The Guardian and handful of other news outlets reported last Monday something quite significant: church leaders were arrested for an asylum prayer vigil at Tony Abbott’s Sydney office.
Meanwhile, a simultaneous sit-down protest was held at opposition leader Bill Shorten’s electorate office in Melbourne.
The significance of course is that peaceful, law-abiding civilians with strong religious beliefs are now prepared to be arrested over the horrendous imprisonment of 1,023 children in Australian-run immigration detention centres.
More than that, they targeted both political parties that engage in this cruelty, and came from a broad section of the Christian faith: Catholic, Baptist, Anglican and Uniting churches.
Interestingly Abbott’s goons brought the cops in while Shorten let them stay. It follows similar sit-in protests at immigration minister Scott Morrison’s electorate office in March, as well as the office of foreign affairs minister Julie Bishop. Will non-violent protests against human and environmental crimes define 2014?
Heads up hyper-local media junkies – newly released newspaper circulation figures have seen The Byron Echo increase its domi- nance over The Byron News (APN), with a 48 per cent circulation lead. The figures, which are updated every six months, were released last week by the Audited Media Association.
There’s been a general decline for local daily The Northern Star, owned by Australian Provincial Newspapers (APN). The Star now prints 9,662 copies daily, which is down seven per cent on the same period last year. Its Saturday edition is also down 8.8 per cent.
While independent publishers such as The Echo are holding steady and expanding online, the days of complacency are long over. The media’s existence relies on more than just relevant and informative news; it relies on good relationships with its advertisers.
But as for corporate suckholes like Rupert Murdoch, be wary of those who afflict the afflicted while comforting the comfortable.
Welcome comrades, to the great big Green event, held at St John’s Hall in Mullumbimby last Saturday night.
‘It’s great to see the carpark full with so many cars,’ was one awkward welcome. And it was; the place was packed, and while not awkward all the time, there’s no doubting the earnest passion from nerdy intellectual progressives wishing that corporate powers be curtailed and social justice flourish.
Would fiscal policy be discussed? How about that ‘massive debt’ that threatens to ruin us – how will we tackle that in a post-fossil fuel age?
Sadly no, this wasn’t a night for that – this was about people power and Bentley. The event was to feature federal senator Scott Ludlam (WA), but senator Larissa Waters (Qld), NSW Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham and Senate hopeful Dawn Walker joined the line-up.
To their credit, The Greens didn’t try to own the Bentley victory – acknowledgment was made of the two women who started the door-knocking campaign, Gasfield Free Northern Rivers, the Lock The Gate movement, the Githabul people and the Knitting Nannas. Alan Jones could have perhaps also been thanked after his attack on Metgasco and the state government, but that would have been a stretch. It would be interesting to have been privy to the recent Nationals Party meeting held in Tweed as a comparison.
What we do know is that Mullum is Greens heartland – last polls showed Mullum had the highest Greens voter turnout in Byron Shire and therefore the Richmond seat for the 2013 federal election.
Public events where policy and ideas are discussed are rare, and even rarer is the opportunity to hear firsthand how the big parliamentary chicken factories work. The crowd were told what current legislation had recently been knocked back or enacted. For example a federal ICAC bill by The Greens was rejected by both Labor and the coalition. Both parties even declined to debate it, said Ms Waters. Additionally the federal government just handed all environment laws to the states to manage, giving no national oversight to air, water and food security issues.
There were warnings to protectors too: MP Buckingham said in response to the current Maules Creek protest that the government has enacted legislation under the Crimes Act to lock up those obstructing a mine vehicle. ‘If guilty, it carries a sentence of seven years’ jail. So you really do, as a community, need to be across that.’
The night ended with a reminder about the little known Trans Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP). MP Ludlum said, ‘We only know about this because WikiLeaks has told us. This would possibly allow multinational corporations the right to sue local state and federal governments for passing laws that might impact on their future profits. If you want an example of clear and present danger of corporate rule, look to the TPP.’
Who is worse – a new NSW premier who refuses to explain un- declared donations and subsequent plum appointments, or an opposition leader who ignored the code of conduct regarding bribes and took six months to tell someone he had an offer?
Sounds complicated and boring, but all that can be said about modern NSW politics is that govcorp morons are shouting at each other from across the room over who is worse. And somehow they think the public will find that acceptable.
Can these idiots be any more insulting?
Yes – both parties also voted last week against an amendment to the Mining and Petroleum Acts to establish an Independent Expert Mine Licensing Committee, as recommended by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) following the inquiries into corruptly granted coal mining licences.
Jeremy Buckingham (Greens) says they also combined to replace a broad ‘public interest power’ to cancel mining licences and replace it with a narrower ‘fit and proper person’ test.
Unlike the classic ‘corporations are people too’ line, it appears to ensure corporations are better people.
And why has this happened? Just follow the money.
According to Buckingham, ‘Since 1999, the mining sector has donated $5,753,721 to the Liberal, National and Labor par- ties and they are still not prohibited political donors.’
If any public faith is to be restored, the mining licences that were handed out by disgraced Labor MPs Eddie Obeid and Ian MacDonald need to be cancelled and re-examined by someone with integrity. Integrity? Ha!