A taste of some of the small actions and major events which challenged the state of Australian society and pointed to better ways forward during the month of March.
Note: We roll each month’s dates into our ‘live’ From Little Things Big Things Grow chronology which is continually being added to. We welcome your additions.
1 March 1993, Victoria: 100 000s strike and rally against attacks on unions as well as privatization and austerity measures introduced by the Kennett government.
4 March 1804, Castle Hill: Convicts launch a revolt in they gather hundreds to march on Parramatta, where they are defeated at Vinegar Hill by the better-armed authorities, with the intention of freeing the entire colony and allowing those wish to join the rebellion in Ireland to sail home.
6 March 1974, Canberra: A demonstration calling for Aboriginal and Torres Islander land rights is held outside Parliament House during a visit by the Queen.
7 March 2001, Sydney: Union action at the Regent Hotel forces its owners to pay housekeepers on working visas the same wages as Australian citizens.
10 March 1928, Perth: Nyungar activists visit the Premier to demand freedom of movement for Indigenous Australians.
11 March 2003, Byron Bay: 1000 women protest the looming invasion of Iraq by spelling out “No War” with their naked bodies.
12 March 2006, Melbourne: Black GST (Genocide, Sovereignty and Treaty) members and supporters launch the Stolenwealth Games protests on March 12, 2006, by setting up Camp Sovereignty in Kings Domain. Situated a few hundred metres from Government House this serves as a base for land rights protests during the Commonwealth Games. For over a fortnight hundreds of protesters engage in dialogue with visitors and tourists and hold a series of rallies and actions around the city. Following this a ceremonial fire, originally lit from the Australian Aboriginal Tent Embassy’s sacred flame to launch the event is maintained for 60 days, incurring pressure from the city council and authorities until police move in and forcefully evict the camp on May 10. Read an interview with Uncle Kevin Buzzacott’s about his involvement in this protest and others for land rights and protection of country.
March 17 1948, Brisbane: The St. Patrick’s Day Massacre sees police, under the direction of the state ALP government, beat railway strikers and their supporters, hospitalising Communist Member of Parliament Fred Paterson.
21 March 1996, Perth: As part of industrial action, bus drivers refuse to collect fares.
March 23, 1998, Northern Territory: Following decades of opposition to uranium mining the Mirrar people call on supporters from around Australia to take part in blockading construction of the Jabiluka mine on their lands from 23 March 1998 onwards. Over a period of eight months, thousands take part and around 600 people are arrested for disrupting work whilst protests and actions take place around the rest of country, including bank boycotts, high-school walk-outs, graffiti runs and the shutting down of miner North Ltd’s Melbourne headquarters for days. Continued resistance by the Mirrar prevents the mine from opening and the project is cancelled five years later. Listen to a podcast from 3CR in which Mirrar traditional owners discuss the campaign.
25 March 1928, Sydney: International Women’s Day grew out of socialist feminist activity in the US and Europe in the first decade of the Twentieth Century. In 1910 activists at the International Conference of Socialist Working Women in Copenhagen called for rallies to be
held the following year to mark union victories and the struggle for women’s suffrage. The first Australian IWD rally took place on March 25 in the Sydney Domain. Organised by the Militant Women’s Group it was held in the context of cuts in living standards and a series of strikes against them. Demands included an eight-hour day for retail workers, equal pay, an end to piece work and other workplace rights for women. Read more Standing up for women’s rights: The radical history of International Women’s Day from Green Left weekly by Kathy Fairfax.
29th March 1916, Sydney: The editor of the Industrial Workers of the World’s Direct Action newspaper, Tom Barker is sentenced to 12 months hard labour for publishing an anti-war cartoon.
Mar 31 1985: Palm Sunday peace rallies are attended by 300 000 people across Australia.
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