Meanjin/Brisbane

About 300 people rallied for equal marriage rights outside today's Liberal National Party Queensland state conference in Brisbane July 14. Protesters waved banners and signs opposing the recently elected Campbell Newman government's recent attacks on lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGTBI) people’s rights.
June 29 was dubbed "Black Friday" for Queensland public servants as up to 3000 temporary and contract workers faced the sack from the Liberal-National Party government. Contracts for many staff in "non-frontline" jobs expired and will not be renewed under a job freeze ordered by Premier Campbell Newman, the June 29 Courier-Mail said. Newman has also appointed a razor gang, following the interim report of the Costello Commission of Audit into state debt, to find more cuts, including jobs of permanent staff.
Queensland public sector unions are preparing for an all-out battle with the Campbell Newman Liberal National Party (LNP) government over pay and conditions, as several enterprise bargaining agreements come up for re-negotiation. The state's public servants are outraged after being offered the lowest pay rise yet. Queensland's 60,000 public service workers have been offered a mere 2.2% pay rise per year and likely no additional funding for promotions over the next three years, the June 19 Courier-Mail said.
About 1000 Queensland teachers rallied outside state parliament on June 20 to protest the Campbell Newman Liberal National Party government's "unacceptable" offer on pay and conditions in current enterprise bargaining talks. The government is proposing a 2.7% annual pay rise in return for cuts in rights and conditions.
Queensland Premier Campbell Newman said on June 12 that the government would abolish state-sanctioned civil ceremonies for same-sex couples, but still allow them to formally register their partnership. Same-sex civil unions were introduced in February by the former Labor government. The move follows a big rally last month to protest against plans to abolish same-sex union laws entirely in Queensland. Newman said he wanted to remove “provisions which 'emulated' marriage”, which we're opposed by Christian churches, the June 13 Courier-Mail said.
QR National announced on June 5 it would cut 500 rail jobs, to add to the 600 lost last year through voluntary redundancies. QR National is now Australia's largest rail freight company. It was was privatised in 2011 as part of the previous Labor state government's controversial public asset sales program. Rail Tram and Bus Union (RBTU) Queensland state secretary Owen Doogan told the June 6 Courier Mail that the redundancies were damaging: “We believe they will be outsourcing some of their work which means QR National workers will have been sold down the road.”
Passersby were handed leaflets supporting striking Central Queensland coal mineworkers at a picket of the BHP-Billiton Brisbane office on June 1. The leaflet said the picket was being held “to show our solidarity with the striking coalminers in Central Queensland over their dispute with BMA company [BHP-Mitsubishi Alliance] concerning mine safety. This is a crucial fight for working rights and conditions, important for all Australian unionists right now.”
Two rallies were held in Brisbane on May 31 to support WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange following the British court decision to validate the extradition order, opening the way for him to be sent to Sweden, and probably from there to the US. The rallies, organised by Brisbane WikiLeaks Defence, were held outside the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) office in the city at lunchtime and in the afternoon peak hour.
Several thousand people rallied in King George Square on May 30 to defend same-sex civil unions and oppose cuts to the Queensland Healthy Communities program. The protesters marched through city streets to state parliament for a further rally. The emergency rally was called by Equal Love Brisbane under the theme, “Defend Civil Unions! Save Healthy Communities.”
“We are gathered here to support the 33 people who were arrested two weeks ago for defending the Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy in Musgrave Park,” Murri community leader Sam Watson told a rally outside the Magistrates Court on May 31. “Aboriginal people and their supporters were merely exercising their traditional rights in protecting the sacred fire in the park. “These rights are guaranteed by state and federal law. The raid by more than 200 police was a return to the Joh Bjelke-Petersen era by the Newman LNP government, harshly suppressing Aboriginal and democratic rights of citizens.
The Great Barrier Reef off Queensland's northern coast came within a few metres of disaster on May 19 when a broken-down bulk sugar carrier drifted just over Shark Reef, north-east of Cooktown. The 26,000-tonne ID Integrity was blown off course after its engines broke down. Crew dumped ballast to allow the vessel to pass over the reef, until tugs could reach the ship.
About 4000 unionists at six coal mines in Central Queensland have struck for a week from May 24 after enterprise bargaining talks with employers BHP Billiton and Mitsubishi again broke down. The 18-month-long dispute between the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union (CFMEU) and mineowners the BHP-Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) centres on a push by the company to replace union-appointed mine safety officers with management officials.