Moreland councilors voted on October 26 to elect Sam Ratnam as the first Green mayor. Left Labor councilor Lita Gillies was voted in as her deputy. I voted for the Green mayor to break the stranglehold of the two big-business parties, Liberal and Labor. The Labor Party has controlled the Moreland council for many years. However I was surprised that, immediately after electing the mayor, the Greens councillors voted for Liberal Party councillor Rob Thompson to be her deputy.
Protesters occupied environment minister Greg Hunt's office in Melbourne on October 30, in protest at his re-approval of Australia's largest new mega coalmine — the Adani-Carmichael mine in Queensland. Protesters hung a banner from the roof with “Greg Hunt: Minister for Coal” emblazoned across it. “It is clear that our Minister for the Environment doesn't stand for the environment at all”, said student activist Sam Dariol.
The National Union of Workers released this statement on October 23. * * * Recently the Victorian Trades Hall Council passed a resolution that included this statement: “That VTHC celebrates the contribution to our community from Victorians of many cultures and many faiths. There is no place in Victoria for discrimination or racism and we deplore those who would demonise any group by reason of their faith, race or culture.
The Refugee Action Collective Victoria has filed a complaint at the International Criminal Court over the Australian government’s treatment of asylum seekers and refugees. The complaint requests the ICC to investigate and prosecute ministers and former ministers of the Australian government, specifically former prime minister Tony Abbott, former immigration minister Scott Morrison, current immigration minister Peter Dutton, and attorney-general George Brandis.
The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) announced on October 27 that it will join the movement to screen out fossil fuel interests from its investment portfolio. It will also look for ethical investment opportunities in renewable energy. It is the first Australian union to commit to divest from fossil fuels, and follows its decision to adopt a position on ethical investment at its national meeting held in Melbourne, October 8-10. The union represents tens of thousands working at tertiary education institutions around the country.
Doctors and nurses at Melbourne's Royal Children's Hospital have announced they will not discharge children back into immigration detention. Their stance has received the backing of the Victorian state government and the Australian Medical Association. Medical staff held a rally outside the hospital on October 10: they held banner that read, “Detention harms children.”
About 300 anti-racism protesters rallied in Bendigo on October 10 as part of the Bendigo Action Coalition's Say no to racism and fascism campaign. Local residents and activists from across Victoria mobilised at the Bendigo Town Hall to oppose the far-right United Patriots Front (UPF) who paraded in Rosalind Park opposing the construction of a mosque in town. The UPF had called a national mobilisation in Bendigo on October 10, with members coming from Perth, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. About 400 attended the racist protest.
An emergency protest on October 12 remembered those killed in a terrorist attack on a peace rally in the Turkish city of Ankara. About 120 people were killed in the bombings on October 10. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack. The peace rally was protesting against the Turkish government's ongoing war against the Kurdish population. Seval Ulus from the Melbourne Kurdish Association said: “The national creed of 'One Nation, One Language and One Religion' has become a ludicrous social belief that has contaminated peace between cultures.
Thousands of people rallied in Melbourne on October 11 as part of a national day of action for refugee rights The day before, doctors at the Royal Children's Hospital announced that they would refuse to let children in hospital be discharged into detention.
Moreland City Council voted unanimously to divest from fossil fuels on October 7. It is the first Australian council to do so. Socialist Alliance councillor Sue Bolton, who has been working with 350.org and Climate Action Moreland on the campaign, said it was a “tribute to their hard work over almost three years”. Greens councillors have also supported the campaign from the start. “Last night, we crossed the final hurdle and decided to divest. Without the grassroots campaign, councillors would never have done this,” Bolton said.
Students from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) marched through the university on September 22 to deliver a 1000-signature petition to the Vice Chancellor calling on the administration to divest from the fossil fuel industry. Student group Fossil Free RMIT is calling on the university to rule out any further investment in fossil fuel stocks, make a public declaration of commitment to fully divest in a specified time as well as periodic reporting of its divestment progress.
A planned strike set for September 22 was cancelled when the tram and bus division of the Rail Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) struck a deal with Yarra Trams. Workers had to take industrial action to win an agreement — they had non-uniform days, they banned short-running on tram routes and they had two four-hour strikes. They were about to go on strike again for four hours when the negotiations reached a resolution.