Nick Fredman

Activists evaded eviction from vacant houses and apartments in Parkville on August 3. The homes had been acquired for the East West Link, a project axed under community pressure by the incoming Labor government in 2014, with a promise to use the properties for public housing.

Phillip Galea, linked to far right groups Reclaim Australia and United Patriots Front, was arrested on August 7 as part of raids on four properties in and around Melbourne and charged with making documents likely to facilitate a terrorist act and planning or preparing for a terrorist act. He was jailed last November for possession of several stun guns and bomb precursor chemicals.

A determined and vocal crowd of more than 300 union activists packed an all-union meeting called by the Victorian Trades Hall Council on May 20.

The meeting welcomed a call by the council’s executive for a weekday “bust the budget” union rally on June 12.

Speakers from the floor were cheered as they pushed the Trades Hall Council and the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) to go further and organise mass delegates meetings, nationally coordinated action, and a clear focus on the demand to block the budget and bring down the government.

Central Melbourne was filled with union flags, political banners and home-made placards on June 12 as about 25,000 protesters marched through the streets in a “bust the budget” rally organised by the Victorian Trades Hall Council (VTHC).

The rally combined the colourful and humorous placards and diversity of participants seen at recent March Australia rallies, along with a much more substantial and organised union presence.

More than 2000 people marched in Melbourne on June 28 to protest the proposed East West Link motorway.

The East West Link is to be a partially tunnelled toll road that would give commuters crossing the Yarra River an alternative to the currently overloaded West Gate Bridge.

Protesters, however, said the East West Link will be excessively costly, will contribute to pollution and will generate far fewer jobs than an equivalent public transport project. Demonstrators also voiced concerns that the East West Link would erode Melbourne’s culture of public transport.

The campaign against the East West Link received a boost on July 18 when the Moreland Council voted to take legal action against the Victorian state government in the Supreme Court in a bid to overturn planning minister Matthew Guy’s approval of the unpopular motorway.

The proposed East West Link is an 18-kilometre tollway between the Eastern Freeway in Collingwood and the Western Ring Road in Sunshine West.

In a special meeting, the councillors voted six to two to take the legal action, challenging the process by which the minister made the decision to give the project a green light.

Around 50 protesters held a picket outside the opening of the World Congress of Families on August 30, which finally found a venue in the bunker-like premises of the Catch the Fire Ministries in outer suburban Hallam.

This sect gained notoriety for declaring the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires were a punishment from God due to the decriminalisation of abortion in Victoria.

READ MORE: Why we disrupted the World Congress of Families

The Herald Sun has launched a vitriolic campaign against two councils in Melbourne for their opposition to the Victorian government’s $15 billion East West Link toll road project.

In an appalling lack of sensitivity, the paper has also sought to use the rape and murder of journalist Jill Meagher in defence of the paper’s pro-corporate and road-building agenda.

The City of Moreland became the first council in Victoria to rule out direct investments in fossil fuels and the first council in Australia to start developing a strategy to move investments away from financial institutions that fund fossil fuel developments, after a vote at its October 8 meeting.

Heatwaves are still not considered an emergency by state governments, but they should be.

There was a 24% increase in the number of deaths during the four day heatwave in Victoria in January. An additional 167 people died in the week of the heatwave when the temperature was above 41 degrees for four consecutive days in Melbourne and more than 45 degrees in other parts of the state.

In 2009, there were an additional 374 deaths during the heatwave in the week before the Black Saturday bushfires.


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