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Tag Archives: grassroots activism

Bans, Gags, Funding Cuts: Desperate Measures from a Desperate Government

A week can hardly go by lately without a new attack on environmental justice in Australia. The latest threat comes from Andrew Nikolic, Federal Member for the Tasmanian seat of Bass.

The Liberal MP has moved to strip charity status from environmental groups, who he perceives as a threat to Tasmanian prosperity i.e. the Tasmanian logging industry.  The motion was unanimously endorsed by his party at their Federal Council meeting.

Some 13 groups would be impacted by the motion, no longer eligible to receive tax deductible donations.  This includes prominent organisations like the Wilderness Society, the Australian Conservation Foundation and all state EDOs.

Nikolic has described these environmental groups as engaging in political activism and illegal activities, and doesn’t believe that taxpayers should be subsidising their green agenda, which he believes is damaging the Tasmanian economy.

“I moved the motion because I think the activities of these groups has been enormously damaging on our state of Tasmania, I think we’ve seen for far too long these groups undertaking activities like boot camps and engaging in political activism, illegal activism.

This is the latest in a string of desperate attempts by Tasmanian Liberal politicians to rein in the power of conservation groups in the state.

Last week, anti-protest laws were passed in Tasmania’s Lower House, aimed at stopping forestry activists through large fines and jail time.  And you might remember Senator Richard Colbeck’s tried-and-failed-and-tried-again attempts to introduce legislation banning secondary boycotts, a powerful protest measure which so successfully brought the mighty Gunns pulp mill to its knees.

The battle for the Tassie wilderness has been long fought, most recently with Abbott’s unprecedented attempts to delist 74,000 hectares of Tasmania’s heritage listed forests.  The self-proclaimed ‘conservationist’ (don’t you mean conservative, Tony?) stated,

“We have quite enough national parks. We have quite enough locked up forests already. In fact, in an important respect, we have too much locked up forest.”  

It took UNESCO a mere 10 minutes to reject this ludicrous proposal, calling the bid ‘feeble’.

In light of UNESCO’s recent decision, the conservative lobby is growing increasingly concerned.  And it’s not just the Tasmanian Liberal Party who are worried.

The growth of the grassroots environmental movement in Australia has ushered in a new era of environmental protest.  Online campaigning has made large, crowd-funded legal actions possible, while social media has engaged and mobilised people to take part in blockades and protests.

Recent victories against the destructive resources sector have resonated among Australians with the defeat of CSG at Bentley, a coal export facility at Keppel Bay and an open-cut mine in Leard State Forest.  Two crowd funded legal actions against the government over their plans to industrialise the Great Barrier Reef has drawn international attention, and criticism.

In moves some have called fascist, the government is trying to silence its critics by cutting their funding and attempting to discredit our scientific institutions.  But gagging environmental groups serves only to galvanise the communities who live on the front line, who see first hand the destruction caused to their land, their water, their future.

Communities across Australia are responding to the call to action, putting their time, money and bodies on the line – and winning.

You can follow Kate on Twitter @kateokate

Also by Kate O’Callaghan:

Pokie-Tourism: Campbell Newman’s Dream for our Tropical North

Abbott’s International Tour de Farce

“I will not let you smear the good people who marched”

Image courtesy of leesalittle.com

Image courtesy of leesalittle.com

The Daily Telegraph’s Tim Blair has a bee in his bonnet about March in March. Brisbane Lead Organiser for March in March Matthew N. Donovan responds.

Tim Blair is at it again it seems.

Out of all the issues he could have chosen to cover he once again chose March in March as the topic for his highly read blog. Why it’s highly read is anyone’s guess.

I thank him for the spotlight he continues to shine on what was one of the highest turnouts for a protest in many years.

Tim, I take issue with your pathetic childish attempt at an opinion piece. Allow me to relieve you of your delusions and blind or wilful ignorance.

A big task. There’s quite a bit to wade through, but I’m a glutton for punishment.

I’m fully aware you only have one mode. That’s progressive attack mode. That’s how you got your job with Rupert and why you keep it.

You serve at Murdoch’s pleasure.

A condemnation of the standard he has for his publications.

Spotting a progressive opinion writer who works for News Corp Australia proves a challenge to even the most news aware among us.

I personally don’t agree with conservatism. You don’t agree with progressivism. That’s fine. We’re all adults.

However, having read some of your writing and hearing you on 2GB with Ben Fordham recently I’m not too sure my last point applies entirely. Something to work on perhaps?

My issue is not with you and your politics. It’s with your condescending, chest beating, arrogant language and the simplistic stereotypes you cynically use in your writing.

I’m not sure if you have a restricted vocabulary, a lack of debating skills or are just plain lazy but you really need to give your writing more thought.

It’s weak, it lacks depth and it’s tacky. I know you work for Murdoch, but seriously?

March in March was a major success. Not because you acknowledge this fact, but because you don’t.

You have gone after the movement and it’s participants like a pitbull.

I will however not let the likes of you trot out such disgraceful statements against its participants without asserting my right of reply, on their behalf.

This movement is grassroots.

Opponents think it is too large, too organised and too vocal to not have some kind of high profile backer or organiser.

I’ll tell you who the sole backer is: the Australian people.

That’s what makes it so powerful and that’s what annoys you about its prominence on social media and online news.

We have major issues with how Tony Abbott is carrying out his job, his words, his priorities and the sections of society he has chosen to attack.

You see no issue with his agenda.


That’s because you’re a cheer-leading acolyte.

We have a right to tell our government we don’t approve of the job they are doing as did those against previous governments.

Many thinking Australians are embarrassed to have him as our leader and resent the direction he seems to be pointing our country.

He has no great vision of Australia. Just delusional ideas about some imaginary hey day of yesteryear. Menzies? Howard? Ahhhh yes! The “Golden Age”.

When Abbott’s key mentor, ally and advisor, John Howard thinks reinstating knighthoods is “anachronistic” you know there are serious issues.

It only serves to reinforce our deep concerns about how out of touch our current leader is.

The former prime minister, who was one of the most monarchist leaders in our history, was lobbied by cabinet to introduce imperial titles and resisted during his years in government.

This makes Abbott’s unilateral decision look even more out there than most Australians already think it is.

Let’s be frank. The Abbott Government is there to hold back the inevitable march of progress, if only for a short while. All in aid of helping big business, the well off and vested interests.

He leads an Australia where big business is at the head of the table and the rest of us are supposed to sit in the corner until the next election. You seem to abide by that too Tim but we don’t and won’t.

March in March has no agenda to overturn the government. That is hysteria and further discredits what we’re led to believe is the expert analysis and opinion in your column.

Were you outraged when conservative supporters said the Gillard Government wasn’t legitimate? Were you outraged when a few hundred people rallied in Canberra egged on by Tony’s good mates Gina Rinehart and Alan Jones? Were you outraged that Tony Abbott, Bronwyn Bishop and Sophie Mirrabella chose to stand in front of those infamous signs, and by doing so endorsed them?

Nothing. Silence.

How telling.

I made it clear that participants of March in March Brisbane should keep signs and chants respectful and civil. All other organisers around the country did the same as well as our central campaign team.

I agree. Some signs and chants were in bad taste and only served to dumb down the debate in this country.

I’m proud to see I saw none of this in Brisbane.

It is unfortunate that some people become so angry they use confrontational means.

I continue to advocate for a more civil debate based on ideas and what we want for our nation.

I asked many times that attendees respect these wishes but given it is a grassroots movement some chose to ignore me or were unaware of them.

Short of physically removing them we can’t avoid this occasionally happening. It’s annoying and it distracts from the cause but it comes with the territory.

The main reason I am writing this response is because I will not let you smear the good people who attended because there are a few attendees who serve your political agenda to diminish March in March and hope it goes away.

Even Murdoch's Courier-Mail is poking fun at Abbott's retrograde reintroduction of knighthoods.

Even Murdoch’s Courier-Mail is poking fun at Abbott’s retrograde reintroduction of knighthoods.

100,000+ people marched that day. Some were seasoned marchers, some had never attended a march until now. People from across the spectrum from the very young to the very elderly. These people aren’t “radicals”. These people aren’t “Greenies”. These people aren’t what people like you term “dole bludgers”.

They are caring and concerned thinking Australians.

How dare you shove them into your black and white, “goodies” vs “baddies” worldview!

You did not attend an event. You are in no position to lecture or demean those who participated and you should be repudiated every time you attempt to smear these 100,000+ people for the actions of the few.

I also point out how well peaceful our protests were. Not one arrest. Not one! Not the anarchy and extremism you and your mates at News Corp Australia like to go on about apoplectically.

We understand why you do it but don’t assume we are blind to what you are up to and won’t return fire back every time you enter attack mode with your cheap personal attacks on our movement and its participants.

The chorus of those who are concerned about the Abbott agenda and his way of governing is growing every day.

March in March is growing. Our concerns are genuine. Our passion sincere.

We’re not going anywhere.

Tell Tim you work, contribute to society, care about Australia and marched peacefully in March. Take a photo holding your message and email to blairt@dailytelegraph.com.au or tweet to @TimBlairBlog.


Matthew Donovan (pictured) is a former Labor candidate for the seat of Surfers Paradise in Queensland as well as a political commentator and freelance journalist. He’s an active Labor campaigner from Burleigh Branch on the Gold Coast. His interests are progressive politics, policy development and media/social media strategy. Matthew’s studied Journalism, International Relations and History at the University of Southern Queensland. He plans to study Political Science in the near future.

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