“No other prick was doing it”, said Peter Simpson, Electrical Trades Union (Queensland and NT) state secretary, explaining why the union has launched a new campaign video, Stand Up Against Racism.
The recording calls on unionists to reject Islamophobia and the politics of Reclaim Australia and far right splinter groups that prey on people’s fears.
“We’ve got members that are of all colours and creeds in our union”, Simpson told Red Flag. “But we have members who are Muslim that are too scared to speak out. We had Nazis marching in the streets of Brisbane two weeks ago.”
Simpson said that the union had trouble finding Muslim union members to appear in the video because they were concerned about “copping grief”.
Stuart Traill, an organiser with the union, said that he has had fruitful conversations with union members about the importance of the labour movement leading the fight against racism.
“They know that there is a rising force within the political movement. None of our members want to see the Nazi movement and the right wing extremist movement rising up and getting a political say in this country. Our members don’t agree with racism in any form.”
But the union can see that the climate has shifted dangerously to the right. Its message is for workers’ unity, regardless of race or religion, in the face of the right:
“Who are we as a society? Who are we as a trade union? Who are we as workers? If we don’t look after our own, and look after each other’s backs, who’s going to do that for us? The Murdoch press? For Christ’s sake wake up – stand up against racism.”
As another Invasion Day approaches, the gap between public support for Indigenous rights and the endurance of racist oppression is striking. Just take the Don Dale youth detention centre in the Northern Territory. In 2016, the ABC’s Four Corners broadcast an exposé of the brutality inflicted upon the overwhelmingly Aboriginal youth locked up there. The public outrage that followed the program pressured the federal government into establishing a royal commission into youth detention in the NT, which concluded in 2017.
In January 1788, the eleven ships of the First Fleet made landing at what was later named Sydney Cove in New South Wales. The ships carried 1,373 people from Britain, around half of whom were convicts, to form the basis for the first colony in Australia.
“The Black Power movement shook the world; it certainly shook the roots of this country.”
Prisoners inside Western Australia’s only youth detention centre, Banksia Hill, heralded the new year with an act of resistance—burning a building to the ground and climbing to the top of the prison’s perimeter fence. A look into the daily conditions faced by these young people, many of them Indigenous, shows why they would want to fight back against this horrendous institution.
For 350 years, Dutch colonialism oversaw a system of brutal exploitation and repression in Indonesia. But in 1945, a mass movement defeated the colonial regime, despite the imprisonment, torture and execution of thousands of independence activists.
After fourteen years, the Melbourne public transport ticket system, Myki, is being replaced. Most of us won’t miss it. Myki’s successor is unlikely to offer any real improvement to the severe inadequacies of public transport in Victoria. But looking back at the confusing and costly Myki system in its dying days is yet another reminder of just how illogical and wasteful capitalism is.