interests of working people in Australia — or anywhere else.
Palaszczuk headed a delegation to India on March 17 to underscore her government’s support for the Adani company’s proposed Carmichael thermal coalmine. If it is given the go ahead, it will be the largest coal mine in Australia and one of the largest in the world. It would be the first for the Galilee Basin, and it would open the door to more.
On March 22, the day after the NT parliament legislated to decriminalise abortion (see page 4), doctors in Queensland called on the state government to follow suit.
Nineteen doctors who are current or recent providers of abortion services in Queensland have signed a letter to the state premier calling for abortion decriminalisation to be resolved in the current term of parliament. This follows another delay in achieving legal reform after private member's bills were withdrawn earlier this year.
The signatories include an overwhelming majority of doctors performing abortion in Queensland.
A group of Brisbane grandparents occupied the South Brisbane headquarters of Queensland Labor for 10 hours on March 6. The Grandparents for the Galilee came prepared with food and bedding, vowing to stay until Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk signed a legal letter rejecting the proposed $1 billion loan to Adani.
An interim report from the Koala Expert Panel, established by the state government after a catastrophic koala population crash in south-east Queensland last year, has offered little hope for the state’s faunal emblem.
Sex workers and their allies rallied for law reform and an end to stigma in Brisbane on March 8. It was the first public rally held by Respect Inc, a peer-led rights and support organisation for sex workers. Twenty people wearing red, holding signs and displaying red umbrellas gathered in Queens Garden and marched to Parliament House.
Speaking out against Queensland's 17-year-old sex work laws and chanting, “Nothing about us without us,” workers demanded the Labor state government consult with them to ensure legal changes that would decriminalise their work.
Decriminalisation of abortion will be referred to the Queensland Law Reform Commission (QLRC) by the Palaszczuk Labor government after independent MP Rob Pyne withdrew his private member's bills on the issue.
The bills were due to be debated on March 1 but Pyne withdrew them the day before — to the disappointment of many pro-choice activists — when it became clear they faced defeat in the parliament.