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
Greens back Labor's greenwashing
Cormac Mills Ritchard

By agreeing to pass the safeguard mechanism reforms, Labor’s signature climate policy, the Greens have helped greenwash the continued expansion of fossil fuels.

Robodebt disgrace exposed
Shirley Killen

Last week’s conclusion of the Royal Commission into the Robodebt scheme has once again brought national attention to the program that, from 2015 to 2019, saw nearly half a million welfare recipients hounded over unlawful fake debts concocted using faulty calculations.

Trans rights are under attack 
Trans rights are under attack 
Elliot Downes

There is a dangerous escalation of transphobia happening right now. The political right in the United States and the United Kingdom are rolling back civil rights for trans people specifically and LGBT people more broadly. This is being driven by an amalgamation of mainstream conservative parties, the far right, Christian fundamentalists and right-wing shock jocks and tabloids.

Students protest for climate action
Students protest for climate action
Xavier Dupé

Hundreds of students protested across the country on Friday 17 March to demand an end to fossil fuels and taxes on the rich and big corporations to fund a shift to renewables and decarbonisation of the economy. The protests, organised by the National Union of Students, criticised the Labor government for approving major new coal and gas projects when the world needs to rapidly reduce emissions.

The world economy in five charts
Eleanor Morley

The global economy has been in turmoil since the start of the pandemic—collapse, rebound, inflationary spiral. Now, “It’s the ‘Godot’ recession”, Ray Farris, chief economist at Credit Suisse, told the Wall Street Journal in early March. Everyone waits but it doesn’t seem to come. Every few months, economic forecasts flip from contraction to slowdown to cautious optimism about sustained growth.

What is the point of the Greens?
Duncan Hart

The Australian Greens achieved unprecedented success at the last federal election, gaining their highest ever number of parliamentary seats after putting forward a left-wing platform calling for including dental and mental health in Medicare, the wiping of student debt, 1 million affordable homes, free child care and income-support increases.