Category: Activism

December 1, 2013

Media Release

G20 Dissenters form Action Network

As Australia assumes the G20 presidency prior to the summit in November next year, concerned community members announce the formation of the Brisbane Community Action Network G20 (BrisCAN-G20).

The network has formed to facilitate community responses and raise the profile of dissent to the G20 summit. BrisCAN-G20 will foster collaborations between community groups, support community action and provide commentary and critique of the G20 and Australia’s role in it.

The network has developed out of shared concerns about the G20’s perpetuation of an abusive economic system. The Group of 20 summit outcomes privilege the wealthy over the majority, have disregard for the environment and human rights, and lack transparency and public participation. Furthermore, The Group of 20 is involved in the erosion of civil liberties as a mechanism of control and fails to provide meaningful, sustainable and just community focused solutions to global crises and conflict.

Kim Stewart from Friends of the Earth Brisbane said “While the coming together of nations could be an opportunity to promote peace, social justice and ecological sustainability, the G20 is perpetuating financial and economic system that is failing the majority of the world and destroying the planet.”

Benjamin Pennings from Generation Alpha said “It is time for Australia and the G20 to re-think our economic system and make decisions that protect the earth – our shared habitat – and deliver a just and sustainable future for our children. The G20 do not act for global good. They should not be making decisions for us.”

For more information on BrisCAN-G20 or media comment please contact:

Kim Stewart, Friends of the Earth Brisbane – 0413 397 839
Benjamin Pennings, Generation Alpha – 0418 164 014.

MEDIA RELEASE * MEDIA RELEASE * MEDIA RELEASE * MEDIA RELEASE * MEDIA RELEASE
For immediate release, 30 November 2013

Citizens network forms to fight civil liberties “crackdown”

A packed meeting of more than 70 concerned citizens and representatives from community organisations founded a new campaigning organisation at Brisbane’s Electrical Trades Union hall on Wednesday night, responding to what organisers called “an unprecedented crackdown on civil liberties in Queensland”.

The Queensland Civil Liberties Network was born amid cheers from meeting participants who set about planning a series of protest actions over coming months, including a rally and march to fall on Parliament’s first sitting day, February 11 2014.

Brisbane alternative media publisher Max Riethmuller said the Newman government had created a climate in which people now feared gathering in public.

“I have already seen people choose not to attend a protest out of fear of the VLAD act,” Mr Riethmuller said.

“The slow usurping of rights in this state has potential to strip us of very important basic rights,” he said.

Mr Riethmuller said that by positioning this legislation as being about ‘bikies’ or ‘parties’ the government was engaging in “subterfuge”.

The meeting also endorsed the actions of the Queensland Council of Unions, Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy and other organisations in relation to the UN Human Rights Day on 10th of December, and the upcoming Anti-VLAD Freedom Ride on December 1st.

“The Queensland government is contravening various articles of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, particularly in regard to the right to free speech and the right to freedom of association,” said Mr Riethmuller

Meeting organiser Ewan Saunders attacked the recent “Out-of-control Parties” legislation as “absurd”.

“Next will it be people only inviting 11 people to their backyard BBQ’s to avoid the chance of being thrown in jail for a year?” Mr Saunders asked.

“When ordinary law abiding people have to closely watch their movements to avoid getting in trouble with the law, we are basically living in a police state,” he said.

“My hope is that this network can help build effective and broad-based opposition to these laws.”

For media comment, contact:

Ewan Saunders: 0401 234 610
Max Riethmuller: 0415 200 577

Visit the campaign Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/civillibertiesqld

Latifa and and family went back to court today to find out whether the attempt to block their transfer back to Nauru was successful.

Latifa gave premature birth to a son Ferouz, at the Mater Hospital on the 6th of December.  Since then she has had the threat of being transferred to Nauru with her family and new born son into conditions unsuitable for the care of an infant.

The case is still unresolved, but Latifa’s lawyers secured a commitment from the Department of Immigration to not move Latifa without notice.

Murray Watt of Maurice Blackburn gave a statement outside the court today:

Over the last 24 hours we have had a series of negotiations with the department and their advisers, and the government has made a commitment that before any decisions are made to move this family to Nauru, they will provide them with a fair hearing about their health issue, and about the rights of Ferouz having been born in Australia.

He went on to say:

The department has also provided a commitment that the family will be provided two days notice before any removal to Nauru. That is a really good outcome for this family, only one week ago we were in court because the family was subject to removal at any time, without any notice, and without any opportunity to provide medical information, and today we have managed to secure commitments from the government that they will get a fair hearing before any decision is made to take them to Nauru.

Mr Watt used the opportunity to remind the government of it’s obligations under international treaties.

The family is very happy with that outcome, and as I say it is a good outcome for this particular family, but having achieved a win for this particular family I think we have all got to reflect on the entire practice of detaining small children and families offshore in conditions that only this week the UN has reported are inhumane. I think we can do better than that as Australians, we have international obligations that require us to do better than that, and I now call on the minister and the entire Australian community to think about this is the kind of conditions that we think are acceptable for very small children and their families.

Mr Watt went on to explain that the government had every intention of sending Latifa and her family to Nauru once their health allowed them to be transferred safely  In the coming weeks the law firm will present evidence to show why this was not an appropriate course of action.

The fact that Latifa was able to achieve a stay on her transfer to Nauru while her lawyers prepare her case will enable other asylum seekers to benefit also.  This case will likely form a test case for other similar cases of detention on Australian soil and may set a precedent that will allow families to remain in Australia when the only alternative is to send families and their young children to the unsuitable conditions that exist at Nauru.

Family and Newborn of Asylum Seeker Latifar

Latifa, her husband Niza, their 7 year-old daughter Habiba, four year-old son, Muddin and baby Ferouz at BITA, Pinkenba

Today Asylum Seeker Latifa and family went to the Federal Circuit Court to seek an injunction against being sent to Nauru.

After being transferred from Nauru to give birth to her son Ferouz, born at Mater Brisbane Hospital on November 6, Latifa and her family now face being sent back to Nauru.   The family are currently being held at the Brisbane Immigration Transit Accommodation (BITA) centre.  She was initially only able to visit her son between 10am and 4pm, but now mother and son are together permanently.

Refugee advocates claim that the facilities at Nauru are inappropriate for providing care to a new born. Advocates from Refugee Action Collective are assisting Latifa launch the legal challenge against being sent back to Nauru.

Protesters gathered today outside the Federal Circuit Court to show support for Latifa and her family.

I spoke to one of the supporters, Bradley, who attended the court hearing:

“I went and sat in the open court and heard the Lawyers for the Government basically trying to say the injunction against removal of Latifa and Ferouz doesn’t apply as there is no set date for removal and it is presumed they will be removed. The argument was that the current court it is held in doesn’t have jurisdiction to make a decision one way or another. They say it should be dealt with in the high court. Latifa’s lawyers I heard out of the courtroom say the case is unique in that Latifa come from a place which is deemed stateless. Since Ferouz was born on Australian soil he should be entitled to a protection visa and not be able to be legally deported. The case was adjourned till Fri at 3pm so the judge could read over several acts that the lawyers for the Government were quoting from. It would seem the most concern is that they will be taken removed from Australia before the case is even heard.”

Other asylum seekers with young children, and disabled asylum seekers, currently detained on mainland Australia who also face being sent to Nauru, may benefit from any decision that may arise out of this action.

Protesters gather outside the federal court to support Latifar, new born son and family's request for an injunction against being returned to Nauru

Protesters gather outside the federal court to support Latifa, new born son and family’s request for an injunction against being returned to Nauru

MEDIA ALERT

EMBARGOED 6:00AM | Friday 22 November 2013

Malaysians to Occupy Lynas HQ in Sydney:
Protest shareholder meeting, divest from Lynas

WHAT
SYDNEY | Eight representatives from Himpunan Hijau, one of the largest environmental movements in Malaysia, will be travelling to Australia to protest against Australian rare earth mining company, Lynas Corporation. Lynas has started exporting its toxic and radioactive rare-earth pollution to it’s controversial refinery, the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) in Kuantan, Malaysia.

Himpunan Hijau will be joined by Friends of the Earth Australia, Beyond Nuclear Initiative, AidWatch and The Greens.


WHERE & WHEN

Occupation outside Lynas Headquarters
ALL DAY Tuesday 26 – Thursday 28 November 2013
56 Pitt Street, Sydney

Press conference hosted by The Greens
Thursday 28 November 2013
10AM behind NSW parliament

Protest outside Lynas Corporation Annual General Meeting
Friday 29 November
8:30AM-1:00PM
Opposite Establishment Hotel,
252 George Street Sydney

BACKGROUND
On August 4th 2011 Australian company Lynas Corporation officially opened its Mt Weldrare earth mine in Western Australia. Lynas has started exporting rare earth concentrates, through the port of Fremantle in Western Australia to the port of Kuantan in Malaysia, to their polluting, energy intensive and highly controversial rare earths processing plant, the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP).

The LAMP is vehemently opposed by at least a million Malaysians. It was constructed without any public consultation and near fishing communities. Its pollution and waste management are seriously deficient according to a scientific report[1] by Germany’s Oeko Institute.

More info and for interviews with Himpunan Hijau representatives contact:
Tully Mcintyre,
Coordinator, StopLynas.org
An affiliate campaign of Friends of the Earth Australia
tully.mcintyre@foe.org.au
0410 388 187

[1] “Description and Critical environmental Evaluation of the Rare Earth Refinery Plant LAMP near Kuantan/Malaysia” http://www.oeko.de/oekodoc/1629/2013-002-en.pdf

*Note: Press Releases are authored by contributing organisation.

Million Mask March Brisbane

Brisbane anonymous groups today (5 November 2013) converged on Brisbane CBD in support of Anonymous and the international November 5 Million Mask March.  The march proceeded from Emma Miller Place and traced a circle around the CBD before returning to King George Square for speeches.

In a turnout that surprised some and sent a clear message to Premier Newman that there is ample support for Anonymous in Brisbane, well over 300 people marched the streets drawing looks of curiosity and interest.  The protesters sported masks and other costumes, including many a black suited and mask wearing “Anonymous agent”.

Apart from general support for Anonymous, many participants question Newman’s recent ‘bikie’ laws and chanted anti-corporate greed slogans.

See here for pictures

Million Mask March Brisbane 2013

In the year 1982, Aboriginal groups fed up with the lack of land rights and the continual disenfranchisement of Indigenous people saw the coming Commonwealth Games as an opportunity to bring attention to their plight on the world stage, and to hopefully shame the government into bringing about change.

Thousands of protesters converged on Musgrave Park and set up camp in a grassroots movement intent on making the voice of protest heard.

The Queensland Bjelke-Peterson  government of the day responded by making all street marches illegal.  A state of emergency was declared.  Apart from two approved marches, no other protests were to be tolerated.  Nevertheless protests were organised, and over the period of the games close to 500 protesters were arrested at several illegal marches.

The protests put land rights, and other injustices that Aboriginal people have been (and continue to be) subjected to, into the international media and informed debate and protest actions for years after.  The protesters at these marches embodied the spirit of all the great protest movements of history.  Not long after the Games, the various Aboriginal Protection Acts (which served to discriminate against and exploit Aboriginal people) in QLD were finally abandoned, and changes to Land Rights were enacted.  The Hawke government, in light of the Commonwealth Games protests, and in an effort to avoid escalating protests, introduced some changes to Indigenous policy such as changes to the hated Department of Aboriginal Affairs (which became ATSIC, with Indigenous representation) and the establishment of a Reconciliation Commission, both moves which were largely cosmetic or tokenistic and enacted without due consultation, but nevertheless showed the seriousness with which the government was taking Aboriginal activism.

In commemoration of these events, starting in 2012 the Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy has been holding Anniversary celebrations in October of every year.  The event includes Rallies, Music, Movies and other entertainment and activities.

The event is particularly poignant in light of the recent activities by Brisbane City Council and the QPS to suppress the Sovereign Embassy.  See here for photos of the Embassy eviction involving over 200 police in May 2012.

Below are some photos of the 31st Commonwealth Games Protest Anniversary that was held this weekend (11-13 October 2013).  Photos by Embassy photographer Brendon Qu.

(more photos can be seen on the Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy facebook page.)

31st Anniversary Commonwealth Games Protests

31st Anniversary Commonwealth Games Protests. Photo by Brendon Qu, Embassy photographer

31st Anniversary Commonwealth Games Protests

Singer Teila Watson. 31st Anniversary Commonwealth Games Protests. Photo by Brendon Qu, Embassy photographer

31st Anniversary Commonwealth Games Protests

Forum discussion group. 31st Anniversary Commonwealth Games Protests. Photo by Brendon Qu, Embassy photographer

31st Anniversary Commonwealth Games Protests

Singer Andrew Paine. 31st Anniversary Commonwealth Games Protests. Photo by Brendon Qu, Embassy photographer

31st Anniversary Commonwealth Games Protests

Singer Phil Monsour. 31st Anniversary Commonwealth Games Protests. Photo by Brendon Qu, Embassy photographer

31st Anniversary Commonwealth Games Protests

2 Black! 31st Anniversary Commonwealth Games Protests. Photo by Brendon Qu, Embassy photographer

 

 

 

The March Against Monsanto international initiative hit Brisbane CBD Today (Saturday 12).  An energetic group of about 150 people took to the streets to protest GMO’s produced by Monsanto.

The group’s stance is that Monsanto GMO’s are untested and present potential health dangers.  Other issues such as Monsanto’s lobbying against labelling legislation and efforts to have governments implement Monsanto protection acts which limit Monsanto’s exposure to action by individual or class action are also on the group’s hit list.

More information about the group can be obtained here: http://www.march-against-monsanto.com/

Pictures of the Brisbane march can be found here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pitdroidtech/sets/72157636465225514/

Stop Monsanto March Oct 2013

Stop Monsanto March Oct 2013

Stop Monsanto March Oct 2013

The worst union in Australia is the Shoppies. (The Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association, or the SDA). For years they harvested money from young workers at places like Coles and Hungry Jacks and David Jones, who once forced all their employees to join the union. Funnily enough, those companies never had any trouble with strikes. The bosses of the Shoppies union have never been interested in fighting for their members, in fact recently a pack of ragged-arsed anarchists won a victory for underpaid Dominos pizza delivery drivers that the union refused to even work for. The union bosses are far more interested in using the power of the union to make sure equal marriage never happens.

If you’re voting for the ALP in the Senate in Queensland or Western Australia, then if you don’t take control of your own vote, you’ll be voting for three powerful officials of the SDA, Don Farrell in South Australia, Chris Ketter in Queensland, and Joe Bullock in Western Australia. If you vote ALP in Queensland, SA or WA, and you just vote ‘1’ in the ALP box in the Senate, you will be voting against equal marriage.

So what if you want to vote ALP, but you support equal marriage? How do you do that? Instead of just voting ‘1’ for the ALP, you can take total control over your vote by voting “below the line“. On the Senate voting paper, every single candidate has a box next to their name. Voting below the line means you fill in every single box. In Queensland you’ll have to put a ‘1’ in the box next to the person you like the most, all the way down to ’82’ next to the one you hate the most. In Western Australia it’s a little easier, you only have to number 62 candidates. This can get a bit complex, but there are now plenty of tools to help you work out how to get your vote just right. Have a look at senate.io, Cluey Voter and belowtheline.org.au

Here’s an example of what you might do:

You might decide you still support the ALP, even if they keep weird homophobes like Chris Ketter and Joe Bullock in the party. So if you’re in Queensland, you can give your number 1 vote to Claire Moore, your number 2 vote to Mark Furner, and your number 3 vote to Nikki Boyd – they are the three other ALP candidates for the Senate. You might then go right through the ballot paper marking everyone else from 4 to 81, and then save your 82nd vote for Chris Ketter, to send a clear message you support the ALP but you also support equal marriage.

In WA, you’d do the same thing by giving your number 1 vote to Louise Pratt, and your second vote to Peter Foster, going right through the paper from 3 to 61, then giving your 62nd and final vote to Joe Bullock. SA’s a little different again; you should vote ‘1’ for Penny Wong, skip over Don Farrell, ‘2’ for Paul Pisoni, then go through everyone else and give Don Farrell your 73rd vote.

Of course, you might do something different. There are plenty of bad people running for the Senate, and you might decide someone else deserves your very bottom vote. So what I say here is just one way you can vote for the ALP in the Senate but stil support equal marriage. Whichever people you decide to support, the three tools I linked to above will help you sort out who you like, who you hate, and who you don’t care about. And if you REALLY want to take control there’s a tricky way to make sure only the people you really like get a chance to use your vote.

If you’re a member of the SDA, or if you work in the retail or fast food industries and you like the idea of a union that would stand up for you and for equal marriage, you might want to have a look at three groups who want to change the way the SDA operates. SDA Union Transform and Transpose and SDA Members for Same-Sex Marriage are fighting the homophobes from within, and the General Transport Workers Association is pounding on the gates from outside by setting up a rival organisation that actually knows how to fight.