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Scott Morrison’s Authoritarian Streak: Crushing Anti-Mining Protest in Australia

The Prime Minister of Australia is fuming. Having made his mark on Australian politics by being the mining sector’s most avid defender, Scott Morrison was disturbed by the week’s events in Melbourne that saw clashes between police and protesters outside the sixth annual international mining and resources conference.

It made sense for the protesters to kick up a fuss at the big-ticket event. IMARC, as the site states, “is where the global mining leaders connect with technology, finance and the future. It is Australia’s largest mining event bringing together over 7,000 decision makers, mining leaders, policy makers, investors, commodity buyers, technical experts, innovators and educators from over 100 countries to Melbourne for four days of learning, deal-making and unparalleled networking.”

The welcoming note from Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews was enthusiastic and distinctly not green in colouring. This was a chance to celebrate what Australians do best; no, not sustainable energy, nor technologies of ecological soundness, but boast “world class talent in the resources field”, “a sector that continues to grow and provide jobs for many Victorians, especially in country areas.” The Australian economy was inseparable from the resources sector, “creating jobs and driving investment.”

An ideal opportunity had presented itself for climate change protesters who converged on the Melbourne Convention Centre. By the third day, the patience of the cordoning police had worn thin. The blood was rushing, the red haze had descended. Batons and capsicum spray were deployed. Over sixty protesters were arrested. “I haven’t seen this kind of aggression before,” observed Emma Black, a self-proclaimed seasoned veteran of the protest scene. Channel 7 journalist Paul Dowsley was more than bemused by being jostled by officers. “Incredible. I was obeying their direction to move to another area. I’m stunned.”

The response from Victoria Police was dismissive: “In this case, the reporter involved did not follow police instructions to move away from the area. This was a safety issue and Victoria Police believes an appropriate amount of force was used to move the reporter from the area.”

On Thursday, the anti-mining protesters turned their attention to the PwC’s Southbank offices. The conduct on the part of officers preventing disruptions to arriving delegates had been zealous enough to pique the interest of the Professional Standards Committee. In the words of a police spokesman, “Protesters have raised several concerns in relation to the police response during the protest. These concerns have been noted and are being assessed by our Professional Standards Committee.”

A sense about where that investigation will go can be gathered by the next remark. “A number of groups have engaged in more deliberate tactics including blocking disabled access… and ignored police directions. These protesters have been dealt with swiftly and effectively by the police.”

Another police statement addressing the second day of the blockade stressed that, “Whilst we respect the rights of people to peacefully protest, the unlawful action taken today is a drain on police resources from across the greater Melbourne.

The protesters proved sufficiently disruptive for Prime Minister Morrison to suggest a dark force at work: the “Quiet Australian”, that fictional confection he never tires of, is under siege. But what from?

In a speech to the Queensland Resources Council on Friday, Morrison suggested that a “new breed of radical activism” was harrying those in mining and businesses associated with it. “I am very concerned about this new form of progressivism… intended to get in under the radar but [which] at its heart would deny the liberties of Australians.” This breed of activism was “apocalyptic in tone, brooks no compromise, all or nothing, alternative views not permitted – a dogma that pits cities against regional Australia, one that cannot resist sneering at wealth creating and job creating industries, and the livelihoods particularly of regional Australians including here in Queensland.” The wedge politician par excellence.

Morrison was a touch too keen to inflate the level of threat posed by such groups, who are “targeting businesses of all sizes, including small businesses, like contracting businesses in regional Queensland.” This was far more serious than a “street protest”. (The distinction in Australian law and policy is rarely made, in any case).

His suggestion was as simple as it was authoritarian: protesters seeking to disrupt the chain of supply should be punished as saboteurs. They, he stressed, were the undemocratic ones, the silencers. His government, he explained on Melbourne radio 3AW, had “already taken action against their cousins who want to invade farms and we put legislation through to protect our farmers from that type of economic vandalism.” Instead of taking credit for having sparked interest in such protests, indifferent as he is to those obscene and rarely said words “climate change”, he was going to take credit for crushing the dissent, putting the outrage to bed.

It was enough to disturb Katharine Murphy of The Guardian. “As he rails against activism, Scott Morrison is turning a bit sinister, a bit threatening.” The prime minister had treated Australians to a spectacle of complaint “against intolerance while in the same breath foreshadowing his own bout of government sanctioned intolerance – the type where police might be involved, and people might be bundled away in vans.”

As in other countries where fossil fuels and natural resources reign, Australia is hamstrung, an aspiring banana republic in the deceptive guise of a first world country. Environmental pressure to alter their influence is not just seen as a matter of dissent but a threat. To go green is to turn gangrenous. To worry about environmental ruin and human causes is to be, in Morrison’s view, “indulgent and selfish” rather than responsible and cognisant. A true upending of logic, and a potentially imperilling one. Rather than confronting it, Morrison’s solution is drawn from the tradition and precedent of history: to protect resource industries, call in the police.


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  1. New England Cocky

    The Morriscum Liarbral nat$ misgovernment; building the worst third world export economy in the OECD for the benefit of shareholders in foreign owned multinational corporations living overseas..

  2. Baby Jewels

    I’ve had my doubts about Dan Andrews for many years. From mowing down old growth forests to mining, he’s showing his true hand.

  3. Baby Jewels

    “I am very concerned about this new form of progressivism… intended to get in under the radar but [which] at its heart would deny the liberties of Australians.” This breed of activism was “apocalyptic in tone, brooks no compromise, all or nothing, alternative views not permitted – a dogma that pits cities against regional Australia, one that cannot resist sneering at wealth creating and job creating industries, and the livelihoods particularly of regional Australians including here in Queensland.” The wedge politician par excellence. ” You have to give him this much, he’s good at it.

  4. Wat Tyler

    Protest is evil.
    Unless it’s in HongKong against China.
    We are one election away from full-blown fascism.
    I watched a doco about the Peasants Revolt yesterday, led as it was by my namesake. They had the country by the balls and believed the promises of a 14 year old king.
    Things have not changed. My grandfather (who I never knew)’was a Carter on the Liverpool docks. They went on strike for a fully justified cause and Winston Churchill sent troops to sort them out. There were deaths.
    Thatcher did the same thing to the same people, a couple of generations later. ‘Why don’t we just let Liverpool (and Sheffield and Newcastle) die?’ She said.
    I just hope someone had the foresight to drive a stake into the heart of the harridan’s corpse. Just to be on the safe side…
    We have Thatcherites in charge now. Thank you, Queensland!

  5. Andrew J Smith

    How it goes to script like conservatives in the US and UK, with Morrison’s authoritarian language, while looking over his shoulder at Dutton….

    Curious aspect is not just the Orwellian ‘double speak’ nor the infantile tones but the projection, as used by Turkey’s Erdogan et al. which although being used to criticise, demonise or terrorise others; it comes from within the actual person making the utterance.

    Further, some of the language or lexical sets of words used have been barely modified from the US nativist and/or libertarian sources citing ‘political correctness’ etc., whether its ‘progressive’, ‘nasty’, ‘quiet Australians’ = ‘dull and inert Americans’, etc., mixed up with false equivalence etc., and the need for the same to play the victim (although from a position of authority).

    Good quote from The Week US on the audience for such nonsense and what’s wrong with the GOP and (ageing) Conservatives:

    ‘turning every bitter old pensioner in the country into a frothing cesspool of rage, denial, and paranoia bent on driving stakes through the hearts of their own grandchildren because they can’t stand the thought of saying Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas…..’

  6. Hotspringer

    I must feel sorry for the poor police officers, hampered by their horses, shields, truncheons, handguns, tasers, capsicum sprays, handcuffs and suchlike tools of trade, being viciously attacked by protesters’ linked arms and chanted slogans.
    Fie I say, fie!

  7. Phil Pryor

    The P M, (premiere merde) is a foul fantasising fascist fool, self seduced by a career in advertising lies, exaggeration, bullshit, slogans and rapacious rot, all to grab corporate money for donors. What a gutless, brainless, heartless, foreigner fancier this goat is. Un Australian but posing, untrue and undereducated, indecent and idiotic, he charges up the salvation lies and self awarded glory every day to fatten the career, avoiding truth, decency, honesty, foresight and planning for the nation. Knob polishing numbskull…

  8. Kerri

    It’s time Morrison was called out on the “quiet Australians “.
    They don’t exist.
    To fall for the fictions of this show pony marketing man is like buying the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

  9. Keith

    A few days ago Morrison was commenting about everybody needing to obey the law. Does he not understand that politicians are often creating stupid laws. The other factor is, the LNP are always it seems on the look out for scape goats … Extinction Rebellion being the new group. Morrison also was suggesting people should be displaying more respect, he does not listen to scientists or people having concerns about important matters.

    The fossil fuel miners attending the conference can be considered “merchants of death”. Millions upon millions of people have died via fossil fuel emissions, and many through its result … climate change. The costs of businesses being hit hard or killed off are also increasing.

    Data from a number of satellites display how CO2 is operating as scientists say … per NASA newsletter.

    Quote from 5th article in series … ““We found that Earth’s climate system has responded to increasing carbon dioxide concentrations as climate models predicted,” he said. “Atmospheric water vapor is sensitive to the presence of carbon dioxide. The more carbon dioxide, the more the atmosphere warms due to the greenhouse effect. A warmer atmosphere holds more water vapor, which is itself a greenhouse gas. This is how water vapor triples the warming from increasing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.””

    It’s a matter of huge profits for a few at the expense of many lives; or try to stabilise the climate as much as possible.

    As explained in the series of articles, and stated many times in the past, CO2 does not break down quickly.

  10. Shevill Mathers

    Phil Pryor, I could not have put it netter myself.For a so called rich country-if it is, the benefits are not flowing down to he workers who make these profits possible. Instead, we have a clueless self interested LNP government without a positive idea between them, taking Australia backwards at warp speed. I despair for the future, it will take years to undo the mess this government has created. Hopefully, those who voted the likes we see in government, will wake up and see what they voted for.

  11. Alan Nosworthy

    With his strident calls for others to obey the law, and respect the rule of law as he, himself defines it. Morrison is emblematic of, and representative of those who seem to view existence as a species of global gaol with themselves as self appointed warders, with a permanent “get out of jail free” card. A neoconservative version of a papal indulgence.
    Another piece of contemporary American terminology that seems apt is to “gaslight” from the movie of the same name as a descriptor of the cognitive dissonance experienced by we potential victims when exposed to an unceasing barrage of lies from authority figures such as Moriscums present incarnation as leader of our nation.

  12. johno

    Scomo takes off his daggy dad hat and puts on his tough guy hat.

  13. New England Cocky

    @Wat Tyler: Your historical comments are interesting. However, I cannot agree with your assertion that Thatcherites are in charge of Queensland NOW.

    I certainly do NOT agree with the proposed crowd control laws just passed by the AP government, but the civilian government ranks are filled with survivors of the real Thatcherites, the Campbell Newman Lazy Nasty People, who destroyed the Queensland Public Service for no good reason except political ideology. These survivors are attempting to rebuild Queensland on the smell an oily rag … and are generally doing a sterling job.

    @Kerri: I am not selling the Sydney Harbour Bridge this week, I am waiting for offers from a foreign owned corporation wanting to deconstruct it for scrap, like the mothball fleet warships Menzies sold to Japan in the 1930s.

  14. Glenn Barry

    Morrison is dangerous, just how dangerous is yet to be determined…

  15. Anarchy rules

    In Norway the mining sector pays a mining tax of 78 %with the proceeds then placed in a future fund which is kept for the benefit for all the people for when the oil runs out . This has technically made every citizen a millionaire . They also refuse to let the Anglo Australian company rio Tinto mine there because of their dubious reputation. In Australia we let multi national companies mine here and make them pay minimal or no tax whilst they sell us the dream that a few of us will receive a high paying mining job . These fly in fly out jobs destroy families and do little for the nearby rural communities. Norway is now a leader in green energy and more than half of its new car sales are electric .our politicians here no matter what the party have taken the thirty pieces of silver from these companies to sell the rest of us out.

  16. Aortic

    Wat Tyler, interesting to hear of your grandfathers job as a carter on the docks. Watched Ricky Tomlinson, a proud scouser on the ABC whose grandfather was a carter also. As you say the carters dockers and others decided enough was enough and Churchill came down very heavily on the strikers and lives were lost. I was born and grew up in a small coal mining town in Scotland and when I grew up learned a little about the history of the mines. They were originally privately owned and many many miners died from diseases they could well have been protected from and accidents that could have well,been prevented had the owners had a semblance of safety measures in place. Once they were nationalised things improved but the unions unfortunately took things too far and the beloved Maggie of Thatcher fame closed them down. I think the message is there has to be a compromise situation between employers and employees and acknowledgement that many employers take risks to start a business but safety and adherence to staff regulations to payments and conditions must be maintained.

  17. Trevor

    The IPA led Abbott Turnbullshit MorriSCUM LNP Govt is a clear and present danger to Australia’s civil society.

  18. Wobbley

    There is no society in Australia, only narcissism and greed!

  19. crypt0

    “apocalyptic in tone, brooks no compromise, all or nothing, alternative views not permitted …
    Sounds to me like the ScumMo “government” itself.

  20. wam

    He knows his Qld targets. Iit is the labor voters who reacted to boobby’s caravan and who gave him government. the added bonus is they, like many workers, do not support.the melb protesters.
    Poor old albo, scummo has given the loonies a boost and the means to attack labor. After the election success, narrownose et al will delight in labor’s discomfort with the wedgie of scummo’s laws on protesting.

    HaHaHa wobbley the misquote of thatcher’s society was right???

    obama vs trump

  21. Keith

    Those concerned about climate change might consider writing to their local Liberal or National politician requesting an appointment.
    Our prior Liberal “Representative” did not provide interviews. Our new Liberal “Representative” was asked for an interview around a week ago by a friend. No response to emails or follow up phones to politician’s office. Then they wonder why XR is gaining traction. It would be good if no response to interview requests made public.

    The science in relation to CO2 is very firm, shown by data from a number of satellites just published by NASA.
    A further blow to deniers is commentary by Rex Tillerson former CEO of ExxonMobil. Tillerson was questioned in Court where allegations have been made about shareholders being misled by the corporation. Tillerson gave supplementary information about how ExxonMobil have known for a long period about how fossil fuels create climate damage.

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