Rally and March for Same-Sex Marriage Rights – 26 March 2011

The lawns in front of the State Library were fully occupied for the latest in the series of rallies organised by Equal Love in support of their campaign against the discriminatory provisions of the Marriage Act. Introductory music was provided by Sophie O’Connor and John Doxey, with Dolly Diamond and Luke Gallagher hosting. Speakers ranged from Karen Field, CEO of the Drummond Street Relationship Centre and Sally Goldner of TransGender Victoria, Jade Eckhaus, Queer Officer of the NUS and James Campbell of minus18, to comedian Joel Creasey and union activist Daria Healy-Aarons, with Ali Hogg, Convenor of Equal Love, delivering the final call to action. There was the now-traditional competition for the best home-made placard, won this time by one reading “23 years living in sin” … Showers threatened but held off, and there was a spirited march to the Old Treasury Building, where the PA system failed to deliver but the message was loud and clear – the fight goes on…

No photos this time, but video extracts from the rally and march. (There are pics galore here.)


Vigil for Asylum Seekers – 21 March 2011

Pamela Curr addressing the crowd

Members of the Refugee Advocacy Network organized an emergency vigil today “to mourn the passing of a young Hazara man found dead at Scherger Detention Centre last week, and also to protest against the continuing practice of offshore detention, and the absurdity and secrecy surrounding security clearances.”

“In the last seven months, 4 asylum seekers have committed suicide and another young Afghan man died after a heart attack while in Curtin Detention Centre. This is a crisis”, said Pamela Curr, spokeperson for the RAN Network, who also spoke at the vigil, making the point amongst other things that “No-one chooses to be an asylum seeker”. By way of illustration, the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre has issued a post card with statements from two refugees, one from Ethiopia, the other from China:
” I cannot go home because of what happened to me. I have no family left. I have no male protection. My father was arrested and my brothers too. The government is after me and my family. They can kill me. I wish sometimes I was dead.”

“I was severely prosecuted for the belief of Falun Gong. The police just arrested me, put me away, put me into the detention centre, several times. The longest period was two years in their forced labour camp.”

By way of background to the emergency action, apart from the callout above, see this post on Melbourne Indymedia http://indymedia.org.au/2011/03/19/another-night-of-shock-and-awe-on-christmas-island and another recent post on the e-news list refugee@lists.justfreedom.org.au

THIRTY TWO detainees in Maribyrnong were despatched to Villawood today as an unknown group of detainees from Darwin were despatched to Maribyrnong Detention Centre.
Shifting the deck chairs on the Titanic!
Is this a case of deliberate provocation to stir up unrest?
Who is running the Immigration Department?
These are human beings with connections, relations and supports in Melbourne.
Without notice or explanation they were transplanted like used cars to Sydney as no doubt were the men from Darwin.
Among the men transferred today were some very vulnerable fragile men.
What does the department think will happen to these mentally unwell men?

The riots on Christmas Island were deliberately provoked by DIAC and the AFP and TRG who were spoiling for a fight and for a chance to use their BOYS TOYS. They would have been condemned if they had used these weapons on students, workers or even Indigenous Australians ( and we know that they can kill Indigenous Australians with impunity)
BUT ASYLUM SEEKERS COUNT FOR NOTHING- incendiaries and synthetic bullets were ok for them.

What is this about? In whose interests is it to stir us unrest in detention centres?

[end quote]

Placards - No-One is Illegal, Human Rights for All, Refugees are Welcome

Melbourne University Refugee Action Collective banner

Vigil in Support of Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers – 21 March 2011

On the 21st March, the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers, with international supporters, planned to plant trees and hold a candlelight vigil in Kabul, Afghanistan. They had asked people around the world to also hold vigils in support. In Melbourne, a small group of peace activists held banners and handed out leaflets outside St Paul’s cathedral…

Among them were army veteran Chip Henriss and Jessica Morrison, recently returned from Afghanistan (see http://jesspeacepilgrim.wordpress.com/):

Jessica and Chip with another peace activist

The leaflet featured a statement by Abdulai, a fifteen year old Afghan boy whose father was killed by the Taliban.(http://ourjourneytosmile.com/blog/2011/02/i-wish-to-live-without-wars-an-afghan-boy/):

“I see the unchanging system of the rich and powerful in which my world is violently collapsing and human hope for a decent life leaves my heart. So, in solidarity with the people of Tunisia, Egypt, Iraq, Gaza, the Middle East, North and South America, Europe, Africa and Asia, and with the people of the world, I will walk for peace; I will light my candles; I will plant my trees.”

See further http://www.livewithoutwars.org/lwwarsproject.html

The reverse of the leaflet set out “Reasons to end the Afghanistan War” – see report on a “Peak Hour vigil for Peace” on this site for 14 Sept 2010

There was a ‘wish bucket’:

Large basket decorated with wishes

… and Bob Dylan contributed:

Vigil for Japan, 17 March 2011

ICAN (The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons) along with Japanese for Peace and MAPW (Medical Association for Prevention of War) organised a candlelight vigil outside the old GPO in Melbourne ‘to honour the victims of this terrible tragedy, and to show our concern for the safety of those who have been exposed to radioactivity from the Fukushima nuclear power plant’.

It was not originally intended to have formal speakers, but in the event there were several addresses: a member of JFP read letter from another member resident in Kew, Melbourne, whose home town in Japan had been destroyed by the tsunami. She had been trying to get news of relatives there, and although eventually successful in determining that they were alright, was herself still too distressed to attend the vigil. Instead, she had sent the letter [text to follow when available]. Other speakers were representatives of MAPW – the Medical Association for the Prevention of War – the Railways Union, Friends of the Earth, and ICAN, whose Campaign Director Tim Wright was MC.

There is a report by Takver on Melbourne Indymedia, and more photos on Takver’s Flickr Photostream (http://www.flickr.com/photos/takver/sets/72157626160141551/)

JFP member reading letter

Reading the letter

Origami cranes and candles on steps leading from GPO

Origami cranes and candles

Speaker from MAPW

MAPW speaker: The bottom line is, the take-home message is, there is no safe level of radiation …
See also MAPW media release

Jim Green from Friends of the Earth speaking

Jim Green, FoE spokesperson on nuclear matters, summarised the situation as far as that was possible on the sometimes contradictory information being released. He mentioned various plausible scenarios, ranging from the best, that the situation could be brought under control, with minimum human exposure to radiation following the mass evacuations, all the way to the nightmare of self-sustaining chain reactions … “We don’t know how this is going to play out, but either way it’s a disaster…” He suggested however that it was not too early to start drawing lessons for the future: “TEPCO is a company with a track record of accidents, of falsifying safety data and of mishandling earthquake situations …” Amongst other things, in 1984 the company had had to implement an emergency shutdown at one of its reactors and had kept it secret for 25 years… Finally, he raised the matter of Australia’s culpability in this matter, it having been well aware of TEPCO’s record ‘and the unwillingness of the Japanese government to hold these utilities to account … but [having] been perfectly willing to allow uranium sales to proceed from Australia to Japan…’. He named BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto as also culpable, and ended by urging everyone to get involved in the quest to make the world free of nuclear weapons and nuclear power. See also FoE media release Spinning Fukushima.

Tomohiro Matsuoka, Japanese for Peace, speaking

The issue of Australia’s responsibility was echoed by another speaker from Japanese for Peace, Tomohiro Matsuoka: Australia was related to this disaster, because Australia and Canada were the two largest suppliers of uranium to the Tokyo Electric Power Company ‘so this radioactive material spreading from Fukushima actually originates from Australia. So we must stop this export of uranium to overseas … if you are serious about this disaster.’

Another speaker was Victor Moore of the Rail, Tram and Bus Union, pledging solidarity with workers affected by the disasters: ‘this is a very sombre occasion, and ourhearts go out to [those] directly affected. This is going to be a very long, sustained campaign in terms of rebuilding Japan, in terms of ensuring that those who don’t have wealth in Japan are looked after, those that are homeless, those that are poor, those that aren’t part of the rich are looked after in Japan, and unfortunately at the moment those are the ones who are most greatly affected …’

Victor Moore of the Rail union

More images:

Banner of Japanese for Peace

On the steps of the GPO

Another view of same

Anti-nuclear campaigners with dog

“Have a Heart – Stop Mulesing” – PETA protest at Melbourne Fashion Festival, 15 March 2011

Protesters with heart-shaped placards etc

Continuing its campaign against ‘mulesing’, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) staged a protest this evening outside the Designer Award 2011 Finalist show, part of Melbourne Fashion Week sponsored by Woolmark. Two women wearing heart-shaped signs were accompanied by other campaigners holding placards reading ‘No more mulesed wool’, as others distributed leaflets. Not surprisingly, the action attracted a good deal of attention, not least from the large number of photographers there for the occasion, and this caused some alarm on the part of the security guards and management, who restricted the protest to a small area well in front of the entrance to the event:

The protest in front of the entrance

Another view of same

Earlier, PETA had emailed more than 5oo stud merino breeders calling on them to act to stop the practice –

From PETA’s blog:

More than 500 stud merino breeders in Australia received an unexpected e-mail last week: a letter from PETA Australia imploring them to take action to help end the cruel practice of “mulesing.” In a misguided attempt to control flystrike, farmers use instruments resembling gardening shears to cut huge chunks of flesh from sheep’s backsides, while others use clamps similar to vise grips (known as “clips”) to squeeze chunks of skin tightly together until the flesh dies and sloughs off weeks later.

PETA Australia Implores Stud Producers to End Mulesing

The worst part? It’s not necessary. Approximately 20 percent of Australian farmers already control flystrike with humane methods, such as breeding bare-breech and plain-bodied sheep.

In the letter, PETA Australia Director of Campaigns Jason Baker wrote, “It is up to each farmer and breeder to do the right thing – if not for the well-being of sheep, then for the future of your business – and stud merino breeders can be a vital part of making the transition.”

Those wanting a more graphic demonstration of what mulesing involved may wish to view the video available on this page, but should be aware it is not a pleasant sight.

One of the 'hearts' close up

Put a Price on Pollution – rally 12 March 2011

With a crowd of up to eight thousand answering the call from GetUp for a counter-protest to match the ‘people’s revolt’ advocated by climate deniers led by Tony Abbott* and backed by assorted right-wing radio shock-jocks, there was no real contest: estimates of the turnout at Julia Gillard’s electorate office in Werribee ranged from two to four hundred …

The response in Melbourne apparently went beyond the organisers’ expectations, and the sound system hardly reached to the middle, let alone the back of the crowd.The speakers, for those who could hear them, were Dave Sweeney of the Australian Conservation Foundation, who was also MC, Ged Kearney, President of the ACTU, Lucy Manne of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, and Simon Sheikh, National Director of the GetUp team. Music was provided by Skylines.

The crowd ranged from almost newborn to elderly, drawn from a range of groups and organisations as well as concerned individuals, many of whom brought their own placards and props; there were also plenty to borrow for the occasion.

The photos mostly speak for themselves. There is a brief report on Melbourne Indymedia, even briefer ones on ACF online and the AYCC Facebook page, and the Sydney Morning Herald carried a report on the day. Worth a look also is the ACTU position on jobs and climate change – – which gives the gist of Ged Kearney’s speech at the rally.

Here is the callout from GetUp:

Right wing shock jock Chris Smith said last week on MTR radio: “I’ll do my best on a daily basis to spread the word”. We don’t have a radio network to promote our rally, but GetUp members have proved before that, when it counts, we’re willing to publicly show how much we care about clean energy & climate action.

Click here to RSVP

I was in Canberra last week and almost every politician and journalist I met with talked to me about the anti-climate action rallies. They’re spooked. I assured them that the campaign for climate action was just as strong — and now, we need to demonstrate this.

That’s why it’s so important we join together for a few hours this Saturday March 12 — not to have a louder, angrier rally, but to show the difference in both size and tone. While they’re shouting their angry slogans and misinformation, on the other side of Melbourne we’ll hold a positive, family-friendly gathering to stand up for our vision for clean energy and preserving a safe climate for our kids.

With your help, we’ll prove there are more of us than there are of them and in doing so we’ll make a powerful statement.

See you this Saturday.

Simon Sheikh
National Director
for the GetUp team

Simon Sheikh speaking

Simon Sheikh of GetUp

To which Environment Victoria added:

Right now, Australia’s climate deniers, right-wing shock jocks and big polluters are jumping on board the Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s scare campaign against a price on carbon.
They’re trying to stop action on climate change by frightening people with misinformation and scaremongering. And they’re planning anti-carbon tax rallies across the country – starting this weekend – to frighten our politicians into further delay.
We can’t allow them to get away with this unchallenged. It’s time for us to draw a line in the sand, and show our politicians and the general public just how strong support really is for climate action, clean energy and a price on pollution.
If ever there was a time to take a stand, it’s now.
Join us this Saturday along with supporters including GetUp, the Australian Conservation Foundation and the Australian Youth Climate Coalition to send a message loud and clear that Australians want climate action and a strong price on pollution now.

*Several Tony Abbott clones in budgie smugglers invaded the rally at one point – see photos below

Dave Sweeney speaking

Dave Sweeney of the ACF

Ged Kearney speaking

Ged Kearney of the ACTU

Lucy Manne speaking

Lucy Manne of AYCC



Protestor with placards - 'Grow Up Mr Abbott'
'No More Mindless Opposition'
Placard - 'Denialist Shock Jocks Don't Speak for Me'
Anti-Hazelwood windmill

Code Red Climate Emergency banner

Modified 'Age of Stupid' poster with head of Tony AbbottVegan banners

Banner - 'We [heart] Climate Action'DogAnother dog

Woman with small children listening to speeches

Children with banner - 'Country kids want action!'

Photo of child - 'His Future - Climate Action'Greenpeace placard on pole beneath No standing sign - Ministerial Vehicles Excepted

Tony Abbott clones invade the rally

Tony Abbott clone with placard - 'Libs 4 Famine Fire + Flood'

Because of the location it was hard to capture an image of the whole rally at once, so here are several shots that taken together may give an idea:

Overview 1Overview 2

Overview 3

Overview 4

Overview 4
The rally spilled over on to the adjoining park:

Children in park with banner - 'Fossil Fuels are for Fossils'

Woman in crowd arriving - placard reads 'I'm supporting the carbon tax because I actually care about out planet and our kids' future'

People signing a petition at one of several stallsPlacards for renewables and against coal

'Ladies for Low Carbs' ...

Turtles against Climate Change ...

International Women’s Day 2011 in Melbourne – 8 March (and Jenny Macklin picket)

Main banner - 'Pay up Now!'

Pay Justice Action, ‘a grassroots initiative of the Freedom Socialist Party‘ organised a rally and march to mark the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. At about the same time, Jenny Macklin, Minister for Indigenous Affairs, was due to address an IWD cocktail party at the Victorian Trades Hall …

The Melbourne Anti-Intervention Collective organised a snap picket of the Trades Hall event, taking the view that ‘the hypocrisy of the Minister of Indigenous Affairs speaking at this event, whilst administering a program that is continuing the oppression of Aboriginal women, is not something we can let go without criticism…and action!’, and some participants in the rally and march later joined them. A police detail ensured protesters were not able to enter the building, but they made their presence heard, and there was a confrontation when the Minister arrived. See further below.

MC at the rally was Alison Thorne, Public Sector unionist and member of the FSP, who began by acknowledging the First Peoples of Australia and especially the ‘long line of women Aboriginal leaders.’ Having outlined the history of the Day she handed the microphone to Debbie Brennan, also of the FSP and an ASU delegate, who took up the theme of equal pay for women, and its implications – the bottom would fall out of the profit system if big business had to pay for women’s at present unpaid work.

Alison Thorne speaking

Alison Thorne

Debbie Brennan speaking

Debbie Brennan

Jasmine Ali speaking

Jasmine Ali

Jasmine Ali of the Melbourne Anti-Intervention Collective spoke next, attacking the Basics Card (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s5nrW8sA6_Q) and particularly discrimination against Aboriginal women in the Northern Territory faced by the Intervention; she also read from an open letter sent to the Prime Minister from Indigenous women at the Defending Indigenous Rights Conference Alice Springs 6-9 July 2010:

Jasmine reading the letter

Reading the letter

Sally Goldner speaking

Sally Goldner

Last speaker before the march set off was Sally Goldner (see http://www.3cr.org.au/outofthepan), focussing on discrimination faced by transgender people, especially in the context of Centrelink, where absence of federal anti-discrimination legislation meant that outcomes were in effect a lottery dependent on the personal attitudes of staff.

More at the rally:

"Let the ruling classes tremble ..." banner at one of the stalls

At one of the stalls

Placards demanding equality for women in Iran

An Iranian contingent

Placard - Community sector wages stink!

One of many placards

The march set off down Swanston Street on its way to Parliament House, where there were to be more speakers…
Main banner at head of march

Behind the sound truck

In the meantime, at Trades Hall members and supporters of MAIC had been picketing the entrance and handing leaflets to people arriving for the cocktail party. As already mentioned, police were on hand to prevent any unauthorised entry, and protesters were forced to resort to chanting beneath the windows of the bar, but ironically after a while the party-goers were themselves forced out of the building by a fire alarm, and were then exposed directly to the protest. (It appears there was no actual fire, but a damaged sprinkler in the bookshop triggered the alarm, as well as causing considerable flooding in the basement.) Jenny Macklin herself had not arrived at this point, but was confronted when she did. Regrettably,there was no-one on hand with a camera at this stage.*

Picket at the entrance to Trades Hall

Copy of alcohol and pornography ban notice from NT

Closeup of one of the notices posted around the entrance

Handing leaflets to people arriving

Protesters shouting up to the open windows

Confronting the party-goers evacuated from the building

*A comment posted to Melbourne Indymedia describes what happened later, with some pointed observations on ‘the sorry state of the Australian union movement’ …