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Civil Disobedience, the Right to March, and the Swinging Pendulum of Queensland Politics

The next meeting of the 17 Group will take place on Wednesday the 9th of October at 7 pm in unit 6 at 20 Drury St, West End.  It will be addressed by the one and only Greens Brisbane City Councillor, the Honourable Jonathan Sri, on the topic: “Civil Disobedience, the Right to March, and the Swinging Pendulum of Queensland Politics”.

Summary: 
Jonno recently called a protest march in opposition to a State Government proposal to increase police stop and search powers targeting protesters, only to have the LNP Lord Mayor of Brisbane take him to court to prevent the protest. Jonno self-represented in court and won the case, confirming the strong protections of the right to march enshrined within the Peaceful Assembly Act 1992. Jonno will be speaking about the continual watering down of civil liberties in Queensland – including the fundamental right to peaceful assembly – by all levels of government, including Brisbane City Council. Jonno will explore the broader political context of a resurgence in civil disobedience around Queensland, highlighting the connection between increasingly effective activist tactics and the government’s move to shut down peaceful protests. He will also be looking ahead to the coming council elections in March 2020 (which will function as a mini-referendum on the particular style of radical politics he as adopted while in office), discussing how the council results will set the stage (and the policy agenda) for the crucial October 2020 state election.

Biographical notes:
Jonathan Sri is Queensland’s first elected Greens City Councillor, representing the Gabba Ward on Brisbane’s inner-south side. Jonno was elected in 2016 in a surprise upset, taking a safe Labor seat on a platform of strengthening democratic accountability, fighting property developer corruption and resisting the negative impacts of gentrification. Jonathan has been a vocal opponent of attempts by all levels of government to limit and restrict the right to peaceful assembly.

When we arrived at Leon’s, the rather theatrically sun-glassed part-time bodyguard Grigor met us before we got to the door, and, with a heavily Russian-accented “psst!”,  drew us aside to warn that if Leon came to the meeting it would be unwise to raise with him the matter of the Kronstadt Rebellion of 1921.  “New government  in  very bad situation, under pressure, economic situation, so on, maybe bit like Queensland Government…  Adanis, Barrier Reefs, land rights, all for ideals if can, but must keep power, not good time for proper preachings and so on… you see point comrades?  Our friend here, he was in middle then , and he not much like to hear demands 2 and 3 of sailors from  Petropavlovsk and Sevastopol, great battleships.  February 28th… famous fifteen demands….You remember, no? I quote, exact words,  good memory, no?” 

At which stage of his whispered remarks he tapped his balding skull and, underlining with an index finger, intoned:

“No. 2….Freedom of speech and of the press for workers and peasants,for the Anarchists and the Left Socialist parties.

No. 3…The right of assembly, and freedom for trade union and peasant associations.”

Then, with a rather melancholy smile he concluded:

“Big fight after, and our friend here not look good to sailors.”  We decided not to invite Leon after all.

One response to “Civil Disobedience, the Right to March, and the Swinging Pendulum of Queensland Politics

  1. Anti-democratic laws passed by Qld Parliament

    While I was away interstate the Queensland Parliament passed the Summary Offences and Other Legislation Amendment Bill which limits the right to protest. This is the Qld parliament’s response to ‘Extinction Rebellion‘ and ‘Frontline Action on Coal‘ attempting to stop the export of coal from Queensland because of the current Climate Emergency.

    These groups and others are using the protests to make people more aware of the issues that concern society at large including regional centres. The parliament seems to be attacking a symptom and not the root cause that Queensland is one of the biggest polluters in the world and contributes greatly to the burning of fossil fuels both here and offshore.

    I have listened to much of testimony given to the parliament through the Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee.

    This committee listened to police, the Resources Council of Qld, Pork farmers and Frackers reps. The committee prioritised so called ‘lawful carriage of business’. Police see recent protest as people ‘taking matters into their own hands’. Senior police went overboard about so called ‘dragons dens’ – whatever they are. Police complained of not knowing about the protests beforehand and that this limited their response to marches and claimed caused considerable disruption to traffic.

    The Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee did not listen to the Member for Maiwar, the Conservation Council (Rockhampton), Civil Liberties lawyers, political activists, Animal Liberationists and, importantly, the Queensland Council of Unions (QCU) represented by Michael Clifford. While opposing the legislation, Clifford identified the slippy slope that the parliament is taking us down. It is now time for the QCU to adopt an independent climate change policy to transition away from fossil fuels. Workers throughout Brisbane and regional Queensland & Northern Territory are already hurting, it will be worse if the LIB/LAB coalition in parliament is allowed to go further.

    The Premier’s reply was that the government has taken the middle road between National Party and Greens. Can the Centre hold in a state where underemployment is so high and the destruction of regional Queensland so evident? Is it rational to support an economy based on extractive industries? Our second largest export after coal is education. Why can the parliament learn to switch away from fossil fuels?

    One thing is clear, real opposition lies outside the parliament (apologies to the Member for Maiwar who put up a good defence that fell on deaf ears). Michael Berkman received no briefing from police about their submissions to parliament but the Law Council did.

    For what it is worth, I received no response to my submission to the Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee.

    Ian Curr
    October 2019
    Reference – http://tv.parliament.qld.gov.au/Committees?reference=C5273#parentVerticalTab7

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