More than 100 people marched in Northcote on March 10 in support of refugee rights. The rally was called by the Refugee Action Collective to focus attention on refugees in the context of the Batman by-election.

Aziz Muhammad, who has been imprisoned on Manus Island for 5 years, spoke to the rally via skype. He spoke of the “terrible” conditions on Manus Island. The three camps where refugees are living are overcrowded. There is no proper medical care. Mental health is deteriorating, as people see no hope. Refugees have been badly beaten by local people.

Lovers of the Murray and Darling rivers gathered outside Victorian Parliament on March 7 to call on Premier Daniel Andrews and Water Minister Lisa Neville to save the Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s Basin Plan.

Both of Victoria's daily newspapers, The Age and the Herald-Sun, had front page articles on March 6 attacking the proposed enterprise agreement covering firefighters employed by the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB). This agreement is currently being voted on by MFB staff.

Firefighters employed by the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) have begun voting on a new enterprise agreement, which includes a pay rise of 19% over four years.

The previous agreement expired in 2013.

MFB management resisted including clauses in the new agreement requiring it to consult with the United Firefighters Union (UFU) on a range of questions, such as equipment and uniforms, and clauses clearly specifying the rights of workers in relation to issues such as rosters.

The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) announced on February 28 that Wilson Security will no longer provide it with security services and SecureCorp has been appointed as its long-term security services provider.

Wilson Security has provided security services for the Australian government’s detention centres on Nauru since 2012 and Manus Island during 2014–17. It is notorious for overseeing, perpetrating and attempting to cover up years of abuse against refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru, as many inquiries and reports have shown.

About 90 Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) members at Australian Paper’s Preston envelope factory returned to work victorious on March 6 after an eight-week strike, with most of the workers’ terms being met and the rest to be negotiated.

Socialist Alliance councillor Sue Bolton reported that on February 14 Moreland City Council in Victoria passed her motion calling for an increase in the Newstart allowance. This follows similar decisions by 10 South Australian local councils prompted by campaigners from the Anti-Poverty Network.

The motion called for Newstart to be increased to the Henderson poverty line. Newstart is currently $177 below the poverty line.

Late last year, amid the ongoing citizenship crisis engulfing several federal MPs and Senators, Labor MP David Feeney revealed that he was unable to produce documentation confirming he had renounced his citizenship of either Britain or Ireland. On February 1, Feeney announced his resignation and did not recontest the seat.

Alex Bhathal, who has run for the seat before and went close to winning from Feeney at the last federal election, is the Greens candidate.

About 20 people attended the launch on February 15 of a campaign aimed at countering the "law and order race to the bottom" in the lead-up to Victoria's state election in November.

The "Stop failing our kids" campaign, initiated by the Indigenous Social Justice Association (ISJA), aims to get thousands of people to send postcards to Victorian Labor Premier Daniel Andrews.

Seventy people rallied outside the Broadmeadows detention centre on February 18 to protest against the threatened deportation of Santharuban, a Tamil refugee.

Alex Bhathal, the Greens candidate for the upcoming Batman byelection, told the rally that Santharuban's life is in great danger if he is sent back to Sri Lanka, as crimes against humanity continue there and people previously deported have died.


Subscribe to Melbourne