Brisbane

The stack of new laws rushed through the Queensland parliament in recent weeks have put the Liberal National Party government on a collision course with the judiciary, the legal fraternity, trade unions and civil liberties activists not seen since the days of Joh Bjelke Petersen.

These new laws — directed at bikie gangs, G20 protesters, sex offenders and workers compensation — attack basic freedoms of association, the right to protest peacefully, fair sentencing and the right of workers to sue negligent employers.

Members of the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees union (SDA) rallied outside its Brisbane offices on May 30.

The rally was in response to SDA Brisbane branch secretary Chris Ketter sacking organiser Allan Swetman, the day before Swetman was set to challenge for the secretary position.

Swetman had questioned the fact Brisbane SDA organisers had attended lectures held by religious organisations against same-sex marriage and abortion rights, and alleged the union is supporting these lectures.

University of Queensland (UQ) Executive Dean of Arts Fred D’Agostino said last month the gender studies major would be cut from the Bachelor of Arts program.

No student commencing next year would have the option of majoring in this area.

Gender studies has a 41-year history at the university. The program was won in the early 1970s by the powerful feminist movement of the time.

It was the first of its kind in Australia and one of the first in the world.

More than 50 people came out to Brisbane’s Executive Building on the morning of October 29 in a fiery protest against Premier Campbell Newman’s recent decision to allow uranium mining in Queensland.

Under the banner of Queensland Nuclear Free Alliance, the protest called for a complete ban on uranium mining in the state.

In a startling but not unexpected backflip, Queensland Premier Campbell Newman gave the green light to uranium mining on October 22, lifting a decades-long ban on the destructive industry.

Unionist Bob Carnegie was charged with 54 counts of contempt of court on October 17 for taking part in a community protest during a dispute between builders' unions and building firm Abigroup at the Royal Children's Hospital (RCH) construction site.

It is a sign of things to come for community activists. About 650 workers took strike actions against Abigroup for refusing to meet demands over working conditions, subcontractor terms and an enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA).

Under the banner of the Lock the Gate Alliance, about 100 demonstrators assembled outside Brisbane’s Convention Centre for the Queensland Gas Conference and exhibition on October 9 to protest their exclusion from the Australian Petroleum and Production Association’s (APPEA) inaugural Coal Seam Gas (CSG) Conference and Exhibition.

Lock the Gate formally requested that its observers be permitted entry to the conference seminars concerning “social licence to operate”.

Police arrested and handcuffed two Brisbane-based activists, Rebecca Barrigos and Sid Zaoichi, after they set up a stall and petition against the state government’s budget cuts at a Brisbane university campus on September 21. Green Left Weekly’s Liam Flenady spoke to Barrigos about the arrests and the campaigns against austerity and for free speech in Queensland.

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What were you and fellow activist Sid Zaoichi campaigning for on campus and why was security called to evict you?

Queenslanders continue to stand up against state Liberal National Party premier Campbell Newman's vicious austerity budget and job cuts, with several hundred joining a rally and march to parliament on September 22. The rally was organised by the Queensland Uncut coalition.

Activists and members of the community sector gave speeches to the rally about the many people affected by the cuts and reiterated the need for a strong, sustained campaign.

A day after the Queensland Liberal National Party (LNP)’s slash-and-burn budget was handed down, huge union rallies — the biggest since the campaign against the Howard government’s Work Choices laws — took place on September 12.

Ten thousand workers marched on parliament house in Brisbane, and marches and rallies were also held in several regional centres, such as Townsville, Cairns, Mackay, Rockhampton, Bundaberg, the Sunshine Coast, Toowoomba and the Gold Coast.

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