Civil rights lawyer Rob Stary has called for a Senate inquiry into Australia's role in the war in Sri Lanka. Stary defended three Australian Tamil men charged with terrorism offences in 2007. He said such an inquiry would look at the reasons for the decision to prosecute the three. Stary made the call when delivering the Eliezer Memorial Lecture at Monash University on August 26. The lecture is held annually in honour of Professor C J Eliezer, a leader of Australia's Tamil community who died in 2001.
Occupy La Trobe, formed by La Trobe University students to fight cuts proposed to the Faculty of Humanities and Social Services (HUSS), published the statement below from the Stop the HUSS Cuts Collective on August 23. * * *
At least eight same-sex couples said “I do” in a mass illegal wedding ceremony on the steps of Melbourne's Old Treasury Building on August 11. More than 3000 people attended Equal Love's annual mass protest in the Melbourne CBD. The protest, which began with a rally at the State Library, was part of a series of actions held in cities across Australia. It has been an annual event since the former John Howard government changed the Marriage Act to say that marriage is an institution between a man and a woman.
Refugee rights supporters gathered in Melbourne on August 12 in a protest organised by the Refugee Action Collective (Victoria) to demand no offshore processing of refugees.
About 200 past and present students, teachers, local residents and local traders rallied to save Swinburne University of Technology’s Prahran TAFE campus on August 5. The event was organised by the National Tertiary Education Union and former staff and students. Former Swinburne executive director of educational development Judy Bissland has worked at the campus for 30 years. “I am still involved with campus through working with disengaged youth,” she told the crowd. “Funding cuts to TAFE and the vocational sector [are] disastrous. We need to take action to stop cuts or modify cuts.”
About 2500 people rallied in Melbourne for equal marriage rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people on August 11. A mass illegal wedding was held in defiance of the federal marriage ban.
Student activists at La Trobe University have begun a campaign against a proposal to slash funding to the Humanities and Social Sciences faculty. About 150 students and staff protested at the university’s Bundoora campus in Melbourne’s northern suburbs on July 31. Students marched to the administration building where security guards wrestled with a protester and locked the students out. Undeterred, students marched to the office of Humanities and Social Science dean Tim Murray where they were also locked out but occupied the corridor outside the office.
More than 100 students, teachers and union activists heard speakers slam private-sector training at a August 2 protest against TAFE cuts at RMIT’s city campus. Steve Roach from the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union’s Health and Safety Unit said he was concerned that the decline of TAFE — and the subsequent privatisation of building industry training — would lead to unsafe working conditions. He said: “We find dodgy tickets of competency floating around our industry ... where all [the students] did was give somebody $140 and they come back in with a card the next day.”
The ALP has narrowly held on to the Victorian seat of Melbourne despite a swing to the Greens in the July 21 by-election. Greens candidate Cathy Oke won the highest primary vote, getting 36.5% to ALP candidate Jennifer Kanis’ 33.4%. But distribution of preferences gave the ALP 52% and the Greens 48%. The Greens’ vote increased by 4.6%. The Liberals did not run in the election, although a Liberal Party member running as an independent won 4.7% of the primary vote.