NATIONAL AFFAIRS: by Martin SheehanNews Weekly
Protests to confront World Economic Forum
, August 26, 2000
With the World Economic Forum (WEF) being held in Melbourne in September (11th to 13th), various protest groups are gearing up for demonstrations against globalisation and the growing power of transnational corporations.
While the Melbourne Trades Hall Council and the ACTU are planning peaceful protests against the WEF, various radical leftist and environmentalist groups are also planning their own protests.
The annual meeting of the WEF held each year in Davos, Switzerland, has become the top meeting place for the world’s corporate and business élite.
In the words of the WEF’s web site (www.worldeconomicforum.com) at Davos “1,000 top business leaders, 250 political leaders, 250 foremost academic experts in every domain, including many Nobel Prize winners, and some 250 media leaders come together to shape the global agenda” (emphasis added).
The site introduction to the WEF goes on to say:
“Discussions are held at the highest level among participants who belong to the same community of top decision-makers, fostering a unique club atmosphere which is very conducive to a forward-looking approach in addressing key issues of global relevance or initiating new business contacts.”
A large number of trade union and community groups are planning their own alternate conference, ‘The People’s Development Conference’ the week before the WEF. (Information on the conference can be obtained from firstname.lastname@example.org).
The conference will be held on Saturday 9th September at the VUT Conference Centre, 300 Flinders Street, Melbourne.
Keynote speakers include:
- John Maitland, National Secretary of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union;
- Bob Phelps, from the Gene Ethics Network; and
- Dr Patricia Ranald, Convener of the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network.
On Sunday 10 September a rally against the WEF will be held at the Regent Theatre, in Collins Street, Melbourne; followed by what is described as the “Jubilee 2000 Other Values Festival” to be held in Batman Park (on the Yarra River, near the World Trade Centre).
According to the advertising, the rally and festival are being sponsored a “Coalition of Union, Faith, Community, Indigenous and Environmental Organisations.”
More information can be found on the net at www.globaljustice2000.com, vthc.org.au, actu.asn.au and through contacting the Victorian Trades Hall Council.
A rally “for Australian jobs and the human rights of workers all over the world,” will be held on Tuesday 12 September, beginning at 10.30 am, at the Victorian Trades Hall Council.
There will then be a march from Trades Hall to Enterprise Park on the Yarra River near the Old Customs House, opposite Crown Casino where the WEF will be held.
In the footsteps of the violent rioters at the Seattle meeting of the WEF earlier this year, a more aggressive, confrontationalist approach is being promoted by a coalition of radical left groups calling themselves S11 (in reference to the September 11th opening of the WEF).
Representing a grab-bag of radical environmentalist, anarchist and Trotskyite grouplets, S11 are planning violent protest directly outside Crown Casino.
While keen to involve a variety of community groups in opposition to the WEF, the Victorian Trades Hall Council and the ACTU have been at pains to disassociate themselves from any protests which may lead to violent confrontations with the police. (Information about S11 can be found at www.s11.org).