Archive for the ‘activists’ Category

The Radical Newcastle Launch (l-r) Professor John Maynard, Dr Nancy Cushing, Mrs Vera Deacon and Dr Daniela Heil. Newcastle Town Hall, 22 March 2015

The Radical Newcastle Launch (l-r) Professor John Maynard, Dr Nancy Cushing, Mrs Vera Deacon and Dr Daniela Heil. Newcastle Town Hall, 22 March 2015

The Radical Newcastle Book was launched during the Newcastle Writers Festival held at the Newcastle Town Hall on the 22 March 2015.


View the RADICAL NEWCASTLE ALBUM on flickr here:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/uon/sets/72157651117525408/


View the FULL VIDEO of the Radical Book Launch Here:


View VERA DEACON @ The Radical Newcastle Book Launch


View PROFESSOR JOHN MAYNARD @ The Radical Newcastle Book Launch


View DR DANIELA HEIL @ The Radical Newcastle Book Launch

View PROFESSOR CAROLINE MCMILLEN
LAUNCH THE RADICAL NEWCASTLE BOOK

View DR JAMES BENNETT’S Vote of Thanks

View THE QUOTE OF THE DAY

View THE MOST MENTIONS AWARD @ The Radical Newcastle Launch


PHOTOGRAPHIC STILL FROM THE VIDEO

Dr Nancy Cushing welcomed and introduced the speakers including Mrs Vera Deacon, Professor John Maynard, Dr Daniela Heil.

The Radical Newcastle Launch (l-r) Professor John Maynard, Dr Nancy Cushing, Mrs Vera Deacon and Dr Daniela Heil. Newcastle Town Hall, 22 March 2015

The Radical Newcastle Launch (l-r) Professor John Maynard, Dr Nancy Cushing, Mrs Vera Deacon and Dr Daniela Heil. Newcastle Town Hall, 22 March 2015

Mrs Vera Deacon @ The Radical Newcastle Launch  Newcastle Town Hall, 22 March 2015

Mrs Vera Deacon @ The Radical Newcastle Launch Newcastle Town Hall, 22 March 2015

 

Professor John Maynard @ Radical Newcastle Book Launch, Newcastle Town Hall, 22 March 2015

Professor John Maynard @ Radical Newcastle Book Launch, Newcastle Town Hall, 22 March 2015

 

Professor John Maynard @ Radical Newcastle Book Launch, Newcastle Town Hall, 22 March 2015

Professor John Maynard @ Radical Newcastle Book Launch, Newcastle Town Hall, 22 March 2015

 

Dr Daniela Heil @ Radical Newcastle Book Launch, Newcastle Town Hall, 22 March 2015

Dr Daniela Heil @ Radical Newcastle Book Launch, Newcastle Town Hall, 22 March 2015

 

Vera on the future of radicalism @ Radical Newcastle Book Launch, Newcastle Town Hall, 22 March 2015

Vera on the future of radicalism @ Radical Newcastle Book Launch, Newcastle Town Hall, 22 March 2015

Vera on the future of Radicalism @ Radical Newcastle Book Launch, Newcastle Town Hall, 22 March 2015

Professor Caroline McMillen @ Radical Newcastle Book Launch, Newcastle Town Hall, 22 March 2015

VC McMillen launches the book @ Radical Newcastle Book Launch, Newcastle Town Hall, 22 March 2015

VC Pofessor Caroline McMillen launches the book @ Radical Newcastle Book Launch, Newcastle Town Hall, 22 March 2015

Dr James Bennett Vote of Thanks @ Radical Newcastle Book Launch, Newcastle Town Hall, 22 March 2015

Dr James Bennett Vote of Thanks @ Radical Newcastle Book Launch, Newcastle Town Hall, 22 March 2015

Following a brief Question Time, Dr Nancy Cushing introduced the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Newcastle, Professor Caroline McMillen, to officially launch the book.

Fellow editor, and Radical Newcastle creator Dr James Bennett delivered closing remarks and a vote of thanks.

A Public Meeting (see full video above) was called on the 16 March 2015 in the Newcastle Town Hall to discuss the Final Report of the NSW Parliamentary Enquiry into Newcastle and Hunter Planning.

Public Meeting - Panorama - Newcastle Town Hall 16th March 2015 (Photo: Gionni Di Gravio)

Public Meeting – Panorama – Newcastle Town Hall 16th March 2015 (Photo: Gionni Di Gravio)

The meeting was convened by Margaret Henry and chaired by Paul Scott.

Is the Rail Cut Legal? Poster (Photo Credit: Ann Hardy)

Is the Rail Cut Legal? Poster (Photo Credit: Ann Hardy)

Speakers included (in order of appearance):

Nuatali Nelmes – Lord Mayor of the City of Newcastle (Australia)

Nuatali Nelmes - Lord Mayor of the City of Newcastle (Australia) (Photo Credit: Ann Hardy)

Nuatali Nelmes – Lord Mayor of the City of Newcastle (Australia) (Photo Credit: Ann Hardy)


Jodie Harrison – Mayor of the City of Lake Macquarie


David Shoebridge MLC – Greens Member of the NSW Legislative Council

David Shoebridge MLC - Greens Member of the NSW Legislative Council (Photo Credit: Ann Hardy)

David Shoebridge MLC – Greens Member of the NSW Legislative Council (Photo Credit: Ann Hardy)


The Hon. Lynda Voltz MLC, Member of the NSW Legislative Council

[https://youtu.be/VnsiGY-2KDY]


Brian Ladd – NICRA (Newcastle Inner City Residents Alliance)


Joan Dawson – SOR (Save Our Rail)

Joan Dawson - SOR (Save Our Rail) (Photo Credit: Ann Hardy)

Joan Dawson – SOR (Save Our Rail) (Photo Credit: Ann Hardy)


Kim Ostinga – Friends of King Edward Park


Michelle Burdekin – Whitebridge Community Alliance


David Blythe – Hunter Concerned Citizens


Cr Michael Osbourne – Greens Councillor City of Newcastle (Australia)

Cr Michael Osbourne - Greens Councillor City of Newcastle (Australia) (Photo Credit: Ann Hardy)

Cr Michael Osbourne – Greens Councillor City of Newcastle (Australia) (Photo Credit: Ann Hardy)


Jenny Aitchinson – Labor Candidate for Maitland

Milton Caine – Christian Democratic Oarty Newcastle

Tim Crakanthorp, MP – NSW State Member for Newcastle

With a selection of questions from the evening including:

Pat from Bulga

The Hunter Deserves Better (Photo Credit: Ann Hardy)

The Hunter Deserves Better (Photo Credit: Ann Hardy)

Doug Lithgow and Gionni Di Gravio (Photo Credit: Ann Hardy)

Radical Newcastle Front Cover

Radical Newcastle Front Cover

Well we never thought this day would come. It has been years in the making, and a struggle of epic proportions, that has seen hopes dashed upon the rocks of academia on many an occasion. But the perseverance of our University’s historians Dr Nancy Cushing and Dr James Bennett, with the sustained attention of expat Professor Erik Eklund, has finally produced Radical Newcastle the book.

Radical Newcastle is a collection of essays by leading scholars, local historians and present day radical activistss that documents both the iconic events of the region’s radical past, and less well-known actions seeking social justice for workers, women, Aboriginal people and the environment.

The book will be officially launched during 2015’s Hunter Writers Festival in the Newcastle Town Hall on 22nd March at 3pm, where it will be available for sale to the wider community.

It will be launched by the UON Vice-Chancellor Professor Caroline McMillen, at a session hosted by Dr Nancy Cushing, and featuring local identities Mrs Vera Deacon, Daniela Heil and Professor John Maynard.

For Radical Newcastle writers and contributors, who provided articles that couldn’t fit into the book, or had to be edited down, and to those who didn’t make the ‘deadline’, please remember that you can always send us the full version of the article for inclusion on the blog, please consider that option.

For further info: http://engage.newcastle.edu.au/discover-newcastles-radical-past-at-newcastle-writers-festival/

The solitary copy of Radical Newcastle welcomed to the University on Wednesday 4th March 2015

The solitary copy of Radical Newcastle welcomed to the University on Wednesday 4th March 2015

IMG_5288 IMG_5286 IMG_5285

Radical Newcastle Event

Radical Newcastle Event

The program for the forthcoming Newcastle Writers Festival has just been announced 4-6 April 2014. Download your programs from here: http://www.newcastlewritersfestival.org.au/

Make sure you don’t miss the Radical Newcastle free event on Sunday April 6th starting at 1.30PM in the Mulubinba Room Newcastle City Hall.

1.30pm Sunday April 6th, Newcastle City Hall – Writing Radical Newcastle: Leading historians share their stories about the fascinating cast of communists, heritage activists and churchmen who are part of Newcastle’s colourful  past and a new book. With Ann CurthoysGionni Di Gravio and Prof Peter Hempenstall. Hosted by Dr Nancy Cushing. Free session.

Radical Newcastle @ Newcastle Writers Festival

Free event.

  • Sunday, April 6, 2014
  • 1:30pm – 2:30pm
  • Mulubinba – Room – Newcastle City Hall (map)

Protesting against coal with Rising Tide

Paula Morrow

I just told a bloke I met for the first time today in ‘Suspension’, the most activist-friendly coffee-shop in Newcastle, that being involved with groups that protest, that work for positive change, is enlivening.

I am here to tell you that you feel extremely alive when you paddle a kayak out on to the harbour with many others as part of one of the ‘flotillas’ organised by Rising Tide and stop the coal ships for the day. And Vera Deacon has done that in her 80s!

It reminds me of the day 200,000 of us sat down in Sydney’s main streets for the Vietnam Moratorium. And stopped the city.

And when you trespass on to the coal loaders and stop them operating for a few hours.

Or when you run breathless with fear and excitement (and probably lack of fitness once you are over fifty) through the fence and up on to the mountains of coal in the grounds of one of NSW’s filthiest power stations, ‘Bayswater’ near Muswellbrook. You feel very alive then.

I have form as an active member of the Vietnam Moratorium. I was voted on to the NSW co-ordinating committee of the Moratorium, at the age of 24 when I was single mum with a two year old, or a ‘deserted wife’ as they called us in 1970.

I arrived in Newcastle in 1988 with three of my four kids, 15 months after my second husband died of cancer. We were following the eldest who was starting university here. I straight away looked for groups similar to those I had been involved with on the far north coast of NSW: environment groups and co-counselling.  And Quakers.

I went to some environmental group meetings which spawned Newcastle Greens and Trees in Newcastle. I was one of the earliest in Newcastle Greens. And later on I was the (un-official) Newcastle representative to the Greens’ meeting in Sydney that made the decision to form The Australian Greens. I just said that I didn’t think that Newcastle Greens would stand in the way of such a move. (That being the low level of enthusiasm I had judged from our group, for centralisation of any kind.)

My three younger kids were exposed to people talking about politics. I especially remember one magical Greens’ night at John and Carrie’s that included as well as big pots of food, someone playing the didgeridoo. I was glad that they experienced that particular night. This was about the time that Ian who was one of the organisers of The Wilderness Society Newcastle, came on board with the Newcastle Greens and that felt like a strengthening. (I had joined The Wilderness Society from the far north coast, soon after it was formed over the Franklin crisis.)

Other environmental groups started springing up about ten years later, notably Rising Tide. I have been arrested three or four times over the past four or five years with them. On the coal-loaders twice, in the grounds of Bayswater power-station, and in the entrance of parliament house, Canberra. I must come across as a middle-aged feral!

I am happy to answer to the term environmental activist. Or to hippy, from my positive experiences in the hippy commune movement from 1970 in south eastern Queensland and in far northern NSW.

The Sydney Morning Herald was recently kind enough to call me an ‘eco-writer’.

April 08 trespassing on the site of the 3rd coal loader.

The only time I got arrested with my full-time forest activist son Ben was on the first coal-loader jaunt. He had already been diagnosed with cancer by then, had had the exploratory surgery that could do nothing, and a few rounds of chemotherapy, but bounced back into his old spiritual self with the leadership qualities he had exhibited when he came into his own in the forests of NSW and Tasmania.

I felt constricted with fear for him. He was taking photos. It was raining and cold and muddy. Later we were all, about 23 of us, held and harassed in the police station cells in Newcastle for hours. They had taken our water bottles. There was a tap attached to the top of the filthy toilet in the cell I was in with four of the young women. None of us drank from it. I was concerned about Ben, in with the other activist blokes, but weakened by illness and treatment.
In the cells with the idealistic young women, including one who meditated for a bit, I started to tell the story of being in the police station in Kuwait, when I was twenty and a traveller, and how much more desperate and dangerous it was then. I think it was Naomi who particularly wanted to hear, but we were interrupted by the police wanting to catalogue us: photos and fingerprints.

I was concerned that one of the young women in another cell, Chrissie, might get hypothermia and told a cop who seemed to be interested in OH & S and he went and talked to her and got her a blanket. You can always rely on those people, and the reps in a place, to take some responsibility.
The police took everything: our jewellery, wallets, and the aforesaid water bottles as well as our fingerprints and photos.

At one stage an assertive and cranky female cop asked us if we wanted her to get some Maccas in. It must have been about 2 pm by then. I was more concerned about us not drinking anything for hours. All we protesters and ferals had strong ideas on nutrition too. Young rangy men started saying ‘can they leave the meat off mine?’, and ‘can I just have chips?’

‘If you are going to be pedantic, I won’t bother!’ said she, and she didn’t.

Pete Gray had told us early in the day, at our six am start, that he was not happy missing out on actually being in the protest. I assumed he was on bail or something. Pete had a whole feast lovingly arranged for when we got out, late in the day. He had a table set up on the path right outside the police station with a huge selection of breads and dips!

There is often this intense appreciation of each other as individuals who have bothered to step off the well-trodden path and put ourselves on the line in order to try and wake the population up. Wake up to the dangers of evaporating our coal-mines into our atmosphere. Our grandchildren’s only atmosphere.
Bob Brown said at Ben’s funeral in Newcastle in 2009, ‘He was one of the VERY FEW WHO ACTUALLY GET IT!’

Before that I tried to get arrested in the same vicinity as Ben was trying to not get arrested. I walked into the exclusion zone of the Weld Forest in Tassie earlier in 2007. Ben and other direct action activists were climbing through the bush secretly, so that the police could not grab them and put them out of action, while lots of us were walking on the easier logging road. It was still seven kilometres each way, deliberately in the exclusion zone. Including young women with prams. On that rough logging road. There was a public and media blackout zone so the logging company could take out more old-growth forest. I had meant to get arrested but they did not arrest any of us that day.

I have written about meeting some of the Tasmanian forests through Ben’s inviting my daughter and me down there in my novel based on truth: Darwin’s Dilemma: the damage done and the battle for the forests.

In November 2008 we trespassed on Bayswater power station near Muswellbrook.

It was a big drive. I took my car. Jude sat next to me. Jonathan in the back said something about the despair of having all this environmental catastrophe on us. And I said, No! It was ever thus! Before we knew all this. It is the existential angst! The anguish of being conscious beings in animal bodies. I certainly felt it as a young person very keenly, extremely keenly, reading Albert Camus. Fromm was the antidote, The Art of Loving shared amongst those of us who most needed it. And then later Island by Aldous Huxley. The impetus for my own utopian novel, Life in Time. Jude later said that she enjoyed that conversation between Jonathan and me.

Graeme Dunstan was there in his very obvious van. It had a loudspeaker on it! I knew him vaguely as one of the organisers of the Nimbin Aquarius Festival in 1973: the ‘Survival Festival’. I went over ten days early from my banana shed in Mullumbimby to help with the setting up of the festival. Graeme made us a cup of tea out the back of his van after the Bayswater escapade.

I felt again the rush of fear and excitement as we breached the wire fence. And then we run, together. Get in before they stop us! As usual I giggle with the excitement and the unusual effort and wonder if I will keep up. Later, further in, the black mountains of coal are huge and the coal slips away from under my feet which makes me giggle more.

Later we covered for the couple of photographers who needed to get out and get the film out.

One of the workers said he thought we were doing the right thing.

When the police were there and we were reduced to lots of standing around on top of a hill, one of the young protesters said that he thought it was like the anti-Vietnam protesters, everyone thought they were wrong at first and then they were proved right. He seemed a bit thrilled when I told him that I had been part of that too when I was about his age. I was even voted on to the organising committee of the NSW Vietnam Moratorium when I was 24.

And the only time I have been arrested with my daughter was in 2009, in the entrance to Parliament House Canberra, with Rising Tide and people from other states. About 200 of us were arrested when we gathered to try to encourage Kevin Rudd to go for reasonable targets at Copenhagen. My daughter had been radicalised when we spent the night in the Styx Forest as guests of Ben and his small band.

Mind you, I also feel very alive when I swim in the sea, or walk in the bush, and surprisingly when I walk, or catch public transport, in the rain. It takes me back to being a kid, when we all walked or caught buses or trains a whole lot more. A bit of discomfort (not too much thanks!) activates the senses. As does the witnessing of human interactions when we are out in the public space, as opposed to sealed, de-humidified and homogenised, in our cars.
How much more do we then feel enlivened if we meet with others of similar values and try to push for environmental sustainability, or for social justice? And get out there in it?

As Pete Gray signed off on one of his emails to a group of us fellow protesters,

‘Pleasure makin’ trouble with you!’

This rally in Civic park Newcastle brought together people from across the political and social divides.

This was a classic example of how radical Newcastle ticks at its best.

Newcastle International Women's Day Celebrations 1944-2011

Photographs and images compiled by Jude Conway for the Radical Newcastle Colloquium held at the University Gallery, 2 December 2011.

Click here to access the complete set: http://www.flickr.com/photos/uon/sets/72157628324360701/

And click here for the slideshow: http://www.flickr.com/photos/uon/sets/72157628324360701/show/

On Friday 2 December 2011 The University Gallery hosted the Radical Newcastle Colloquium.

This all day event, featured historians, activists, public intellectuals and the wider community in examining and discussing a broad array of topics from sex and abortion to radical clergy, environmental activism and politics.

Here is a selection of the videos recorded on the day

Put Obama into Detention

Speech outside Parliament House, Canberra, Thursday, 17 November 2011.

Ten years ago, we were told that we were going to chose who came here. Today, we are exercising that choice by protesting at the arrival of the war and economic criminal Obama. In saying that he and his gang are not welcome we are not turning our backs on the people of the United States. On the contrary, we stand in solidarity with them against the forces that oppress and exploit them and peoples across the globe.

Let’s apply the policy of choosing who can come here to the Obama entourage. Some 600 security agents are here to protect him, presumably from assassination. That number is an insult to Australians. Whatever is wrong with our public life we are not yet subject to the ravings that infect US politics, even though its shock-jock lunacies are being imported. But let’s think more about Obama’s guardians. What is their background? What checks have been made to ensure that none have been CIA kidnappers, torturers and assassins? Who better to protect you against assassination than your own trained assassins?

Refugees are held in detention until ASIO has given them a security clearance. Some suffer behind razor wire for years. Obama’s security team flies in without so much as a by your leave. Their names are state secrets. They get a blanket clearance. Perhaps that is just as well. Imagine the fate of anyone who tried to serve an arrest warrant on Obama or any one of his minders. Such people are not welcome. If anyone should be detained until we have checked their criminal status, it is these state terrorists.

To make it clearer why they are not welcome, we can indicate some of the US Americans who we do welcome. In running through the reasons for opening our borders to them, we shall see more clearly why Obama is the enemy of us all.

Before explaining who is welcome and why, we must acknowledge that choosing who could come here, or to the Americas or Africa, was not a choice that the invaders gave to indigenous peoples. Colonisers resorted to force and practiced genocide. Their impacts continue. All that has changed is the scale and methods of dispossession. Hence, we acknowledge the traditional owners. Who will give Obama a welcome to country?

Looking back to the early years of the invasion of this continent who might the original occupants have welcomed? One group was from the US of A but could not be citizens there because they were runaway slaves. Many US citizens helped them to move north to Canada. We hope that the settlers here who opposed the transportation of convicts would have provided sanctuary for those fugitives.

In like manner, we recall the ‘terrorist’ John Brown who raided Harper’s Ferry in 1859 to set up a non-slave republic. His soul is more than welcome to go marching on through Australia.

Of course, the regime of terror for Afro-Americans did not end with their legal emancipation after the Civil War. The spirit of our protest welcomes the ex-slaves and their descendants escaping from Jim Crow Laws and the lynchings that ruled beyond the old South into the 1970s.

Since then there have been judicial lynchings. In September, Georgia executed Troy Davis although the case against him was unsound. Davis joins the hundreds of those executed wrongly. They were convicted because they were poor, black and had been ill-educated. We welcome a humanitarian intervention in the US of A to put an end to this systemic injustice grounded in class and race.

Reverting to the nineteenth century, it is easy to imagine the welcome that the diggers at Eureka gave to the 200-strong Independent Californian Rangers’ Revolver Brigade in 1854. The warmth of that welcome from other miners extended to the Melbourne jury who acquitted the first of the rebels brought to trial, the Afro-American John Josephs, whom the crowd carried through the streets.

 

Labor leaders

Since Obama’s electoral base is in Chicago, let’s ask which past and present residents of that city would we most like to have with us today. A police attack on a labor rally in the city’s Haymarket in 1886 led to May Day’s becoming the international celebration of the working class movement. The Pullman rail strike was centred there in 1894. One of its leaders, the Socialist presidential candidate, Eugene Debs, spent time in prison for organising that and other strikes. He later went to jail for his anti-war activities.

The first English translation of Marx’s Capital came from Chicago, as did Upton Sinclair’s novel The Jungle (1906) about the horrors of working in a meat-packing works. Also from Chicago came the Industrial Workers of the World, known as the Wobblies. They contributed to the fighting strength of Australia’s working class, and were also at the forefront of anti-war movement here to oppose conscription for the slaughter at Gallipoli and on the Western Front. After one US Wobbly, Joe Hill, was executed in Utah in 1915, his fellow workers sent packets of his ashes around the world, including to Sydney. We welcome every chance to breath life into his ashes, along with the Haymarket martyrs, Debs, Sinclair and all the Wobblies.

From Chicago today we welcome the late community activist Saul Alinsky. Obama stole his methods of organising – ‘Rules for Radicals’ – so that Wall Street could continue to occupy the White House.. As his chief economic advisor, he appointed the man who had de-regulated the financial system, Larry Scummers. As Secretary of the Treasury he appointed Timothy Giethner who presided over Wall Street during its wildest speculations and swindles. Hence, we welcome the US documentary Inside Job which exposes their crimes, as we do the work of Michael Moore.

We also welcome all those involved in the Occupy Wall Street upsurge. We welcome the Wisconsin teachers and students who initiated the fight-back against the latest attacks on the ability of working people to organise.

These twin movements challenge the resentful rhetoric of the Tea Party. Unlike that body, the occupiers are not in the pay of the plutocracy that dominates US politics and whose power and privileges Obama serves.

 

Mark Twain

Many of the profoundest critics of the serial criminality of US capitalism are and always have been its own citizens. Mark Twain was the quintessential voice of US American literature. Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn continue to provide models for US fiction. No one could be more ‘American’, yet he has been portrayed as ‘Un-American’. The reason is simple: he condemned the US take-over of the Philippines. Today, we hear about ‘humanitarian interventions. In 1898, the Marines landed to ‘liberate’ the locals from the tyranny of their Spanish colonisers. The US forces soon turned their guns on the independence fighters. In 1900, Twain joined the Anti-Imperialist League, declaring:

I am opposed to having the eagle put its talons on any other land.

He recognised that

we do not intend to free, but to subjugate … We have gone there to conquer, not to redeem

 

The general order to ‘kill or capture’ became a policy of indiscriminate slaughter. Twain called the US troops ‘Christian butchers’.

Twain had been welcomed when he lectured throughout Australia in 1896. Today, we welcome the lessons he learned about US Imperialism.

Similarly, we have just welcomed a contemporary US citizen, Noam Chomsky, with the Sydney Peace Prize. Part of Chomsky’s message is that Obama is more dangerous than Bush because he is still able to get away with crimes that were seen as such under Bush. With Bush, the person and the policy were recognised as one. Obama emerged behind a smokescreen of hope. Bob Brown says he wont protest this time because Obama is ‘wiser, more astute’ than Bush. Sure he is. He is astute enough to sucker Brown.

We extend a welcome to Ralph Nader to return. His Unsafe at any speed sparked the consumer fightback against the auto industry. Never has he compromised with the corporates or with the Democratic machine.

Workers on the Sydney opera house in 1960 went wild when Paul Robeson sang to them. When Pete and Peggy Seeger toured in 1960, the Courier-Mail refused to accept advertisements for their Brisbane concert which nonetheless overfilled the City Hall. We look forward to a tour by Dixie Chicks whose songs were put off the air in 2003 after they told a London audience that they were ashamed to have had George Bush as their governor in Texas. We welcome the successes that their music has had since.

 

Offers of asylum

Harry Bridges was the Australian-born leader of the West Coast Longshoremen’s Union. The FBI spent decades trying to deport Harry to Australia. As much as we would have welcomed Harry home we rejoice in the success that his members had in keeping him there as a fighter against exploitation.

We will also welcome back non-violent resister Scott Parkin who was deported this time last year. We will welcome home Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, despite Killard’s determination to throw him to the coyotes. We offer asylum to Corporal Bradley Manning.

 

Today

On top of this liturgy of crimes, there are two new reasons for not welcoming Obama. The first is military and the second is economic, though they are inseparable.

The Darwin base is the base that you have when you are not having a foreign base. The US Marines and bombers are not welcome. Neither are the bases at Pine Gap and Norunga. We are told that those bases are now under Australian control. In truth, they are managed by Australians who work as agents of a foreign power. That arrangement was put in place in the 1980s by the most significant agent of US influence in our history, R J Hawke. His successors in the trade of selling us out range from Senator Mark Ahbib to Carr and Beasley to Killard.

The other source for alarm is the Pacific Partnership on so-called free trade. Smell the spin-doctors at work with the use of ‘partnership’. What that weasel word means is more domination and control by global corporations. Two aspects are of particular importance.

The first concerns our Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. Big Pharma wants open slather for their most expensive drugs. The consequentual cost blow-out will undermine our subsidised system. It will open the way to the abolition of Medicare as an impediment to profit-taking by the corporations that oppose even the modest system of health care proposed by Obama.

The second concern is with the Australian content provisions of the television licensing system. Hollywood executives see those regulations as a restraint on trade. They need to dump more of their programs here. The more networks that have to buy from Hollywood, the more they profit. Of course, the current laws are observed in the breech more than the observance. The media corporates fill up the hours with reality TV and other trivial pursuits. When they do make dramas they mimic Hollywood models.

Why is this latest piece of cultural imperialism important? One reason is to keep jobs here for writers, actors and technicians. But a larger question ties back to the military bases. If we grow up thinking that all music and movies come from somewhere else, we are being indoctrinated to accept that that somewhere else must know best for us on far more than entertainment. The claim is not that Australian screen culture is the best in the world. The point is that we need our own second-rate stuff. We need our own day-dreams. Without them, we are more susceptible to accepting military bases and trade deals that open the door to plunder. To occupy our imaginations is what the Pentagon calls soft power.

How best can we help those from Wisconsin to Wall Street? The way we can help US working families who are also victims of US monopolisers is to weaken their grip on the one part of the world over which we as Australians can have some influence. Only the people of the US can destroy US Imperialism. We cannot do that for them anymore than they can free our lives from domination by the US military-industrial-congressional-academic complex.

The US rebels at Eureka pledged to stand truly by each other. Our presence here today renews that pledge among our fellow Australian workers and to the millions of US citizens who are stirring against the monopolising capitalists. The unity that counts is unity in action.

The more we Australians act in unison, the more we shall realise that the fault is not in the Stars and Stripes, but in our own politics, if we remain underlinings.

Humphrey McQueen

The Newcastle Branch of The Wilderness Society is a local community environmental group whose mission is to protect, promote and secure the future of wilderness and other high conservation areas.

The Newcastle Branch of The Wilderness Society has members throughout the Hunter Region and has a strong interest protecting local areas of high conservation value.

Such areas include Stockton Bight, Jabiluka Uranium Mine, Tomalpin Industrial Estate, Tomago Sandbeds and the native forests of Barrington Tops and Jilliby Reserve.

The archives collection of the Newcastle Branch of the Wilderness Society spans the years 1976 – 2007. The Collection predominantly contains correspondence and publications relating to their environmental campaigns as well as media files on local, national and international environmental issues.

[DOWNLOAD] Wilderness Society (Newcastle Branch) Archives Listing Compiled by Melanie Patfield