Anti-Militarism Protest – 25 April 2010 (ANZAC Day)

Once again as thousands – reportedly record numbers – attended various official events to mark the day, and clusters of men and women in military uniform roamed the CBD in search of somewhere to get a drink, a small – actually very small – group from the Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group (MACG)   met outside the former headquarters of the Melbourne branch of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and handed out leaflets condemning Australian imperialism and militarism in general. Responses ranged from polite but uncomprehending, through positive engagement, and all the way to threatening, as can be seen in the accompanying short video…

The text of the leaflet is given below;  see also last year’s report on this site: http://melbourneprotests.wordpress.com/2009/04/25/anzac-day-anti-militarist-action-25-april/

AUSTRALIAN IMPERIALISM

Gallipoli

World War I had bogged down, and Britain was looking for a way to change the balance of forces. A landing at the Dardanelles in April 1915, followed by the taking of Istanbul, was planned to open the supply route to Russia and possibly knock the Ottoman Empire out of the war. The campaign was a fiasco. Tens of thousands of young men from both sides were sacrificed in a minor episode of the clash of two rival imperialist alliances. Rather than being “the war to end all wars”, WWI was a war for imperial domination, to be reprised on a larger scale twenty-one years later.

A Franchise Arrangement

Ever since the 1870s, Australian troops have been sent to help fight the imperialist wars of a great and powerful friend. Whether in a World War, a British colonial war, or one of Uncle Sam’s never-ending series of wars to defend his empire, the Australian military fights in far-flung places at the side of the larger power. Almost always, the objective is to cement the alliance, since the issues at stake are rarely of direct relevance. The pay-off is that Australian capitalism is granted the imperialist franchise for the South Pacific (and now East Timor as well), where it operates without the presence of its patron.

Afghanistan

The current war in Afghanistan is a textbook case. The United States is in a bloody conflict with a band of religious fundamentalist cutthroats, in a country which has never been a nation and has never had more than a nominal central authority. It backs a corrupt government, mostly of competing fundamentalists. In this imperialist war of occupation, Australian troops commit blundering atrocities like the killing of five children in Uruzgan province last February. In a land where most people want the foreigners gone and a peasant by day can be a Taliban by night, crimes like this are inevitable. But to support the United States and to fortify the Australian alliance with Uncle Sam, the Labor Government thinks it’s all worth it.

The Way Out

Imperialism is part of modern capitalism. Its wars will last as long as capitalism does and the Australian military is purpose-built to fight them. Whether it is a pointless sacrifice on a Turkish beach, or bloody murder in an Afghan village, it will continue until capitalism itself is ended – and the only way to end capitalism is through workers’ revolution. Unlike the capitalists, the working class can unite across national boundaries. We can sweep away the capitalists and their State, with its armies, police and prisons. We can build libertarian communism, a world of peace and plenty, a world of both freedom and security. We can and we must.

HAVE GUNS – WILL TRAVEL

Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group

PO Box 2120 Lygon St North

macg1984[at]yahoo.com.au

East Brunswick 3057 25 April 2010

Stop Martin Ferguson dumping on traditional owners – Northcote Town Hall, 21 April 2010

Dianne Stokes speaking

Dianne Stokes speaking

[This report was first posted to Melbourne Indymedia, and is reproduced here with some additions.]

Federal Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson’s ears should have been burning on Wednesday evening as speakers at an information evening at Northcote Town Hall attacked his perverse obsession with building a nuclear waste dump on Indigenous land at Muckaty in the Northern Territory. Local traditional owners Dianne Stokes and Mark Chungaloo were there to counter his claim that there had been full and informed consent to the building of the dump, while Dr Bill Williams of the Medical Association for the Prevention of War presented slides explaining  the health damgers of ionising radiation, while also exploding government propaganda that a waste dump is essential to maintain the viability of Australia’s nuclear medicine programs ( see http://www.mapw.org.au/news/mapw-debunks-medical-need-muckaty-nuclear-dump).

Mark and Dianne

Mark Chungaloo and Dianne Stokes

Dr Bill Williams

Dr Bill Williams from MAPW

Natalie Wasley of the Arid Lands Environment Centre, N.T., presented a ten-minute video “Muckaty Voices” – soon to be posted on YouTube, where it will be a powerful alternative to government spin – and drew attention to the outrageous situation where people in the Tennant Creek area are having to sign away their heritage in return for such basic services as schools and roads that are the right of all Australians. Dave Sweeney of the Australian Conservation Foundation emphasised the special responsibility and opportunity for Darebin residents given that Martin Ferguson is the federal member for Batman. What Ferguson was doing was in contradiction to the declared policy of the Labor Party going into the 2007 election, and he had ignored all approaches for consultation. Dave Sweeney also pointed out that responsibility for waste had previously lain with the Minister for Science, not Energy and Resources as now. Ferguson saw himself as a ‘can-do’ minister, able to make tough and courageous decisions, but this decision was cowardly, craven and gutless. The waste dumped at Muckaty would continue to plague people long after all present that evening were dead and gone and there was a need for dialogue to determine the ‘best worst’ place to store it. That place was not Muckaty, even if one family in the region had cut a deal – and a secret one at that. And since Martin Ferguson had apparently made the issue a test of his personal ‘can do powers’, he should be held personally to account here in his own backyard.

Natalie Wasley

Natalie Wasley of ALEC

Dave Sweeney

Dave Sweeney of ACF

Speakers from the Friends of the Earth ACE (Anti-nuclear and Clean Energy) Collective, which had organised the evening, also addressed the question of what could be done (see fact and info sheet reproduced below), and speakers from the floor contributed suggestions including energetic civil disobedience at the site if/when construction of the dump began. Greens candidates Adam Bandt (Senate, Melbourne)  and Alex Bhathal, who is standing against Martin Ferguson in the Batman electorate, were there to declare their support for the traditional owners;unseating Fergsuon in the safest Labor seat in the county might be a tall order even for Alex, but  as Adam Bandt put it, only a tiny proportion of voters in Melbourne needed to change their support and he would be elected, and opposition to the dump would be central to his platform.

Tully McIntyre

Tully McIntyre, MC

Audience
Part of the audience

The evening ended with music from Kasey and Madeline from the ACE Collective.

Attendance was outstanding; extra seats had to be put out and there were still people standing. A slight delay at the start meant people had a good chance to mingle, and there was a large table of refreshments courtesy of the FoE Food Coop… A series of photos from Muckaty perhaps didn’t receive as much attention as it deserved, but there should be a second chance soon when they go on display at the Northcote Library in May.

Links:

Reports (not many so far)-

http://antinuclear.net/2010/04/22/big-welcome-for-aboriginal-anti-nuclear-protesors-in-martin-fergusons-electorate/

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/04/22/2879974.htm

See also -

http://indymedia.org.au/2010/04/16/wgar-news-nuclear-waste-dump-senate-inquiry-in-darwin-nationwide-protests-17-apr-10

http://www.ntnews.com.au/article/2010/04/13/139011_ntnews.html

Other sources -

http://www.foe.org.au/anti-nuclear/issues/oz/nontdump

http://www.melbourne.foe.org.au/?q=an/home

http://antinuclear.net/

http://wgar.wordpress.com/2010/04/

http://www.alec.org.au/

http://www.acfonline.org.au/

http://www.mapw.org.au/

http://www.greeningdarebin.org/index.php/home/

http://newmatilda.com/2010/02/24/ferguson-dump-nuclear-waste-soft-target

24 Feb 2010
Ferguson To Dump Nuclear Waste On ‘Soft Target’ [Article by Natalie Wasley)

From flier distributed at meeting:

Stop Martin Ferguson's Nuclear Dump

Martin Ferguson, the federal resources minister and MP for the Victorian electorate of Batman, announced in February that he intends to pursue plans for a national nuclear waste dump at Muckaty, 120km north of Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory.

Mr Ferguson wants to give himself sweeping powers to override state and territory laws and to bypass federal environmental and Aboriginal heritage laws. He is pursuing an approach as draconian as the Howard government's.

Section 11 of Mr Ferguson's National Radioactive Waste Management Bill gives the minister the power to override any state/territory laws which might impede his nuclear waste dump plans. The bill also allows the minister to override the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act and the Aboriginal Heritage Protection Act 1984 in relation to site selection.

Mr Ferguson falsely claims that Ngapa Traditional Owners support the nomination of the Muckaty site. He well knows that many of them oppose the dump – as well as numerous requests for meetings, he received a letter opposing the dump in May 2009 signed by 25 Ngapa Traditional Owners and 32 Traditional Owners from other Muckaty groups.

Mr Ferguson is also well aware of the unanimous resolution passed by the NT Labor Conference in April 2008 which called on the Federal Government to exclude Muckaty on the grounds that the nomination ''was not made with the full and informed consent of all Traditional Owners and affected people and as such does not comply with the Aboriginal Land Rights Act''.

And Mr Ferguson knows that fellow ministers Jenny Macklin, Kim Carr, Peter Garrett and Warren Snowdon, among others, have acknowledged the distress and opposition of many Muckaty Traditional Owners.

Traditional Owners opposed to the dump will continue fighting to keep their country clean. In addition to their ongoing efforts to inform the public and the politicians about the situation, they are also likely to mount a legal challenge.

Muckaty Traditional Owner Dianne Stokes says: "All along we have said we don't want this dump on our land but we have been ignored. Martin Ferguson has avoided us and ignored our letters but he knows very well how we feel. He has been arrogant and secretive and he thinks he has gotten away with his plan but in fact he has a big fight on his hands."
How should we manage nuclear waste?

Firstly, it needs to be shown that radioactive waste is not being produced unnecessarily.

Since the Lucas Heights research reactor is the major source of the waste that Mr Ferguson wants to dump in the NT, a government serious about waste minimisation would be exploring non-reactor options for medical and scientific applications. Last year a Lucas Heights nuclear scientist told a Parliamentary hearing that he expected a non-reactor method of producing the most commonly-used medical isotope, technetium-99m, to be available in 7-10 years. This is the sort of work that needs serious government support.

Another sensible minimisation strategy would be to curb the profit-driven overuse of diagnostic imaging technologies in private medical practices.

Secondly, all options for radioactive waste management need to be considered – not just 'remote' repositories (always more remote for some people than for others). This includes the option of ongoing storage at the Lucas Heights site, which is operated by the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO). All relevant organisations have acknowledged that this is a viable option including Mr Ferguson's own department, the regulator ARPANSA, the Australian Nuclear Association, and ANSTO itself. Requiring ANSTO to store its own waste is the best and perhaps the only way of focussing the organisation's mind on the importance of waste minimisation principles.

Thirdly, if a site selection process is required, it ought to be based on scientific and environmental criteria, as well as on the principle of voluntarism. When the federal Bureau of Resource Sciences conducted a national repository site selection study in the 1990s, the Muckaty area did not even make the short-list as a ''suitable'' site.

See the ACE website for suggestions for contributing to the campaign: http://www.foe.org.au/anti-nuclear

[Since this was written, details of the photo exhibition mentioned above have become available: Manu-Wangku. Muckaty Photo Exhibition. May 1st - 31st at Northcote Library, 32-38 Separation St, Northcote. Video of the event has been posted on YouTube: http://vagmag.org/archives/1670 ]

No Dump at Muckaty – National Day of Action, 12 April 2010

Protesters on steps of Parliament House

Click on image to view video

On the day a Senate enquiry into the plan was due to start in Darwin, Friends of the Earth’s Anti-nuclear and Clean Energy Collective (ACE) and ASEN ( Australian Student Environment Network) joined forces in a loud and colourful event forming part of a National Day of Action against Federal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson’s plans for a nuclear waste dump at Muckaty in the Northern Territory.
Protesters gathered first on the steps of the Victorian Parliament House before making their way through the lunchtime crowds of the CBD to join Ziggy the nuclear White Elephant at Flinders Street Station. Here there were speakers, music including rappers Luke Haralampou, Pataphysics and Izzy from Combat Wombat, Jim Power with his banjo, and Madeline Hudson, who was also MC for the day. Jim Green from FoE discussed the options for dealing with nuclear waste, including the preferred one of not creating it in the first place, and Emma Kessord spoke for ASEN. Indigenous activist Robbie Thorpe acknowledged the elders and traditional owners of the land on which the protest was taking place, and condemned the trashing of Aboriginal land by colonialism. The protest ended with a symbolic dumping of ‘radioactive waste’ ‘in Martin Ferguson’s backyard’.

http://asen.org.au/

http://www.foe.org.au/anti-nuclear

http://indymedia.org.au/2010/04/10/wgar-news-national-day-of-action-against-muckaty-nuclear-waste-dump-12th-april