Melbourne

Talk has once again resurfaced about extending police powers and militarising police forces after a violent brawl outside a pub in Collingwood, Victoria, earlier this month. But many are asking just how far governments are willing to go in sacrificing freedoms for an ill-conceived notion of being “tough on crime”.

The toxic chemical blaze which started in a West Footscray factory, in Melbourne's west, on August 30, and took firefighters 17 hours to bring under control, has provoked such widespread anger that the state government has been forced to intervene.

Sue Bolton, a socialist councillor in Melbourne, has accused Victorian authorities of deliberately minimising the threat of far-right figures.

Twelve people have died in Australian offshore detention centres in the past five years as a result of murder, suicide and medical neglect, according to Angelica Panopoulos from the Refugee Action Collective (Victoria).

The Victorian Socialists launched its policy manifesto on August 24 at the Brunswick Town Hall, attracting about 600 people.

The Manifesto outlines a comprehensive set of policies the Victorian Socialists are taking to the state election on November 24, the key ones being affordable housing for all, an expanded public transport system and the renationalisation of the power and public transport sectors.

United Firefighters Union (UFU) members employed by the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) and the Country Fire Authority (CFA) held meetings to discuss their struggle to win enterprise agreements for their workplaces on August 20.

The proposed new agreements are still being blocked, several years after the expiry of the previous agreements. This is largely due to federal industrial relations legislation that has created a range of obstacles. CFA and MFB managements have also obstructed attempts to resolve the problems.

Chanting “Fund the gap or we’ll be back,” more than 200 health workers protested outside Victorian health minister Martin Foley’s office on August 16 to demand the Labor state government restore funding to community mental health services. Services have been severely affected by the state government’s decision to cut $75 million from mental health funding.

Socialist groups and community activists of different stripes have come together under the banner of Victorian Socialists in one of the most ambitious bids in decades to get a socialist elected to state parliament. Green Left Weekly’s Jacob Andrewartha spoke to Stephen Jolly, Victorian Socialists’ lead candidate for the upper house Northern Metropolitan seat, about this initiative.

Residents and workers are fighting to save a little urban oasis.

Nearly 100 workers at Note Printing Australia (NPA) in Craigieburn, which is owned by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), were locked out by their employer on August 10.

The workers have been campaigning for a wage rise of 3.5%. Their demand is in line with the appeal made by RBA Governor Philip Lowe to federal parliament in February, when he said that a generalised wage rise of 3.5% would help stimulate economic activity.

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