Grandmothers against Detention of Refugee Children – launch, 6 September 2014

Banner of Grandmothers against ...
A newly-formed group campaigning against the detention of asylum seeker children held a launch today on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral. Grandmothers against Detention of Refugee Children has grown out of a meeting of friends last April and now numbers over two hundred, according to Dr Gwenda Davey, one of the founders, who spoke today. (For more about the group, see the website.)

Crowd gathering outside St Paul's - banner reads Let's fully Welcome Refugees

Before the official start of the launch – note the banner on the wall of the cathedral.

From a media release for the event:

Hundreds of grandmothers from across Victoria will gather on Saturday to begin a campaign for the release of all the refugee and asylum seeker children incarcerated by the Australian government.

There will be speakers, music and highly visual protests against the plight of young children being held in indefinite detention.

These grandmothers are united in their horror at the heartless treatment and psychological damage inflicted on vulnerable, innocent children and are determined to take their campaign to every federal MP and even to the steps of Parliament House if necessary.

They are calling on all Australians to join with them in demanding the immediate release of all asylum seeker and refugee children in detention.

With their years of wisdom, compassion and determination, these grandmothers could well become the most formidable opponents of the heartless policies of the Minister for Immigration, Scott Morrison.

MC of the launch will be well-known actor, comedian and radio personality Denise Scott. Speakers will be Dr Gwenda Davey AM, coordinator of the Grandmothers initiative and Pamela Curr, Refugee Rights Advocate, Asylum Seeker Resource Centre. Speeches will be interspersed with songs from folk and blues singer Margret Roadknight.

The grandmothers will display 1000 paper dolls, representing the nearly 1000 children held in detention, including those held on Nauru and Christmas Island. The grandmothers will call on the Australian government to FREE THE CHILDREN.

And one thousand paper chains will be cut by the grandmothers, to the accompaniment of chanting and percussion instruments.

As mentioned in the media release, some of the grandmothers were linked by a black paper chain, the cutting of which marked the formal launch:

showing the paper chain

Others wore rows of the paper dolls that symbolised the nearly one thousand children currently in detention:
Banner of Grandmothers against ... Also showing the paper dolls

Apart from Dr Davey, whose account of the treatment endured by children in the camps brought tears to the eyes of many present, Pamela Curr of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre focused on the contrast between the humane way asylum seekers arriving in Italy are treated with the brutality of Australia’s ‘welcome’. Folk and blues singer Margret Roadknight provided apposite music for the occasion, including one song by Indigenous Canadian singer/somgwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie, and MC was another well known figure, Denise Scott.
Many of those present wore purple scarves, as can be seen in the accompanying photos, along with placards and mostly percussion instruments. At the end, following a photo op for the benefit of the Age photographer, there was what seemed to be an impromptu rendering of We Shall Overcome, perhaps in response to Pamela Curr’s earlier stirring call to action. Footage from the event was aired this evening in the main, 7pm, ABC news, and a camera crew from Channel Nine was also present, so it may have been covered there too. At time of writing nothing has appeared on the Age website.[Update 7 September - a report has been published in the Sunday Age. See here.]

More photos:

Dr Gwenda Davey

Dr Gwenda Davey

Denise Scott

Denise Scott

Margret Roadknight

Margret Roadknight

Pamela Curr

Pamela Curr

Placard showing photo of Hamid Kehasaei, who died that morning

By the stall of the Refugee Action Collective

More placards:

Placard with call for help

Placard addressing the Prime Minister - what if it was your child?

More placards

More placards

At the end - not quite the whole gathering

At the end – not quite the whole gathering

Group on steps singing We Shall Overcome

Impromptu choir

Bust the Budget Rally and March – 6 July 2014

Child with homemade placard - Save Peppa Pig

An extraordinary diversity of protests and protesters marked this, the third Bust the Budget rally in Melbourne. Asylum Seekers, the ABC, Unions, Climate Change, Medicare, Education … the list goes on. Also pronounced was the anger against Tony Abbott and resentment at his departures from pre-election statements and promises, as the selection below may indicate.Total numbers were hard to gauge – as The Age reports, figures from twelve to twenty thousand were being quoted – but they were at least comparable to the earlier protests, and that in spite of the weather and the timing (in the middle of the school holidays). Some idea of the overall size can be got, however, from the fact that the march up St Kilda Road from the rally location opposite the Arts Centre took just over twenty minutes to pass a single point (continuous video of this stage of the march is in preparation and should be available in the next day or so, by way of confirmation).[Video added 7 July.] Apart from the new starting point, the event took the traditional form: rally with speeches followed by a march through the CBD, ending at Parliament House with more speeches. These divisions are loosely followed in the photos below, but first a few overviews:
At the start -

Also at the start

Part of the rally

Another view

On the March -

Head of march coming up Bourke Street

March arriving at Parliament House

Final rally at Parliament House (the rain that had held off until now prompted a quick unfurling of brollies) -

Looking over head and brollies towards Parliament House

From the rally at Queen Victoria Gardens -

A selection of placards targeting Tony Abbott (some captured during the march)-

The March sets off –

Peppa Pig leads march up St Kilda Road

From the March (rather few, but see forthcoming video for full coverage) -

A few more from the end -

Woman sitting on kerb with dog

Resting at the end

Baby Boomers for Climate Change Action - placard spotted at Parliament House

Spotted at the end

Woman cradling small dog

Another dog getting a deserved rest

Bust the Budget II – 12 June 2014.

Bust the Budget banner leads march

The surge of protest that followed the May budget is far from subsiding, and it seems our plan to retire may be on hold for a while longer – which would no doubt gladden Tony Abbott in the unlikely event of his ever getting to know of it. This time it was the unions that took to the streets in Melbourne – construction workers, teachers, nurses, plumbers, firefighters, ambos, postal workers, public servants, students and individuals – and in numbers hardly less than the general rally in May. (Various media reports – see links below – quote a figure from Trades Hall of twenty thousand.) At both the assembly point outside Trades Hall, and again at the end of the march, outside Parliament House, it was next to impossible to get close enough to hear the speakers, and there will be no attempt here to report what was said (again, see reports linked to below). The photos here should be pretty much self-explanatory and only a few are captioned. Some video is in preparation and will be posted shortly.*

Some media reports that have appeared so far:

The Age

The Herald Sun

Channel Seven news


Crosslight

*

No Dump at Muckaty! – Traditional Owners at Federal Court in Melbourne 2 June 2014

Kylie and Dianne

Traditional Owners Dianne Stokes and Kylie Sambo were in Melbourne today for the start of hearings of a challenge to the nomination of Muckaty Station as sit of a dump for nuclear waste. See Beyond Nuclear Initiative for background and continuing updates, including Kylie Sambo’s video blog from the court. A small number of supporters were on hand with a banner and placards:

Kylie Sambo with supporters

Supporters with banner - Don't Waste the Territory ...

Campainger with placard - Australia stands with Muckaty

Appropriately, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags were raised outside the Court while this was going on:

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags at full mast

(although there was no breeze to display them better).

See also this Facebook page for a public meeting to be held on Thursday 5 June to discuss the case and future directions for the campaign against the waste dump.

March for Medicare – 30 May 2014

Something upwards of two thousand people of all ages assembled at the State Library to hear a succession of speakers condemn the Coalition Government’s attack on Medicare in its recent budget, before marching through the CBD to Federation Square. Jacob Grech, one of the organisers and a former member of Defend and Extend Medicare at the time of the Howard Government’s attempts to dismantle universal health care in Australia (see reports from the time here and here), recalled that the Federal Health Minister at that time was a certain Tony Abbott, and Catherine King, opposition spokesperson for health also commented that “[every] time the Liberals get into office, they try to destroy Medicare and this is the latest attack …”
The march down Swanston Street was timed for peak hour on a Friday, and the abnormally large police presence was possibly a reflection of safety concerns rather than an attempt to intimidate, although a post on the event Facebook page had reminded those planning to attend “that the Move on Laws (Summary Offences Amendments) were enacted several days ago”. Not that these amendments should impede lawful protest … Mainstream media covered the event, for example this report on the ABC – http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-05-30/thousands-rally-against-medicare-co-payment-plan-in-melbourne/5490836, but the most detailed reports are on YouTube – see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GvNbnVYcw5o, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MyBbZ-VHpTE, and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eu0eallhyt8 – all by LeftAndCorrect. The two clips posted here are intended to fill a gap, in the case of the speech by Catherine King, and extend coverage of the march itself.

One detail may need amplification: at the rally there was mention of the announcement by the Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service that they would refuse to charge the new $7 co-payment. This met with huge applause. See also http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/health-service-facing-budget-blackhole-by-not-charging-copayment–20140527-zrpb7.html and http://indymedia.org.au/2014/05/22/wgar-news-this-budget-could-devastate-indigenous-australians-mick-gooda-abc-the-drum.

Catherine King’s speech:

From the rally and march:

Extradite Adriana Rivas – National Day of Action 24 May 2014

Mark Dreyfus addressing the rally

Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus was among the speakers at a rally and speakout on the steps of the Victorian Parliament House on Saturday 24 May. The action was called to “[denounce] a Chilean criminal living in Australia” – Adriana Rivas [González], whose extradition is sought by the Chilean government to face ‘multiple charges of violent crime allegedly committed while she was serving under military dictator Augusto Pinochet’s brutal intelligence apparatus'(Foreign Correspondent, ABC TV March 25, 2014, see also SBS Radio – ‘The Other 9/11‘) Early next month he will present a petition to Federal Parliament calling on the government to ‘observe International protocols regarding people accused of committing Crimes against Humanity that are currently residing in Australia’- see http://chn.ge/P3NHkP .
As well as explaining the reasons for the action, speakers referred also to the matter of the appointment of James Sinclair as Chile’s new ambassador to Australia, something that will be the occasion of a protest at Parliament House on 4 June. Marisol Salinas, Friends of the Earth spokesperson Indigenous communities and Latin America, also addressed the repression of the Indigenous Mapuche people of Chile, something that has been the subject of posts on this site – see for example here, here, and here.

See also LASNET on Facebook, and website.

Marisol speaking

Marisol Salinas

Banners lined up on steps of Parliament House, Marisol speaking

Mark Dreyfus making a point

Another speaker

Banner - Australia Protects Human Rights Abusers but Rejects Asylum Seekers

Placard with photo of Adriana Rivas

Banner calling for release of political and Mapuche prisoners ...

The end of action was overtaken by a colourful and musical procession marking Vesak (the birth, passing and enlightenment of the Buddha) – http://www.unvesak.org/eventoverview.htm:

Buddhists passing in front of LASNET banner

Here are a few more photos from this procession:

Float with statues of Buddha

Another float

Line of Buddhist monks

Girl dancers

More dancers and musicians

Another part of the procession passes the rally

Bust the Budget – Rally and March in Melbourne, 18 May 2014

[Updated 21 May]
View over pat of crowd at State Library

Though called at only a few days’ notice, Melbourne’s rally and march in protest at the Coalition Government’s first budget attracted numbers rivalling the March in March: organisers claimed ten thousand during the initial rally rising to twenty-five thousand by the end at Federation Square. (Rallies in other cities were also large scale, for example ten thousand in Sydney and six thousand in Adelaide according to the ABC.) The format was traditional: speakers at the State Library, march down Swanston Street (though a departure from custom was the splitting up of the march at Bourke Street, with part continuing directly to Federation Square and part making a detour via the Mall and Elizabeth Street and back to Swanston via Collins Street) and final speakers at Federation Square. (For more information on the event, see the Facebook page).


At the State Library

Warm-up music was provided by Celine Yap. The list of speakers was a long one, here and again at Federation Square, and was increased by an unscheduled ‘intervention’ on the part of Indigenous activist and broadcaster Vivian Malo. Among those who spoke at the library were: Karen Pickering, feminist and organiser of Slutwalk Melbourne; Yorta Yorta man Jason Tamiru; ACTU President Ged Kearney (see also http://www.actu.org.au/Media/Mediareleases/AbbottGovernmenttearsapartAustralianwayoflife.aspx); Shaun Murray, Coal spokesperson with Friends of the Earth; Mohammad Ali Baqiri, a refugee who spent three years in detention (see http://umsu.unimelb.edu.au/a-second-chance-the-stories-of-fawad-ahmed-and-mohammad-ali-baqiri/); and Adam Bandt, Greens MHR for seat of Melbourne. MC was RRR presenter Richard Watts.

Others have posted video of some of these speeches on YouTube, for example:

Vivian Malo by Sean Bedlam – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gB8gY7WiDJY

Adam Bandt – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7WW4MsgdTp8&list=UUExNRjztVKtVu1CNzPpIFCQ

Celine Yap singing

Celine Yap with Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the wind”

Mohammad Ali Baqiri

Mohammad Ali Baqiri

 Karen Pickering

Karen Pickering

Adam Bandt speaking

Adam Bandt

Vivian Malo in front of Aboriginal flag

Vivian Malo

Jason Tamiru speaking

Jason Tamiru – “We’re at the bottom of the stack in this country”


Shaun Murray

Shaun Murray

Ged Kearney

Ged Kearney



On the march

Aboriginal flag leading march

Marching down Swanston Street

Senior citizen with placard demanding Abbott reurn his 'self-awarded bonus'

This marcher attracted much attention from photographers

Woman in shorts and placard with caption ' Abbott can kiss my perky lesbian ass'

As did this one


Musicians at the old City Centre

Busking against the Budget


(See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HnZtyOLTSuk)

Woman in climate action t-shirt hold leads of two dogs

Plenty of dogs on the march

Woman cradling dog

Even if some had to be carried

woman holding baby with mini-placard reading "Wah!!!"

As did some of the younger protesters

Young woman with placard of variant of classic "First they came for ..."

Bringing up the rear

At Federation Square

By the time marchers had assembled at Federation Square organisers felt able to announce a revised attendance figure of twenty-five thousand. Here there were more speakers, with Father Bob Maguire his usual self prominent in a list that included disability activist Jax Jacki Brown and NUS Education Officer Sarah Garnham, Operations Coordinator at Friends of the Earth Samantha Castro, Danae Bosler of Public Transport Not Traffic, broadcaster, writer, media maker and festival director Marcus Westbury, and Tamika Hicks, ALP candidate for Rowville. Rounding everything off was activist singer/songwriter Les Thomas, with a song specially written for occasion – caught here on YouTube.
Danae Bosler’s speech has also been posted to YouTube – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pf-JCjlEGNo and Tamika Hicks’ can be found here.

Jax Jacki Brown speaking from wheelchair

Disability activist and spoken word performer Jax Jacki Brown

Sarah Garnham speaking

NUS Education Officer Sarah Garnham

Father Bob pointing with his walking stick

Father Bob Maguire


(Father Bob amongst other things used the view over the river to the Eureka building to make a point he has made before about the symbolism of the gold panels at the top of the tower and the blood-red ribbon flowing down from them. See for example at 7min 30 in this video from the eve of the 2007 Federal Election – http://www.engagemedia.org/Members/pc/videos/23nov-eureka-engagemedia.avi)