Friends of the Earth, Melbourne’s Anti-Nuclear and Clean Energy Collective (ACE) held a Nuclear Scumbags tour during a nation-wide week of protests in connection with the G20 summit in Brisbane – Plan B. The tour delivered citations to the offices of the Federal Government, Rio Tinto, the Future Fund, BHP Billiton, GHD Engineering, ending at RMIT, whose current chancellor, Ziggy Switkowski, received a lifetime award…
The full list of awards:
Australian Government: Radioactive Racism, Lies and Broken Promises
Rio Tinto / Energy Resources of Australia: Reluctant Rehabilitator
Future Fund: Bomb Bankrollers
BHP Billiton: Local Environmental Sustainability and Water Protection
GHD Engineering: Health and Safety at Maralinga
Ziggy Switkowski: Racist Scumbag Long Service Award
Some scenes from the tour:
There are more photos on the ACE Facebook page.
Melbourne led the way on a grand scale with an estimated turnout of 30,000 marchers. The event began at the State Library with music, dancing and speakers, including a welcome to country. The march down Swanston Street to the Treasury Gardens via Bourke Street seemed to go on for ever… More speakers and music at the gardens, as well as stalls representing a range of organisations. Reports have appeared on SBS and The Age. We are not in a position to add to these so this post must be restricted to photos, grouped under the rally, the march, and the end (though speeches and other activities were still in full swing when we left, about 1pm).
At the State Library:
On the march:
At the end:
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.)
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:
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.]
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 –
On the March –
Final rally at Parliament House (the rain that had held off until now prompted a quick unfurling of brollies) –
From the rally at Queen Victoria Gardens –
A selection of placards targeting Tony Abbott (some captured during the march)-
The March sets off –
From the March (rather few, but see forthcoming video for full coverage) –
A few more from the end –
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:
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:
Appropriately, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags were raised outside the Court while this was going on:
(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.