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.
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.
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.
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.
Protesters at a save TAFE rally in Geelong on October 19 chanted, “No cuts, no second term. We all have a right to learn, learn, learn!” Almost 200 people took part in the rally. It coincided with the VECCI business convention at the Mercure Hotel in Geelong, which Premier Ted Baillieu was to speak at. Protesters were angered to learn Baillieu had made his appearance but had left through the back door two hours before the rally began.
About 40 concerned citizens opposed to the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan and Australia’s role in the conflict, gathered in Queenscliff on the Bellarine Peninsula, 30 kilometres from Geelong, to blockade the entrance to the Swan Island military base over September 23 to 27.
The Geelong Socialist Alliance released the statement below on September 18. * * * The Socialist Alliance has announced today that they will endorse 55-year-old health and safety teacher, Sue Bull, as its candidate for Mayor in the Greater Geelong City Council elections, which take place on October 27. Bull said: “I’ve decided to run because I can’t see that there are any candidates campaigning against corporate greed and putting the community and the environment first.