Daily Archives: November 1, 2014

Brisbane’s G20 Protesters Want The World’s Attention Not It’s Leaders

by Laura Castro

Boe and Callum from Brisbane Blacks in Musgrave park

Brisbane Blacks & Aboriginal Embassy
In less than a month 20 representatives from the biggest economies of the world will meet in Brisbane. The summit is set to bring Queensland and Australia into the world’s spotlight—at least it will if Tony Abbott makes good on his President Putin shirtfront declaration. However, we won’t see much of what is really happening in the meetings as they are not open to the public, despite most of the member countries claiming to be democracies

During the summit the city will be patrolled by 6,000 police officers, access to the city will be highly restricted, and the Friday has been named a public holiday to reduce the volume of people. In fact the security operation is set to be one of the biggest in Australian history. Much Brisbane city council is preparing cultural celebrations in the lead up to the summit, but not everyone in the city is happy with the G20 summit. In fact a lot of the security preparations are in anticipation of the large numbers of expected protesters who are also organising their own events.

We met up with some of the main groups organising the G20 protests to find out what they’re planning. We met BoeSpearim the organiser for the Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy and Callum Clayton-Dixon the co-editor of Brisbane Blacks at Musgrave Park, an important site for Brisbane’s Aboriginal community and the centre of the events they are planning for the G20, and talked about world politics and environment.

The G20 have stated that their main focus is economic growth, one at odds with the protester’s and much of the publics concern over issues around the environment and human rights. “Economical growth is basically exploiting the land of Indigenous people.. It’s the clash of two worlds and it is the rise of the economic benefit of the few,” Boe says.

Boe and Callum are not overly concerned with catching world leader’s attention, but rather see the G20 week as an opportunity for Aboriginal people and the broader community to engage. The protests at the 1982 Commonwealth games in Brisbane made history as Aboriginal people came all together from all over the country for the abolition of the Aboriginal Protection Act and the Apartheid Legislation. The G20 protests have the same potential, there are buses coming from Cairns and Melbourne to support the protests, “the whole idea of putting up these events is to galvanize the movement, to put us into the next stage of the movement, to inspire and give motivation to our own people, to get as all active again,” Callum says.

Later in the day, I met with BrisCAN-G20 spokesperson Robin Taubenfeld and a handful of individuals from activist groups the Occupy movement, Friends of the Earth, Socialist Alliance, and the West End community. They also believed the G20 representatives won’t be solving the world’s real problems, “We are in a time when corporations and decision makers are putting an agenda of growth which is in direct opposition with the planet and the climate and for human rights here in Australia and globally,” Robin says.

When asked if they felt suitably represented by Tony Abbott on the world stage they literally laughed. “We are not going to get our freedom from the people that have been oppressing us but from the people that feel the same way that we are feeling,” Boe said. While Robin and the BrisCAN-G20 crew said the Prime Minister had a “political agenda for intentional disregard for the community and the planet as a way of showing force.”

Abbott’s declaration that the G20 won’t focus on climate change has the community concerned, as has the current government’s decisions to support mining and fossil fuel industries despite the US committing to reduce their own carbon emissions.

Musgrave Park
The list of issues is understandably long, but all the protesters agree that the international attention can be a positive tool for change. For the Aboriginal community it would be an opportunity to speak about their history and connect with others around the world, “at the end of the day it’s not world leader we want to speak to, it is the other Indigenous and oppressed people around the world we want to open a dialogue with.” BrisCAN-G20 and the Aboriginal community are committed to broaden these communications with various talks, symposiums, concerts and workshops that can bring grass-root based solutions to the problems that are not being addressed by the G20’s decisions, that would affect not only Australia but the world’s non-privileged population.

Follow Laura on Twitter@laurarc91

g20 march poster 6


G20: Official Two Colour Posters! About to become an historic item

This gallery contains 2 photos.

We have officially decided on the attached posters for Briscan Peoples Summit and Peoples March. You can view or download here http://briscan.net.au/resources/#promo Also attached below for your convenience. Ordinary citizens organising for social justice in response to the G20. Brisbane, … Continue reading


Bowraville 3 enquiry tabling

isja has been advised that the parliamentary enquiry into the effect of the death of the three children on the families and the bowraville community is to be tabled in the nsw parliament at 9.30am on thursday 6 november 2014. … Continue reading

A breastplate reveals the story of an Australian frontier massacre

The flood of coverage of the centenary of Gallipoli and the first world war profoundly shapes the way we think of Australia’s history; but we suppress other violent events in our own country that also…
The breastplate given to ‘U. Robert King of the Big River and Big Leather Tribes’ by an unknown settler at Goonal station. Photo Dragi Markovic, National Museum of Australia

The flood of coverage of the centenary of Gallipoli and the first world war profoundly shapes the way we think of Australia’s history; but we suppress other violent events in our own country that also shaped us.

On Australian colonial frontiers, violence and conciliation went hand-in-hand. Acts of aggression, retribution, and pacification were linked in complex ways — ways that were not always recorded in archival accounts. We come to our history often through the written word, or television, and objects too often are left as mere footnotes to our history.

So can historical objects from our frontier past gives us fresh perspectives in rethinking and writing colonial history, and give us a window on such violence and troubled diplomacy?

In an essay Australian novelist Delia Falconer wrote for the the Australian Book Review in 1999, she noted evocatively that using objects as originating points for our research is like “walking though the back door of history, you don’t necessarily end up at the front door of the same house”.

In the course of my work – in Australian and Pacific-region colonial histories – I came across a curious 19th-century heart-shaped breastplate (main image) and found myself at the front door of frontier massacre. The breastplate was given to “U. Robert King of the Big River and Big Leather Tribes” by an unknown settler at Goonal station, established in 1843 on the Gwydir River or “Big River” in New South Wales.

The breastplate is clearly part of the widespread settler tradition of giving crescent-shaped breastplates plates to Aboriginal people for alliance and pacification, on a continent where there were no formal treaties.

Yet with its heart-shaped form it is exceptional, and at the top – between an emu and kangaroo – it shows an intriguing motif of crossed spears and gum boughs, similar in style to North American “peace medals” given to native Americans that displayed a crossed hatchet and peace pipe, suggesting pacification or the halting of violent relations.

‘Mounted Police and Blacks’ depicts the killing of Aboriginals at Slaughterhouse Creek by British troops. Wikimedia Commons
Click to enlarge

The heart motif in European tradition is a symbol of love, friendship, and affiliation, but also of “bone fides” or good faith. Yet, as it turns out, this strange and unique object can be traced directly to the Gwydir River, in the New England region, and to the general vicinity of two of the most infamous massacres in Australian history: the Waterloo Creek massacre and the Myall Creek massacre of Kamilaroi peoples in 1838.

In this year, escalating frontier skirmishes between settlers and Aboriginal peoples led the Governor to dispatch Major James Nunn to the region to “suppress these outrages” by the “blacks”. Nunn led a group of more than 20 troopers to the Liverpool Plains district in January of 1838.

On January 26 1838, known as “Foundation Day”, our precursor to Australia Day, Major Nunn and his group attacked a large group of Aborigines camped by a lagoon at Waterloo Creek (or Slaughterhouse Creek), resulting in what most historians agree were the deaths of at least 30 Aboriginal people.

Vigilante-settlers continued Nunn’s campaign, riding the country shooting Aboriginal people they could find, in what Muswellbrook Magistrate Edward Denny Day would come to call a “war of extermination” on the Gwydir.

Five months later, on the afternoon of Sunday June 10 1838, a gang of 11 convict and ex-convict stockmen led by a squatter, surrounded and tied up Wirrayaraay Aboriginal men, women and children, who were camped peacefully next to the huts on the Myall Creek cattle station of Henry Dangar, near Bingara on the Gwydir River.

They were taken away and slaughtered. The gang later burned the decapitated bodies. Despite public outcry, and after a second trail, seven were hanged in December 1838 in one of the few instances when white men were tried, convicted and hanged for the mass-killing of Aboriginal people.

When His Honor Judge Burton passed sentence on the men, he remarked:

I sincerely hope that the grace of God may reach and penetrate the hardened hearts that could surround a funeral pile lighted by themselves, and gloat on the tortures and sufferings of so many of their fellow beings.

By the 1850s remaining Aboriginal people in the area continued to seek protection on stations were they could, with men and women often working as shepherds and stockmen.

The breastplate given out to “U. Robert” of Big River, probably a senior Aboriginal man and possibly a shepherd, within decades of massacre, is a greatly unsettling object and represents a supreme conceit given the pernicious violence that occurred in the region as settlers pushed into northern New South Wales to take pastoral lands.

It is an object of alliance and friendship, given all too late. Aboriginal artist Andrea Fisher has rightly critiqued the coercive sentiment of the breastplate tradition with her reworkings and subversions of the breastplate motif in her works “blood” and “truth”.

Andrea Fisher, Blood. Museum of Democracy
Click to enlarge

But the heart-shaped breastplate may be suggestive of other meanings and valences. While I have not traced it to an individual settler with a “whispering in his heart” – historian Henry Reynold’s compelling phrase to suggest settler conscience – it may be nonetheless expressive of compassion and conscience.

In fact, Robert Brown, the owner of Goonal Station, to which the breastplate is linked, and a devout and evangelical Christian, went quite mad and was declared a “lunatic” in 1862, and died a year later in an asylum. Did he commission this breastplate for the Aboriginal people living and working on Goonal Station, their region only so recently invaded and beset by violence?

Was this the folly of a madman, or was it given in the name of friendship, reward, pacification, coercion or some form of conciliation with “U. Robert” and his family group? Did the whispering in Brown’s heart drive him mad? We may never know.

“Heart” can mean conscience, and it can also mean hope and acting in good faith. Every year, for 14 years now, commemoration ceremonies have been held at the site of the Myall Creek massacre. Here, the descendants of Aboriginal people and settlers come together in good faith as part of a community-based reconciliation project.

Artworks by Andrea Fisher. Museum of Democracy
Click to enlarge

The non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal participants in the reconciliation ceremonies at Myall creek have described “a great lifting”, and that they felt “set free” when they acknowledged the violence of their shared past.

Heart may also be the courage to remember, honour, and the strength to forgive in order to reconcile. These acts of reconciliation were possible at the Myall Creek site because some form of justice – at least, in part – had been seen to be done, unlike Waterloo Creek. The plaque on a stone memorial at the Myall Creek massacre site reads:

Erected on 10th June 2000 by a group of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians in an act of reconciliation and in acknowledgement of the truth of our shared history. We remember them/ Ngiyani winangay ganunga.

These ceremonies are rites of passage in settler societies, events crucial to peace-building and healing, where the past has been strewn with conflict and trust can be low; here through truth-telling and ritual the past is acknowledged and shared, and new stories are made.

These are emotional journeys where “fraught hearts” come into play and individual acts of consciousness and the building of trust matters.

Every year Australians engage in such grassroots commemorations, to mourn, reflect, say sorry, and honour, and to build new peaceful accords.

These community ceremonies are sometimes uncomfortably close to our hearts and homes, based on events that occurred under our very feet, and are far closer than battles on distant shores. There must be room for these too. Our most important history is too often at our own front door.

And its vestiges can be elicited by extraordinary objects in museum collections.

Penny Edmonds’ book, Conciliation on Colonial Frontiers: Conflict, Performance and Commemoration in Australia and the Pacific Rim (Routledge), co-edited with Kate Darian-Smith, is due out in late 2014.

What’s wrong with the Melbourne Cup?

PShift (4zzz fm 102.1) broadcast on Fridays at noon.

And what about those crazy hats!?

Paradigm Shift

Broadcast on fm 102.1 fridays at noon 31 October 2014 –

An alternative take on horse racing. Andy talks and does interviews about the downside of the Melbourne cup, animal exploitation, problem gambling, capitalist racing industry. Very interesting interview with a vet about how horses are an animal of prey and how they hurt by the racing industry. Not to mention problem gambling and all those crazy hats …!

Is IS coming to blow up the city during G20;)?
Brief run down on what’s coming up at G20. Criticism of Courier Mail. People’s Summit. People’s march on saturday 15 Oct 2014.

On demand –> http://ondemand.4zzzfm.org.au/paradigm-shift/2014-10-31

A different take on problem gambling Trifecta at 608 Brunswick Street


These Dirty Bones – Bones in my marshmallows
Bad Day Down – If this is humane, then fuck humanity
Frenzal Rhomb – Greyhound info
Paddy McHugh and the Goldminers – Gamblin’ man

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