Up to 500 people rallied in the inner Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy on December 15th to protest against the building of a proposed car tunnel – the so named East/West Link. The community rally was chaired by comedian Rod Quantock. Speakers included Yvonne Kirk from the Public Transport Users Association, Julianne Bell from the Protectors of Public Lands VIC, City of Yarra councillors Jackie Fristacky, Steve Jolly and Amanda Stone, and Mel Gregson from the group organising a picket to stop building.
About 200 people gathered outside the Liberal Party headquarters in Melbourne on December 4 to protest against the decision to restrict abortion in Victoria. The Victorian Liberal Party state conference voted on December 1 to wind back Victoria's abortion laws, which were amended in 2008 to decriminalise the procedure and to require a doctor with a conscientious objection to abortion to refer a woman to another doctor without prejudice.
Gelliondale Resources, a subsidiary of Melbourne company Ignite Energy Resources Limited, have applied for a “retention licence” for a project to mine brown coal at Gelliondale, in the South Gippsland region. The application includes a work program of “field exploration activities such as drilling, sampling, excavation of costeans or pits and surveying,” according to the company website.
The gallery was packed at the Moreland Council meeting on November 13. About 100 residents crowded into the Glenroy Senior Citizens Centre determined to make their concerns felt over several contentious planning issues. First was Amendment C123, which, if passed, will turn parts of Coburg into a mini-CBD with 10-storey buildings permitted, irreparably changing the character of the area, sharply reducing people’s quality of life and removing residents’ right to appeal against proposed developments.
A meeting of about 160 residents called by Moreland City Council voted unanimously to reject the proposed East West Link on November 12. The first stage of the major road project is planned to link the Eastern freeway with the Tullamarine tollway at an estimated cost of $8 billion. Residents called instead for the money to be spent on improved public transport. Andrew Munro, from the Metropolitan Transport Forum, spoke of the need for more investment in public transport.
Secondary Students for Refugee Rights (SSFRR) is a group that was founded by Caitlin Woodland and Lucy Dodd, both students at Princes Hill Secondary College, to advocate for refugees’ rights. It formed during the federal election campaign in response to refugees being demonised by politicians during the campaign.
Many residents have been involved in the campaign to stop the East West tunnel in Melbourne, an $8-15 billion tollway project of Denis Napthine’s Coalition government. One resident, Keith Fitzgerald, has lived in Collingwood for 70 years. Fitzgerald told Green Left Weekly his grandparents had come over from Richmond in 1898 and settled in Collingwood. His father was born in Collingwood in 1900. Fitzgerald has lived in the same house for 69 years but has received a letter saying it is likely to be requisitioned,
McDonald’s Australia has ceased legal action against eight community protesters — dubbed the “Tecoma 8” — who were being sued for damages over delays to construction of a McDonald’s restaurant in Tecoma, in the Dandenong Ranges on the outskirts of Melbourne.
Protesters gathered outside the immigration department CBD offices on October 18 to call on the Australian government to allow seven West Papuan asylum seekers to seek protection in Australia. The seven West Papuans arrived in Australia’s Torres Strait on September 24. They fled West Papua, fearing reprisal for involvement with a Freedom Flotilla from Australia.
Hundreds braved rain on October 13 to rally against the construction of the East West link in Melbourne's inner suburbs. The Socialist Party's Anthony Maine, vilified by the Herald Sun as a “serial pest” spoke at the rally. He said: “The government is making decisions on behalf of the road lobby. We have the potential of mass support on our side of people that want to see more rail [lines] built. Our goal has to be to mobilise these people into action."
International students and supporters rallied on October 17 to oppose international students being exploited, bullied and pushed into poverty in Melbourne’s office cleaning industry. The rally was called by cleaners’ union United Voice as part of anti-poverty week. United Voice Victoria secretary Jess Walsh said: "International students are a very important part of our community. A quarter of the international students we surveyed received less than $10 an hour at work, and 60% received less than the minimum wage and many reported experiencing racism and sexual harassment.
A group of Iranians were on hunger strike outside the immigration department in Melbourne on October 19. Local Australian-Iranian man Jahangir Hosseini has been on hunger strike for more than 30 days. Another four women and one man have joined him on hunger strike. The hunger strikers plan to continue their hunger strike until seven hostages abducted by Iraqi forces are released. Hosseini called on the Australian government to intervene to secure the immediate release of the seven hostages, six of who are women.