Melbourne

Local comedian Pauline Fartson (aka Helchild) summed up the sentiment of the Busk for Free Speech rally on August 6 when she held up a giant permit, which said “Permit to breathe in public places in Moreland”.

Busk for Free Speech was held to highlight some of the anti-democratic and discriminatory local laws being proposed by Moreland City Council as part of its review of local laws. Most of the proposed laws already exist under the current local laws but they are also being included in the draft general local law.

More than 100 people attended public forums discussing the crisis in Venezuela and the need for solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution against the threat of violent right-wing opposition in Geelong and Melbourne on July 28 and 29.

The Melbourne meeting was initiated by Socialist Alliance and supported by the Latin American Solidarity Network (LASNET) and the El Salvadoran leftist party, the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front.

More than 150 unionists and two giant inflatable mascots rallied outside Esso's Australian headquarters in Southbank, Melbourne, on August 3. The rally was organised by the Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union (AMWU), the Australian Workers' Union (AWU) and the Electrical Trades Union (ETU).

The rally was in support of maintenance workers who have been picketing Esso's Longford gas site since June in protest over the plan by UGL, which holds Esso’s maintenance contract, to retrench them and have a subsidiary rehire them on 30% less pay and a two-week fly-in, fly-out roster.

More than 70 workers at Visy’s Dandenong plant voted on August 7 to maintain a peaceful picket and not return to work after an Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) delegate was sacked on August 4 for organising “illegal industrial action”.

The workers, all members of the AMWU, had become increasingly angered by a series of provocative actions taken by Visy management in the weeks before the delegate was sacked.

Hundreds of Electrical Trades Union (ETU) members and other unionists protested outside Crown's casino complex in Southbank on July 25, after marching from the State Library of Victoria.

It was part of what the ETU promises to be an orchestrated campaign against former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett and the Crown Casino over the sacking of 16 gaming technicians.

More than 100 people attended a public meeting called by the Refugee Action Collective (RAC) on July 24 to discuss how to break bipartisan support for offshore processing. The discussion focused on ways to change Labor Party policy.

Chairperson Margaret Sinclair read a message from Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary Sally McManus, who said Australia has a "responsibility to take a greater number of refugees than we do". She said the current intake is "shameful".

A “Venezuela-Brazil Solidarity” meeting organised by the Latin America Solidarity Network (LASNET) was held on June 8 in Melbourne.

It brought together a wide array of activists, including members of the Socialist Alliance, Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network (AVSN) and trade unionists.

One hundred and twenty young people between the ages of 16 and 25 from around Victoria made their way to Parliament House in the first week of July for the YMCA Youth Parliament program. Spending up to four months preparing their bills, students in 20 teams of six presented and debated the issues most important to them. After debating each bill for an hour, each student was allowed a conscience vote.

The 20 bills presented by the Youth Parliament were mostly progressive responses to social issues, with a quarter having an environmental focus.

Residents of the Gronn Place public housing estate in West Brunswick vowed to resist eviction at a community forum on July 15.

Gronn Place residents’ spokesperson Neville, who has lived there for 30 years, said, “We will not let them tear down our homes,” adding that he would chain himself inside his home. “I'm not going anywhere. They’ll have to drag me out.”

About 80 residents and supporters attended the lively community forum, the first since residents received letters that they would be evicted.

A rally called by the Campaign for Democracy in Sri Lanka was held in Federation Square on July 16. Protesters are opposed to the creation of a private medical college, the South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine. The Government Medical Officers Association has called for SAITM to be nationalised.

Speakers condemned police attacks on students, doctors and others protesting against the privatisation of medical education, including when 96 students were injured during a police attack against a demonstration on June 21.

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