Popular Protests and Democracy Inaction!

No – not my careless typing. Just an effort to express my despair about the way Australian grassroots democracy seems to be working these days.

This first three months of 2011 has seen the greatest number of hot days in the Perth metropolitan area for the January to March period since records began in 1897. After many months relentless heat without rain and following a decade of record dry years, this would surely make climate change and the carbon tax debate a major concern of citizens. Our state politicians must surely be racking their brains about water and be galvanised into action, urged on by those citizens, not only at the ballot box but by the all usual means available to people living in a democracy. Particularly by peaceful protest.

I certainly thought so particularly after reading a report The West Australian March 25th about a rally outside the Perth Convention Centre.

The rally in favour of climate action trumped its anti-tax counterpart, both on the numbers and on the sense of inspiration it engendered. On one side was a sea of young faces and blue T-shirts, proclaiming now as the time to embrace a sustainable future, make polluters pay and invest in clean energy. On the other, hectoring speeches about “Ju-liar”, paranoid raving about political totalitarianism and long-debunked scientific furphies straight out of the climate wowsers’ playbook.

Wow, I thought,  Way to go!  So when our Prime Minister was coming to WA and to my very own suburb, to ‘meet the people’ in a Community Cabinet at South Fremantle I decided that I would be there to express my support for her government’s initiatives to tackle climate change,  particularly  with the plans for a price on carbon. Our local newspapers ran a feature on how there would be a rally at the high school and conservationist groups put out a leaflet promoting it.  I decided that even my dog and I could help by distributing that on our  morning and evening walks.  I even wrote a more personal letter to neighbours in surrounding streets near my home, which I later emailed to anyone I thought might possibly by able to attend or alert others.  I urged them to come along and show their support for action on carbon pollution. I thought that just by being there, wearing something blue even carrying a balloon, we could help.  We could make just a bit of difference.

Well, last night I sat down and wrote an apology to any of my friends who turned up at that rally because of my urging.

Such a disappointment! All those hundreds of mums and dads with their kids, along with greenies and varied groups of conservationists peacefully supporting a price on carbon were entirely drowned out by noisy anti-government protesters with whistles, hooters and shouting jeers. Much fewer in number they were still very determined to be heard. As well, other special interest groups were out in force. I was particularly surprised by the rowdy tactics of young gays chanting non-stop for equality of marriage rights with slogans proclaiming the PM and the government to be homophobic! Some very tipsy fishermen were handing out whistles and klaxons with free fishing rods and were horribly noisy. They had no info hand-outs so I couldn’t quite get what their complaint was.

Apparently forewarned, the PM arrived early and unnoticed.  People leaving the the Community Cabinet seemed well pleased with what had happened inside. I had to leave at that point before all the children who had gathered were able to present their giant thank-you card with hundreds of their signatures. I hope they had the chance to meet their Prime Minister and be greeted in return.

I did meet some of you on the fringes of the crowd. Perhaps tomorrow we’ll all know what happened to that card.  Do any of you know?

Listening to ABC news today I’m still none the wiser about that card. There has been some reporting on the concerns of people at the meeting inside the school hall with the Prime Minister answering questions on range of issues, particularly refugees and the concern we all share about undue delay in processing claims for asylum and overcrowding of detention centres.  The crowds outside were reported as ‘noisy protesters.’    So much for all those well behaved children with their parents.

Oh and the major story about our Prime Minister coming to Western Australia and meeting our Premier seems to be about money and how the GST is carved-up between the States.

47 comments on “Popular Protests and Democracy Inaction!

  1. That must have been so disappointing Patricia and certainly illustrates specifically how the media manipulates people’s perception of events.

  2. This is all part of a worldwide trend being exercised by the right and the right wing media with some very powerful figures funding and manipulating it in the background.

    It’s and exercise in muddying the waters, confusing the issues and complicating the messages then putting out simple three word slogans against the progressive governments. Their target audience haven’t a clue about what the issues are really about, and for those implementing or supporting them they can’t be explained in simplistic terms and slogans, so the mindset becomes the three word anti-issue slogan.

    You see it across the blogosphere and online opinion pieces that have comments as they are flooded with one or at most two sentence issue and left wing put downs that neither address the subject or add in anyway to the debate. Say the same thing often enough whilst all around is confusion and jumble of noise on many issues the thing said often will stick and become fact.

  3. Patricia, you were representing the people and not the Abbott loving media. Hence this is why your interests go unnoticed.

  4. Thank you, Pip, that has given me a lift! Some good news out of Fremantle! But it still mentions the noisy protesters outside that community cabinet. The noise was made by less than a third of those there and as I said above mostly had little reference to federal government policies, particularly on climate and carbon which was why all those little kids were there with their mums and dads.

    I am not good in crowds these days and that was a truly horrible one, particularly in view of my naive expectation that it would resemble the earlier up-beat one reported on last week at the Perth Convention Centre. As well I do worry about how all that will impact on those children.

    That anxiety stayed with me through the night which was why I was up early this morning trying to write it out of my system. It’s not only the planet we need to worry about it’s the impact of all this cynical self interest on the national psyche.

  5. Another thought occurred to me after reading this from one of Lyn’s Links this morning http://alexschlotzer.wordpress.com/2011/03/31/exposing-the-anti-carbon-price-rallies/

    Alex Schlotzer writes about the role played by Menzies House and CANdo (which claims to be ‘Australia’s grassroots conservative voice’) in organizing opposition to the government’s carbon tax, particularly in assisting with rally coordination through their Carbon Coalition group. They’ll provide posters, stickers, bumper stickers and badges, and in some instances provide a paid speaker, for any anti- government protest on the issue.

    It made me think about that truck I watched outside South Fremantle High School, off-loading boxes of plastic wrapped complimentary fishing rods which were then handed out to bystanders along with a plastic klaxon horn. The lack of any real info about the grievances of angler fishermen against the federal government which merited their extreme level of noisy protest might be explained if they had been ‘encouraged’ to turn up and provided with the wherewithall to disrupt a peaceful display of support for carbon pricing.


  6. patriciawa,
    I believe that Cory Bernardi is a younger, more zealous version of Abbott, Andrews, Abetz etc., who has visited the States and come back with all the BS associated with Tea Party Tactics. Their tricks aren’t new, they’re just a lot more obvious these days IMHO, and commonsense and truth plays little or no part in their messages.
    Howard had his tricks and tactics but these guys are much worse, and your concern about the influence on the children is important. I’m sure it’s been said on this site a few times that during Howard’s time the general tone and demeanour of our community and society was trashed. His tactic was to divide and conquer and it worked but at a great cost.
    This is what astro-turfing is all about.

    I don’t suppose you could manage a line about what happened to Bernardi’s klaxon horn……where did it go?

  7. PatriciaWA,
    It’s my turn tomorrow in Sydney. I’m off from a fair way away from Sydeny to go to our GetUp organised Action on Climate Change Rally, with my son. I’m going just so I can add another 2 to the numbers. I don’t think we will be drowned out as you were because that little grub from 2GB, Chris Smith has gotten behind another Anti Action on Climate Change Rally which will be held at the same time as ours but up the road at Hyde Park.
    Now, let’s see how the competing numbers stack up. One rally with constant promotion on the radio, against another with only word of mouth promotion and GetUp’s entreaties.
    I sure hope we outdo the other crowd in numbers.

  8. I too would like to get an update Hillbilly, as I’m sure all here at the Cafe would.

    I hereby appoint you as our honorary representative.

  9. The more concerning part about the anti-carbon price people is that there is essentially cash-for-comment going on with the press seemingly unable to do any investigative work into who the speakers are, or their true motives. I haven’t seen or heard of anyone being paid to speak at or go to rallies in support of a carbon price. It’s true a lot of community and grassroots organisations, including unions and NGOs worked very hard to ensure the Melbourne rally was a big success; but that was done openly and transparently. Materials were properly authorised and the supporting organisations openly talked about them encouraging people to go – no one was paid though.

    I’d be interested to know if the professionally made anti-carbon price placards and banners have an authorisation.

    (And thanks to patriciaWA for making mention of my post about the Canberra rally’s faceless men and women.)

  10. Hi Alex, good to see you.

    I think Patricia has made mention of your post on at least one other blog site besides the Cafe. She’s just thrilled to see the word getting around.

  11. Thanks Miglo,

    I’m pretty happy that my humble post is being spread around.

    So many people can see through the rhetoric but when it’s just blindly accepted and reported by our professional class of journalists then it’s up to us on the ground to speak up and expose the truth.

    Lets hope the word keep spreading 🙂

    — Alex

  12. Hi Alex.

    I think it’s a lost cause in regards to those who are firmly of the opinion that climate change is a complete lie, or those who have it set in their mind that a carbon price will ruin the family budget or that we have a government that is intent on ruining the country. But there is still a good majority of people who are willing to listen and we need to target them.

    It’s a slow process, unfortunately.

  13. The anti carbon tax mob in Hyde Park, as reported on ABC online
    “an estimated 4, 000 people gathered in Hyde Park to protest against the policy”.
    As I write, there is a handsome and intrepid reporter on ABC 24, saying that the timing of the release of the carbon tax figures is handy for the anti carbon mob, but no mention of the fact that those figures mean diddly.

    “In Belmore Park , near Central Station, about 4,000 people rallied, although organisers said upwards of 8,000 people were in attendance to show support for the policy”.

    Min, what were you saying about readers looking at the top of the story??? and was it 4,000 or 8,000???
    It takes about 36 or 40 lines down to be told by Greg Combet,
    ” so what these figures are are various SCENARIOS BASED UPON A PREVIOUS EMISSIONS TRADING SCHEME”. [my bold].


  14. Pip, that’s the way that they do it. Another one is the word ‘claim’. The media pushes it’s line and the information which corrects this line is preceded by the word ‘claim’. So that it becomes something like Tony Abbott says… but Julia Gillard claims.

    It’s done so as to put doubt into the reader’s mind about the accuracy of one of the party’s information.

  15. And another one while I’m at is that it’s not just what they say but how they say it. Anything about Abbott will be said with BIG smiles and wise nods, anything that isn’t on the agenda is said far more downcast and quite often not even looking at the camera but said to another person..in sober tones of course. Where’s TB, he’s the body language expert 😉

  16. ABC attempting to make out both rallies were about the same whilst commercial news showed a wide high shot of the pro-Carbon Tax rally but on tight shots of the anti-Carbon Tax rally so no one could get a far comparison.

  17. I note that the Sky News piece gives far more type and precedence to the anti-Carbon Tax rally and doesn’t mention the GetUP petition at all whilst mentioning the Abetz petition more than once.

  18. Mobius re the wide shots/tight shots. That’s one I hadn’t thought of but I’ll be watching out for that trick in the future.

    And of course Abbott has ‘a reason’ for not attending the rally..he’s on his bike…which of course, in fact goes without saying, is being given never ending publicity once again courtesy of Sky.

  19. Spot the similarities, one is Sky News, Murdoch, and the other is Sydney Morning Herald, Fairfax.
    I know I put this here a short while ago but they are identical

    by an uncredited author.

    By Miles Godfrey and Chi Tranter

    The ABC report was worded differently but the image was by Chi Tranter, so it seems that there is a bi-partisan approach to weekend news; just take it from AAP, that’ll do, and it’s much easier than actually working on relevent truthful news.

  20. Min, “he’s on his bike”, and on ABC 24 he’s getting repeats of his interview from earlier on, as well as regular repeats of him riding his bike, PLUS HE LOOKS RIDICULOUS IN THOSE BLOODY BIKE PANTS.

  21. Pip, from BOTH of your links one from Sky and the other in the SMH..you caught them out nicely there.

    Despite leaked government papers revealing a carbon tax could set households back over $800 the message from protesters was that it’s money worth spending to secure the future for upcoming generations.

    For starters it’s not a ‘leaked’ document, the Liberals put in a FOI application. Plus they’re still continuing on with $800 line which Combet has stated is one of several models based on the 2009 ETS plan.

  22. The anti-carbon tax mustn’t be important for Abbott that he couldn’t give up a bike ride for it.

    He had no problems turning up for stunts at the Victorian and Queensland floods along with stuffing up the simplest of jobs at a factory, and that was after he had been given simple step by step instruction with demo on how to do it.

  23. Funny that isn’t it. Maybe he was advised to stay out of town after the publicity from the last rally. Not a good look to be continuously photographed alongside nut cases.

  24. That’s my guess too, Min. The general consensus is that the bulk of the attendees at the anti rallies are not portrayed as people you’d want to live next door to. The ugly Australian aptly describes them.

    Given that two former Liberal leaders have spoken against Abbott’s involvement with this loony mob, I’m thinking that he just might want to be disassociated with them.

    Oh how he must wish that he appealed to the intelligent type.

  25. Migs, the coverage on Sky was showing the same tacky signs as for the last rally which certainly gives an indication as to the quality of the Shock Jock rent a crowd.

    The interviews that I saw were a big contrast, an older well informed couple compared with a loud mouth yob frantically waving a placard.

  26. I’m forming the opinion that the continued exposure of the anti crowd is revealing to the general populace what a rabid bunch of buffoons they are. Keep it up guys. Barking dogs generally don’t bite.

  27. Most telling thing for me against the anti rally that showed it wasn’t about the carbon tax is that the protest was almost entirely personal against Gillard. On the other hand the pro rally was on the purpose.

  28. Apologies for being AWOL over the weekend. I fell for a Trojan Horse scam! Restored now, and much wiser!

    I agree with ME and Jedda there is a highly organised ‘hate Julia’ campaign going on as a sub-text to all these rallies.

    Further to the one outside my local high school which I wrote about on this post I had my feelings about those ‘tipsy fishermen’ confirmed by this front page article in our independent local newspaper, the Fremantle Herald which is headlined Rally Turns Ugly and tells in detail how fishermen clashed with other groups. My hunch that they were spoilers was right. The story tells how the group were ‘organised by Angler Magazine boss, Scott Coglan.’

    The Angler Magazine is pretty big business and publishes throughout Australia. Anyone know who owns it? Their tactics have all the hallmarks of a ‘CANdo’ campaign as discussed by Alex Schlotzer at his site and when he commented here the other day.

  29. Hi patricia, I’ve done an email alert for every mention of The Angler, so we’ll see what pops up :]

  30. Thanks, Pip. Could you explain to me how that ’email alert’ works and how one sets it up? Does it involve a lot of wading through piles of irrelevant stuff as well as the opportunity to hit pay dirt?

  31. Hi Pip, those fisherman have popped up again in The Fremantle Herald boasting about their taunting of rival protesters at the South Fremantle High School rally. The Herald, an independent local paper, has been determinedly pursuing this story, while the Fremantle Gazette, owned by News Ltd. has given it the go-by. Apparently the police are still investigating the incident of the knife pulling.

    Anything from that email alert on the Angler?

  32. Hi patricia, sorry i missed you on the 6th,
    I was preocupied last week and didn’t check my emails very thoroughly. It’s a good thing that you asked because when you set up an email alert, an email is sent back to confirm, and I missed it so it wasn’t confirmed. That really helps if one wants to receive the email….

    So, to set one up,
    go to google news
    and type in what you want in the “news” box,
    which will bring up a page with various news items on the subject.
    At the bottom of the page there should be three lines in blue, the top one should be
    click that one and the next page will have a few boxes to enter details such as whether you want just news items, or everything, or blogs etc. I usually just go for news but it depends what is needed.

    It’s been very handy for me and saves a lot of time ferreting through all the papers:]

    Good luck and easy hunting.

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