MAIC Protest at book launch by Andrew Bolt – 2 May 2011

The Melbourne Anti-intervention Collective (MAIC) called a snap protest on Monday 2 May outside the Celtic Club on Queens Street, where Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt was due to launch a book by academic Gary Johns entitled ‘Aboriginal Self-Determination: The Whiteman’s Dream’. As the callout puts it, they will be :

…openly calling for the destruction of Aboriginal culture and Aboriginal collective identity… Johns argues that Aboriginal culture should be ‘relegated to museums and occasional ceremonies’. He argues that Aboriginal communities should be dispersed and individuals should be forced to chase ‘market opportunities’.

On the contrary, protesters argued that the policies of assimilation and destruction of Aboriginal culture have been tried in the past and have failed, as also ‘[the] evidence mounts of the total failure of the NT Intervention.’

‘… we have seen efforts to destroy Aboriginal communities and culture before. From massacres to missions, from stolen generation right through to the NT Intervention – these area the policies that have created disadvantage and social disfunction – not the as-yet untested policy of self-determination, or Aboriginal culture.’

In spite of the short notice about thirty protesters picketed the main entrance, which management elected to close, while others handed out leaflets at the bar door, which remained open. There did not seem to be a very large attendance at the function, if the numbers arriving at either of these points were any guide. Various members of the Collective took turns at the megaphone, including MC Lucy Honan and Indigenous activist Robbie Thorpe. Extracts of the speeches and interactions with guests arriving for the function can be seen in the YouTube video embedded above.

National Day of Protest against the NT Intervention – 13 February 2010

Placard condemning the intervention

Placard outside MAYSAR

The 2nd anniversary of Kevin Rudd’s apology to the Stolen Generation saw protests in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Alice Springs against the continuing discrimination against Aboriginal People epitomised by the invasion of the Northern Territory under the name of ‘intervention’. Around 300 turned out in Melbourne for a rally starting at the MAYSAR Sport and Recreation Centre in Gertrude Street before marching through the streets to end on the steps of Parliament House. Earlier in the day there was a protest at the Canadian Consulate against the dispossession of First Nations and the holding of the Winter Olympics on stolen land – see report here – which also has photos from the NT protest. After the rally at Parliament House there was a further event at Federation Square – Woorrbadinda – Sorry… It’s just the first step – see the Songlines website. And to round off the day, there was Liberation Bound, Live Hip Hop and Reggae to raise money for the Melbourne Anti-Intervention Collective and the Ampilatwatja Walk Off

The placard above sums up the issues and demands, but for extensive background resources see the website of the Working Group for Aboriginal Rights (Australia) – WGAR.

This is how the demands were set out in the callout:

-Reinstate the Racial Discrimination Act
-End Paternalism
-Stop Welfare Quarantining
-Houses and Services for all Aboriginal Communities
-No Strings Attached

sharon Firebrace

This is what we are bringing attention to today, that Aboriginal people are not treated equally like all other Australians ...


MC for the rally was Indigenous activist Sharon Firebrace, who introduced a series of speakers beginning with Uncle Bob Randall, Yankunytjatjara elder from Uluru with firsthand knowledge of the Intervention (and author of the ‘anthem of the Stolen Generations’ “Brown Skin Baby”.

Uncle Bob Randall speaking in Gertrude Street

Uncle Bob Randall speaking in Gertrude Street

Videos of the march and some of the speeches have been posted to YouTube (see end of this post) and the remaining speeches are scheduled to appear on EngageMedia shortly.

Other speakers at this part of proceedings were Adam Bandt, Greens Senate candidate:

Adam Bandt speaking at Gertrude Street

Adam Bandt speaking at Gertrude Street

Lucy Honan, representing the Melbourne Anti-Intervention Collective, organisers of the rally:

Lucy Honan speaking at Gertrude Street

Lucy Honan speaking at Gertrude Street

and Steve Jolly, Socialist member of Yarra City Council, who spoke about the local version of the Intervention, Local Law 8:

Steve Jolly speaking at the initial rally

Steve Jolly speaking at the initial rally

As noted above, MP3s of all these speeches should soon be available on Melbourne Indymedia. Video may take a few days more.

There followed a march through part of the CBD, ending with more speakers at Parliament House, including a second chance to hear Uncle Bob Randall, along with well-known local activist Robbie Thorpe and Tim Gooden, just returned from the house building at the Ampilawatja protest camp (see report in Green Left Weekly):

On the march

On the march - 1

On the march

On the march - 2

On the march

On the march - 3

On the march

On the march - 4

Robbie Thorpe behind the sound truck

Robbie and Sharon took turns at the PA on the route

Bob Randall in cabin of ute

While Uncle Bob, at 82, was surely entitled to a lift

A few more flags and banners on the march:

Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group

Eureka flags

Freedom Socialist Party

No Olympics on Native Lands

Anarchist red and black flags

These speeches are now available on EngageMedia:

Robbie Thorpe

Adam Bandt

Steve Jolly

Tim Gooden’s speech is still in the pipeline…

Added 23 Feb: Tim Gooden