Save the Sacred Fire in Musgrave Park!

"That relationship between (us) and that tree 
and that water 
is what gives us our respect, 
the law has been given us by the spirit...
it is a law of sharing and caring 
it is a law of respect, 
a law of love"

— Judulu Neale from Yarrabah

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Centuries of dispossession.
The history of the world is that of dispossession.
Over 2 centuries ago the colonisers came and dispossessed all the tribes that make up aboriginal Australia.
No one owns Australia.
Aboriginal people managed Australia for millennia.

This is aboriginal land.
It is not owned in the capitalist sense. The capitalists want to take the resources out of the land; no one really owns anything because we come and go, life and death.

So the capitalists turned up and took all the resources and told workers that they don’t own anything but could work for wages.They stole from the first nation people, they stole from workers who produce our wealth (apart from the wealth produced by the natural world).

The capitalists forced Aborigines  to work for nothing. If the capitalists sack you, you have nothing; if they take aboriginal land, the tribes that managed the land are left with crumbs. This is how they buy people off.

Alderman Quirk, hardhat-wearing, pumped-up pretender swaggers to the tent embassy , sees it as a danger to the society (of greed) and tells police and council workers to pull it down.

Alderman Quirk has learnt how to stamp out the fire of our resistance.
He seeks the assistance of elders.
Only three step forward.
How do people become elders?

It is out of their behaviour and strength – it is not something conferred on them by right – Alderman Quirk can’t say to the tent embassy people the elders want to get rid you, so that’s it. The sovereign embassy has 40 years of standing up to white authority behind it. That fire can’t be put out, because it lives in all of us, young and old. And we need that fire, we need to resist.

So council workers clean-up the tent embassy site and call in the police. Their union should say to them: how does putting out the fire fit your job description? OK, if the council workers don’t do as they are told they will lose their jobs. We all know that – but the union has to stick for the workers and stop that from happening, that’s the union’s job.

Police bring in vans and harass people in the park.

We turn up with more wood.

Boe starts up the sacred fire again, as his ancestors have done. We wait. People arrive. We have spent the day bringing wood  despite a fatal accident on the Western Freeway. The western suburbs are all locked up – traffic chaos. Later the cops pounce on Boe; and when Coco and Hamish try to defend the sacred fire, they too are arrested. They are all charged with ‘contravene direction or requirement’ under the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000 791 (2). The bail condition is that they shall not attend Musgrave Park  and, if they do, they will commit an offence that is punishable by fine or imprisonment. They are to appear in court again on 8 January 2013.

As soon as we try to return home, having just turned out of Musgrave Park  into Cordelia Street, the cops are on us. The car and trailer that delivered the wood that feeds the fire is pounced upon by police. They breathalyse the driver who says  that I have never had a test like this before – the policewoman from West End says it is just like blowing out candles from a birthday cake.

Quirk calls in the fire-brigade who blow out the sacred fire as if it were a birthday cake – such disrespect!

What is to follow?

Throwing off our chains
We should stop these centuries of oppression, we should resist the dispossession, we can overcome the years of slavery in our work.

It is around the fire in the park is where we make our decisions – they can’t be made for us by men in high towers.

The children in the picture are from the (Gadha Gudjaargaha Yuin Salt Water Children Dance Group). They performed for their local Sandon Point Tent Embassy outside of Sydney a kilometer from a place called Bulli. They are from the Yuin nation. Brendon Qu

Call to workers, to unions
This is a call to workers and their organisations. Do not participate in this shameful act of dispossession – ask yourselves what job description as council officer, as fireman, as social worker says that you must assist is taking Musgrave Park from people who have always lived there and for whom it is a sacred place where all tribes come together.

Save the fire; save Musgrave Park! Come and join the resistance at the sovereign tent embassy.

Come down to Musgrave Park – help the tent embassy live again.
They’ll never put out the fire! And if they do, we’ll start it up again.

Ian Curr

8 thoughts on “Save the Sacred Fire in Musgrave Park!

  1. Brisbane Blacks TV says:


  2. jen williams says:

    well written

    I was supporting tent embassy, but on the opinion of elders that are no longer supportin i too stopped
    I am little confused now!
    However, i do feel that there were some issues arising that shouldnt be happening.
    I truly believe the land is aboriginal land and grave atrocities occurred to them and is still happening.

  3. Today (13 Dec 2012) I went to the Tent Embassy with the political objective of supporting the sovereignty movement.

    This movement has a cogent political argument for sovereignty by Australia’s first nations people. I support this in the form of the struggle for land rights and for self determination. I have done so for over 40 years – since the 1971 protests against the racist Springbok tour that saw the Bjelke-Petersen government supporting South African Apartheid.

    A meeting of over 30 people had decided the day previous (Wednesday 12 Dec 2012) to continue the struggle and to defend the fire.
    The fire brigade had come out the night before and extinguished the fire and the police arrested 3 people defending the fire. The Brisbane City Council had come earlier today on three occasions to put out the sacred fire. Skeptics on the sidelines should take heed of the democratic nature in which the Sovereign Tent Embassy has conducted itself.

    So I re-lit the sacred fire in Musgrave Park today. A senior man from Yarrabah community, Judulu Neale, was present. I had heard him speak about sovereignty at first sovereign rights conference at the State Library of Qld only one week before. Judulu supported what I did and he told me that. The sacred fire unites all the tribes, blackfella and whitefella. What I did was consistent with what I have done for the past 40 years and I have expressed my reasons for this in the article above.

    So what was Mayor Quirk’s answer? His officers issued me with a $200 fine for ‘lighting a fire in the open air/incinerator’ something people have been doing since human beings learnt the use of fire. I lit the fire safely and the council officers present did not suggest I had done otherwise. When the Council officers put out the fire I was upset and called the officers ‘scabs’. I have attended many union meetings in Musgrave Park over the years and remember fondly when May Day was celebrated in Musgrave Park. After the fire had been extinguished someone else took up the struggle and re-lit the fire. I understand that on that day alone this process has been repeated 6 times. People do not wish the council to extinguish the sacred fire.

    The civil authorities have no conception of what Sovereignty means. They have no respect for the political struggle for democratic rights that many thousands have been part of in this state. The Brisbane City Council and their officers have lost their way in this political struggle. What they did today and the other night was ludicrous. If any of the people supporting the taking down of the tent embassy had been there today, and seen the stupidity of the Council’s decision to put out the fire and the dis-respect they have shown to people there, surely they would see that they have to support the struggle for political rights here so that we can change this society built on petty greed.

    I support the Sovereign Rights movement and the struggle for land rights for aboriginal people.

    btw, i have been at the Sovereign Tent embassy when it has been visited by representatives of socialist parties and government’s in Central and South America. For example the Cuban government had a representative visit the tent embassy. The Cuban representative had been conducting a literacy campaign in central Australia … the sovereign tent embassy is not an isolated political movement, it has the active encouragement and support of political organisations who are struggling against poverty, illiteracy, and repression in other parts of the world.

    in solidarity,
    Ian Curr
    13 Dec 2012

    PS I will be fighting the infringement notice I received today.

  4. Coco Wharton's speech at Sovereignty conference says:


  5. RALLY AND MARCH to Town Hall says:

    RALLY AND MARCH to Town Hall.

    GATHER: Friday December 14, 12 noon at the Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy, Musgrave Park.

    We are calling for the sacking of Lord Mayor Graham Quirk and an immediate investigation into the unethical and illegal actions of Brisbane City Council officers in attempting to close down the Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy and the desecration of the sacred fire.

  6. Coco Wharton speaks from Exile says:

    Coco Wharton and two others, Boe and Hamish, were arrested at midnight on Tuesday 11 Dec 2012 defending the sacred fire.

    A condition of their bail was that they could not return to Musgrave Park under threat of imprisonment. The Gvoernment and municipal authorities have denied these three civil and political rights.

    So Coco Wharton spoke from exile from across the road to people gathered in Musgrave park to defend the sacred fire. This is what Coco had to say.

    LISTEN here …

  7. Brisbane City Council puts out Sacred Fire says:


  8. Pingback: Michael Anderson’s urgent letter to United Nations Ambassadors, New York: Sovereign Union « WGAR

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