4 Years too Long – Stop the Intervention – Melbourne, 21 June 2011

The Melbourne Anti-Intervention Collective (MAIC) organised a protest outside the office of FaHCSIA – the Department of Families, Health, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs to mark the fourth anniversary of the NT Intervention. The rally was one of a series being held across the country – see http://indymedia.org.au/4-year-anniversary-end-the-nt-intervention-rally – and was addressed by a number of speakers from MAIC (including Jasmine Ali, who wound up proceedings but is unfortunately not captioned in the video) and others taking advantage of the open mic.

See also:

http://stoptheintervention.org/facts/concerned-australians

http://www.stoptheintervention.org/

http://wgar.wordpress.com/2011/06/23/22062011-4th-anniversary-of-nt-intervention-website-exploring-an-alternative-to-the-nt-intervention/

http://indymedia.org.au/2011/06/23/fight-for-alternative-to-nt-intervention-comes-to-sydney

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.

International Women’s Day 2011 in Melbourne – 8 March (and Jenny Macklin picket)

Main banner - 'Pay up Now!'

Pay Justice Action, ‘a grassroots initiative of the Freedom Socialist Party‘ organised a rally and march to mark the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. At about the same time, Jenny Macklin, Minister for Indigenous Affairs, was due to address an IWD cocktail party at the Victorian Trades Hall …

The Melbourne Anti-Intervention Collective organised a snap picket of the Trades Hall event, taking the view that ‘the hypocrisy of the Minister of Indigenous Affairs speaking at this event, whilst administering a program that is continuing the oppression of Aboriginal women, is not something we can let go without criticism…and action!’, and some participants in the rally and march later joined them. A police detail ensured protesters were not able to enter the building, but they made their presence heard, and there was a confrontation when the Minister arrived. See further below.

MC at the rally was Alison Thorne, Public Sector unionist and member of the FSP, who began by acknowledging the First Peoples of Australia and especially the ‘long line of women Aboriginal leaders.’ Having outlined the history of the Day she handed the microphone to Debbie Brennan, also of the FSP and an ASU delegate, who took up the theme of equal pay for women, and its implications – the bottom would fall out of the profit system if big business had to pay for women’s at present unpaid work.

Alison Thorne speaking

Alison Thorne

Debbie Brennan speaking

Debbie Brennan

Jasmine Ali speaking

Jasmine Ali


Jasmine Ali of the Melbourne Anti-Intervention Collective spoke next, attacking the Basics Card (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s5nrW8sA6_Q) and particularly discrimination against Aboriginal women in the Northern Territory faced by the Intervention; she also read from an open letter sent to the Prime Minister from Indigenous women at the Defending Indigenous Rights Conference Alice Springs 6-9 July 2010:

Jasmine reading the letter

Reading the letter

Sally Goldner speaking

Sally Goldner

Last speaker before the march set off was Sally Goldner (see http://www.3cr.org.au/outofthepan), focussing on discrimination faced by transgender people, especially in the context of Centrelink, where absence of federal anti-discrimination legislation meant that outcomes were in effect a lottery dependent on the personal attitudes of staff.

More at the rally:

"Let the ruling classes tremble ..." banner at one of the stalls

At one of the stalls

Placards demanding equality for women in Iran

An Iranian contingent

Placard - Community sector wages stink!

One of many placards

The march set off down Swanston Street on its way to Parliament House, where there were to be more speakers…
Main banner at head of march

Behind the sound truck

In the meantime, at Trades Hall members and supporters of MAIC had been picketing the entrance and handing leaflets to people arriving for the cocktail party. As already mentioned, police were on hand to prevent any unauthorised entry, and protesters were forced to resort to chanting beneath the windows of the bar, but ironically after a while the party-goers were themselves forced out of the building by a fire alarm, and were then exposed directly to the protest. (It appears there was no actual fire, but a damaged sprinkler in the bookshop triggered the alarm, as well as causing considerable flooding in the basement.) Jenny Macklin herself had not arrived at this point, but was confronted when she did. Regrettably,there was no-one on hand with a camera at this stage.*

Picket at the entrance to Trades Hall

Copy of alcohol and pornography ban notice from NT

Closeup of one of the notices posted around the entrance

Handing leaflets to people arriving

Protesters shouting up to the open windows

Confronting the party-goers evacuated from the building

*A comment posted to Melbourne Indymedia describes what happened later, with some pointed observations on ‘the sorry state of the Australian union movement’ …

“Jobs with Justice, not Work for Rations” – Anti-Intervention rally 4 March 2011


Melbourne’s Anti-Intervention Collective organised a protest under the banner “Jobs with Justice, not Work for Rations”. After speeches at the State Library there was a march down Swanston Street to Federation Square, where the stage was occupied for more speakers and the formal handing over of a petition for delivery to the CFMEU in the NT…
From MAIC:

From MAIC:

The Melbourne anti-Intervention Collective (MAIC) and its supporters will rally Friday at 5pm at the State Library in opposition to the government’s racist intervention into Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory.

MAIC spokesperson Liam Byrne said, “We will march today to support Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory who have been calling for an end to the Northern Territory Intervention for more than three years now. The Northern Territory Intervention is a racist project that has resulted in an apartheid system of discrimination and disadvantage becoming entrenched in the heart of Australia. Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory have seen no genuine improvements in standards of health care, housing or education and have had their rights stripped away. In particular, under the Community Development Employment Project (CDEP) scheme, some Aboriginal people work for as little as $4 per hour, and quarantining of welfare payments has resulted in even greater levels of poverty and hardship for communities.

Liam Byrne continued, “Since the Northern Territory Intervention began, the gap between the rights and living standards of Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal Australians has widened. Julia Gillard’s recent attempt to blame Aboriginal people for this disparity is a disgrace and an example of just how low she is prepared to go to defend her government’s complicity in this racist attack on the rights of Aboriginal people. Gillards’s comments also opened the gates to the appalling racism of Mal Brough, who last week called for draconian detention camps to be built outside Alice Springs to incarcerate Aboriginal people.”

Friday’s rally will condemn Gillard’s racism and demand equal pay, jobs with justice and equal rights for Aboriginal people.

Signatures to a petition from the Construction Forestry and Mining Union, calling on the Labor government to pay Aboriginal workers award wages and back pay Aboriginal workers who have been exploited under the CDEP scheme, will be presented to union representatives.

Robbie Thorpe at the State Library

Robbie Thorpe at the State Library

Long-time Aboriginal activist Robbie Thorpe provided a ‘Welcome to Country’ on behalf of the Wurundjeri people, about whom he asked – Victoria was a heavily populated area, but where now are the Wurundjeri people? ‘As rare as hens’ teeth.’ He called on people to ‘grow up’. ‘Why don’t we the people write out own constitution … decide who governs us and how?’

MOJO representative speaking

MOJO speaker

An unscheduled speaker was a representative of MOJO, in Australia as a guest of the MUA ‘a union that believes in fighting for social justice and human rights’. He said amongst other things that Australia had once helped lead the way towards democracy – noting the Eureka stockade and votes for women -but cases like that of Mr Ward demonstrated that htis democracy was really only a sham. He was interrupted for a time by an angry heckler apparently objecting to his being allowed to speak, but was enthusiastically welcomed by the rest of the crowd. (Note – this speaker was originally incorrectly identified here as Gerry Conlon of the “Guildford Four”. Apologies for the misunderstanding.)

Tim Gooden at the State Library

Tim Gooden at the State Library

Tim Gooden from Geelong Trades Hall Council talked about the Basics Card. He had seen a sticker in the Safeways saying the card was accepted there, but doubted that anyone in Geelong would know what it was about. But he had been in the NT last year and could say that it only serves one purpose, that is, to control people. ‘It doesn’t help with health, it doesn’t help with wealth distribution … ‘ He cited the case of two young women down from the territory visiting in Geelong and finding that the Basics card wasn’t accepted anywhere, was useless. ‘This is in a country where most people think that we’re equal … that we have a safe and secure welfare system that looks after everyone’s basic rights … Aboriginal people in this country today, under Australian laws … are treated as second class citizens, and are treated like shit.’

Sue Pennicuik at the State Library

Sue Pennicuik at the State Library

Sue Pennicuik of the Greens – The greens have always opposed the Intervention and want to see the Racial Discrimination Act restored and an end to welfare quarantining. ‘These measures are unjust, they’re discriminatory, they’re offensive, and they don’t work.’

Liam Byrne at the State Library

Liam Byrne at the State Library

Liam Byrne of MAIC – amongst other things in a rousing speech before the march set off, highlighted the millions of dollars spent on housing in the territory without a single house being built, and the contrast between the huge amounts paid to bureaucrats and the $4 or so per day being paid to Indigenous workers….

Also at the rally:

CFMEU flag at the rally

CFMEU flag at the rally

The crowd listening to Gerry Conlon

The crowd listening to Gerry Conlon

… and on the march:

Musicians on the march

Musicians on the march

The march halted briefly at the intersection of Bourke and Swanston:

The march occupies the intersecttion for a sitdown

Sitdown at Bourke and Swanston

… where Jenna from the Tiwi Islands described her experiences with the Basics card in Melbourne – see also http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=alDnl_1I2OE

Jenna speaking at the sitdown

At Federation Square:

Crowd at Federation Square

Another view of crowd at Federation Square

Another view, from the stage

Madeline Hudson from Friends of the Earth talked about the planned imposition of a nuclear waste dump on the people of Muckaty, something she saw as paralleling the Intervention. ‘The National Radioactive Waste Management Bill overrides all fundamental tenets of our so-called democracy – the Aboriginal Heritage Act, the Environment Protection Biodiversity Act, and of course it overrides state and territory laws that oppose it … Like the Intervention it is blatantly racist.’ (Read more about the Muckaty waste dump on FoE’s ACE website

Madeline Hudson from FoE

Finally, Jasmine Ali from MAIC hands over to Jacob Grech a petition with thousands of signatures calling for justice for Aboriginal CDEP workers. He undertook to pass it on to the CFMEU Construction division in the NT for delivery to the Senate….

Handing over the petition

“Jobs with Justice” – Anti-Intervention Rally, 29 October 2010

Robbie Thorpe at the microphone

Robbie Thorpe

Rallies were held around Australia on Friday 29 October under the banner of ‘Jobs with Justice’ and an end to the Northern Territory Intervention (see http://jobswithjustice.wordpress.com/). The rally in Melbourne (see report on http://www.maicollective.blogspot.com/) ended with a sit-down at a major city intersection, bringing peak-hour traffic to a halt for over twenty minutes …

The rally began at the State Library, where Indigenous activist Sharon Firebrace introduced a series of speakers ranging from Gary Foley and Robbie Thorpe (pictured above) to Greens Federal MP Adam Bandt, Victorian Trades Hall President Kevin Bracken, Socialist Councillor Steve Jolly, David Glanz of the Melbourne Anti-Intervention Collective, Colombian unionist Parmenio Poveda, , NTEU Indigenous Coordinator Adam Frogley, and Wurundjeri elder Ringo Terrick, who delivered a Welcome to Country.
Organisers, the Melbourne Anti-Intervention Collective had good reason to be pleased with the turnout, estimated at around 500 at its peak, though as one speaker reminded the rally, there need to be vastly greater numbers on the streets if the aim of ending discrimination is to be achieved.

Links:

http://jobswithjustice.wordpress.com/

http://www.stoptheintervention.org/

http://www.maicollective.blogspot.com/

http://rollbacktheintervention.wordpress.com/

Photos from the rally and subsequent march and sit-down, mostly self-explanatory:

MAIC banner on statue at State Library

Socialist Party stall

Banner - If Sorry is what you mean, Dont' intervene

Part of the rally

Another view of rally

Ringo Terrick

Ringo

Adam Bandt speaking

Adam Bandt

Adam Bandt closeup

David Glanz speaking

David Glanz

Adam Frogley speaking

Adam Frogley

Adam Frogley close-up

Robbie Thorpe close-up

Robbie Thorpe

Parmenio Poveda of FENSUAGRO speaking

Parmenio Poveda

Steve Jolly speaking

Steve Jolly

Steve Jolly close-up

Kevin Bracken speaking

Kevin Bracken

Kevin Bracken close-up

Gary Foley speaking

Gary Foley

Gary Foley close-up

Banner and placards in the crowd

Banner leading the march - No Basics Card/Equal Rights/Workers Unite

The march down Swanston Street

Small dog on lead

Also on the march ...

Blocking the intersection

At Bourke and Swanston

The sit-down, another view

Another view

Another view of sit-down

As above

“Basics Card’s a Racist Card!” – Picket of FAHCSIA office in Melbourne, 18 June 2010

The Melbourne Anti-Intervention Collective (MAIC), along with unionists, indigenous activists and supporters, staged an emphatic protest last Friday at the Melbourne office of the Federal Department of Families, Housing, Community Services & Indigenous Affairs at Casselden Place. A range of speakers detailed the effects of the NT Intervention and the imposition of the so-called ‘Basics Card’ and a large-scale replica was ceremoniously burnt in the forecourt, before a march around the building, including a just-too-late attempt to enter through a back entrance. The above footage includes the preliminaries, the card-burning, and the march; there is more on the Facebook page of the Collective (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=91084301876&v=info&ref=ts) and further speeches are on their way.
See also:

For some workers, the struggle will never end
– Andra Jackson in The Age, and

http://maicollective.blogspot.com/

http://www.nuw.org.au/get-involved/campaigns/jobs-with-justice-campaign

Here is the callout from MAIC:

On June 18th we will protest the 3rd year of the Northern Territory Intervention. Kevin Rudd has continued and extended the Intervention policy towards Aboriginal people pushed through in the final days of the Howard era.

The Intervention was based upon the suspension of the Racial Discrimination Act (RDA), indicating the racist basis of the Intervention. Aboriginal Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin claims her new Intervention legislation is ‘reinstating the RDA’. This is a lie.

Under the new laws all of the racist Intervention policies introduced by Howard in 2007 will remain in place. Government measures to control Aboriginal communities include:

• Government Business Managers on Aboriginal communities
• Signing over Aboriginal land for 5-40 years before housing or services are offered
• Racist alcohol and pornography bans

People will not have access to the Racial Discrimination Act to challenge these measures.

Welfare quarantines will also remain compulsory for the vast majority of Aboriginal people currently on the system. This manages income spending from welfare payments through a ‘Basics Card’. A recent detailed research report by the Menzies School of Health found income management had no beneficial effect on tobacco and cigarette sales, soft drink or fruit and vegetable sales. Rather, income management has caused racially segregated queues in stores, forced movement of Aboriginal people into urban centres to access money on the Basics Card, and forced work for Basics Card money, harking back to the ‘rations days’.

Send a message at Fahcsia, government department responsible for administering the intervention, that this racist intervention must go!

More video (added 22June):

(Added 23 June):

[Added 29 June] There is now a fuller account of the protest on Melbourne Indymedia, including a link to Joanne Knight’s blog.