Fremantle

On August 25, for the first time in my life, I helped to organise a marriage equality rally.

It was a fantastic day: we had more than 400 people for the speeches and many more who joined the march through Fremantle and the rainbow chalk art session along the way. Walking through streets filled with supportive messages was so special. It was wonderful to be a part of and hugely encouraging to me and to everyone who supports the Yes campaign.

Two things gave me the drive to overcome my lack of confidence and make this rally happen.

The decision by the City of Fremantle to drop its annual Australia Day fireworks has inevitably shaped the contours of the looming council elections, even though no candidate has made it the centrepiece of their campaign.

The election is largely pitting a generally socially progressive group of incumbents of different political stripes (Labor, Greens, socialist and independents) against an alliance of conservative challengers headed by mayoral candidate Caroline “Ra” Stewart.

About 800 people marched through the streets of Fremantle on September 9 in a colourful demonstration urging a Yes vote in the equal marriage rights national survey. The pavements were left covered with love hearts and messages supporting the Yes campaign.

The march followed a rally in Fremantle’s Pioneer Park, which was welcomed to country by Aunty Corina Abraham. She compared the refusal of marriage rights to LGBTI people to the refusal of marriage rights to Aboriginal people under the control of the 1905 Aborigines Act.

A Southern Brown Bandicoot that was found injured in the Roe 8 construction site in early February has been rehabilitated and released in Bibra Lake by local wildlife organisation Native ARC.

The young male bandicoot was hospitalised for four weeks after he was found by a Roe 8 contractor with wounds to his back and rump, eye injuries and suffering dehydration.

Activist, teacher and mother of two, Petrina Harley, grew up in the suburbs of Perth. She is a fierce advocate for human rights, her main passions being rights for the LGBTI community, illegally detained asylum seekers and stopping the Roe 8 freeway.

She is standing for the Socialist Alliance in the WA state election alongside Sam Wainwright in the South Metropolitan Legislative Council. Harley was interviewed by Green Left Weekly by Chris Jenkins, who is standing in the seat of Fremantle.

Western Australia goes to the polls on March 11. Green Left Weekly spoke to Chris Jenkins, left, who is standing for the Socialist Alliance in the seat of Fremantle.

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What are some of the key issues you want to raise this state election?

In contesting the state election, the Socialist Alliance hopes to start a public discussion about who is genuinely entitled to use the resources we have as a society and the processes by which they are allocated.

Alone among Australian councils, the City of Fremantle in Western Australia recognised that January 26 is a date that many Australians do not want to celebrate and instead decided to celebrate with culturally-inclusive public activities two days later. 

People across the world are rising up, angry at the failure of governments to listen to their concerns or prioritize their lives over the profits of big business.

On January 12, Perth joined this movement when more than 1000 “protectors”, as they have dubbed themselves, descended on the Roe 8 construction site to protest the state government’s efforts to build a freeway through the Beeliar Wetlands. Roe 8, which is part of greater freeway known as Perth Freight Link has ignited some of the most sustained community opposition Perth has ever seen.

When Fremantle councillors voted in August last year to end the Australia Day fireworks display that it had been running for the past eight years, I fully expected a conservative backlash. But even I was surprised to see the decision featured in news bulletins for months on end.

On one level the whole thing is bizarre. Local governments are not obliged to do anything special on January 26 and most of them don't.

What drove the conservative media and Coalition politicians into a frenzy was the council's reason for doing dropping the fireworks display.

On December 14, I paid a visit to the Beeliar Wetlands Protectors Camp in Coolbellup and witnessed the arrests of several young protesters for taking non-violent direct action against the Roe 8 highway project which threatens this precious wetlands area and significant Aboriginal sites.

“People from all around the community have assembled here to stop work on the Roe 8 freeway which is going through the Beeliar wetlands and woodlands,” Sam Wainwright, Socialist Alliance's Fremantle City Councillor told Green Left Weekly at the protest camp.

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