Tens of thousands of workers, students and unionists flooded onto the
streets around Australia – mainly in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane – this morning to protest the
government’s proposed IR laws.

As expected, it was Melbourne that drew
the largest crowds. The Age
reports that traffic in the Melbourne CBD ground to a halt from
8.30am, with anywhere between 60,000 and 175,000 people turning out to
Federation Square to hear the ACTU’s Greg Combet and Sharan Burrow
rally against the “human cost” of the new IR changes. Victorian Premier
Steve Bracks told the crowd that he would fight the IR changes “every
step of the way,” and confirmed that Victoria would be involved in a High Court challenge against the laws.

In Sydney the protests were spread across a couple of hotspots, with The Sydney Morning Herald
reporting that around 10,000 people had turned out to Martin Place, in
the city’s centre to listen to Combet and Burrow via video link from
Melbourne. And in a separate protest 3000 transport workers blocked the M4 motorway and traffic in both directions, while chanting “Johnny
Howard is his name, sweat shop on wheels is his game.”

In Queensland Labor Leader Kim Beazley and Queensland Premier Peter
Beattie led up to 15,000 protesters at South Bank in one of the 37
planned protests across the state, reports the Herald Sun. According to the paper Mr Beazley told the crowd
that the high turnout in Brisbane had sent out a powerful message to
the government that the public were strongly against the proposed changes.

And in Western Australia,
building companies have backed down and
declined to sue protesters for turning out to today’s
national day of action, citing that they feared union reprisals and
paybacks in the future. Up to 20,000 protesters were expected to turn
out today across Perth, but because of the time difference no up-to-date estimates are available.