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