Monthly Archives: March 2020


The Iron Heel

The following two pages are from a report on how two Italian workers responded under the fascist dictatorship. [Luisa Passerini, ‘Work Ideology and Consensus under Italian fascism,’ History Workshop, no. 8, Autumn 1979, pp. 82-108.] There is no suggestion that … Continue reading


The Toilet Paper Election

It is a grim irony that sacked Ipswich councillor Paul Tully has won another term in local government in Queensland. After 38 years in the job Tully was seen handing out toilet paper at local railway stations to buy more … Continue reading


Not so free to choose

Free to Choose by Milton and Rose Freidman maintains that the free market works best for all members of a society, provides examples of how the free market engenders prosperity, and maintains that it can solve problems where other approaches … Continue reading


Letter from Italy on Covid 19

***STOP PRESS*** Latest Covid 19 (more positive) news is that: The Russian army has sent medical teams and equipment to help Italy; Venezuela has also sent medical teams to Italy despite experiencing great difficulties as a result of ongoing US … Continue reading


Why I’d Rather Be in Italy for the Coronavirus Pandemic

Here’s an interesting perspective of a person that normally lives in New York City preferring to go to live in Italy Italy during the coronavirus Continue reading


Covid 19 testing

Based on the reports from Iceland health departments need to mail out tests for Covid 19 to everyone … a bit like the Australian test for bowel cancer. People then all mail back the swab and they test it. They … Continue reading


Vale Don Burrows

One of Australia’s most celebrated musicians, Don Burrows, has died aged 92. I first heard Don Burrows playing live jazz in the Basement with Kevin Hunt and Johnny Nicole at the old Telecom exchange in Ann Street Brisbane CBD. After … Continue reading


Social Contagion – microbiological class war in China

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They say the Plague ended Feudalism, will Covid 19 end Capitalism? WBT reprints this article by 闯 Chuǎng. 闯 Chuǎng is “the image of a horse breaking through a gate. Meaning: To break free; To attack, charge; To break through, … Continue reading


Latest on Covid 19

Monday 23rd of March 2020 Centrelink minister claims the mygov site is under cyber attack and that’s why the 95,000 people who are trying to access New Start payments have been rejected by the computers presuming it is a cyber … Continue reading


Bruce Pascoe – 'cartwheels turned up tubers'

Paradigm Shift 4zzz fm 102.1 Fridays at noon – 12pm Fri 20 Mar 2020 “Ian (sic) Curr noticed that his cartwheels turned up tubers. As he brought the first vehicle into the plains south of the Echuca, his cartwheels turned up bushels of tubers. Once … Continue reading


Developers set to destroy Deebing Creek

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“Native title is not Land Rights and Reconciliation is not Justice” – Gary Foley at Sam Watson’s funeral 6 December 2019. People are fighting a rear guard action at Deebing Creek. Will no one help them? In the lead up … Continue reading


Australia's 'Uranium Decision'

And so I’ve reluctantly instructed the blokes here to follow Federation and ACTU policy and load the shipment of yellow-cake. And I’d like to ask you people, who’ve done a wonderful job these last few days in maintaining the picket, … Continue reading


Independent Media and Democratic Rights

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WBT publishes this important debate about Independent media from 1977. Has anything really changed since then? Only four (4) months after this forum the state government banned political street marches and public assembly. MEDIA INTEGRITY Mr Bruce Dickson, speaking at … Continue reading


Covid 19 sufferers – "Stop, Do Not Enter!"

The authorities are saying you are on your own, unless of course you are a cabinet minister like Peter Dutton. The doors all open for him but not you Continue reading

Why to vote radical in local government elections

Not Just Any Old Council Election: Thinking Globally and Acting Locally in the Gabba Ward

Cities shape every aspect of our lives, but ordinary citizens have very little power to influence the design and governance of our cities.

Any movement to fundamentally change society has to be able to transform the local institutions that shape our cities, and strengthen grassroots democracy as an alternative to top-down power and neoliberal hegemony.

The coming Brisbane City Council election in March 2020 is arguably one of the most important elections in South-East Queensland’s history, and the Gabba Ward campaign is shaping up as ground zero.

Queensland is Australia’s key swing state.

What’s happening in Queensland politics has major ramifications for the entire continent.

And Brisbane is the state’s political fulcrum.

The capital is where most of the public servants who advise politicians live, where most of the big decisions are made, and where roughly ¼ to 1/3 of the state’s voters reside. How Brisbane thinks, and what it cares about, defines the politics of the entire state, and in turn shapes the nation.

Brisbane City Council is a uniquely large and wealthy local council, that delivers a wide range of services far beyond garbage collection and footpath maintenance. It covers a population of roughly 1.2 million people (in contrast, Sydney City Council only covers around 240 000).

BCC has a huge long-term influence on the culture and values of the city’s population. Council’s decisions shape how we move around the city, what kinds of buildings we live and work in, who we interact with, how our local economy functions, what rituals and events we participate in, and what we do for recreation.

This mega-council has the power to render visible or invisible the violence of the colonial nation-state, and is far better placed to change the common sense and cultural norms of a city’s population than state or federal policymakers imposing their will from above.

If BCC supports community events that build social relationships between neighbours, and behaviour-change programs that encourage values such as sustainability and equality, that steers the city in a certain direction. Whereas if BCC facilitates the expanding influence of big corporations, and reinforces individualism and consumerism, that leads to a very different kind of city.

The Liberal National Party understands this. For years, they’ve directed massive resources towards consolidating power at the council level, picking up seats (they currently hold 19 out of 26 wards) and using BCC as a cultural and political power base.

They’ve adeptly undermined and counteracted the agenda of Labor Premiers, and gradually changed the culture of our city (and thus the government). Not only have they used this power base to win state and federal seats that might otherwise have swung to progressive candidates, but they’ve fundamentally altered residents’ aspirations and values. Such changes easily outlast election cycles.

In contrast, Labor has failed to grasp the political significance of BCC, and hasn’t strongly contested council elections, so they now only hold 5 out of 26 wards. This means that state and federal Labor candidates and MPs are continually undermined by well-networked LNP local councillors and mayors. Meanwhile Labor at the council level has become a tacit supporter of privatisation, the commodification of housing, and increasing state surveillance and control over our lives.

Predictably, our city has become a hub of neoliberalism. Global capital has flooded into the inner-city property market, accelerating gentrification and fragmenting communities.

Insecure housing options and transient populations make community organising harder than it used to be. Small businesses and community-run services and cooperatives have been displaced by multinational corporations. Public spaces are increasingly bureaucratised, controlled and commodified. By its very nature, the system suppresses civil society and discourages and obstructs people from being active, engaged, well-informed voters.

This is where the Greens campaign for the Gabba Ward comes in.

Back in mid-2015, we made a deliberate decision to run on a bold, radical policy platform that directly challenged neoliberalism, arguing for greater community control over our city, and seeking to fundamentally redefine the role of a local councillor.

I didn’t want to just be a green-leaning local administrator advocating gently for more street trees and electric buses. I wanted to use the resources and platform of elected office to help articulate a fundamentally different vision for society, experiment with new forms of deliberative democracy, and ultimately, to change the common sense of the city.

Against the odds, we won the election in March 2016, and began experimenting with different tactics of applying pressure on the political establishment (with varying success).

We stuck our necks out.

Instead of being just another progressive politician who occasionally shows up to a protest rally, we loaned out PA systems and even started organising our own community actions. We advocated and endorsed various civil disobedience strategies, using marches, occupations and blockades to prevent vulnerable people being evicted into homelessness, and to push for the kinds of positive changes residents wanted to see in their community.

Even within the Australian Greens, this represented a departure from orthodox ideas of the role of elected reps. At a time when the party has been trying to position itself as more ‘mainstream,’ we’ve sought to demonstrate that it’s possible to be both popular and radical. We wanted to show the Greens that you don’t have to choose between winning seats and articulating a bold, transformative policy platform. You can actually do both.

I’ve gone a lot further even than most other Greens politicians in critiquing racist institutions like the police, arguing for the dismantling of the colonial nation state, and calling for an end to the treatment of housing as a commodity.

This approach has drawn a lot of negative attention from the beneficiaries of neoliberal capitalism. Conservative media commentators have come after me aggressively, and the volume and vitriol of the major parties’ attacks on me have been unprecedented for a lowly city councillor.

In taking a strong, unapologetic stance on so many issues, we’ve inadvertently turned the 2020 council elections into a referendum on radical politics. The stakes are high. And rising.

If the Greens vote increases in my electorate (including the parts that are shifting into Coorparoo Ward) this will send a strong message both to the rest of the Australian Greens and to the political establishment more generally.

On the other hand, if my vote stagnates or I lose the seat, this will be interpreted by many as a vote in favour of the status quo, affirming fear-mongering Courier Mail editors and the trolls calling for protesters to be shot.

In the March 2020 council election, the Greens are aiming to retain the Gabba Ward with a comfortable swing, and also win the Central, Coorparoo and Paddington Wards (all of which are currently held by the LNP).

Labor in particular will be watching the results closely, to assess how much of a threat the Greens pose in the October State election. A strong Greens council result in inner-city Brisbane would mean that both Jackie Trad’s seat of South Brisbane (whose electorate boundaries closely match those of the Gabba Ward) and Grace Grace’s seat of McConnel, are vulnerable to the Greens. This in turn will shape Labor’s policy platform and priorities for the entire state.

A big Gabba Greens result will also be seen as an endorsement of the alternative vision we’re articulating for the city, with ramifications for a range of issues, from transport to housing policy. It will give progressive employees within council more confidence to push for new ideas, and demonstrate to the LNP that the residents objecting to unsustainable profit-driven ‘development’ and a broken democratic system are not just a vocal minority.

In the 2016 council election, we only beat Labor in the Gabba Ward by 439 votes (there were 28 000 enrolled voters). Less than 1 in 3 voters gave me their first preference, and I think it’s fair to say that a lot of people didn’t realise exactly what kind of councillor they were getting.

Updating that wafer-thin margin to a powerful, unquestionable victory will make a lot of key political decision-makers around the country sit up and take notice. Achieving a big swing in the Gabba Ward will demonstrate that this movement is not a fluke or a flash in the pan, and that there’s a growing appetite for major social change and a new kind of politics.

Most importantly though, my re-election campaign for the Gabba Ward is about hope. When Scott Morrison is Prime Minister, the Queensland Labor Party is locking up peaceful protesters, and political analysts are talking seriously about Donald Trump winning a second term as president, every radical victory becomes important.

We need to believe a better world is possible.

We need to imagine a different, more radical kind of city… A city that is more sustainable, equitable, beautiful and democratic.

If we can imagine it, we can make it real.

But to do that, we need your help.

– Jonathan Sri, December 2019

(If you’d like to get involved in the campaign, you can volunteer at this link, or donate to the campaign via this link)

About the author

Jonathan Sri


Heritage council does a terrible ‘cut and paste job’

On the 6th March 2020, three months after my written request on 9 December 2019 (below) for a statement of reasons from the Heritage Council for why they failed to heritage list the UQ Union complex, I received these two letters.

2019 walking tour of UQ Union Complex

The statement of reasons is one the most appalling cut-and-paste jobs I have ever seen, namely:

“The Complex has undergone extensive changes, including removal of approximately 61% of the original Breeze Block screens, a key component of the original facades; replacement of most original doors and windows (except windows to the first floor of the Administration Block and some windows to the Relaxation Block); removal of most interior partitions and construction of new interior partitions; alterations to most floor and wall finishes; addition of an arcade between the Administration Block and Refectory; additions of new buildings north of the Administration Block and south of the Refectory; extension to north end of the Administration Block; removal of water feature, brick partition and platform entrance on west side of Administration Block; replacement of ground floor walls with shop-front tenancies to Administration Block and Refectory; replacement of balustrades to the Refectory Extension’s balconies; and alterations to the levels, floor finishes, stairs and landscaping of the Forum.”

Variants of this paragraph appear on no fewer than five (5) occasions throughout the 18 page document. What does it matter if the balustrades were changed, or the breezeway, or if the water feature was removed, surely the place and its connection with Queensland resistance remain?

Here is one example of the debates that went on at the forum, this one is about free and independent media in a democratic society.

Public Forum held at The University of Queensland St Lucia discussing how 4ZZZ is being run and how it should be run in the future. Topics include the station’s funding model, internal conflicts, programming, criticism. – Fryer Library UQ.
Speakers are – Joseph Monsour, Bruce Dickson, Tony Kneipp, Tony Turrisi, Stuart Matchett, unknown student, Ian Curr, Jim Beatson, Hyden Thompson.

It is a shame the UQ students union never contested University of Qld’s ownership of the building … for it was different administrations of the student union that made these ‘extensive changes’ using student fees. The administration still could not stamp out the refuge it gave to people and organisations that fought against the Bjleke-Petersen government.

Please feel free to pass on to interested parties.

Where to now?

Ian Curr
March 2020

Marie Crisp sells the Communist party Tribune outside UQ Union complex circa 1977

Chelsea Manning would rather die than be coerced

Play “Love Me or Leave Me,” by the great Bud Powell,
Play “The Blood-Stained Banner,” play “Murder Most Foul.” – Bob Dylan

The US Attorney may have trouble proving a case against Assange without Manning’s testimony.

Last Thursday afternoon, a District Court judge in Virginia ordered that Chelsea Manning be released from jail, where she has been held since last May for refusing to testify before a grand jury. The Judge noted:

“The court finds Ms. Manning’s appearance before the Grand Jury is no longer needed, in light of which her detention no longer serves any coercive purpose.”

Manning has attempted suicide in jail.

Chelsea would rather die that be coerced to give evidence against Assange.

Chelsea Manning, photographed in Washington, D.C., in January 2018. Photo: Jesse Dittmar/Redux

Ian Curr
Monday, 16 Mar 2020

Celebrate World Poetry Day – postponed for health and safety reasons

The Italian theatre group Danteatro and choir Unicoro (both based at the Brisbane Dante Alighieri Society), 

in collaboration with Lesley Synge and Reload Espresso Bar,


      VOCI – VOICES: Italy in poetry and song (in English and Italian)

            at Reload Espresso Bar, 9 Chrome St, Salisbury

                                Saturday 21 March

Food available and bar open from 6.30pm

Performance starts at 7.30pm

Entry by gold coin donation at door, but please book seats using the link below.

For more information, or to book, go to

Lesley Synge will relate her Italian travels using poems and photos, and Danteatro will perform a collection of poems and prose exploring themes of travel and recollections, by various writers – mostly in English, but with excerpts in Italian and Sicilian. Songs by Unicoro will complete the repertoire.

All welcome!

All at sea – prisoners on the Grand Princess petri dish

The Crew’s Union Rights & Health & Safety

The contaminated Grand Princess ship is now docked in the Port of Oakland. While the passengers are being evacuated the crew is being told that they are be quarantined out at sea when the passengers are evacuated. With the ship now a petri dish similar to the Diamond Princess in Okinawa will these crew members now be sent out on a death ship leaving many of them to die at sea? California Governor Newsom at a press conference on the evacuation of the ship said he was only concerned about the passengers even when pressed by reporters about the right to evacuation by the crew. This is the question that was addressed by former ITF Port Agent Jack Heyman who is a retired member of ILWU Local 10. He discusses the labor rights of the crew including the right to be repatriated to their country. Over 500 of the workers are Filipinos and the racist attacks by Pence and Trump aimed at workers in other countries is connected to how these workers are being treated according to Jack Heyman.


Production of Labor Video Project

Defending Forests

Paradigm Shift, community radio 4ZZZ FM 102.1, Fridays at noon on 13th of March 2020 .

This week we catch up on forest blockading around the country – hearing from direct action campaigns to protect native forests in the Tarkine in Tasmania, in the central highlands of Victoria, and at Helms in South-West Australia.

Andy interviews activists stopping logging in forest ecosystems that took millions of years to evolve by storing carbon and producing huge species diversity.


Insurge – Lock on
The Great Shame – Old growth
Mooks and Shanto – For a handful of timber
Brenda Liddiard – Forest song
David Rovics – A kiss behind the barricades
Formidable Vegetable – Plant some trees

Listen @

Paradigm Shift (4ZZZ fm 102.1 Fridays at Noon) on soundcloud.

Corona virus detection and prevention


Guangdong Province, China, sent the following notes on
Coronavirus for guidance (received March 2020):

1. If you have a runny nose and sputum, you probably have a common cold.

COVID 19 virus is a single strand Ribose Nucleic Acid surrounded by a lipid layer that is vulnerable to soap

2. Coronavirus pneumonia is a dry cough with no runny nose.

3. This new virus is not heat-resistant and will be killed by a
temperature of just 26/27 degrees. It hates the Sun.

4. If someone sneezes with it, it takes about 10 feet before it drops
to the ground and is no longer airborne.

5. If it drops on a metal surface it will live for at least 12 hours –
so if you come into contact with any metal surface – wash your hands as soon as you can with a bacterial soap.

NY Times Corona virus map 15 Mar 2020 – according to NY Times Australia doesn’t have any cases ?

6. On fabric it can survive for 6-12 hours. normal laundry detergent
will kill it.

7. Drinking warm water is effective for all viruses. Try not to drink
liquids with ice.

8. Wash your hands frequently as the virus can only live on your hands
for 5-10 minutes, but – a lot can happen during that time – you can rub your eyes, pick your nose unwittingly and so on.

9. You should also gargle as a prevention. A simple solution of salt
in warm water will suffice.

10. Can’t emphasise enough – drink plenty of water!


1. It will first infect the throat, so you’ll have a sore throat
lasting 3/4 days

2. The virus then blends into a nasal fluid that enters the trachea
and then the lungs, causing pneumonia.

This takes about 5/6 days further.

3. With the pneumonia comes high fever and difficulty in breathing.

4. The nasal congestion is not like the normal kind. You feel like
you’re drowning.

     It’s imperative you then seek immediate attention.


Portrait of a Woman on Fire

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Portrait of a Woman on Fire: Céline Sciamma 13 Mar 2020 – 25 Mar 2020 | GOMA | Cinema A An exciting voice in contemporary French cinema, filmmaker Céline Sciamma approaches themes of gender fluidity, adolescence and love in a … Continue reading


Vale Rhodes Hart

Rhodes Hart (1953 to 2020). Rhodes has been an important part of the movement for change in Brisbane over the past 40 years. He was a scientist – working both in developing groundbreaking research in earthquake studies, and more recently … Continue reading


COVID-19: Infection, Isolation and Action

We publish this advice: “do as little as possible for two weeks”.


No Wonerland for Alice

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The Brisbane women’s movement has been paralyzed by this debate over the past three years. Why? IWD rallies have been split and dwarfed in size. IWD Celebrations became a confrontation in 2018 with epithets like ‘transphobic’ being tossed around.
On 8th March this year, I attended the one called IWD Brisbane (Meanjin) rally at Roma Street forum where only 70 people turned up; whereas over 1,500 had come out in the same place in 2018 and marched through the streets of Brisbane. In 2020 there was no march. Continue reading


Killing by Drones

Satellites to measure the rising sea,Satellites to guide killer drones,Satellites tracking birds on the wing,Satellites watching every moving thing. – Jumping Fences “Satellites” Independent and Peaceful Australia Network (IPAN) presents this update on the use of drones to kill people … Continue reading


Is radical change possible?

This week (6 March 2020) the Paradigm Shift (4ZZZ fm 102.1 Fridays at noon) looks at radical change in local government. There is a is a discussion with Jonathan Sri the councillor for the Gabba ward. We cover his background, the fight against developers, radical community engagement, Democratic Rights, Land Rights, Justice for Deebing Creek, Housing and Child Safety. Continue reading


Vale Lew Wyvill

Lew Wyvill and others like him came from that generation that served in World War II who came back from war with higher expectations of civil society. Lew joined the Royal Australian Air Force in 1944, saw no active service outside Australia but had friends who did. It is not romance to say they looked after each other after the war. Continue reading


Still stateless

The strange story of Cornelia Rau has surfaced again, this time in the form of an ABC drama. Its on Sunday nights and on ABC iView. The first episode screened on Sunday 1st of March 2020. It’s worthwhile watching … … Continue reading