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
Members of the Radical Choir
Another shot of members of the choir
The Radical Choir singing beside the barrel

MC Ollie
Madeline Hudson as No Nukes Calamity Jane
Occupy Melbourne banner in foreground, Ollie and Izzy plus Mr Death puppet
Same as preceding
Mr Death puppet lying on back
Mr Death puppet with JFP placard
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
As previous
Cat Beaton from the Environment Centre NT with elders
Arabunna elder Peter Watts
Lining up for the cameras before going in:
Elders and protesters with placard - Greed unlimited
Elders, placards read Human Rights are not for sale
Heading in:
Group of elders and supporters heading for main entrance
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…
Uncle Kevin’s credentials checked:
Uncle Kevin shows his papers to police at door
Same for Peter Watts:
Peter Watts checked by police at entrance

By contrast:

Delegates in suits ushered in unchecked

It was mid-afternoon before the elders and supporters re-emerged:
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).
More photos from the protest:
bhp billions banner
Cristian, Peter Watts end others with LASNET banner
Assembled protesters
Protester in 'protective suit' with danger signs
Notice from police
Chalked message on pavement - ends Listen to Uncle Kev
More of Uncle Kevin:
Uncle Kevin speaking
With LASNET banner
With Aborginal flag
Protesters and elders line up at the end:
Lineup in front of barrel
Elders and international representatives with flags and banners before barrel

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:


Another speaker was Arrernte activist, artist and writer Mitch from Alice Springs:

Darcy Harris from Western Australia:

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:


Put a Price on Pollution – rally 12 March 2011

With a crowd of up to eight thousand answering the call from GetUp for a counter-protest to match the ‘people’s revolt’ advocated by climate deniers led by Tony Abbott* and backed by assorted right-wing radio shock-jocks, there was no real contest: estimates of the turnout at Julia Gillard’s electorate office in Werribee ranged from two to four hundred …

The response in Melbourne apparently went beyond the organisers’ expectations, and the sound system hardly reached to the middle, let alone the back of the crowd.The speakers, for those who could hear them, were Dave Sweeney of the Australian Conservation Foundation, who was also MC, Ged Kearney, President of the ACTU, Lucy Manne of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, and Simon Sheikh, National Director of the GetUp team. Music was provided by Skylines.

The crowd ranged from almost newborn to elderly, drawn from a range of groups and organisations as well as concerned individuals, many of whom brought their own placards and props; there were also plenty to borrow for the occasion.

The photos mostly speak for themselves. There is a brief report on Melbourne Indymedia, even briefer ones on ACF online and the AYCC Facebook page, and the Sydney Morning Herald carried a report on the day. Worth a look also is the ACTU position on jobs and climate change – – which gives the gist of Ged Kearney’s speech at the rally.

Here is the callout from GetUp:

Right wing shock jock Chris Smith said last week on MTR radio: “I’ll do my best on a daily basis to spread the word”. We don’t have a radio network to promote our rally, but GetUp members have proved before that, when it counts, we’re willing to publicly show how much we care about clean energy & climate action.

Click here to RSVP

I was in Canberra last week and almost every politician and journalist I met with talked to me about the anti-climate action rallies. They’re spooked. I assured them that the campaign for climate action was just as strong — and now, we need to demonstrate this.

That’s why it’s so important we join together for a few hours this Saturday March 12 — not to have a louder, angrier rally, but to show the difference in both size and tone. While they’re shouting their angry slogans and misinformation, on the other side of Melbourne we’ll hold a positive, family-friendly gathering to stand up for our vision for clean energy and preserving a safe climate for our kids.

With your help, we’ll prove there are more of us than there are of them and in doing so we’ll make a powerful statement.

See you this Saturday.

Simon Sheikh
National Director
for the GetUp team

Simon Sheikh speaking

Simon Sheikh of GetUp

To which Environment Victoria added:

Right now, Australia’s climate deniers, right-wing shock jocks and big polluters are jumping on board the Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s scare campaign against a price on carbon.
They’re trying to stop action on climate change by frightening people with misinformation and scaremongering. And they’re planning anti-carbon tax rallies across the country – starting this weekend – to frighten our politicians into further delay.
We can’t allow them to get away with this unchallenged. It’s time for us to draw a line in the sand, and show our politicians and the general public just how strong support really is for climate action, clean energy and a price on pollution.
If ever there was a time to take a stand, it’s now.
Join us this Saturday along with supporters including GetUp, the Australian Conservation Foundation and the Australian Youth Climate Coalition to send a message loud and clear that Australians want climate action and a strong price on pollution now.

*Several Tony Abbott clones in budgie smugglers invaded the rally at one point – see photos below

Dave Sweeney speaking

Dave Sweeney of the ACF

Ged Kearney speaking

Ged Kearney of the ACTU

Lucy Manne speaking

Lucy Manne of AYCC



Protestor with placards - 'Grow Up Mr Abbott'
'No More Mindless Opposition'
Placard - 'Denialist Shock Jocks Don't Speak for Me'
Anti-Hazelwood windmill

Code Red Climate Emergency banner

Modified 'Age of Stupid' poster with head of Tony AbbottVegan banners

Banner - 'We [heart] Climate Action'DogAnother dog

Woman with small children listening to speeches

Children with banner - 'Country kids want action!'

Photo of child - 'His Future - Climate Action'Greenpeace placard on pole beneath No standing sign - Ministerial Vehicles Excepted

Tony Abbott clones invade the rally

Tony Abbott clone with placard - 'Libs 4 Famine Fire + Flood'

Because of the location it was hard to capture an image of the whole rally at once, so here are several shots that taken together may give an idea:

Overview 1Overview 2

Overview 3

Overview 4

Overview 4
The rally spilled over on to the adjoining park:

Children in park with banner - 'Fossil Fuels are for Fossils'

Woman in crowd arriving - placard reads 'I'm supporting the carbon tax because I actually care about out planet and our kids' future'

People signing a petition at one of several stallsPlacards for renewables and against coal

'Ladies for Low Carbs' ...

Turtles against Climate Change ...

Delivering ‘No Dump’ petition to Martin Ferguson’s office – 18 November 2010

Dave Sweeney holds petition with other campaigners alongside trailer

Since the Australian Conservation Foundation launched its campaign against the proposed nuclear waste dump at Muckaty in the Northern Territory some 2700 signatures have been collected on the ‘Dump the Dump’ petition. (See also report on this site for 26 July 2010.) Today, Dave Sweeney, ACF nuclear free campaigner, went to Energy and Resources Minister Martin Ferguson’s office to deliver the petition, accompanied by anti-nuclear activists including members of Friends of the Earth ACE collective, who brought a trailer loaded with drums of ‘radioactive waste’ to highlight the message. (See also Nuclear Freeways.)

The office was locked down, as seems to be the way when concerned citizens want to make contact with their Member of Parliament, and it took the good offices of a police officer to get the door opened. Even then only two people were admitted, and the door hastily closed to prevent others from following. There was also an elderly gentleman who arrived on some business to find the door locked, but he was informed his was a matter for the State member and redirected accordingly. It was not clear what would have happened otherwise. After a short while the two re-emerged, along with the accompanying police office, in proud possession of a hand-written receipt for the petition ‘addressed to Martin Ferguson’. Various plain-clothes AFP and others arrived in the meantime, but this also seems to be the way where Minister Ferguson is concerned…

Dave Sweeney poses with petition

Dave Sweeney poses with petition

Elderly gentleman tries to get in

Elderly gentleman tries to get in

Policeman tries to get him allowed in

Police come to his aid

Elderly gentleman, Dave Sweeney and police officer waiting outside


Going in, folowed by police officer

Two are allowed in...

Staffer blocks entry

But only two ...

Staffer reaches across to close door. Dave Sweeney holds up petition inside office.

And no more.

They re-emerge, Dave Sweeney holding receipt

Out again...

Closeup of receipt

The receipt

Dave Sweeney and children pose on trailor

Posing for a few closing pics...