Friday, October 30, 2015

Join us for the Fremantle Festival Parade on Sunday

The Fremantle Festival Parade is happening this Sunday (November 1), and we're asking for everyone's help in making the Rethink Perth Freight Link and Refugee Rights Action Network contingents as large as possible.

This parade is expected to be the biggest in years and it's a great opportunity to build these two campaigns among the crowd.

Sunday 1 November

Assemble 3pm at the Essex St car park (cnr Marine Pde) for a 4pm start.

To join the RRAN contingent wear your refugee rights t-shirt and bring your signs. For more info contact Janet from Fremantle RRAN on 0433 539 639

Attend on Facebook:

To join the Fremantle Road to Rail contingent wear orange and bring your signs. For more information contact Sam from Fremantle Road to Rail on 0412 751 508

Attend on Facebook:

Thursday, October 29, 2015

"Zero Tolerance" for begging and street drinking sends the wrong message

The following post was made by Socialist Alliance councillor Sam Wainwright at Sam's Freo Report on October 29.

[At its October meeting the council considered a number of measures proposed as part of the Community Safety and Crime Prevention Plan 2016-2020. Included were proposals to promote a "Zero Tolerance" approach to begging and drinking in public places. I voted against these measures. My reasons for this are explained below, based on a statement I wrote in response to a question from the Fremantle Herald about the matter - Sam Wainwright.]

I am concerned that talk about "Zero Tolerance" pushes us down the path of criminalizing and stigmatizing poverty without dealing with the underlying causes.

I accept that there have been cases of aggressive or intimidating behaviour by people drinking in public or begging. However threatening, intimidating and menacing behaviour in public is already illegal. The police don't require the City of Fremantle to make declarations about "Zero Tolerance" in order to enforce the law.

On the question of begging it's my understanding that this activity by itself is not illegal, so it's not entirely clear to me what the policy will achieve apart from putting up signs declaring "Zero Tolerance".

The policy also proposes to establish charity donation points to allow people to give to those in need while discouraging "opportunistic" begging. Whether this will work or not I don't know.

In my view neither giving to beggars nor charitable donations are a substitute for proper government policy to address the housing affordability crisis, homelessness, mental illness, family and domestic violence, and drug addiction. All areas that are woefully underfunded by our state and federal governments.

While the City of Fremantle is not in a position to substitute for the federal and state governments in these areas, it should play its part. However it's a fact that the City now does less to support people facing homelessness as a result of relinquishing both the Youth Crisis Accommodation Service (2010) and the Warrawee Women's Refuge (2015), both steps that I strongly opposed.

While these services were funded by state government grants, the City used to put in extra funding to top them up. As a result the City is now contributing around $500,000 less per year to directly help such people in need.

Furthermore I've always been uncomfortable with the laws in Australia that criminalize drinking in public places. The problem is twofold.

Firstly such laws disproportionally affect those who can't afford to drink in a licenced premises, which in our society means youth and Aboriginal people among others. I can't stand the hypocrisy which criminalizes drinking in a public place even if no harm is being done, while only meters away on the same footpath someone else can be drinking in an al fresco dining area.

Secondly the laws which prohibit drinking in public places are not applied in a universal manner, reinforcing their tendency towards "racial profiling". We all know that "respectable" people enjoying a glass of wine with their picnic at South Beach are very unlikely to be asked to tip out their drinks, much less prosecuted. On the other hand someone drinking on a bench in the CBD can expect "Zero Tolerance" regardless of whether they are disturbing other people or not.

In debate some of my fellow councillors acknowledged my criticisms, but they feel that cracking down on begging and public drinking is the only tool available to the City to deal with certain forms of anti-social behaviour in the CBD.

Once again, I'm all in favour of the police and City rangers intervening to stop intimidating, abusive or threatening behaviour by anyone, regardless of whether or not the perpetrators are engaged in begging or public drinking.

While I sympathize with the frustrations of inner city traders, I don't support adopting a punitive approach to those in poverty or dealing with significant life challenges. Our CBD is a public place and we must not go down the path of treating it like we are the managers of a private shopping mall.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Murdoch climate action

Murdoch Students Showing Support for the Fossil Free UTas occupation and protests demanding the university divest from fossil fuels.

Also building the Murdoch contingent for the world wide people's climate marches happening at the end of November. You can come and help us paint a banner and leaflet for this on our stall next Thursday the 29 October from around 11am.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

WA police side with foreign fascist against anti-racist protesters

Around eight anti-racist protesters drowned out the media conference of Dutch Islamophobe Geert Wilders outside WA parliament house on October 21. We chanted: "Say it loud, say it clear, racism's not welcome here!"

WA police sided with the Wilders brigade at every key point in the demonstration.

When anti-racist activists arrived, police asked them to move their vehicles.

"You can't park here with a shirt like that," one police officer said to Socialist Alliance member Seamus Doherty. His shirt had a Palestine solidarity message on it.

State security officers then moved to harass anarchist activist Al Hogge demanding his name and other details but refusing to show his badge for more than an instant.

When the media conference began (with heavy private security but without Wilders), activists did not try to prevent it from taking place but loudly shouted anti-racist slogans which had a big impact on the event.

When Wilders arrived, police officers stood directly in front of the anti-racist activists even though the Dutch fascist was the one promoting intolerance and hate.

As Wilders left, it was WA police who physically prevented activists, including this author, from holding anti-racist signs in the media's view near his departure route.

Premier Colin Barnett publicly said that Wilders would not be allowed to use any state government venue yet nothing was done about Wilders' private security guards pushing around members of the public in parliament house grounds.

When Doherty tried to sit down on one of the steps (after Wilders had left), a private security guard wouldn't allow him to sit.

"What authority do you have?" Doherty asked. "Are you a police officer?"

Wilders' security thug refused to answer the question and just said "you're not passing".

When police arrived, they backed up the private security - who had no authority at that location - falsely claiming that they were parliament house security and that they had authority to prevent Doherty from sitting on the step.

"Wilders' attacks on Islam rehash the centuries-old Western Islamophobic slogans," according to Monash professor Gary Bouma. "Wilders cites the Qur'an by singling out passages without examining their context and their history of interpretation."

Wilders and the new right wing party he is supporting are dangerous because the bigotry and racism they promote echo the mainstream racism of Liberal and Labor governments.

The recent spate of far right activities in Australia are building on the stench of a concerted government war against refugees and other racist policies like the attempted closure of remote Aboriginal communities.

The far right needs to be confronted as part of a wider movement against government and media racism in this country.

[This article by Alex Bainbridge first appeared in Green Left online on October 21.]

Videos from senate hearing into Perth Freight Link

Sam Wainwright's opening comments to senate hearing

Barry Healy talking about traffic demand management for Fremantle Port

Sam Wainwright answering Senator Joe Bullock's questions about cost of moving freight by rail

Barry Healy explaining why the Perth Freight Link will not improve freight transport efficiency

Barry Healy responding to questioning from Senator Linda Reynolds

Sam Wainwright telling Senator Linda Reynolds the time of day about the Perth Freight Link

Sam Wainwright explaining to Senator Linda Reynolds what happened to the 30% target

Barry Healy responding to questioning from Senator Scott Ludlam on utilising rail freight

Respectful dialogue between Senator Scott Ludlam and Aboriginal elder Rev Sealin Garlet

Barry Healy explaining about bush offsets

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Exhibition displays intense relationship of Martu people to their heritage

Artist Doreen Chapman at the opening night of ‘We Call It Home’.

We Call It Home
Spinifex Hill Artists exhibition, FORM gallery, Perth
September 3 to November 30

Many of the Martu people of Western Australia’s Pilbara region, extending out into the Great Sandy, Little Sandy and Gibson Deserts, only ceased living a pujiman (entirely traditional) life as late as the 1960s. Many also took part in the huge Aboriginal stock workers strike of the late ’40s.

The artworks on display in the We Call It Home exhibition convey the significance of ongoing relationship to birthplaces, sacred areas and family stories — as well as political memories.

Many patterns and designs derive from traditional body painting and ceremonial sand drawing. Other pictorial representations, such as Winnie Sampi’s Country no longer the same where my old people once walked, comment on the effects of mining on the landscape.

As a group exhibition there is no one style on show, canvases are as varied as the artists who paint them.

Selena Brown’s Marble Bar, My Country is an exquisite combination of horizontal, brightly painted, dotted lines, bisected by central vertical lines. The colours leap off the wall at the viewer, expressing joy and familiarity with her homeland.

Brown’s practice is painstaking, but Doreen Chapman’s canvases demonstrate a robust, fast application of paint. Her abstract, geometric images immediately grab attention.

Most of the works are connected to stories, which are recorded in the catalogue. In one, Biddy Thomas says of his Top End of Moolyella: “Don McLeod was helping us with the foods, and he got put in jail in Hedland for that. We not allowed to Broome, not allowed to another place. We was blocked, you know?

“Don McLeod helped us with that too, but he went to prison for that. All the black people went marching out to the jail to get him out.”

Don McLeod was the white Communist Party activist who was jailed for his support of the Aboriginal farm workers strike that lasted from 1946 to 1949 — the longest strike in Australian history.

FORM is a not-for-profit group that works with the Port Hedland-based Spinifex Hill Artists, among other Aboriginal arts collectives in WA. Most of the profits from sales go back to the artists.

The Port Hedland group paints for self-expression and also to educate the youth. “When you lose your Country, you lose your identity, language and culture,” says artist Natasha Nelson. “If you don’t know where you’re from, you don’t know your family ties and kinship.”

This exhibition beautifully displays an intense relationship to heritage and culture.

[This article by Barry Healy first appeared in Green Left Weekly #1070.]

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Green Left Weekly Quiz Night - Sat 14 Nov

Help support Australia's best progressive weekly. You are invited to a good fun night in support of a good cause.

7pm Sat 14 Nov

Perth Activist Centre
15/5 Aberdeen St, Perth
(next to McIver station)

Ph 9218 9608, 0413 976 638

$15/$10 ($60/table of six)

Book tickets online:

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Anti-racists outnumber bigots in Perth demonstration

Standing up Against Racism and Bigotry

Clips from the protest where Anti-racist activists outnumbered the far right Islamophobic protesters in a counter rally in Perth as part of counter demo’s around the country (and in America) to rallies that are pushing xenophobic views.

Posted by Green Left Weekly on Saturday, October 10, 2015

Clips from the protest where Anti-racist activists outnumbered the far right Islamophobic protesters in a counter rally in Perth on October 10. This was part of counter demonstrations around the country (and in America) to rallies that are pushing xenophobic views.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Stand up against bigotry and racism in Perth on Saturday

The "Global Rally for Humanity" - who are holding an Islamophobic event in Perth on Saturday - is a movement that is using progressive language to hide its xenophobic views. Join us on Saturday 10 October to take a stand against bigotry and racism. Bring your placards and banners and show that bigotry is not welcome here or anywhere.

Saturday 10 October

Meet at 10 am at the Perth "Cactus" (Forrest Place).

Check out the Facebook event for updates:

Monday, October 5, 2015

Rally for refugees: Close Nauru & Manus detention centres! (Sun 11 Oct)

Murder, rape, systemic child abuse...The three years of Nauru and Manus Island detention centres being back in operation has produced a grotesque system of abuse resulting in a list of human rights violations too long to name.

Join the rally and "tour of shame" through Perth to help call for the immediate closure of Nauru and Manus detention centres:

1pm Sun 11 October

Gather at the:
Tourist info booth, Murray Street Mall, Perth City

Attend on Facebook:

*       *       *

All people seeking asylum, whether currently detained off-shore or arriving by boat, must be brought to Australia and offered permanent protection.

With the Labor Party committing itself to following Liberal-National policy of forced turn-backs of people at sea the Government believes itself to be free to promote racism and the abuse of refugees without opposition.

The political leadership fighting for refugee rights exists within the Australian community in solidarity with the resistance of people in detention
Despite years of relentless abuse refugees in detention continue to protest and resist attacks by policies of deterrence. Despite decades of lies, fear and demonisation people in the community continue to act in solidarity with asylum seekers and resist the racist, anti-refugee politics.

On Sunday October 11th be a voice for refugee rights.
Join with your church, your union, classmates, and community to demand an end to the abuse of refugees and the closure of Nauru and Manus IDCs

Be part of the political opposition which states clearly that the only lasting solution for people seeking asylum in Australia and living as refugees around the world is to

Let them land,
Let them stay,

[Information from the Refugee Rights Action Network.]

Friday, October 2, 2015

Liberation and war in Syria and Turkey - Thurs 15 Oct

Public forum - all welcome

Liberation & War in Syria & Turkey

* the Kurdish liberation struggle
* the Rojava revolution & the Syrian civil war
* democracy and the threat of civil war in Turkey
* stop bombing Syria and Iraq

Speakers include:
a representative of the Kurdish Association
Kamala Emanuel (Socialist Alliance)

Thurs 15 Oct
6 for 6:30pm

Perth Activist Centre
15/5 Aberdeen St, Perth (next to McIver station)

Ph 0417 319 662 or 0413 976 638

Attend on Facebook: