Social movements continue their struggles this month more slowly than usual in the wake of catastrophic flooding throughout South-East Queensland and New South Wales, which included some events being postponed.
Protests for Ukraine 25/02/2022 and 06/03/2022
Protests led by the Australian Ukrainian community were held in response to the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, which continues despite global calls for peace in the region. Both rallies had hundreds of people in attendance, including many families and a strong turnout from Brisbane's Ukrainian and Russian communities accompanied by a drive to raise funds to support refugees from the conflict. The rallies were organised by members of the Ukrainian-Australian community, including some who have recently arrived to escape from the conflict. ACM maintains that it is essential that we stand in solidarity with the Ukrainian and Russian working classes being sent to the slaughter by their ruling classes. The large presence of signs calling for NATO intervention and for the establishment of a NATO led no-fly zone over Ukraine, however, is a position which we cannot support and strongly oppose. NATO intervention into the war will not bring us one step closer to peace, but will simply escalate the war further, costing more lives. It is through the international activities of the working class, not NATO intervention, that peace can be won. It is also essential to note that there was a consistent air of nationalism demonstrated within the crowd, which speaks to the need for anti-war movements to instead be based in internationalism and solidarity. While the crowd was impressive, it was also likely a bit larger than originally planned as the speakers for the event struggled to carry their voices towards the outside of the crowd.
Little Real Big Mistake Rally 11/03/2022
The South East Queensland Union of Renters (SEQUR) continued their ongoing campaign against Little Real Estate. November 19th to December 17th 2021 saw weekly pickets outside of Little Real Estate by SEQUR to protest the treatment of one of their members, who was forced to pay $5000 on top of regular rental costs in hotels after their rental house was made unlivable by mid-lease renovations taking months longer than originally agreed upon. Pickets grew large but were put on hold over the holiday and subsequent Covid-19 outbreak period, although smaller actions continued, including postering and pamphletting across Brisbane and at Little Real Estate open houses, and sit-ins at the premises. To start up actions once again, SEQUR organised a protest of Little Real Estate on the 11th of March. The protest had a solid turnout on the street directly outside Little Real Estate with a variety of speakers including members of SEQUR, an Indigenous rights activist, A state MP, and the member affected. Simultaneously two actions were held in solidarity with SEQUR at Little Real Estate offices in Melbourne by the Renters and Housing Union (RAHU) Victoria and by Black Flag Sydney, demonstrating the growing power and organisation of renters across the country.
Equal Love Rally 12/03/2022
Equal Love Brisbane has continued efforts from last month which saw two large protests related to the religious discrimination bill, one specifically regarding the actions of Citipointe Christian College, and the other on the night the bill was being debated in parliament. While for the meantime the Religious Discrimination Bill has thankfully been shelved, it demonstrated to all Australians the length both LNP and Labor will go to in order to appeal to the votes of bigots. The bill was a clear attempt by the Liberal party to offer a consolation prize to their right-wing christian demographic of voters after marriage equality was passed. Meanwhile Labor, despite having members attend and speak at the first rally against the bill, decided to pass it with amendments which left LGBT+ teachers and other staff unprotected from discrimination of dismissal. The treatment of LGBT+ by both major parties demonstrates the need to fight for queer rights, including for general protections and to ensure the Religious Discrimination Bill does not reutrn. The rally was reasonably well attended with passionate speakers and ending with a march through the city.
Anti-War/Anti-Dutton Rally at the Hilton Hotel 18/03/2022
On the morning of the 18th of March two actions were held simultaneously outside of the Hilton Hotel in Brisbane spurred on by Peter Dutton speaking at a meeting of the American Chamber of Commerce to give an "inside look at Australia's defense posture amidst rising global tensions and dynamic activity in Europe and Asia". As the current minister for defense, home affairs and immigration and border protection Peter Dutton remains at the forefront of the Australian states efforts to increase tensions in the Asia-Pacific, the build-up of the Australian and US military alliance, and of the brutalisation of refugees.
Those attending the meeting were heckled by protesters in attendance, and a number of speakers spoke on the importance of opposing Australian militarism and US imperialism. While the events were small, they serve as a vital reminder of the importance of building up a new militant anti-war movement based in the working class which can meaningfully act on the issues discussed.
Global Climate Strike 25/03/2022
A global climate strike recently took place which was organized by the School Strike 4 Climate as part of their continued campaign of climate rallies. The goal of these rallies was originally intended to focus on school children leaving the classroom to visibly show the need for direct and immediate action on climate change, but has changed over the years to include rallies outside normal school hours to include all who wish for immediate and meaningful action on climate change. The rally in Meanjin/Brisbane was, ironically enough, inundated with an intense storm that made hearing the speakers difficult, but also highlighted the very issues they were there to discuss, being the increasingly intense weather as demonstrated by both the recent flooding and the 2019 bushfires. Speakers emphasized the need for urgent and radical change to Government policy, ranging from voting for the Greens to the necessity for the need to overthrow capitalism to create any such change (we agree with the latter). Despite the downpour, there were still about one hundred in attendance, a good portion of which continued to march despite the wet weather through the city.
Blockade Australia - The Blocking of Botany Bay - ongoing
On the 21st of March Blockade Australia began another string of disruptive actions intended to bring attention to the Climate Crisis across the Port of Botany significantly affecting the port's operations for over a week. These actions have come at a significant risk to the activists involved due to the nature of the actions, and the threat of legal consequences from the state. One activist who undertook an action has since been sentenced to four months in prison, which further shows acceleration of Australia's increasingly authoritarian approach to civil dissent and protest. We applaud the bravery of those taking action, and stand in solidarity with all climate activists threatened by state violence.
Until Next Month!
This is just a small sample of the many different struggles that have been fought in the last month, but these fights and many more are still ongoing. The path to a better world is one based on getting organised and being willing to fight directly for our needs.
Stay tuned as the fight continues!
Editors Post-Script: On the morning of this article's publication the South East Queensland Union of Renters announced a victory in their campaign against Little Real Estate. We applaud SEQUR for their commitment to fighting directly for the interests of tenants and for their work in growing an organised and militant tenant union in our region.