Queensland Uncut Community Alliance Rally

The first Queensland Uncut Community Alliance rally was held last night, 23 Aug 2012.

The following account of the rally and march was written by journo, bridie jabour who works for Brisbane Times (FairFax).

5.25pm: As the rally began after 5pm, the crowd was relatively quiet as they listened to University of Queensland professor John Quiggin speak about the state of Queensland’s finances.

“While it’s certainly not as bad as the Commission of Audit made out, it’s not as rosy as either party made out before the election,” he said.

Professor Quiggin said Queenslanders needed to have a real discussion about whether the state want to be a low tax state and give up the benefits reaped from taxing certain things.

“The only way to stop the government cuts is to put fear in the government, fear the honeymoon is over and we are heading for a quickie divorce,” he said.

5.35pm: Together union assistant state secretary Julie Bignell then addressed the crowd.

Ms Bignell began by saying she was angrier this evening than she had been this morning after public service workers ”were compared to poop”, a reference to Premier Campbell Newman’s ”pooper scooper” remark in parliament today.

“I tell you where the stench is coming from, George Street,” she said.

Ms Bignell said the union had lodged more than 600 applications for protected action and would start striking very soon.

She told the crowd $500,000 worth of advertising against the state government’s cuts would begin next week, and encouraged the crowd to join a protest march on September 12, the day after the state budget is due to be handed down.

“Are you going to bring your friends?” she asked.

“Are you going to ring your neighbours?

“Are you going to bring your kids?”

The crowd yelled “Yes” to every question.

5.39pm: Jess Payne from Equal Love is now making a passionate speech to the crowd.

She said the state government was a government for the wealth and that attitude went hand-in-hand with discrimatory against minority groups.

Ms Payne criticised the state government’s move to ban protests in the public gallery, saying “This is what a police state looks like”.

The crowd is now practicing chants:

“No ifs, no buts, no cuts.”

“Services? Yes! Cutbacks? No! The razor gang has got to go.”

5.45pm: The protest turned into Edward Street before protesters sat down at the corner of Edward and Queen streets, chanting ”They say cutback, we say fight back”.

5.54pm: The crowd is on the march again down Edward Street after sitting at the intersection for ten minutes. It’s now turning into Charlotte Street.

6.08pm: Protesters are nearing Parliament House, having turned into George Street.
As the march progressed past the Executive Building at 100 George Street, a few staff in the building could be seen watching from the windows.

Bagpipers are leading the rally.

6.10pm: The chants from the protesters can be heard inside Queensland Parliament as MPs continue to debate the public service bill.

Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie tries to link the crowd to Labor MP Jackie Trad, saying “the Member for South Brisbane’s Socialist Alliance” has turned up outside.

It is not the first time Mr Bleijie has said this. Earlier, during the debate, Mr Bleijie interjected when the opposition mentioned the protesters who would be coming this evening.

“The Socialist Alliance are coming tonight,” Mr Bleijie interjected.

Another LNP MP said: “The Bolsheviks.”

6.11pm: The rally has arrived at Parliament House.

6.21pm: One of the organisers of the rally has taken to the microphone, saying: “I hope somebody has taken a photo of this.

“It’s not every day you have community sector workers and their supporters gather on the steps of parliament house but I have a feeling it won’t be the last.”

6.34pm: Mr Bartlett spoke about the government’s decisions to cut funding to community groups who helped the disadvantaged, such as Sisters Inside, saying it did not make economic sense.

Andrew Bartlett then addressed the crowd saying The Greens would work with everyone affected by the cuts.

“And that means everyone in Queensland,” he said.

He called Premier Campbell Newman a “downright liar” and the crowd cheered.

Mr Bartlett said: “There is extra responsibly on us in the community, not only to have our voices heard but speak for those who can’t … and community groups have been silenced by the government and told their funding is dependent on not speaking out.”

“The myth I would like to puncture is that this mob have any economic nous,” he said.

“It’s going to cost more money with more people going into jail … they are cutting first and thinking later.”

He ended his speech with, “Well done for turning out tonight and keep up the fight,” as the crowd chanted “Campbell Newman, LNP, hands off our community”.

6.40pm: Jackie Trad, the Labor MP who replaced Anna Bligh in the seat of South Brisbane, has emerged from Parliament House to address the crowd.

She was greeted with cheers and started her speech by asking the crowd if they knew what grace, humility and dignity were.

She then went on to accuse Mr Newman of governing without the three qualities.

“One would have thought with such a massive majority they could have shown a little compassion,” she said.

“But they line up to attack Queensland’s most marginalised, disadvantaged and poor.”

Ms Trad then moved on to the government’s focus on growing a ”four pillar economy”, calling it “rubbish”.

“Where do you see the community in the four pillar economy,” she said.

“This is a government who does not believe the economy is there to serve the community, they believe the community is there to serve the economy.”

Ms Trad then spoke about events in parliament, today saying LNP MPs had called the protesters a “rent-a-crowd, to say you are not legitimate”.

6.50pm: Trish Ferrier from the Coalition of Community Boards is now speaking to the crowd, saying what she sees is an incredible amount of waste.

“Community organisations who have been around for 30, 40 years, it does not make economic sense for them to be shutting their doors,” she said.

“I say that is waste.”

“I say to the government we want to talk to you, we want to survive, we want to be here working for our communities,” she said.

“And with all of your support we will survive.”

6.52pm: Penny Carr of the Tenants’ Union of Queensland is the last speaker of the protest.

She is advocating for more public housing and calls it a “core government responsibility” to deliver social housing.

She slams government cuts to tenent and social housing to shouts of “shame” from the crowd.

“Our service, the tenent union, we have a high quality service delivery and around 90 workers are going to lose their jobs,” she said.

Ms Carr called for funding for the Tenant Advice and Advocacy Service to be reinstated and ended with a call for the crowd to help fight for it.

The crowd then began to chant ”Come out Campbell, come out” in an attempt to draw the Premier outside.

“Well, I think you are legitimate,” she said.

“This is a government who did not come in to govern for all Queenslanders, they came in to govern for a few.”

Ms Trad ended her speech with telling the crowd to “keep campaigning”.

Sisters Inside CEO Debbie Kilroy then adressed the crowd, saying the LNP in their “castle” were allowing mining companies to make money by digging up Aboriginal land.

“[The government] are out to line their pockets and the pockets of their friends,” she said.

Click to go to YouTube of Rally and March

“They don’t care about the disadvantaged.

“Mr Newman, have fun with your axe and your slashing because in two and a half years we will take our axe to you,” she said.

“We are Queenslanders, we don’t support misery we support each other.”

The protest has now swelled to between 400 and 500 people.

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