On the eve of the Federal election – which in the event saw an emphatic end to the Howard government in Australia – unionists and others rallied at the State Library in protest at the Australian Building and Construction Commission’s banning of the Eureka flag form building sites on the pretext that it implied a pressure on workers to join a union – something denied by the unions. As Dean Mighell of the Electrical Trades Union put it ‘It’s not a union flag, but good unions use it’. To underline their defiance of the ban, the Spirit of Eureka Committee, who organised the event, had spread a gigantic replica of the flag on the steps leading up to the statue of Sir Redmond Barry, the judge who presided over the treason trial of the miners from the Eureka Stockade of 1854, and going further still, someone had wedged a smaller version under his arm …
Speakers at the rally, apart from Dean Mighell, included Robert Richter,QC, Martin Kingham of the CFMEU, another union which is proud to use the flag, Father Bob Maguire, who distributed earth taken from the site of the rebellion, Paul Murphy, a descendant of one of the miners, and Karen Jackson, a Yorta Yorta woman, who delivered the ‘Welcome to Country’. There was also suitably rebellious music, courtesy of Lita Gillies (‘Union Maid’) and Shane Howard. Towards the end of proceedings, Anne Hall, a descendant of one of the women who sewed the original flag, used a very long pole to rub Sir Redmond Barry’s nose in some of the soil taken from the site of the Stockade and from Glenrowan, where Ned Kelly made his last stand – Barry was the judge who hanged him.
There is a report on the rally at:
and on the ABCC action which triggered the protest, see:
Finally, there is video of the rally on EngageMedia: