The Sydney Branch has thrown its full support behind the Redfern community in its determination to stop ‘The Block’ from being developed and to stop their community from being forced out of Redfern.
The Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy was re-established at the iconic site on May 26 2014 ‘National Sorry Day’ in an attempt to stop the land being used for greedy developers in a move that’s being labeled as social cleansing.
MUA members and officials, along with the community and its supporters have made the trek to the block to stop the group being evicted on two occasions.
Below is Deputy Branch Secretary Paul Keating addressing the media on the one-year anniversary of the Embassy’s establishment:
Keating said the Block was an iconic landmark, in a suburb steeped in history and activism.
“Redfern is synonymous with social change and activism. Many a leader was borne of the area, and to dismantle the community is a huge disservice not only to the current residents but the area’s future residents,” he said.
“There are no winners in pushing Aboriginal people and the working class out to the fringes of the city, it has been demonstrated that only pushes people to the fringes of society, too.”
He said the MUA, along with other trade unions, would do all in its capacity to stop the current trend.
“There has been a failure by all Governments to provide affordable and social housing in the inner city and Redfern is no exception to this,” he said.
“For too long the community has been ignored and now that house and land prices have gone through the roof there’s been unwanted interest from the Government and its property developer mates.”
On Monday June 1, another MUA group went to the Block to listen to a host of guest speakers including Assistant Branch Secretary Joe Deakin, who lamented colonisation.
“Colonisation should be a thing of the past, unfortunately when you see property developers close in on places like the Block and Aboriginal people being thrown off their land in the bush, it becomes plain to see it’s still ongoing.”
“Well it’s about time we consigned the act of colonisation to the history books, comrades.”
“The MUA and its predecessors have long supported the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander struggle and this will be no exception.”
The branch is also encouraging members to attend a rally on June 28, opposing the forced closures of Aboriginal Communities.
The MUA is also a strong supporter of the CFMEU's motion which was tabled at a Unions NSW meeting, which read:
The CFMEU, NSW Branch, Construction and General Division, has been approached for support by the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Redfern for support in respect of their on-going campaign to secure affordable housing for the local Aboriginal community.
The dispute centres on the lack of commitment by the state government to provide housing in preference it would appear to commercial and student accommodation. The community is very concerned that Aboriginal residents of the area will not be housed in the area. The community have kept in place an Aboriginal Tent Embassy, which the CFMEU has supported.
The CFMEU has resolved to support the call for real affordable and public housing for the local residents, to continue to support the Aboriginal Tent Embassy and to continue to monitor the situation, including helping to facilitate meetings of relevant people to assist in the campaign if we can.
This is what was resolved:
“That the correspondence be received and Unions NSW be received and Unions NSW invites a representative of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy to speak at a future Unions NSW meeting."
For all of the photos from the MUA's support of the First Nation Peoples, click here.