Naarm/Melbourne

Protests against coal, for real action on climate change, for the rights of refugees and for a binding vote in support of equal marriage rights took place outside the ALP conference in Melbourne on July 25.
The Melbourne Street Medic Collective released this statement on July 19. * * * On July 18, first aiders and medical professionals working as part of the Melbourne Street Medic Collective provided medical support to anti-racist/fascist protesters at the Rally Against Racism near the Victorian Parliament. During the course of this rally, officers from Victoria Police deployed chemical weapons in the form of OC (pepper) spray against the crowd. As a result several people required urgent medical attention and eventually hospitalisation, directly as a result of exposure to the spray.
Photo: Ali Bakhtiarvandi. A planned show of strength by racists and neo-Nazis in Melbourne backfired when once again far-right protesters were outnumbered 20 to one on July 18.
Scandal has erupted in Victoria as GDF Suez, the majority owner of the Hazelwood coal-fired power station, refuses to pay an $18 million bill to the Country Fire Authority. The bill is for the firefighting effort at last year's coalmine fire that blanketed local towns with soot and smoke for 45 days.
On June 24 about 150 people attended a forum organised by the Refugee Action Collective, Labor for Refugees and the Refugee Advocacy Network on the theme “How can we get Labor to oppose offshore detention?” Australian Council of Trade Unions president Ged Kearney told the meeting that the ACTU has recently adopted a stronger policy on refugees, based on recognition that “seeking asylum is a human right”.
More than a thousand people rallied in Melbourne on June 26 against the forced closures of remote Western Australian Aboriginal communities. Melbourne organiser of the protest, Meriki Onus from Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance said the Victorian community wished to stand by Aboriginal communities in other states, who were losing their communities. Photos by Ali Bakhtiarvandi
About 200 people attended a meeting on Islamophobia on May 31. The meeting was co-chaired by Steve Jolly, a Socialist Party member and Yarra city councillor, and Monique Toohey, a board member of the Islamic Council of Victoria (ICV). Toohey told the meeting that the harassment of Muslims had made many of them fearful of going out in public. Ghaith Krayem, the president of the ICV, said that under proposed new laws people could be deported by the decision of a minister, based on suspicion, with no right to challenge claims made by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation.
On May 31, about 400 anti- racist protestors confronted a far-right protest of racists outside Richmond Town Hall in Melbourne. There were about 70 far-right protesters, carrying Australian flags and wearing swastika t-shirts and green and gold. The action was called by a splinter group of Reclaim Australia that calls itself United Patriots Front (UPF). They attempted to storm the town hall but were thwarted by the hundreds of anti-racists present.
Exorbitant gas and electricity bills are threatening Victorian living standards. The Essential Services Commission (ESC) of Victoria reported that more than 34,000 households were disconnected from essential utilities in 2013/14. The residential electricity disconnection rate increased this year to 1.47 disconnections per 100 customers, a 36% increase on the 1.07 disconnections in 2012/13. The ESC also reported an increase in the gas disconnection rate to 1.33 disconnections per 100 customers, a 42% increase on the rate in 2012/13.
Melbourne Fair Go For Pensioners protest, May 20, 2015. Photo: Annaki Rowlands Pensioners rallied in Melbourne on May 20 to protest against the federal government's budget. The rally was organised by the Fair Go for Pensioners Coalition.
Wendy Brabham

Melbourne Resistance Centre was packed on May 9 as people gathered to hear First Nations activists and other anti-racism activists talk about fighting racism in Australia today. The seminar began with Wendy Brabham, nationally-respected Aboriginal academic and traditional owner from the Wamba Wamba, Wergaia, Nyeri Nyeri and Dhudhuroa first nations.

Socialist Alliance Sue Bolton council meeting

Socialist Alliance councillor Sue Bolton spoke to Dave Holmes about her work as an elected socialist local councillor in Moreland, a municipality in Melbourne. This is the second of a series of interviews with Sue Bolton.