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.
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.
Premier Campbell Newman'a Liberal National Party (LNP) government wasted no time launching an all-out attack on gay rights and on community services in Queensland. The May 20 Courier Mail said the government was preparing to overturn the civil unions law passed under the previous Labor government earlier this year.
More than 100 people rallied in King George Square on May 18 to commemorate the Palestinian Al-Nakba (The Catastrophe), when Israel was established with the mass expulsion of Palestinians from their villages and homes. Protesters held placards with the names of villages that were destroyed by Zionist forces in 1948. Speakers condemned the Apartheid policies of the Israeli state from then until now. The rally was followed by a procession through city streets in double file.
Socialist Alliance Brisbane released the statement below on May 18 * * * The Socialist Alliance expresses its full support and solidarity with the Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy in Musgrave Park, South Brisbane, and strongly condemns the actions of police and Brisbane City Council in forcibly evicting the Aboriginal community members at the embassy on May 16. The use of more than 200 police to stage a dawn raid on the peaceful embassy is a return to the police state tactics of the Joh Bjelke-Petersen regime in Queensland 30 years ago.
More than 200 police staged a dawn raid on the peaceful Aboriginal Sovereignty Embassy in Musgrave Park, South Brisbane on May 16. They evicted the 80 people defending the site and arrested about 30. More than 100 protesters outside the wire fence surrounding the park rallied in support, despite a police blockade of all streets around the area from 6am.
Mardi Reardon-Smith gathered at Brisbane’s Musgrave Park with other supporters early on May 16 to support the Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy, which was later evicted from the park by more than 200 police officers. Her account of the day is below. * * *
Protesters erected a giant “radioactive barrel” outside Queensland parliament on May 15, the first session under the new Liberal National Party (LNP) state government. The protest, sponsored by Friends of the Earth Brisbane’s Peace Anti-Nuclear and Clean Energy Collective (PACE), was held to oppose a push for uranium mining in Queensland, banned under the previous Labor government.
Supporters of the Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy in Brisbane’s Musgrave Park released the statement below on May 14. * * * Brisbane City Council has turned its back on negotiations with the Brisbane Sovereign Embassy over its right to exist in Musgrave Park, South Brisbane. This afternoon at around 4pm, Luke Bell from Brisbane City Council told the Embassy by phone that negotiations were off and that Council would be forcibly removing the Embassy in the near future.
About 40 unionists protested outside the annual meeting of mining giant Rio Tinto's board meeting on May 10 against the company's involvement in the London Olympic Games. Rio Tinto is manufacturing medals for the games. At the same time, the mining corporation has staged a lock-out of 800 mine workers at the Alma smelter in Canada. Unions say the lock-out began after the Canadian workers refused contracts that would cut wages of new workers by half.
Green Left Weekly hosted a forum at the Brisbane Activist Centre on May 8 called “Challenges facing the Queensland labour movement: Where to now for the unions under a Liberal National Party government?” The meeting heard from Mark Taylor, a workplace delegate for the Together union in the Brisbane City Council and a state council delegate for the Queensland Greens. It also heard from Marg Gleeson, an Australian Services Union (ASU) delegate in the community housing sector and Socialist Alliance activist.