Weipa CD launched
SYDNEY — Around 150 trade unionists, leftists and folk artists attended the launch of Union is strength, CD dedicated to the Weipa strikers, on December 1. Most of the artists on the compilation CD performed to help launch the album, and money raised through donations, CD sales and a raffle went to the trust fund established in memory of WA Builders Labourers' Federation organiser, Mark Allen, who was killed on a building site in September.
Human rights march
HOBART — At noon on December 6, more than 60 people came together for a march as part of Human Rights Week. This annual event brought together members of the East Timor Committee, the Australian Tibet Council, Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group, Action in Solidarity with Indonesia and East Timor, Health and Community Services Union, Bahai Society, and contingents from the Friends school and Fahn high school.
BRISBANE — "Telstra, Not for Sale" was the theme of a picket of some 60 unionists outside the Roma Street office of Telstra here on December 5. The action coincided with the announcement that the Senate would now pass the Howard government's bill to privatise one-third of Telstra.
Speakers from the Community and Public Sector Union slammed the government's plan. ACTU Queensland state secretary John Thompson called for solidarity between state workers affected by attacks from the Borbidge government and federal unionists like those employed by Telstra. The protesters adopted a resolution calling "in the strongest possible terms" for the CPSU and Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union to "convene a joint unions mass meeting" to consider a "serious industrial campaign" against the sell-off of Telstra and other government enterprises.
ADELAIDE — Women unionists here have achieved a high level of consciousness raising about Indonesia and the illegal detention of Dita Sari and other political prisoners. A meeting of AMWU women has endorsed the campaign to free Dita Sari and forwarded the motion to the SA and national bodies of the AMWU. The CPSU SA has passed a motion of support and solidarity with the Indonesian democracy movement. The ACTU women's committee endorsed a motion calling on the Indonesian government to free all the political prisoners which was to be considered by the ACTU executive. The UTLC women's committee passed a similar motion, which was endorsed by a full meeting of UTLC Council on November 30. The CPSU/PSA women's committee on December 4 endorsed a motion calling for the release of political prisoners. A fundraiser scheduled for December 8 will hear speakers from CPSU, ASIET and Amnesty International.
Picket defends Human Rights Commission
BRISBANE — "Defend human rights" was the theme of a picket outside the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission here on December 6, organised by the Anti-Racist Campaign in conjunction with the CPSU.
"Pauline Hanson's first demands included the abolition of the Human Rights Commission. Now, thanks to the state and federal governments, it looks like she will get what she wants", a leaflet publicising the action explained. As a result of a funding dispute between the two governments, the HREOC, currently a joint body, will close its Queensland offices on December 9.
SYDNEY — A rally against racism organised by the Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project attracted about 800 people to Taylor Square on November 29. The rally also relaunched Gays and Lesbians Against Racism.
Speakers included Vic Smith, mayor of South Sydney, and William Han from Asian Lesbian and Gay Pride. Wendy Butler, a Koori lesbian activist, told the crowd that it is "the responsibility of all governments to allow every person in society to feel safe". Campaign Against Racism representative Tuntuni Bhattacharyya called for an ongoing campaign to oppose the racist agenda, saying that the prime minister's new freedom of speech was freedom for bigots and homophobes.
East Timor invasion commemorated
BRISBANE — A lively picket here on December 7 commemorated the 21st anniversary of the Indonesian invasion of East Timor. The action, organised by Action in Solidarity with Indonesia and East Timor, Brisbane's East Timorese community, Resistance and the Catholic Worker Community, began with a vigil outside the office of oil company Petroz, followed by a march into the Queen Street Mall.
Speakers called on the Australian government to end its military ties with Jakarta and demanded the Indonesian government withdraw troops from East Timor and release jailed Indonesian and East Timorese political prisoners.
CANBERRA — More than 100 people marked the anniversary. A dawn vigil was held outside the Indonesian embassy, and a special mass held at St Christopher's cathedral. Protesters rallied at Parliament House and heard from speakers including Estanislau da Silva and Harold Moucho from Fretilin, George Wason from the CFMEU, MP Laurie Ferguson and Sean Moysey from Action in Solidarity with Indonesia and East Timor.
Fighting cuts at LaTrobe Uni
MELBOURNE — A student-staff action committee has formed at LaTrobe University to fight administration plans to cut courses. The Italian and French departments are to be closed at the end of 1997, and Asian and Pacific History and Science of History will disappear from the start of next year. Agriculture Department staff will be reduced by 46%, Earth Sciences by 40% and Chemistry by 38%. The plan is to cut a total of 274 staff.