Canberra

Grandmothers Against Removals National Committee and the Aboriginal Tent Embassy released this statement at a rally in Canberra on the anniversary of the National Apology on February 13. * * * Today we march in protest against the unprecedented theft of Aboriginal children from their families by so-called “Child Protection” agencies across Australia.
Chanting "Always was, always will be, Aboriginal land," more than 500 members of Aboriginal communities from across the country and their supporters marched from Civic in the centre of Canberra to the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in front of Old Parliament House on January 26, also known as Invasion Day. The embassy was also the site of the second meeting of the Indigenous National Freedom Summit, following its founding in Alice Springs in November 2014.
Over the recent Labour Day weekend in Canberra, students from around the country came together at the EduFactory conference to discuss the current situation of Australian universities, to swap strategies and understanding and to foster links between campaigns and collectives. The conference was the result of dedicated work by grassroots organisers and included current and former, undergraduate and post-graduate students from a wide range of political persuasions.
Australian historian Humphrey McQueen gave the speech below at a forum held by Canberra Friends of Wikileaks on June 27. * * * Once more, I have the honour of sharing a platform with Christine Assange. Since we were at the Sydney meeting in February, she has come through five tortuous months. Her calm yet loving commitment to keeping us up to date with the legal and extra-judicial proceedings inspires us all.
As US President Barack Obama received a standing ovation inside Australia's Parliament House on November 17, a protest organised by Sydney Stop The War Coalition, Peace Bus, Bradley Manning Support Group, Christine Assange and Wikileaks supporters took place outside.
About 5000 people walked across Commonwealth Bridge and rallied in front of Parliament House on June 5, calling for real action on climate change now. Speakers included former Liberals Leader John Hewson, Richard Dennis from the Australia Institute, 2010 Greens Senate candidate Lin Hatfield Dodds and Bishop Pat Power. Hewson said we needed to respond to climate change with a greater sense of urgency and in a way that recognised the magnitude of the problem.
Australia’s first national rally of intersex, sex and/or gender diverse (ISGD) people saw 180 participants gather on the lawns of parliament house, Canberra, on May 11. Two buses of ISGD people and allies travelled from Sydney. A bus arrived from Melbourne and 10 activists flew from Brisbane to attend the important action, undeterred by the cold, windy weather.
Two hundred people attended the launch of the National Museum of Labour on November 11, in the old government fitter’s workshop in Kingston, ACT. They heard from union officials, politicians and rank-and-file unionists. Unions ACT secretary Kim Sattler introduced speakers including: Australian Council of Trade Unions president Ged Kearney; Anna Booth from major sponsors, Slater & Gordon; historian Norman Abjorensen, and federal Labor MP for Eden Monaro, Mike Kelly. To find out more, visit National Museum of Labour website.
Regional labour councils from New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia met in Canberra over November 11-12 to discuss building the union movement in regional areas. Unions ACT hosted the meeting. Australian Council of Trade Unions president Ged Kearney discussed the ACTU’s plans to increase union membership and sought feedback from the regional councils present. The meeting resolved to improve communication between councils.
The second MP to speak in the House of Representatives debate on Australian military intervention in Afghanistan – a debate held nine years after the intervention began – was the newly elected independent Member for Denison (Tasmania) Andrew Wilkie.
On October 19, Sydney Stop The War Coalition activist Marlene Obeid was dragged out of the parliamentary public gallery as Australia's Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced that Australian troops would be "engaged in Afghanistan at least for the rest of this decade". "They are war criminals", said Obeid as she was dragged off by Parliament House security guards. She was right but, until the new Greens MP Adam Bandt spoke (see full speech below) , her stifled protest was the sole voice for peace and justice in the House of Representatives chamber.
On October 19, at exactly 3.30pm, the Lib-Lab politicians suddenly went from smirk to sombre as the Afghanistan “debate” finally started – nine years too late. I was sitting in the public gallery, along with fellow activists from Sydney Stop the War Coalition, watching “question time” – where backbenchers ask “Dorothy Dixers” of their “senior” front benchers. We were becoming increasingly irritated by the major parties’ self-important MPs filling up the time with ridiculous antics while being ineffectively berated by the long-suffering speaker.
Canberra’s bus service, Action, is trying to impose a new enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA) on bus drivers to undermine their rights at work. Under the current EBA, 40% of Canberra’s bus drivers are part-time and have to wait four years until they can get full-time work. If the part-time to full-time ratio that Action wants is implemented, workers will have to wait seven to eight years for a full-time job. “We’re fighting to protect bus driving as a profession”, one bus driver said.

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