Melbourne

The enormous — some estimate 60,000-strong — Invasion Day rally in Melbourne was a fitting rejoinder to the conservative campaign pushed by the mainstream media and politicians in the lead-up to January 26.

The right-wing Institute of Public Affairs released a poll on January 24 that, unsurprisingly, found just 11% of those surveyed want the date changed.

If national unity and harmony are the goals for Australia’s national day, then January 26 is no longer, if it ever was, fit for purpose. It does not meet its objective and, no matter how much it “disappoints” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, we need to re-think Australia Day.

Green Left Radio on 3CR spoke to Anas Alwakil, a Sudanese community activist and Nawal Ali, a social worker and advocate for women, on January 19 about the federal government’s fear-mongering and the so-called Sudanese gang crime wave that has hit Victoria.

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The board of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) has voted to support a proposed new enterprise agreement negotiated with the United Firefighters Union (UFU). The agreement will now be put to a vote of MFB staff.

The document includes clauses requiring management to consult the union over a range of issues, including equipment and uniforms. It safeguards firefighters’ pay, conditions and rosters. It ensures safe staffing levels and safe work practices. It also establishes a joint union/management committee to promote diversity.

There is a popular folk saying: “If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck”.

The Malcolm Turnbull government’s hysterical warnings about “Sudanese gangs” in Melbourne certainly look and sound like a blatant case of trying to stir up a racist moral panic that can be used to his political advantage.

Melbourne unionists closed down Webb Dock in Port Melbourne. Photo: Matt Hrkac

On December 8, national president of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) Christy Cain told a peaceful assembly of trade unionists and their supporters that every dock in Melbourne had been closed.

On that day, some 3000 trade unionists attended a rally at Webb Dock in Port Melbourne called by Victorian Trades Hall Council (VTHC) in support of MUA members protesting the bullying, harassment and sacking of their members.

A new report by Environment Victoria, Licence to Pollute: Why climate pollution is the unfinished business of reforms to the Environment Protection Authority, found the Victorian Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is failing to tackle climate pollution, despite undergoing a $162 million reform process.

Australian Services Union (ASU) members at Melbourne’s Women’s Health West (WHW) took protected industrial action and walked off the job on November 29 to protest their employer’s actions in relation to stalled enterprise bargaining negotiations.

WHW is a not-for-profit organisation that provides a range of domestic violence and women’s health services to the community. The industrial action took place during the global “16 Days of Activism” campaign held from November 25 to December 10, which focuses on eliminating gender-based violence against women and girls.

Victoria Police are being used by the state Labor government to threaten and harass protesters who have been organising in support of asylum seekers on Manus Island. Activists described the behaviour of the police at a recent rally as state sanctioned violence.

On November 24, a neo-Nazi grabbed the rally microphone and began screaming into it that refugees were rapists and that they should not be bought to Australia.

This month we celebrate the 163rd anniversary of the Eureka Stockade.

It is important to celebrate and mark historical anniversaries, especially one such as the Eureka Stockade, whose legacy has played such a pivotal role in the struggles of Australia’s working people for a fair, just and democratic society.

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