Protest at BHP Billiton AGM, Melbourne Conventions Centre, 17 November 2011

Protesters line up with banners and placards at entrance

Traditional owners and environmentalists descended on the Melbourne Convention Centre for the BHP Billiton AGM. Using proxies, some twenty Aboriginal elders and supporters gained access to the meeting, while others held a protest outside. Friends of the Earth and a collective of environment groups had prepared an ‘alternative’ annual report for the world’s biggest mining company, and copies were handed to shareholders – see BHP Billiton Watch where the report is available for download. The protest, against a backdrop of a giant inflatable radioactive waste drum and Mr Death puppet, was joined by members of Japanese for Peace, and was enlivened by music from the Radical Choir, hip-hop activists MC Ollie and Izzy, plus a visit from No Nuke Calamity Jane (aka Madeline Hudson):

Inflatable radioactive waste barrel
Tomohiro Matsuoka and JFP placard
JFP poster
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Members of the Radical Choir
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Another shot of members of the choir
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The Radical Choir singing beside the barrel
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Izzy

MC Ollie
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Madeline Hudson as No Nukes Calamity Jane
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Occupy Melbourne banner in foreground, Ollie and Izzy plus Mr Death puppet
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Same as preceding
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Mr Death puppet lying on back
Mr Death puppet with JFP placard
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Members of Japanese for Peace next to barrel
Member of JFP with anti-BHP placard

Elders gathering before entering the Centre:
Some of the elders with Kimberley defender Rodney Augustine
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As previous
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Cat Beaton from the Environment Centre NT with elders
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Arabunna elder Peter Watts
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Lining up for the cameras before going in:
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Elders and protesters with placard - Greed unlimited
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Elders, placards read Human Rights are not for sale
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Heading in:
Group of elders and supporters heading for main entrance
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Security at the immediate entrances to the Convention Centre was strict, though the initial strong police presence soon dwindled, and papers were carefully checked before some people were allowed in; others were apparently exempt from this…
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Uncle Kevin’s credentials checked:
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Uncle Kevin shows his papers to police at door
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Same for Peter Watts:
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Peter Watts checked by police at entrance

By contrast:

Delegates in suits ushered in unchecked
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……

It was mid-afternoon before the elders and supporters re-emerged:
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Some of the elders returning to the protest

Though Uncle Kevin and a few others had left earlier:Tully McIntyre of FoE and Tomohiro Matsuoka of JFP gave reports on what had been happening, followed by Uncle Kevin Buzzacott:

By all accounts reception of the traditional owners’ concerns was rude and dismissive, and this applied also to a visitor from Chile, Cristian Milla Curiñanco, here at the invitation of LASNET, who attempted to raise the matter of BHP Billiton’s record in his country (see video at end of this report).
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More photos from the protest:
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bhp billions banner
Cristian, Peter Watts end others with LASNET banner
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Assembled protesters
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Protester in 'protective suit' with danger signs
Notice from police
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Chalked message on pavement - ends Listen to Uncle Kev
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More of Uncle Kevin:
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Uncle Kevin speaking
Same
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With LASNET banner
With Aborginal flag
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Protesters and elders line up at the end:
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Lineup in front of barrel
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Elders and international representatives with flags and banners before barrel
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The previous evening, Friends of the Earth’s ACE Collective organised a public forum at Trades Hall with traditional owners and campaigners including Dave Sweeney of ACF and Mia Pepper from CCWA - see details on Facebook for this event. The forum was recorded and extracts are in preparation. The following is an address by Chilean activist Cristian Milla Curiñanco, who spoke in Spanish, here interpreted by Lucho Riquelme of LASNET:

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Another speaker was Arrernte activist, artist and writer Mitch from Alice Springs:
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Darcy Harris from Western Australia:
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Mia Pepper from the Conservation Council of Western Australia (CCWA) spoke about what has been happening in Western Australia and introduced the new BHP Alternative Annual Report, which was due to be distributed to shareholders at the AGM next day:

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.