Ann Pettifor

Australia update – Melbourne, Trade Unions, climate & sustainability

The picture above is not of some Regency building in Brighton, England. It is in fact the oldest (or so I was told) Trades Union Hall in the world – the Melbourne Trades Hall. Sure is impressive, and with a lovely relaxed, unbureaucratic feel to it….

We were up at the crack of dawn to fly to Melbourne from Adelaide…newspapers full of the crisis inside the Labor government.  Julie Gillard looks to be in deep trouble over the handling of Australia’s policy on refugees. And then found the appalling tale of Babcock and Brown – Australia’s biggest ever corporate collapse –  the Ned Kellys of this age…only Ned Kelly could never have dreamed of looting so much ‘swag’.  And Kelly – whose remains have just been unearthed (see here) – was at least caught by competent Aussie cops at the time, and tried by a competent judge.   As the Sydney Morning Herald noted, the Aussie ‘watchdog’ didn’t even sniff Babcock and Brown….

Went straight from the airport to the fine Melbourne university campus for a meeting with climate and sustainability scientists and university trade union officials – to talk about financing the transformation of the economy away from fossil fuels….Not at my best after a night of fitful sleep…Then, after a nap, a wonderful evening at the above mentioned Trades Hall – it was titled Babbling in the Bar -but was in fact a lively discussion of economic policy, the financial system and the policies that Australian trades unionists should be demanding of their Labour government…..From there to the famous Lygon Street,Melbourne’s ‘Little Italy’ – for dinner at – a Vietnamese….times are a’ changin in Melbourne. And finally, after a ride on a tram and train ….sleep!


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