Category: Activism

Police Operation Cuppa  NimbinThe recent drug raid in Northern NSW town of Nimbin, the culmination of a 6 month investigation dubbed Operation Cuppa, was revealed to media on the day as netting $1 million dollars worh of cannabis, $50,000 cash, as well as finding mdma, ice, guns, a tazer and a slingshot.

This all on the surface seems to point to the Gold Coast criminal organisation that Police want the public to think is behind the ‘Laneway Boys’ who sell cannabis to locals, tourists and medicinal marijuana seekers.

But speaking to locals reveals a very different story. While three of the men charged were from Queensland, the majority of the ‘laneway boys’ as they are known in Nimbin, are locals, even respected in some quarters as being responsible for keeping ice dealers out of the township.

The reported mdma and ice found in the raids has not been assigned a cash value, (unlike the cannabis which has been given a street value of one million dollars), which indicates that these drugs were personal use only. Because the police cast a large net in the raids, these drugs could have belonged to anyone and it is disingenuous to portray this as evidence of hard drug dealing or hard drug syndications. Likewise with the weapons claimed to have been found: numerous locals who know the men under charges, have confirmed that only one gun was found and it wasn’t associated with the laneway area but was found in one of the residences raided. No firearms charges have been laid so it can only be assumed the firearm was legitmately licenced.

Police Operation Cuppa  NimbinOther residents have come forward stating that they were caught up in the raids, but not charged and not involved with the incidence at all other than being caught up in the police dragnet.

While there is still a lot of controversy in the township over the drug dealing that occurs in the laneway, and whether it extends to hard drugs or not, there is no shortage of respected community members who have stood up for the laneway boys in the aftermath of this raid.

It’s wise to be cautious with taking police reports to media at face value and instead look between the lines. It is standard police practice the world over to cast a large net and shake it to see what comes out. Not much consideration is given to any innocent people who get caught up, or whether genuinely guilty people’s crimes are exaggerated.

UPDATE: The amount of cannabis seized was in he order of 5kg, and the reported Street value of $1 million is wildly exaggerated. A realistic figure would be between $20,000 and $50,000.

 

Police Operation Cuppa Nimbin

 

 

 

G20 Protesters Face Court

Anon Supporters

Anon Supporters

In Brisbane Thursday supporters of  protesters arrested during G20 gathered outside the Magistrates Court to show solidarity with those facing charges. Their charges ranging from possession of a prohibited weapon (an innocent bystander in the Valley, no intent to protest, happened to have a sling shot in his backpack that someone had just given him), Possession of masks, and contravene Prohibited Persons conditions.  Most elected to have the cases adjourned, with one arrestee choosing to have the matter dealt with on the spot receiving a small bond and no conviction recorded.

'Anthony' speaking to press after the hearing

‘Anthony’ speaking to press after the hearing

The support rally was organised primarily by Anonymous Brisbane and Anonymous Galactic in solidarity with ‘Anthony’, an Anonymous protester who was arrested during the Saturday march for wearing an Anonymous mask and refusing to remove it when asked.  Anthony intends to fight the charges, arguing that he had a lawful excuse to be in possession of a mask since it was being used as a form of political expression.

Under UN treaties to which Australia belongs, political expression and peaceful assembly without undue restrictions are considered rights.

Cairon O'Reilly talking to media

Cairon O’Reilly talking to media 

Even without relying on the Government to recognise it’s obligations under UN treaties (something that isn’t happening for asylum seekers or indigenous people), the G20 Act itself says that Prohibited Items can be legally carried or used if for a lawful purpose.  And under the G20 Act, peaceful assemblies were deemed lawful even if no permission had been sought from the authorities. So protesters are demanding that the charges be dropped.

Supporters going  in to court

Supporters going in to court

Supporters for two Anarchists charged were also present as well as supporters of Cairon O’Reilly.  Well known for his peaceful direct action protests, O’Reilly took advantage of his reputation in order to generate media coverage for his attempts to talk to US President Barack Obama about Chelsea Manning’s plight. During the G20, O’Reilly intentionally contravened a Prohibited Persons order by being present in a Declared Area.

Protesters are saying that the G20 laws were inappropriate because they restricted freedom of assembly and that their use represents adoption of what is likely to become a slippery slope towards ever increasing restrictions in the future.

 

Protesters speak to Briscan Legal Support.

Protesters speak to Briscan Legal Support. 

 

After their hearings, some of the arrestees spoke with the Briscan Activist Support Team, who are offering advice and assistance to people caught up in the G20 laws.

G20 Proxy Censorship

The G20 circus brings with it some expected impositions.  And despite the misgivings many people have about those impositions, most people just accept it as par for the course of hosting a large international meeting such as the G20.  Public transport disruptions, road closures, increased police powers in certain zones and so on.  But it’s all predicated on safety and security right?  After all the special act brought in to give police increased powers and to define special security zones is called the G20 Safety and Security Act 2013.  Some worrying powers come with this new one use Act.  Presumption against bail, enhanced stop and search powers, prohibited items and prohibited persons lists being just some of the provisions.  But surely it’s all about increased safety of citizens and G20 delegates. Isn’t it?  The fact that loud hailers, masks, and banners larger than one by two metres, all of which are standard fare at protests under the current Peaceful Assembly Act (which is suspended in the G20 security zones), are listed as prohibited items under the G20 Safety and Security Act, isn’t an ominous sign of the suppression of protester’s voices and their ability to have an impact.  It’s just that the police want a little extra control, to make sure everything goes smoothly.

Maybe.  But there have been some interesting developments around town that make one wonder if the Government, and it’s agent the Queensland Police Force, aren’t very interested in keeping anti-G20 sentiment to a very minimum.  In reports from protest groups, they have been told by Police Liaison Officers that despite protest group’s assemblies being registered and being lawful assemblies under the G20 Act, and despite the G20 Act specifying that carrying of prohibited items is acceptable if being used for a lawful purpose, carrying of loudhailers, masks and large banners are will not be tolerated.  So there seems to be a messaging disconnect there.  Yes we support your right to protest, but we are going to take away your most significant tools of protest.

Police Instructing Office Works Not to Print G20 Material

It’s not only within the G20 Act that this action by police to suppress the voice of protest has been observed.  Recently we heard a rumour that police had forbidden Office Works to print any material submitted by customers relating to G20.  I spoke to Kate, a manager at the CBD branch of Office Works yesterday to clarify what the situation was.  I expected to hear that this was only a rumour:

Max: I am following up rumours that office works have been instructed by police not to print any material related to g20.
Kate: Yes that’s right.
Max: Interesting.
Max: From what level of the police service did that instruction come?
Kate: I don’t know, it was a specific request. The other thing is we actually reserve any right refuse to print any material at all that may give offence to any person, we reserve the right to refuse to print any material that might be deemed offensive. We have been specifically instructed not to print any anti-g20 material, but other than that we can refuse to print any material we deem may be offensive.
Max: Okay, that’s fair enough I understand that.
Max: Have you specifically deemed any and all g20 material offensive or you’ve not been even given the opportunity to determine that because you can’t print any at all?
Kate: No, anything particularly relating to G20, we’re not printing.
Max: Can I ask have you ever received any other request from police about certain material that shouldn’t be printed?
Kate: That I am aware of no, but I have no doubt that it has happened in the past. It’s just because of the political nature of it I assume.  The police request was more to do with the fact that the thing was being used for vandal activity and it wasn’t okay. In each store we are not printing it because it could potentially cause offence to a person or persons but if there was a particular store which has been instructed not to print the material based on the fact it was being used for vandalism essentially.
Max: Was the police instruction that all G20 material was viewed as being related to vandalism or was it they didn’t want any of it printed just in case?
Kate: I’m not sure of the exact instruction, but we as a store are opting to not print any specific G20 material based on the fact that it will cause offence to a person or a persons.

It seems that what has happened is that police have issued an instruction about a particular incident, which may relate to the Cairns Grandmother Myra Gold who was refused service at an Office Works in Cairns.  That refusal followed an incident in which MS Gold was arrested for posting G20 stickers and charged with vandalism.  According to Office Works Cairns, police told the store not to print any more G20 stickers.  Police denied any instructions had been made to businesses.

Kate from Brisbane CBD Office Works seemed pretty clear that police had specifically instructed the store not to print G20 materials, whilst also affirming that the store itself wasn’t interested in printing any G20 material regardless of the police instruction.

Community group BrisCAN recently also had service refused at Office Works recently.  The material in this case was a Zine calling for alternatives to G20.  Read it for yourself and judge whether the material is offensive or could be construed as offensive: G20 Peoples’ Zine. Unlike stickers or a poster, a Zine is not used in acts of vandalism but is distributed more like a newspaper.

G20 Billboards

onmyagenda-rejected-billboardBrisbane Airport has recently rejected two billboards sought to be placed by WWF and Transparency International.  The G20 targeted billboards were deemed “too political”. The WWF billboard draws attention to the need for action on Climate Change, while the Transparency International billboard calls for the G20 to act on dirty money and corruption.   The Airport has ensured the public that they only rejected the billboards because they wish the airport to remain a partisan area, however this claim is weakened by the presence of the Reef facts billboard in the airport foyer.transparency-international-billboard-data  The Reef facts campaign uses a dubious reading of statistics to reassure the public that it’s Barrier Reef dredging operations are safe to the reef.  As pointed out in this Sydney Morning Herald article, the Reef Facts website is misleading.  The website explains that the primary cause of loss of coral cover 60km out to sea is natural weather events, but these figures don’t apply for loss of coral cover closer in to shore were dredging occurs.  Further, it is claimed that “No scientific study has blamed ports or shipping for coral loss” and while this is true, it is because there has been very little monitoring in that area.

Reef Facts Billboard

An example of the Reef Facts billboard, similar to that displayed at BAC

 The Reef Facts billboard clearly has a political agenda: to convince people that Abbott Point dredging is safe.  It’s a political campaign billboard. It seems clear that the Brisbane Airport Corporation is interested in currying favour with it’s landlord, the Australian Federal government.

So what Does it All Mean?

These examples (and there are more) singly don’t add up to a concerted effort at censorship, but collectively they do have that affect.  The government is driving a pro mining, pro economic growth agenda that sees any dissenters as troublemakers to be silenced.  With 60 year old Grandmothers such as Myra Gold being arrested for vandalism, corporations like BAC hosting government propaganda and not allowing right of reply, by enforcing unnecessary security provisions that prevent protesters from reaching visual or aural range of the people who they want to hear their message, and by intimidating businesses into not providing services to anyone who wants to share a message that is contrary to government opinion, there is a proxy censorship in place.

Community Responses

Fortunately in Brisbane the community rarely takes this lying down.  Until or if the government decides to practice outright censorship, it’s still possible to get a message across. Here are just two examples:

Melbourne Street approaching West End – Oxfam Billboard

Uniting Church West End – G20 People Before Profit – Photo Robin Taubenfeld

 

Not everyone is enamoured with the G20 process.  Activists in Brisbane, frustrated with the continual failure of the G20 leadership to focus on real solutions to issues such as Poverty, Employment, Climate and Environment, have taken it upon themselves to offer alternatives.   Not just protesting, but implementing a series of thought provoking and uplifting events that will reverberate long after G20 in the hearts and minds of those working towards change.

 

First Nations Decolonisation Before Profit Program:

This is the Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy (BASE) response to the G20 summit.  BASE activists have worked to gather First Nations people from around Australia and the World to meet at Musgrave Park for a week of discussions and activities. An expected 3000 people will converge on Musgrave Park over the week.

More info: http://brisbaneblacks.com/g20

 

BrisCAN-G20 Peoples’ Summit:

BrisCAN is a loose network of activists and community groups from Brisbane who are presenting a three day alternative to the G20 Summit.  A Peoples’ Summit, bringing together speakers and experts in alternative economics, environment and labour from around Australia and the World to explore alternatives to the G20 ‘profit at all costs’ agenda.

More info: http://briscan.net.au/program

 

Along with these two showcase events, are many small events.  To keep abreast of what’s on, visit http://briscan.net.au/events

 

 

 

 

Brisbane Blacks & Aboriginal Embassy In less than a month 20 representatives from the biggest economies of the world will meet in Brisbane. The summit is set to bring Queensland and Australia into the world’s spotlight—at least it will if Tony Abbott makes good on his President Putin shirtfront declaration. However, we won’t see much of what is really happening in the meetings as they are not open to the public, despite most of the member countries claiming to be democracies

During the summit the city will be patrolled by 6,000 police officers, access to the city will be highly restricted, and the Friday has been named a public holiday to reduce the volume of people. In fact the security operation is set to be one of the biggest in Australian history. Much Brisbane city council is preparing cultural celebrations in the lead up to the summit, but not everyone in the city is happy with the G20 summit. In fact a lot of the security preparations are in anticipation of the large numbers of expected protesters who are also organising their own events.

BRISBANE BLACKSWe met up with some of the main groups organising the G20 protests to find out what they’re planning. We met BoeSpearim the organiser for the Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy and Callum Clayton-Dixon the co-editor of Brisbane Blacks at Musgrave Park, an important site for Brisbane’s Aboriginal community and the centre of the events they are planning for the G20, and talked about world politics and environment.

The G20 have stated that their main focus is economic growth, one at odds with the protester’s and much of the publics concern over issues around the environment and human rights. “Economical growth is basically exploiting the land of Indigenous people.. It’s the clash of two worlds and it is the rise of the economic benefit of the few,” Boe says.

Boe and Callum are not overly concerned with catching world leader’s attention, but rather see the G20 week as an opportunity for Aboriginal people and the broader community to engage. The protests at the 1982 Commonwealth games in Brisbane made history as Aboriginal people came all together from all over the country for the abolition of the Aboriginal Protection Act and the Apartheid Legislation. The G20 protests have the same potential, there are buses coming from Cairns and Melbourne to support the protests, “the whole idea of putting up these events is to galvanize the movement, to put us into the next stage of the movement, to inspire and give motivation to our own people, to get as all active again,” Callum says.

BRISCANLater in the day, I met with BrisCAN-G20 spokesperson Robin Taubenfeld and a handful of individuals from activist groups the Occupy movement, Friends of the Earth, Socialist Alliance, and the West End community. They also believed the G20 representatives won’t be solving the world’s real problems, “We are in a time when corporations and decision makers are putting an agenda of growth which is in direct opposition with the planet and the climate and for human rights here in Australia and globally,” Robin says.

When asked if they felt suitably represented by Tony Abbott on the world stage they literally laughed. “We are not going to get our freedom from the people that have been oppressing us but from the people that feel the same way that we are feeling,” Boe said. While Robin and the BrisCAN-G20 crew said the Prime Minister had a “political agenda for intentional disregard for the community and the planet as a way of showing force.”

Abbott’s declaration that the G20 won’t focus on climate change has the community concerned, as has the current government’s decisions to support mining and fossil fuel industries despite the US committing to reduce their own carbon emissions.

Musgrave Park2The list of issues is understandably long, but all the protesters agree that the international attention can be a positive tool for change. For the Aboriginal community it would be an opportunity to speak about their history and connect with others around the world, “at the end of the day it’s not world leader we want to speak to, it is the other Indigenous and oppressed people around the world we want to open a dialogue with.” BrisCAN-G20 and the Aboriginal community are committed to broaden these communications with various talks, symposiums, concerts and workshops that can bring grass-root based solutions to the problems that are not being addressed by the G20’s decisions, that would affect not only Australia but the world’s non-privileged population.

Follow Laura on Twitter@laurarc91

Photographer: Jonny White (G20 April 1st) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

London G20 2009

Economic

G20 Solutions tend to focus on financial growth and security, figuring that if banks are sound then business can be funded and everything keeps rolling along happily. So money is poured into the financial sector in the form of stimulus payments. The second solution G20 focus on is removing impediments to big business, in particular global companies. For this, trade agreements and other mechanisms are used to “level the playing field”.

The problem with these solutions is they are predicated on the idea that if you look after the big end of town, wealth will trickle down to the rest of us. The problem is, this “trickle down” effect does not occur. It seems that what happens is that wages, conditions, and goods and services all level out to the lowest common denominator while the “big end of town” continues to get bigger.

In June, Oxfam Australia’s chief executive Helen Szoke said ”The Australia figures are quite staggering if you think that nine individuals have a net worth that is equivalent to the total 4.5 million people, or the bottom 20 cent of income workers – that’s pretty stark.” Her source was a Forbes and Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databook study.

One of the reasons for the increasing gap between the rich and the poor is regressive tax rates. In the US in 1970 the income tax rate over $100,000 dollars was 70%. Now it’s 39.6% for income over $225,000. Another is the holding down of incomes since the GFC, which have lost value in real terms while the profits of the multinationals and the bankers have gone up. Source, the federal reserves own 2013 Survey of Consumer Finances.

Indeed even when the G20 make sounds as if to recognise these issues, nothing happens.  In 2011, at the request of the G20 The Gates Foundation produced a report entitled G20 Report that recommended a financial transaction tax as a way to stem the flow of wealth from the poor to the rich.  The tax came to be known as the Robin Hood Tax.  The recommendation was not adopted.

It is not only personal income that contributes to the gap between the rich and poor.  Company profits are often able to escape taxation altogether, or be greatly minimised.  Again, the G20 recognised the need to address this issue, and called for the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting plan to address corruption and tax evasion.  The request was picked up and a plan developed by the OECD (see here: BEPS).  But as yet, G20 nations have failed to endorse the plan.  The Tax Justice Network have conducted ground breaking research into global tax evasion, revealing that 21 Trillion dollars (the entire GDP of the US is only $16 Trillion) is siphoned offshore before governments have a chance to tax it.   Many of the nations who host this offshore profit, have massive debts that cripple their ability to provide infrastructure and services to their people, yet their total debt is LESS than the offshore profits they are hosting.  But it’s not dodgy no name banks who are holding the profits on behalf of western corporations: it is the very international banks of the G20.  And these banks are paying off the corrupt leadership of these debt ridden nations, or paying the public purse a pittance and threatening to go elsewhere if the host nation dares to tax them.

Even the IMF has criticised the lack of action on tax havens, as shown by the Tax Justice Network in the report IMF: tax havens cause poverty, particularly in developing countries:

The IMF report takes a swing or two at the OECD’s BEPS process. For instance, in a section on tax treaties which allocate taxing rights among countries, the IMF notes that not only are the OECD models (that are generally the basis for these treaties) skewed in favour of richer countries, as we and other have often remarked, but it also adds:
“At issue here are deeper notions as to the ‘fair’ international allocation of tax revenue and powers across countries (which current initiatives do not address).”

Which makes it all the more perplexing that the G20 nations have failed to endorse BEPS.

The G20 have recognised that the shift of wealth upwards is a threat to global economic growth. In 2009, the G20 adopted the ‘G20 Framework for Strong, Sustainable, and Balanced Growth’  in which it required it’s members to “promote balanced and sustainable economic development in order to narrow development imbalances and reduce poverty”.  Yet they seem so beholden to the business lobby that they have forgotten this framework.

Climate

If we turn to climate we find a similar scenario. At the 2010 G20 Summit in Soul the closing document expressed a commitment to “achieving a successful, balanced result that includes the core issues of mitigation,transparency, finance, technology, adaptation, and forest preservation”.  Yet the G20 have achieved almost nothing on these fronts.  The G20 have failed to provide effective leadership in developing effective world wide carbon reduction policy.  In energy production, the G20 have failed to implement removal of fossil fuel subsidies despite reiteration of the need to do so at many of the G20 summits.  In an age where governments are asking their people, through mechanisms such as the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, to accept removal of barriers to trade such as local environmental laws, animal cruelty laws, food safety laws etc, they are then asking their people to accept fuel subsidies that favour the big emitters.  $528 billion world wide goes towards fossil fuels while $88 billion goes towards renewable energy.  On a proportional basis, per unit of energy, more subsidies go towards renewable energies, which on the surface makes it appear that renewable energy producers are better off.  however if this figure was reversed the uptake of renewable energies would occur much quicker and there would be a brake on fossil fuel use.  The benefit in carbon reduction would be immediate.  Of course on the end of this is a consumer of fuel paying more to get from A to B.  But the solution is not to bring everything down to the lowest common denominator.  Nor is it to heat the world’s climate in the process, because doing so will only cost the average person on the street more in the long run, while, under current G20 economic models, the captains of industry will continue to do better and better.

Representation

In a very real way this highlights the flaw in the whole modus operandi of the G20 and their neoliberal theories.  That the G20 are not working effectively towards lifting up the world’s populace economically, so that they can afford to make a real choice between using fossil fuels or an equally priced (and heavily subsidised – at first) renewable energy alternative, is a basic failure of democracy.

The G20 leaders are not listening to the people.  After the G20 summit, with all it’s feel good statements about climate, the worlds poor and so on, they go back home to their economic rationalist advisors and their lobby money and fail to act.  The G20 is a Festival of Fakery.  The only real things that come out of the G20 are “back room” agreements that centre around access to resources.  “We’ll open this market if you open that market”.  The talk of caring for the environment, building alternative energy solutions, equality and eliminating poverty is all forgotten when the talk gets down to the nitty gritty.

Not only is the G20 failing on democracy for it’s member nations people: it doesn’t represent all the people of the world.  The G20 nations cover 70% of the world’s people, and 90% of it’s wealth. The last 30% with only 10% of the wealth are not represented in any meaningful way in the G20 discussions.  All South American nations excepting Brazil and Argentina, most of Africa and South East Asia are not represented.

First Nations

The people of the world’s first nations are particularly under represented by the G20, primarily because their nations have been decimated by colonialism.  Indeed they are more often not even recognised as having sovereignty and it is expected that representation is covered by the nation under which they have been colonised.  What is not understood is that until sovereignty is recognised, first nations people are without land and without purpose.  They are adrift within the imperialist’s world.

Where sovereignty is recognised through appropriate treaties, first nations people are able to rebuild their unique culture, laws and language. First nations people usually have very different economic models compared to the G20 member states.  They have closer affinity with the land and when it is destroyed by mining or environmental degradation the connection to their culture is in danger of being lost.

The economic and cultural needs of first nations people around the world are not covered by the G20.  At most you can expect token participation. Before first nations people can have true justice the world needs to divest itself of colonialism: it has to decolonise.  First Nation sovereignty needs to be recognised.  Anything less amounts to assimilation, and assimilation is genocide.

So Where To From Here?

It’s fairly clear that the G20 process is not going to lead to a fairer cleaner safer world.  Even alternatives such as BRICS (Brazil Russia India China and South Africa) really only seek to provide the same economic rationalist approach in a way that more closely suits that particular subset of G20 nations.  What is needed is for the world’s people to first become aware, and second, stand up to the G20 process and say “not in my name”.  Like the Indignado movement in Spain, the Arab Spring, the Occupy Movement and now the Hong Kong democracy movement, there needs to be mobilisation against the economic rationalism that is leading to the destruction of our planet and the economic slavery of billions.  We need to break down the current paradigm that says “growth is good” and establish a global community that seeks to represent all peoples, to put people before profit, and to work towards and for Sovereignty, Society and Sustainability.

The story of how this is done is will be written by history.  But it starts with YOU!

 

 

References:

http://www.gatesfoundation.org/What-We-Do/Global-Policy/G20-Report

http://www.oecd.org/ctp/beps.htm

http://www.taxjustice.net/2014/01/17/price-offshore-revisited/

http://www.taxjustice.net/cms/upload/pdf/The_Price_of_Offshore_Revisited_Key_Issues_120722.pdf

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2012/jul/21/offshore-wealth-global-economy-tax-havens

Media Release

“G20 is austerity summit” claims protest organiser

 

BrisCAN spokesperson, Adrian Skerritt said: “The G20 meeting will disrupt the lives of Brisbane residents from November 8 to November 16. But it won’t end there. G20 policies will continue to disrupt our lives long after the meeting is over.”

The G20 forum is committed to shifting wealth from the majority of citizens to the incredibly rich. They will do globally what Newman and Abbott are doing locally – sell public assets, outsource and cuts to social services.”

“The G20 is the Austerity Summit” claimed Mr Skerritt.

“What they can’t achieve through their budgets and trade deals they will attempt to resolve through war. Look at Obama and Abbott’s new war in Iraq and Putin’s use of military force in the Ukraine.”

The rally and march on November 15 will condemn G20 policies that create poverty and inequality. The march will also champion the values that should drive economic and political decisions – justice, sustainability, indigenous sovereignty and democracy.

“BrisCAN is demanding a world with an economy that works for people and the planet, a world safe from the ravages of climate change and war, a world with good jobs, clean air and water and healthy communities” said Mr Skerritt.

The rally will assemble at 11am November 15 2014 at Emma Miller Place (Roma St) and subsequently march past the G20 summit to Musgrave Park.

For detail about BrisCAN-G20 visit briscan.net.au or www.facebook.com/briscan.g20.
For further comment contact media spokesperson Adrian Skerritt on 0400 307 892.

The Keep QLD Nuclear Free network hosted a conference today to welcome Naoto Kan to Brisbane and to ask Mr Kan about his position on nuclear power. Mr Kan was Prime Minister of Japan during the Fukushima Nuclear disaster.

Mr Kan spoke of the failure of TEPCO and authorities to contain the disaster and of the affects on the prefecture of Fukushima. He described the Fukushima disaster as without precedent and without any technology yet capable of cleaning up the site. The cores of several reactors continue to melt down without any real ideas on how to stop the process, and top soil removed from the site will have to be stored for thousands of years.

When asked about his position on Nuclear power now compared to before the disaster, Mr Kan said his view had changed 180 degrees. As of today, no nuclear power plants are operating in Japan, having been mothballed while a decision is made about how or if the plants can be operated safely.

Earlier this week Mr Kan visited northern Australian Indigenous communities to talk with Elders about the issues of Nuclear power and nuclear mining.

Below are photos from the conference:

Naoto Kan Brisbane (1)

Naoto Kan Brisbane (2)

Naoto Kan Brisbane (5)

Naoto Kan Brisbane (6)

Naoto Kan Brisbane (8)

Naoto Kan Brisbane (10)

Naoto Kan Brisbane (11)

Naoto Kan Brisbane (12)

Naoto Kan Brisbane (14)

Naoto Kan Brisbane (15)

Naoto Kan Brisbane (16)

Naoto Kan Brisbane (18)

Naoto Kan Brisbane (19)

Naoto Kan Brisbane (20)

Naoto Kan Brisbane (21)

Supporters frustrated and angry with the government’s handling of the Manus Island detention centre rallied in Brisbane today.  Over 300 protesters gathered at King George Square to hear speeches, followed by a march through the city centre.

Indigenous elder and community leader Sam Watson offered a welcome to country, and also spoke of the sense of solidarity the Indigenous community feels with asylum seekers due to their common dispossession from home lands.  Labour and Greens politicians spoke, condemning the inaction and secrecy of the government regarding the recent violence at Manus Island. Refugee activists and a Manus Island employee also spoke at the rally.  Speaker Tim Arnot condemned Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison for failing to acknowledge  murdered detainee Reza Berati by name, and called for a minute silence.

There was some negotiation with police who were unwilling to let a march go ahead due to the required paperwork not having been filed in time.  It is this reporters understanding that the Peaceful Assembly act requires 5 working days notice only to ensure that an assembly can not be stopped without a court order from police, but that an impromptu assembly is still legal and that it is within police powers to allow the assembly to proceed unless there is good reason not to (public safety etc).

In the end, protesters decided they were going to march anyway, and police acquiesced.

Photos and Videos follow below:

1000 motorbikes burbled into Brisbane CBD today to give Premier Newman pause over the recent ‘bikie’ legislation.  Another 4000 or so people joined the riders in front of state parliament to let it be known that Queenslanders do not support the VLAD act and other incursions into rights of association.

Police set aside areas on Alice Street for motorbike parking, but these areas quickly overflowed and police were run ragged ensuring bikers were able to park safely.

The rally was positioned as non-partisan, though this didn’t stop organiser Gabriel Buckley of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) from using the opportunity to remind people of his nomination for the seat of Redcliffe. The former seat of disgraced LNP politician Scott Driscoll, Redcliffe will be contested in a by-election in February.

Gabriel Buckley runs on a Libertarian platform.

Along with the announcement about Buckley’s candidacy, and presence of the flag of the LDP, the rally also drew speaker David Leyonhjelm, NSW Senator-elect.  Leyonhjelm spoke about how the VLAD laws and associated legislation creates a “moral panic” in the public mind about motorbike riders.  Leyonhjelm finished his talk by saying:

“And they wonder why nobody comes to the aid of police when they are in trouble.

“I’m never going to help someone who thinks it’s ok to pull me up, search me and threaten me with jail if I don’t answer their questions merely because  am riding my motorcycle in company with a couple of other people.  If that’s what they think, they can lie on the side of the road and bleed to death.”

While the crowd had generally been positive about the talk, at this point cheering was more subdued as people tried to decide if it was appropriate to applause such a statement.

Other speakers were passionate and rousing but stopped short of wishing death on police.

Speakers included amongst others Queensland Council for Civil Liberties spokesman Michael Cope, and Electrical Trades Union spokesman Peter Simpson, who both spoke about how the legislation was not solely directed at outlaw bike clubs and how the laws will impact on civil rights.  The wife of prisoner Kevin, an ex-bikie and model prisoner now on 23 hour lockdown, spoke about her husband’s situation. Anonymous also fielded a speaker, and were present in force in the crowd.

Being the biggest rally seen at parliament house in recent times, bigger even than the very successful Rally for Rights held on the 19th of November, it is fair to say that Queensland politicians may be starting to wonder if they have woken a sleeping dragon.

Freedom Ride

Freedom Ride

Freedom Ride

Freedom Ride

Freedom Ride

Freedom Ride

Freedom Ride

Freedom Ride

Freedom Ride