In June 2015 the Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance (WAR) and members of the Brisbane Aboriginal community in CAMP RESISTANCE made the following call:
The conservative governments are continuing their brutal attacks on Aboriginal people with the forced closures of Aboriginal communities. Living on country and practicing our culture is not a lifestyle choice! Let’s make sure our voices are heard louder and stronger on June 26th when we stand in solidarity and shut down Brisbane CBD! On Friday 26th June at 4pm King George Square WAR will be rallying against the forced closures of Aboriginal communities.
On 26 June 2015, the Brisbane City Council issued me with a fine of $569 while I was delivering the LeftPress PA system at this rally organized by Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance (WAR).
I am a member of LeftPress, Workers Printing & Publishing.
The infringement notice said this fine was for ‘pushing/riding/driving/wheeling vehicle in contravention of directions/conditions printed over name‘.
A member of WAR and I went to the Lord Mayor’s office followed by a contingent of police and security guards.
We asked what the infringement notice meant. Quirk’s assistant could give us no explanation. Police Sergeant in charge took us to a sign. It said nothing about setting up a PA system. We were still none the wiser. We checked for the existence of the infringement on the internet. None found.
There were vehicles on the square that had set up the Spiegel Tent for a concert later that night.
I obeyed all the directions given to me by council officers and moved the car to drop off the PA away from a gate to the Spiegel Tent. I unpacked the PA system. When requested I drove the car out of the square and parked it in the BCC carpark under the square and later paid the parking fee.
One of the WAR organisers had already queried the infringement with the lord mayor’s office and could not get a response. So I wrote a letter challenging the infringement. The response from Brisbane City Council was that the fine would stick but the BCC did not an answer to any of my questions as to why the fine was imposed.
So I appealed the decision asking the following questions:
- What does ‘pushing/riding/driving/wheeling vehicle in contravention of directions/conditions printed over name’ mean?
- No BCC officer was on hand to explain the reason for the infringement, why?
- Does such an infringement exist under Parks local laws Chapter 9 as claimed on the infringement notice?
- Is it because it was an aboriginal organisation organizing the rally that council has issued the infringement notice?
- I looked it up the infringement but could not find it. Has the infringement law been repealed?
I informed council that I have been putting up the PA system in that place and others meeting places around Brisbane since 1977 and had never received such a notice.
Previously, our speaking equipment had been confiscated by police during the street marches but council had never issued such a harsh penalty for community members exercising their democratic rights.
At subsequent rallies to the one on the 26th June I wheeled the PA system onto the square using a trolley. I challenged BCC security and police to enforce the rule that said ‘pushing /riding /driving /wheeling vehicle in contravention of directions/conditions printed over name’
No fine was issued.
On 28 September 2015, three months after the infringement notice was withdrawn.
The reason given was:
The issues raised have been investigated. This investigation has revealed that an error occurred with the issue of the notice. The infringement notice has therefore been withdrawn and no further action on your behalf is necessary. Please accept our apologies for any distress or inconvenience that this matter may have caused.
No answers to my questions but the infringement notice withdrawn.
People should stand up for the democratic rights and not be cowered. Police and council officers are under orders to curb democratic rights and this should be resisted. These officers often exceed their authority and act outside the law. Better organization is needed to defend democratic rights.