Popular Movements — plenty of seats, too few bums

Because of the best efforts of the organisers for Hiroshima Day 2010 in Brisbane there were plenty of plastic seats in Brisbane Square, but only a few people turned up to answer the call in the Press Release.

Those that did attend heard:

  1. Darambal Elder (Rockhampton/Shoalwater Bay) – Jeanette Yow Yeh speak about the Uranium waste dump at Muckaty Station in the Northern Territory,
  2. Peter Simpson Electrical Trades Union (ETU) explain his union’s opposition to Uranium mining, and
  3. Adrian (a Buddhist) saying that he had a stall dedicated to peace.

A video called ‘When the dust settles’ was shown to explain the decision by the QLD ETU to take a stand against the expanding uranium mining and nuclear power industries in Australia and around the world.

Democratic RightsThere is a difficulty for the popular movements against uranium mining and for nuclear disarmament to find support from decision makers in parliament. The objectives of the Hiroshima Day rally are supported by one or two parliamentarians but they seem unable to mobilise support in their own parties against uranium mining, to support indigenous objection to their lands being used for the disposal of nuclear waste (eg at Muckaty Station in the NT) and to refuse nuclear war ships entry into Australian waters and into Qld ports.

This inability to mobilise was reflected in the small march around the central Brisbane city block on Hiroshima day in Brisbane. The small size of the march was despite it being unimpeded by police — unlike in 1978 when thousands were arrested for doing the same thing.

Under the leadership of Senator George Georges the extra-parliamentary democratic rights movement defeated the ban on street marches on Hiroshima Day, 5 August, 1979 when police finally granted permits in four provincial cities (though they still refused one in Brisbane). Four days later, however, a permit was granted for a Brisbane Nagasaki Day protest march.

The socialist movement is at weakest point in Australia at a time when the gap between rich and poor is growing, the greatest damage is being done to the environment and global conflict is spreading.

1978 anti-uranium demonstration
Anti-uranium demonstration 1978, King George Square, Brisbane.

For more information on the Rally contact:
Rally for Peace and Nuclear Disarmament, Joan Shears: (07) 3358 9497

For more information or comment on Australia’s nuclear situation:

Friends of the Earth Brisbane Anti-Nuclear Collective,
Robin Taubenfeld: 0411 118 737

Thanks to the organisers, speakers and sound man on the day,

Ian Curr
August 2010

2 thoughts on “Popular Movements — plenty of seats, too few bums

  1. It is disappointing that, while the nuclear threat is in fact growing, anti-nuclear marches are not attended as they were in the past.
    However, this need not mean that people don’t care any more. In a Lowy Institute poll in October 2009, 75 per cent of Australians agreed that global nuclear disarmament should be a top priority for the Australian government.

    Methods of communication and expression are changing. I believe that there’s nothing more powerful than direct action – out in the streets.
    Still, the rise of the Internet has brought about another way for interest and expression against the dirty and dangerous uranium and nuclear industries.
    Australia’s leaders might get a surprise as websites such as this one spread the word, in a different way, and public awareness grows, despite the silence of politicians and the mainstream media.

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