A rally was held in Geelong on October 12 to protest sexism from the city's mayor Darryn Lyons. Lyons was photographed at a local Octoberfest event on October 10 wearing a tshirt featuring an image of a naked Madonna hitchhiking, taken from her 1992 book Sex, paired with the caption “Gas, grass or ass, no one rides for free”.
About 500 people attended Geelong’s first marriage equality rally on September 19. It was largely a young crowd with the visible presence of the local Socialist Alliance branch, the Greens, local Deakin University students, and the Geelong Adolescent Sexuality Project, a local support service for LGBTI youth.
Following the announcements of the closure of Ford, Alcoa and Target’s head office, workers in the Geelong region have been dealt another blow. Barwon Health, now one of the largest employers in the Geelong region, announced on May 29 that its laundry service LinenCare would close by June 30, making 94 workers unemployed.
On June 12 the Geelong Women’s Unionist Network (GWUN) hosted a book launch for Women of Steel at Geelong Trades Hall. The purpose of the event was not only to launch the book recounting the Jobs for Women campaign which took on BHP in Wollongong in 1970s but also to raise funds for the Jobs for Women film project.
About 100 people joined the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and other unions in Geelong at a rally to support the striking Tandara Spirit workers on December 1. Viva Energy, which owns the Geelong oil refinery, ordered the ship to sail to Singapore where the Australian crew would be made redundant and the ship returned to its owners. The crew defied those orders with a three-week sit-in. The Tandara Spirit is one of just five Australian-operated tankers left. Workers are concerned that Viva Energy could replace them with workers earning as little as $20 a day.
The opening night panel of the Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance conference discussed the recent invasion of Iraq, the rise of Islamic State and the Kurdish struggle in Kobane. Filling out the hall at Geelong Trades Hall on December 5, about 50 people heard from speakers Farooq Tariq from the Awami Workers Party in Pakistan, Dilek Geyik from the Australian Kurdish Association and Jemma Nott from Resistance.
Hundreds of mourners packed St Mary’s Cathedral on June 18 for the funeral of Leo Seemanpillai, who died on June 1 from full thickness burns to 90% of his body after setting himself on fire. Seemanpillai was a Tamil asylum seeker who was living on a bridging visa in the Victorian town of Geelong. Father Pancras Jordan led the service and welcomed those attending, saying: "We are gathered to say thank you and goodbye to our brother and friend, Leo Seemanpillai, who was killed by the harsh, unjust and cruel policies of our government.”
Well, here we are at the halfway mark. It’s been about eight weeks since Alcoa announced it was shutting up shop in Geelong and there’s a little over eight weeks before workers are tossed out the gate for good. But where are the announcements from the state and federal governments or Alcoa about how they will address the economic black hole and job losses in Geelong?
More than 400 people turned out in Geelong on April 5 to demand that the government be more humane to refugees and asylum seekers. The Combined Refugee Action Group (CRAG) organised the rally, and called on the government to: immediately end offshore processing and mandatory detention, re-install family reunion for refugees, and to end the indefinite detention of refugees with negative ASIO status.
About 500 workers took to the streets of Geelong on April 7 demanding support for manufacturing jobs. Many workers were from Ford and Alcoa, which have recently announced closures. Workers from other related industries also attended along with firefighters, nurses and teachers showing solidarity on the march. Not all workers and unions were from blue-collar backgrounds. Clerical workers, technical staff and support services are also affected by the closures.
On February 3, 50 communications sector workers and community members gathered outside the Geelong Mail Centre to protest the proposed privatisation and downsizing of Australia Post. These changes would see further job losses in the already hard-hit Geelong region. The meeting was attended by representatives of the Communications Electrical and Plumbing Union of Australia, the Community and Public Sector Union, Geelong Trades Hall, Socialist Alliance and the Australian Labor Party.
The third Swan Island Peace Convergence was held in Queenscliff, Victoria from September 22 to 26. About 50 peace activists from around the country converged in Queenscliff with the aim to blockade the top secret Swan Island Military Base. The military base on Swan Island is used as a training facility for SAS troops, a special operations force of the Australian army. This includes troops involved in counter-terrorism operations in Afghanistan. It is also a communications centre for the Australian Secret Intelligence Service.
About 200 people attended a lunch at Geelong Trades Hall on August 11 to raise money for the hundreds of refugees who have arrived in the community. Many refugees are not allowed to work as a condition of their visa and are forced to live on less than the unemployment benefit. This has left some families lacking basic necessities such as adequate clothing and food. A great deal of pressure has been placed on charities to take up the slack.
It was great to see all big health unions in Victoria hold a joint community rally on February 3 to protest against the state and federal governments’ slashing of health funding in Victoria. But any casual observer couldn’t help feeling that a re-elect Labor strategy was lurking. It was true that all of the secretaries from the key health unions roundly condemned the state Coalition and federal Labor governments for the $107 million cut to be implemented by June this year. The cut will result in more than 300 beds closing, elective surgery delays and job losses in many hospitals.
Hashim bin Rashid is the general secretary of the Lahore branch of Pakistan'sAwami Workers Party, which was recently formed by three left-wing groups uniting. Hasmim was a special guest at the Socialist Alliance national conference in Geelong 18-1-13, where the gave the talk in this video. The video is by Green Left TV.
Socialist Alliance national conference supporting the campaign for UNESCO world heritage listing for the oldest rock art in the world at the Burrup in northern WA.