June fast news
A stolen car loaded with drums of petrol was deliberately crashed into the front of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union’s (CFMEU) Sydney office last month. Petrol was poured around the outside of the car and a fire was lit shortly before 10:30pm on May 13.
It is believed that the attack is linked with a dispute involving a Sydney building contractor who was underpaying migrant workers. The union stated that less than 48 hours prior to the attack a contractor threatened to “destroy the union”.
While the police noted that it was lucky no one was killed, no politicians have been willing to publicly condemn the firebombing.
Similarly, while the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) is quick to investigate workers who strike for better pay and conditions, no one from the ABCC has contacted the union over the fire bombing or the allegations of abuse and exploitation of migrant workers.
Rally for same-sex marriage
A rally demanding same-sex marriage rights drew over 5000 people to the State Library in Melbourne on May 15. A further 1000 people rallied in Sydney and hundreds more in Brisbane, Perth and Canberra. The rallies coincided with an ‘International Day against Homophobia’.
The demonstrations were the latest part of the campaign to overturn laws that specifically ban same-sex marriage. These laws are supported by both Labor and the Liberals. Gay rights campaigner, and famous actor, Ian McKellen spoke at the rally in Melbourne. He was joined by fellow actors Roger Rees, Matthew Kelly and Brendan O’Hea.
Trade union leaders also spoke in several cities which was an important step forward. Trade union involvement will be critical to the success of the campaign.
The struggle for same-sex marriage rights is about much more than just legal equality. Statistics show that suicide rates for same-sex attracted youth is 4 to 6 times higher than for their heterosexual peers. Legalising same-sex marriage is an important step in normalising such relationships and combating homophobia.
Public housing tenants protest
Dozens of Collingwood public housing tenants protested against a cockroach infestation on their estate in Melbourne on May 21. The rally called on the Minister for housing, Richard Wynne, to fumigate the estate and provide the residents with clean and decent housing.
The Office of Housing had previously refused to deal with the problem claiming that it was the responsibility of the tenants. Angry residents stressed that they had done all in their power to keep their flats clean and tidy, but the cockroaches live in the walls of the old buildings.
Resident Suado Mohamed said that the insects take over her kitchen every night, despite her efforts to keep her flat clean and protect her children. Another resident, Laura Tabone, said that no amount of complaining to the Office of Housing had achieved anything.
The action, which the Socialist Party helped organise, attracted widespread media attention. The residents have stated that if their demands are not met soon the Minister can expect more protests leading up to the State election.