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Dear politicians, Parliament is not your safe place

The reaction of the political class and some journalists to the protest in parliament house on Tuesday is an example of the kind of arrogance and entitlement that has alienated many in the US from their major political parties, and voting patterns would indicate a similar disaffection is well under way here.

Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek advised citizens that if we wish to engage in the democratic process, we need to get ourselves elected. This remark seems to indicate that the democratic process belongs to politicians: citizens, once we’ve elected them, are excluded.

On reflection, this is pretty much what democracy has become in Australia. We elect a government based on many factors, among them promises made by candidates. Government then disregards the very undertakings that enabled their ascendance, and voters are thus excised from the “democratic” process. Plibersek isn’t that far off the mark. Citizens participate only insofar as we vote. After that, we do as we’re told.

Protesters are invariable described in pejorative terms, as if protest in itself is regarded as contemptible by politicians. One Nation’s Pauline Hanson, for example, claimed that she and her staff could “smell the protesters, they hadn’t even bothered to shower.” This is in keeping with the long association of legal protest with “the great unwashed.” During an Occupy Melbourne demonstration, former Human Rights Commissioner for Freedom turned Liberal politician Tim Wilson, tweeted that peaceful protesters should have the water cannons turned on them. Insults such as grubs, vermin, losers are hurled at peaceful protesters: a metaphorical association with “dirtiness” the political class assumes it is entitled to protection from.

The arrogance of the political class, their belief that they are superior to the citizens who elect them and pay their wages, nowhere reveals itself as starkly as in their attitudes to legal protest. When protest occurs in the House at Question Time they are confronted on their own turf, turf they believe to be sacred and protected from the citizens who put them there, citizens who are now irrelevant until the next election.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten claimed Tuesday’s protest was “the exact opposite of democracy.” Really? I thought protest was democracy in action, and protest in the House of the people the fulfilment of democracy’s promise.

Journalist Malcolm Farr also stated on Twitter that if we want to speak in parliament we should get elected. Or perhaps we should all become journalists with press gallery credentials.

The “us and them” narrative has shown itself in all its ugliness, in these reactions. Perhaps parliament ought to be sacred ground, perhaps the HoR ought to be regarded with the reverence ideally due to democracy’s engine. But a House and a parliament is only as good as the people in it, and it’s been a long, long time since we’ve had good people driving our democracy train.

The only power we have, in between elections, is the power of peaceful protest. Take it right up to them. Protest in the House politicians have so thoroughly defiled.

Peaceful protest is not terrorism, nor is it the threat of terrorism, though they will attempt to frame it as such in an effort to suppress. Politicians want to be protected from the sight and sound of dissent. They want Parliament House to be their safe space. It isn’t. It belongs to everyone. This is still a democracy, Ms Plibersek, Mr Shorten. Shame on you.

This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.

 

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74 comments

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  1. leslie wand

    great article which unfortunately will only reach the converted…

    i read aim with interest and on the whole agree with much of the comments – unfortunately, rather like truth out most writers are preaching to the choir. mainstream media is still following it’s normal course / camps, and in the meantime ‘we’ smell, need water cannons turned on us, and when given the chance – upper hunter pac’s against drayton mine, are studiously ignored, in fact in the case i mention 3 times!!!

  2. townsvilleblog

    Having been brainwashed by the yanks since the end of WW2 we now find ourselves (many not I) emulating them in almost every facet of life, given the almost complete brainwash from yankee consumerism to using their language instead of our own, it should not come as a surprise that the tories especially are acting in this manner.

  3. keerti

    If shorten is ignorant enough to state that protest is the exact opposite of democrasy, then !) he doesn’t know the struggles of the people who began the workers’ movement leading to unions @) he should be standing for election as a one nation mp.

  4. Blair

    perhaps the HoR ought to be regarded with the reverence

    Respect is earned, nothing that has happened in the HoR has been worthy of respect for years

  5. Rhonda

    I so agree with you Jennifer. I was found myself rather infuriated with the responses to these protests eg ABC newsreader stated that “the final sitting day of Parliament was marred by protesters…” I found myself despairing out loud “marred”?? WTF! Those brave voices and their action exemplified the only bit realism and spoken honesty to come out of that sanctified theatre space in a long time. I stand with them.

  6. abbienoiraude

    Thank you Jennifer!
    Fabulous piece.

    Protesting is the ‘freedom’ which all those in the People’s House constantly rabbit on about, as long as it suits their purpose.
    When people see the other side of politics, aka the Chinese Assembly, or the North Korean mob, or the firey intercessions in the governing houses in Italy or the hundred’s of thousands in Seoul spilling onto the streets demanding their ‘elected representative’ to resign..which one would any in the Australian People’s House prefer?

    We have a duty of care to our Nation to hold our elected representatives accountable every day, not just once every 3 years.
    We desperately require a Bill of Rights which should include the Right to peaceful assembly including in Parliament because after all it belongs to we the people.

    As an oldie I have protested. I have marched for Reconciliation, a woman’s right to free choice over her own body, against Hockey/Abbott’s cruel and vicious budget measures, against going into war in Iraq, and I have expressed my displeasure by lying down on the road outside my rusted on National Party ‘representative’, which was uncomfortable but exhilarating.
    I have tried talking to him and his State counterpart and have written to numerous politicians including Senators over the years regarding Climate Change, Domestic Violence support, more support for those on DSP.

    It does precisely zero.

    I once rang a representative during the demand for Reconciliation with our Nation’s First peoples and his response disgusted and revolted me. He yelled at me and hung up on me.

    If those kind of responses are the ones I am suppose to consider ‘Democracy in action’ then Bill Shorten, Tanya and all the noisey disrespectful politicians in MY house should vacate asap.
    Fling open the doors to the homeless, poor, needy and disenfranchised, for they would do a better job of representing me than any in there right now garnering entitlements to the tune of around half a million $ a year.

    If they build a fence around OUR Parliament house then they should be locked in there ( like those sad and frightened people on Nauru and Manus) and not allowed out till they show some decency, heart, generosity and vision to each other, our nation and our future.

    Damn and blast the elitist smelly rabble who feed their own ego’s and faces at the Parliamentary Table at the expense of the poor in Australia.

  7. Gangey1959

    @Blair. Nails it in one, dude.
    If ”they” want the respect of ”us”, f*cking well earn it. That doesn’t come with the privilege of sitting in a leather chair, dressed in a natty suit, with a guaranteed pension for life and your head up your arse .
    Respect is earned, and it will be interesting to see how any of our political class behave after today, when they are in OUR natural habitats, not their own, and AFP protection is not there in force.
    My bet is we will not see or hear a boo from any of them, chickenshits that they seem to be when exposed.
    ”They” comment long and often about the Rule of Law. Let’s see how they handle the Rule of 303, even in its’ vocal form.
    Have a great festive season everyone.

  8. Freethinker

    keertiDecember 2, 2016 at 11:42 am
    If shorten is ignorant enough to state that protest is the exact opposite of democrasy, then !) he doesn’t know the struggles of the people who began the workers’ movement leading to unions @) he should be standing for election as a one nation mp.

    With people like Shorten not wonder that the union movement is weaker and the workers rights are going down.
    Seems to me that he do not care less about the “people power”
    I bet that the left faction of the ALP will not say nothing about this. They are more interested in keep their seat safe.

  9. Sir ScotchMistery

    Of course one is also reminded that the AIMN, OUR voice in the political zone, is kept out of the press gallery, by those same sycophantic ponces telling the story of democracy killed in place, by the almost mentally deficient “protectors” of the AFP, our answer to the STASI.

    Trump may well be the Arab Spring of the west, hailed at its’ inception by the west, derailed by the political classes of the Arab world, then supported as 600 people are sentenced death for having the temerity to expect the same “democracy” espoused by those incongruous fluck-knuckles, the United States of America.

    Only time will tell, but it should be said that grass on soil overhead, will not protect our rulers from a bunker-buster bomb, and soon may it be deployed against their hallowed arses. Including or perhaps especially, that red-headed sycophant from the cross bench, purveyor of foreign fed fish to the stinking masses, Pauline Hanson, of the curly black hair (it is rumoured).

  10. townsvilleblog

    Well I am a Leftie, and I say that the ALP must democratize or disappear the party has been losing votes for 15 years and if they won’t transform the party to a people’s party they will find that someone will do it for them. Shorten has never been the worker’s friend, more often than not he has been the bosses mate, before his own members, he was up to his neck in the political assassinations of two sitting Labor PMs and he has a cosy relationship with Truffles, what more is required for a challenge to come from either Tanya or Anthony, for the good of the members, bring it on!

  11. Christian Marx

    Why would I want to get elected into a system which panders to the wealthy 1%?
    You stink Tanya Plibersek and so does your corrupt capitalist ALP party. The two party system is
    a sick joke and many know it. Time to sweep it and the mainstream media into the dustbin of history!

  12. E White

    Thank you Jennifer, for stating so clearly your perception of what is going on when politicians become so arrogant that they label and marginalise citizens who are attemping to be heard, particularly on an issue which is so significant.
    The fact that both major parties sing from the same song sheet on refugees/ asylum seekers and Australia’s treatment of them is truly reprehensible. The ALP is lily-livered, and so far removed today from the struggles of the workers who established the party that they deserve no respect. Added to the childish abusive behaviour every day in Question Time, this leads decent Australians to contempt for the Parliament, which is a much worse blow to democracy than the proceedings being interrupted by protest.

  13. Marilyn

    Thank you for this article as it so eloquently states exactly what I am feeling about our government and political process atmo. Clearly we need to remind politicians that they are supposed to work for us and represent ALL of Australia, not just the privileged few.
    Time for our voices to be raised and heard but that means action and not just commenting on Facebook or media. The People of Australia have to unite and speak up and we have to do it soon if we want a future for our children and grandchildren.

  14. jimhaz

    [what more is required for a challenge to come from either Tanya or Anthony]

    Plibersek is another traitor, no different from Shorten. I most definitely don’t want that opportunist anywhere near the ALP leadership.

    You know her husband works for the NSW Libs on a salary of over 400k per annum. After his heroin dealing sentence and being born again via the Christian terrorist feeding grounds, the blatantly corrupt NSW ALP sponsored him without adeqaute experience merit (other than he is very eloquent) through the NSW Treasury, then to head the Commerce dept, then the NSW Dept of Education. He is a tool of the the corrupt political class. Money is more important to him and his textbook inner city rich class wife, than morality.

    Shorten is the same with his IPA mate, his upper class de facto rels and the manner in which he dealt with union issues. They say the right things – yet do the wrong things.

    We lost a lot through Rudds ego insanity- Gillard was closer to working class than them. The wrong sort of people now lead the ALP, similar to the USA dems.

  15. Ella

    Jennifer, how right you are.
    the parliament is supposed to be the people’s house not the rabble that inhabit it lately…
    They have no right to fence it off….sadly the protesters and “good on them” gave them the excuse they needed to make the them and us divide even wider.

    Of course we could start a petition demanding that they not fence off the lawn . etc …could we???
    There is NO eminent threat. (except not being re -elected.). the people have the right to access their own house.
    As for Bill Shorten’s comment ….I am flabbergasted….

  16. Sir ScotchMistery

    @TownsvilleBlog – don’t hold your breath. They’re the Alternative Liarberal Party as far as I’m concerned.

    Also re Shorten’s comment.. flucking jesuits.

  17. helvityni

    The people who need SAFE houses are the victims of Domestic Violence, battered women and children.

    Is our Government finally planning to build these SAFE houses ? Or DV just going to a one day wonder, like The Day of Indigenous People. Mental health Day or Dogshelter Day….?

    This is more urgent than building high fences around the Parliament House protecting them from well-having demonstators..

  18. Sir ScotchMistery

    Helvitnyi post, which came through in email and is now gone for some reason, raises my hackles.

    64% of the victims of DV are women. Who/what do you reckon the rest are?

  19. Adrianne Haddow

    Well said, Jennifer.

    It must be inconvenient for the pollies to have their posturing interrupted by real people showing passionate support for those whose lives have become a political football.

    Pauline is afraid…… then she should take herself back to country Queensland. Nothing to be afraid of there except the other cane toads.

    As for Shorten, he truly is part of the new world order…….. not an ‘old style’ Labor politician’s bootlace.

  20. Kim Southwood

    That “anti-nanny-state”, “pro-free speech”, “we’re here to listen” mob in parliament can’t stand the heat when it’s turned up. What’s the use of free speech if they’re not prepared to listen. Raising a banner on Parliament House and gluing themselves to seats to avoid removal were acts of attention-getting genius by legitimate protesters who posed no threat other than accidental harm to themselves. Their protest is one of long standing and long suffering.

    Members of Parliament (bar The Greens and perhaps a few others) reacted with their own feverish demonstration – only to reveal serious impairments in their listening skills and sense of democracy. This they translated into threats to limit public access to Parliament, maintaining it’s okay for them to shut legitimate protesters up by punishing everyone else. Divide and rule, make democracy the scapegoat by stimulating fear in society.

    Have Parliamentarians considered that a simple upgrade in 24 hour surveillance of Parliament House might be more discreet, effective and financially viable? It’s really quite amazing the protesters were able to get away with it. Could have been much worse.

  21. OrchidJar

    Every citizen has the right to protest their parliament. Those that decide to exercise that right though need to find a way to do so without giving off that overpowering stench of theatre.

    It’s a shame.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-11-30/'don't-hurt-me‘:-protester-screams-as-she-is/8080072

  22. OrchidJar

    Michael, that latter part of the link has not been hyperlinked. I tried twice to send it, here and in another, seperate, post.
    No luck.

  23. Johno

    I can’t wait for the next ‘Refugees are Welcome Rally’ I will try to remember to shower beforehand.

  24. helvityni

    Sir Scotch, sorry about my post, I was not finished, I had not put it spelling/make sense test….

    I thought I deleted it, shocked to see it obstinately survived; the rest of the victims are MEN of course, and they too need shelters like women ,kids and dogs. I have been accused not being there for WOMEN; I am for all humanity, all races all sexes, for PEOPLE….and for Jack Russells…

  25. Matters Not

    will try to remember to shower beforehand.

    You mean daily ablutions aren’t the norm? And have to be remembered? Please stay away.

    Here’s some advice re ‘how to do it’ from a group that is well practised in the art. The praying is optional – not compulsory for non-believers like me.

    http://www.wikihow.com/Perform-Ablution-(in-Islam)

  26. Kaye Lee

    Barnaby Joyce’s screaming spitting rant in QT was far more offensive and dishonest than anything the protesters did. What we should do is go to Parliament and every time a liar stands up to speak we stand and turn our backs – learn from our Indigenous brothers and sisters. I found that very powerful when they did that to Brendan Nelson’s belated reply to Rudd’s Apology.

  27. 7

    It’s the mother of all insults for these arrogant trough feeders to claim that this is democratic…;

  28. Ella

    Kaye Lee, I am with you and am in for the trip to parliament house next year…Great idea ..

  29. Kaye Lee

    Silent protest works well in marriages too 🙂

    Shall we get the AIMN mobile fact checker on the road?

  30. Phil

    Tanya P and Shorten W (B?) proving exactly why the two parties are on the electorate’s nose and why both will be solidly thumped at the next election. Naturally, a despotic idiot (albeit one with greater appeal than the coral ripping fool with the red hair) standing outside the circus tent will get elected and we will blame the two parties for this inevitability.

    I am definitely not giving primary vote to either party and none of the weird and wacky others either, and most likely not the Greens either – not that I disagree with much of the Greens policies but the system in which they willingly operate is defective and corrupt, utterly hapless, full to bursting with useless incumbents engorging themselves on our taxes, and playing internal power games – they have well and truly proven their worthlessness. I want to see both houses of parliament turned on their ignorant heads – and if that means a period of chaos – so be it.

    The problem is that neither major party fears the electorate – they think they have our measure – we shall see.

  31. Jennifer Wilson

    Thank you everyone for engaging so enthusiastically with the post.
    I know we’re mainly talking to others who already agree, but I still think we have to do it. We can’t give up our voice, we’re going to need it in the coming year.

    I think Phil’s observations are our future. Despotic idiots are on the rise.

  32. lawrencewinder

    Parliament is certainly not a safe place …. just look at the damage it is doing to the nation and its citizens….A sheltered workshop for the IPA which needs severe reform.

  33. Exoplanet

    I bet none of those supporting this disruption of parliament did so back in 2011. It’s sad when partisan attitudes get in the way of rational thinking. I support what the students were protesting about and confess to a ‘good on ’em’ feeling, but ultimately it cannot be condoned – by anyone. Parliament is not a ‘safe place’ for politicians, it’s a safe place for democracy itself.

    Just as there are, and must be, sensible limits to ‘free speech’, so too must there be limits to ‘democracy’. You don’t express a democratic right by shitting on it. You just don’t. If we say it’s ok for people to protest in the parliamentary gallery because of some sort of made-up democratic right, then parliament cannot function because anyone with a grievance can, and by dint of this very argument, should [and are being encouraged to] protest in the public gallery wherever they like.

  34. Michael Taylor

    Kaye, if we turned our back every time a lie was told then I’m afraid we’ll be spending a lot of time staring at the wall.

  35. Kaye Lee

    I love the passion of youth. It isn’t how I would have done it now but it probably is how I would have done it in my university days. I do understand that parliament can’t be held to ransom by rampaging protestors but all they did was be noisy for a few minutes (and some glued their hands to the railing lol….sorry Exoplanet). Perhaps if someone had listened over the past few years they wouldn’t have felt that their only means of imparting a message.

    If we had a leader they would have said post protest, I want to hear your concerns but there are better pathways to express them….except they don’t want to hear and there is no way to make yourself heard except grab a headline.

  36. Kaye Lee

    Rather look at a wall and make a point than look at the liars who make me have evil thoughts that go against my non-violent philosophy. I do not want to reflect their ugliness so I will reject it.

  37. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Well said, Jennifer Wilson.

    The politicians should be taking down the barricades – not building them up.

    I congratulate the Protesters for standing up in the House of Representatives the other day to remind the pollies in their little, comfuy bubbles that we DO exist and we ARE watching them.

    Hearing the chants reminded them that WE exist and are living and breathing, as opposed to being metaphors for their own particular political pragmatisms.

    We are watching them.

  38. randalstella

    The political reality of protesters is that they get 30 seconds News footage, typically showing chanting and disruption.
    What is never shown is commitment and argument on their causes.
    The net effect is to stir up rednecks, and reaction among the uninterested. The people who agree with them don’t need the protest.

    And yet they nearly always dismiss these concerns – that relate to the effectiveness of promoting an issue, into a vote.
    Effective protest of course has its place. But it needs discipline, And someone to control things against the stunts that rouse prejudice against them.

  39. randalstella

    While we are discussing freedom of speech – I would like a blogger like Jexpat to feel that he/she can leave comments here without being subject to attack, and ganging up.

  40. Freethinker

    I am expecting more for the protesters, I expecting more for the students movement.
    Just as contrast this week, in Canberra were few protesting in Brasilia, Brasil they were 40000 students protesting.
    That is the kind of passion that I miss here, people are far to much lay back and the day that they weak up will be hard to reverse all the damage caused by these government.

  41. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    randalstella,

    the Parliament Protestors achieved more than 30 seconds news footage. They achieved the attention of Parliament and the Gallery.

    Parliament blithely goes on thinking they rule imbeciles but the Protesters showed that there are groups of people prepared to bring their protest to the breast of those who hide behind their own self-importance and vested interests.

    Even if those Parliamentarians have grown accustomed to the security of Parliamentary Privilege, Public exposure because of the Protesters should put the pollies on notice that they are not above scrutiny.

  42. randalstella

    It will make not a scrap of difference to policy.

  43. OrchidJar

    Exoplanet – December 2, 2016 at 9:13 pm
    A wonderful response, in 2 simple, precise, points, to an otherwise silly argument dressed up as legitimate (righteous) concern for a fundamental civic right, nay obligation.
    And an argument completely at odds with its own premise, blissfully unaware of its implications (as you rightly point out): the right of people to express themselves in this manner: for every single grievance perceived by every single citizen, the right to enter ‘our house’ and stage a protest, every single time passion bubbles over an issue, stubs their toe, has their feelings hurt???

    She must be joking?
    I mean, she is joking, right?

    Again, well said Exoplanet.

  44. Deanna Jones

    I’m very disappointed to hear of those comments by Shorten and Plibersek. Shame on Labor. The right to protest is a major principle of democracy.

  45. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    OrchidJar,

    Australia has been knowingly incarcerating innocent asylum seekers in desperate detention on Manus and Nauru.

    The dinosaur Lib/Lab duopoly has condemned innocent people to brutality and uncertainty for YEARS in our own name.

    That’s hardly as paltry as a “single grievance”.

    The Parliamentary Protesters’ actions were perfectly appropriate considering the magnitude of the crimes being committed on innocent asylum seekers.

  46. randalstella

    The right to protest is one thing. Canny use of it is another.
    I do not care at all for the precious reaction of the institutionalised privileged in Parliament House.
    The place is grandiose and ridiculous; and just reinforces their insularity.

    The relevant point is the political effect of the actions of protesters.
    What good is served by gluing your hands to handrails?
    We donate and support refugee support systems, and deplore the cruel treatment of people on the basis of vote-pulling.
    But consider the job of the guards there. They may or may not be personally committed on this issue. From my experience they are usually ‘conservative’in their politics. And some may be downright reactionaries. They are all about; the reactionaries, including on this site. And I am one who will not pander to them or indulge them. But protesters need to consider the practical, ongoing effect of their actions.
    The net effect is that people who care for asylum seekers have been represented in the Media by those easily portrayed as irrational. The gluing just plays into the animus of the Media reaction.

    That said, Jennifer makes several points that I support, about getting across important messages, and the odious reaction against that, particularly by the enormous powers of reaction and retribution.
    She argues her case diligently.

  47. OrchidJar

    Jennifer, That’s not quite the point I’m making.

    But let’s just imagine it were: I’ve seen the Greens 29 point program of aims regarding asylum seekers.
    It’s a wonderful document of moral clarity.
    Unfortunately it’s also a dog’s breakfast of pragmatic politics.
    Does anyone really believe, and here I’m speaking directly to the Green supporters, that such a comprehensive program would see light of day in the (near) impossible event of a Green government?

    Just one pointer to serve as an example: nowhere in that document, and I mean nowhere, is the highly contentious and politically fraught detail of quota’s listed.
    There are no numbers, no specifics, no figure to take to either a parliament or more importantly, to an electorate, simply the nebulous “raise the humanitarian quota”.

    If it the issue were as simple as that, as simple as this Greens document, resembling the bullet point program of a first year university outline, then this issue wouldn’t even be an issue; Labour and the Liberals would have addressed this to their advantage a decade ago.

    Re: the protesters. I fully support the right of anyone to protest anything, anytime, anywhere, in this country.
    The suggestion that the consequences of exercising that right should be subsumed by the act of protest is, to me, ridiculous.

  48. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    OrchidJar,

    I understand that even the best intentions must have some practical application.

    However, the Greens 29 point program is exactly what we need as our golden goals, so that we start off by aiming for the highest results possible.

    When those goals are sought, the necessary practical implications become apparent.

  49. Michael Taylor

    I hope that those protesters at Parliament House also exercised another one of the key democratic rights in our political process that is/can be a very effective way in determining government policy in this country: voted at the last election.

    Should we restrict the rights of citizens if they don’t bother to vote? No, of course not.

  50. OrchidJar

    Jennifer,
    see how Green idealism puts a terrible intellectual and political strain on its supporters?
    You are reduced to responding in exactly the same manner as Labour and Liberal – ‘the necessary practical implications become apparent’.

    We are suffering, have suffered, and will continue to suffer, those ‘necessary practical implications’ until we, as a community of voters, can make a final decision on the seriousness (of the asylum seeker issue), the size, the immediate, medium, and long term consequences, the cost, the implications of ‘increased quota’s, the impact on our cities, our regional towns, questions of resettlement, welfare, citizen rights, etc, etc, etc.

    We haven’t been able to do that yet.

    Until we do I really cannot give the Greens much consideration, especially when they are fringe to the real electoral power in this country – Labour and Liberal.

    You want my advice?
    Get the Green primary to 25 odd per cent, grab another 10 seats, a handful more senate places, and then we can talk more about the ‘necessary practical implications’.

    Michael,
    An interesting point.
    I read with some alarm that millions of Democratic voters didn’t even bother to show up to vote.
    I hope they’re not the ones protesting on the streets, crying foul over Russian hackers, or holding their collective breath till their faces turn blue over a recount.

  51. Ella

    Agree with a lot of what I have read.
    BUT, how many of you written to an MP only to receive a re-hash of their political stance without even trying to address the issues you have mentioned. I HAVE OFTEN.
    We write letters to the editor , use talk back,comment in social media what change has it made? Is this approach affective???? I don’t know but have doubts.
    So you think use the ballot box…really ?
    With the way votes are distributed and whose vote goes where …is this affective?
    So you vote independent …thinking your member will not horse trade away your votes…THEY DO!!!!
    So has any of our actions had an effect????
    We talk to each other via the internet…BUT ..we are talking to the converted.
    Mass demonstrations , on mass demanding our right to be heard …will that help?
    I don’t know how you can combat the money, vested interests , biased media.
    No wonder young people feel they have no voice loud enough to be heard.
    NEITHER HAVE WE?
    Any ideas of what else…..

  52. Kaye Lee

    I would suggest general strikes but perhaps unions have been so neutered as to have made this form of protest no longer viable.

    I would very much like to see our musical artists get involved. I remember the Live Aid concert – it really highlighted problems and pulled people together to help out.

    I love the Leo Sayer video “No fracking way”

    Judy Small’s “You don’t speak for me”

    “I’d like to buy the Koch’s a world – they’re the evil thing”

  53. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Ella,

    we are doing some good already by communicating our grievances to each other. That binds us together.

  54. Ella

    Kaye Lee, thanks . I listened to all and Judy Small’s “You don’t speak for me ” brought tears to my eyes.
    How great would it be to have this piped into halls and corridors of the great fortress in Canberra and reclaim it as “our house”

  55. Ella

    Jennifer, I agree but ,
    how could we use being bound together as a force for change?

  56. OrchidJar

    I too am a big fan of action via the unions. I’d like to see much more it.
    Despite the unfortunate fact that graft and corruption are as prevalent within the union fold as anywhere else, it still remains a core organisational instrument – militant or otherwise.
    If nothing else, the fact that the Liberals/Conservativers won’t be happy until the last union memeber dies of some industrial disease should be reason enough to do what we can to embolden its ranks and leadership.

    At least we’ll be able to return to those core values key to any successful Labour victory.

    http://theweek.com/articles/661874/how-democratic-party-become-labor-party-again

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/11/democrats-campaign-win-nevada-party-lessons-election

  57. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    People power comes when we have identified common goals.

  58. Ella

    Jennifer, YES YES
    common goals are only worth anything when they are made concrete by actions.

  59. Mark Needham

    Let TJPF loose, that’ll sort ’em out. This mob are the biggest bunch of wankers ever.

    TPFOJ
    Mark Neeedham

  60. Exoplanet

    Read this story from 2011 and then tell me how you feel about public gallery protests. Keep in mind that if you condone such action, you condone it for all, not simply those with whom you agree about any given issue:

    http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/gallery-disrupts-gillard-20111012-1lkdj.html

    There’s is another element to this, that of the security issue involved. Of necessity, protesters lie [even if only by omission] to officials regarding their purpose for being in Parliament. This is no trifling matter for security personnel. If we condone public gallery protests then we force security for parliament to automatically treat visitors as potential disruptors. I see no cultural or political value in that whatever. The 2011 protest got pretty ugly, frankly, but I have to say it was handled rather well by Jenkins and Gillard. Better than the current lot.

    In terms of the politics, I agree with randalstella that this sort of thing tends to be counter-productive, ultimately. While protest is important and to be encouraged, in the most general of senses, this is not helpful. Stunts never work. Gluing yourself to furniture is a sophomoric stunt bereft of any actual or symbolic value.

    https://youtu.be/tBHaoq8xWl4 – That’s the 2011 video.

    Ought we condone and encourage protests in courts of law by people who think a judge isn’t handling a case properly? After all, courts are as much a place of public concern and ownership as any parliament. There has to be sensible and practical limits to public protests. The alternative, quite literally, is mayhem.

    That said, these protesters will continue their fight on behalf of those who feel strongly about our treatment of human beings seeking protection. More power to them.

  61. Mark Needham

    Well said. There is a time and place, the Walrus said.
    But, be wary, Exoplanet, sense in particular, that of The Common Variety, is not always welcome.
    Misquoting,
    Mark Needham

  62. Michael Taylor

    If I may take the Liberty of quoting Richard O’Brien’s delightful comment on Facebook:

    “A bunch of bong-sniffing, dole-bludging, moss-munching, glue-guzzling, K-Mart Castros are again vandalising Parliament. And stopping other opinions being heard. “
    – Liberal Senator James McGrath describing protests against off-shore detention at Parliament House this week
    Personally I think the moss-munchers were a big improvement on the reffo-bashing, expense-rorting, climate-change-denying, corporate-kowtowing, free-loading, back-stabbing, promise-breaking, dog-whistling, environment-wrecking, economically-inept, socially-maladjusted, gay-hating boofheads who’ve spent the last three years vandalising the political system and stopping other opinions being heard.

  63. corvus boreus

    Mark Needham,
    Possibly more mash-mix than misquote.

    “There is a time for everything, and a season for every purpose under heaven”;
    Ecclesiastes 3:1-13.

    ” ‘The time has come’, the walrus said, ‘to talk of many things; of shoes, and ships, and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings’ ”
    Lewis Carrol, The Walrus and the Carpenter.

    Ps, I agree that the deliberate disruption of our democratic parliamentary process (or approximation thereof) by that small group of narrow-focus protesters was both ethically unsupportable and strategically stupid.

    Pps, Cheers for the walrus reference, I hadn’t looked at that poem in years.

  64. Kaye Lee

    I miss Julia Gillard…..

    Ms Gillard earlier kicked off question time by telling Mr Abbott his opposition to the carbon tax meant he was being “marooned by the tide of history”.

    “As history has marched past you in this Parliament today there you are standing on the sidelines, relentless negativity the order of the day,” she said.

    “This is a reform to shape the future.

    “It’s taken determination and today we have got this done.”

    Ms Gillard said the carbon price regime was being delivered with income tax cuts and increased welfare payments.

    The government says households will pay $9.90 a week more for the cost of living as a result of the price on pollution.

    But they will receive, on average, $10.10 a week in compensation.

    “The issue is will this nation have a clean energy future?” Ms Gillard said.

    “We’ve said ‘Yes’, you’ve said ‘No’.”

    ………………

    But Tony Abbott and his bunch of lying dinosaurs have dragged us backwards again and even dragged Malcolm “I will never lead blah blah” Turnbull with them.

  65. Kaye Lee

    Those kids could grow up to be Prime Minister….although they were just noisy as opposed to threatening…

    1976 – Tony Abbott kicked in a glass panel door after a narrow defeat in the University Senate elections in 1976.

    1977 – “Abbott’s famous flying squad of goons crashed down the stairs, threw me against the wall, kicked in the doors of the SRC, and started creating havoc”

    1977 – Lawyer David Patch: ‘Tony used to stand outside the women’s room with his right-wing mates and loudly tell sexist and homophobic jokes’.

    1978 – Was allegedly caught doing unethical or perhaps illegal things like changing the locks on the student union offices and other things

    1979 – Lindsay Foyle: He decided the quickest way to settle our differences was to take me downstairs and demonstrate how I was wrong by punching my head in

    2000 – Tony Abbott was thrown out of Parliament because he moved in a threatening manner towards the Opposition benches just after Labor’s Graham Edwards, a legless Vietnam Veteran, had interjected: ‘You’re a disgrace’.

    What do you do when the politicians are ignoring all expert advice, suppressing information about the abuse they know is happening (which is costing us a fortune paid to corrupt regimes and tax-avoiding companies), threatening anyone who tries to get the truth out? Exposure in the media has only drawn censure. We voted and that didn’t help. You can email your politician and be ignored or get an automatically generated acknowledgement of receipt.

    I can understand their frustration and even desperation. Solve the problem. Close the camps.

  66. corvus boreus

    Kaye Lee,
    “Solve the problem. Close the camps”
    I would even settle for a pragmatic compromise that had broader voter appeal based on traditional values (eg lifeboat policy).
    “At least get babies, kids and mums out of brutal off-shore prisons”.

  67. John Brame

    John Howard asked if the fence could be steel reinforced white picket style.

  68. JeffJL

    And once again the Left are held to a higher standard than the Right.

    No I don’t agree with the stance taken by Shorten and Plibersek but it was better than that of the Right yet you, and most of the people commenting, take aim at Labor.

    If you are going to throw brickbats please throw them in proportion to the crime.

  69. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Fair enough comment JeffJL.

    Do you define the Left as Labor?

    Whatever way, when ‘brickbats’ are thrown, Labor needs to accept their weighted worth. Same goes for the Greens.

    Nobody on this site except for the scant lost Liberal troll, think the LNP Degenerates are better than Labor, the Greens or other sensible left and centre Alternatives.

    Sadly Labor have not been the heroes we need. The Greens, I admit, have made strategic mistakes too, in desperation to make institutional changes.

    Heroes can be principled and pragmatic.

    The more principled, the more pragmatic can be accepted if called for on occasions.

  70. JeffJL

    When I refer to the Left I include Labor and the Greens (sometimes Jackie Lambie and Darryn Hinch).

    I don’t like the way that both major left parties undermine each other providing plenty of ammunition to the MSM to denigrate the left but leave the right largely untouched.

    No Labor have not been as principled as I would have liked but I see that with the media today that had they pushed things like the RET, asylum seekers, budget repair etc harder the MSM would have cut them to ribbons and Malcolm Turnbull would be leading an increased majority in the parliament.

    Labor and the Greens are pushing for a better Australia while the Coalition is pushing for power. The left will not win if they do not play some of the power games, no matter how principled their stand. Media owners will not allow them.

    Sorry for the late reply but I have been on a training course and am catching up on emails over several days.

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