Vale Anthony Ashbolt
Vale Anthony Ashbolt)

Wollongong activists and unionists were shocked to hear of the sudden passing of Anthony Ashbolt, a lifelong fighter against injustice, at the age of 67. 

As a socialist activist studying at the University of Wollongong, it didn’t take me long to meet Anthony. He was a politics lecturer and union stalwart who wasn’t afraid to be outspoken inside or outside the classroom. He was never shy about taking up the fight to university management’s agenda of corporatisation and he was a refreshingly argumentative politics lecturer, equally unafraid to ruffle the feathers and challenge the preconceived notions of his students. 

Anthony was profoundly shaped by the struggles of the late 1960s and early 1970s. As a high schooler, he had thrown himself into the struggle against the war in Vietnam. This early rebelliousness stuck for life. Later, as a student at Macquarie University, Anthony was one of the activists who campaigned to defend Gay Liberation activist Jeremy Fisher after he was thrown out of his university accommodation for his sexuality and his politics. That campaign succeeded by appealing to the Builders Labourers Federation to strike against the injustice. That connection between the class struggle and broader questions of political and social justice was something Anthony never forgot. 

As an academic, Anthony was always keen to preserve the lessons of past struggles. In particular, his writing on the Berkeley Free Speech Movement of the 1960s was a defence of the radical left’s support for free speech. As a labour historian, Anthony took care to record working-class radicalism in Australia that might otherwise be forgotten, including the longest teachers strike in Australian history at Warilla in 1976. 

Anthony was always the first person a student activist thought of when setting up a campaign group—whether it was for marriage equality, against the university’s connections to military research or against the right-wing Ramsay Centre’s push to introduce a Bachelor of Western Civilisation. He helped to elbow out a space for radical discussion and organising against the hostile terrain of the corporate university. 

I had the pleasure of speaking alongside Rowan Cahill and Wendy Bacon among others at a symposium, which Anthony organised to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1968 rebellion. I always got the sense talking to him that his interest in those years of struggle wasn’t just nostalgia; rather, he looked to them as a guide to the struggles of the future. He was pleased as punch, for example, that I was late to the symposium because I was rushing back from what would be the first of many mass student climate strikes. 

Anthony will be sorely missed by his friends, colleagues and comrades at the University of Wollongong and in the local union movement. Vale, Anthony Ashbolt. 

Read more
Refugees organise a week of protest
Renee Nayef 

Hundreds of refugees rallied outside Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil’s office in Oakleigh, in south-east Melbourne, on Monday, demanding permanent visas for those who have still not gained protection more than a year after the election of the federal Labor government. 

The revolt in Iran, one year on
Bella Beiraghi

The murder of 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini at the hands of Iran’s morality police last September sparked the largest revolt in Iran since the 1979 revolution. What began as a protest in Gina Mahsa Amini’s home town of Saqqez soon developed into a nationwide revolt against the Iranian state. Over the course of six months, hundreds of thousands of students, workers, the young and the old, took to the streets with the battle cry “Jin, Jiyan, Azadi!” (Women, life, freedom). 

Abolish the GST!
Abolish the GST!
Duncan Hart

Australia’s goods and services tax is the one tax that the rich in this country love. 

‘The people want the fall of the regime!’
Interview: Syria erupts again
Omar Hassan

Large demonstrations have been taking place across Syria in recent weeks. While their scale has yet to reach the peaks seen in 2011, many are hopeful that the government will be brought down. To get a more detailed assessment of the movement and the situation it faces in Syria, Red Flag spoke to long-time Syrian leftist Jamal Chamma. Jamal is based in Melbourne and has been involved for years in organising demonstrations in solidarity with the Syrian revolution.

Falling real wages the problem
Liam Parry

Treasurer Jim Chalmers claimed last week that the average Australian worker is $3,700 “better off” than a year ago, citing this as proof that Labor in government has delivered on its promise to “get wages moving again”. The West Australian newspaper called it “Labor’s wages growth win”. Other media headlines could almost have tricked you into thinking that workers are getting richer right now.

Why the left should vote Yes
Jordan Humphreys

As the referendum approaches, the key dynamic in the debate is clear. The conservative right views a defeat for the Voice as a chance to strike a devastating blow against support for Indigenous rights among the Australian population. In the process, it is reviving every racist myth in the play book: Indigenous people shouldn’t get “special privileges”; opposing anti-Aboriginal racism is actually “dividing the nation”; and the colonisation of Australia had only a “positive impact”, in the words of Jacinta Price.