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459 Fitzgerald Street
North Perth, WA, 6006
Australia

I'll Fucking Say No If I Want To

Tahlia Palmer: Steady Eye

I'll Fucking Say No If I Want To

Andrew Ryan

When people protest something, it is because they want to show the authorities that they care about it. For thousands of people to gather in one place for a common cause is to show a commitment to making their voices heard. It’s a right of the people living in a democracy, right?

“If I were to remain silent, I’d be guilty of complicity.”― Albert Einstein etc, right?

Well. You may be aware that the Victorian Government has just passed a law which gives police more power to quickly disperse protestors, as well as increasing penalties for doing that thing. This is freaking a few people out a bit because it’s very, very possible for completely peaceful protests to be shut down under any or all of the new reasons: “Impeding lawful access to premises”, “causing others to have a reasonable fear of violence”, and “engaging in behaviour likely to cause damage to property”. It is in the nature of conservative government to care about money more than about the wants or needs of the people, but this feels like a pretty weird and huge slap in the face.

“If I were to remain silent, I’d be guilty of complicity.”― Albert Einstein etc, right?

Here’s a tiny tiny exploration of the practical applications of:
-Impeding lawful access to premises
-causing others to have a reasonable fear of violence
-engaging in behaviour likely to cause damage to property:

-Any protest which happens outside of any sort of building which is someone’s property would result in a move on notice.
-Any protest in which anything could be perceived as sparking a violent situation: for example, aggressive sounding yelling, would result in a move on notice.
-Any protest in which someone thinks that property could be damaged would result in a move on notice.

These things/words/laws can be manipulated- very easily- to lead to a fine, a 12 month ban from being in a public space, or a stint in jail. Not a great scenario if sayyyyyyyyy you were wanting to protest the treatment of sharks in Western Australian waters. Orrrrrrrrrr if you were wanting to protest the treatment of asylum seekers in Papua New Guinea at the hands of our government. Oooorrrrr if you were committed to being a representative of the Tent Embassy. Especially not if you’re homeless with a mental illness. For example.

Fuck.

“If I were to remain silent, I’d be guilty of complicity.”― Albert Einstein etc, right?

There is a culture of protest in Germany, from what I’ve heard. I haven’t been there but a friend who lived there recently said that in Berlin they protest everything, because they want to, and things get changed, because the people are listened to. It’s something of a social democracy. This friend said that if Australians protested like they do in Germany, this country would be very different.

Of course, we are not Germany. We have a different background. But, y’know, Germans know the dangers of letting one’s democratic rights slip simply because one is not immediately affected by small changes. They know what happens if a population lets those things slip. Their/our grandparents lived through that. My Dutch maternal great-grandparents were accepted into this country with their 8 children, after they got the fuck out of Nazi occupied Holland.

“If I were to remain silent, I’d be guilty of complicity.”― Albert Einstein etc, right?

Australia doesn’t have this kind of brutal and scary history to learn from. No, we’ve got our own version, which is even more recent than Germany’s, but it is routinely brushed under the buffalo grass and flower beds, generally ignored because like, it wasn’t us that made those mistakes so what are you guys still even angry about? You don’t HAVE to be drunk, you could help yourselves, you get the dole; it’s not as if millions of your people were killed (no, just a large percentage of the native population were killed and countless others displaced and abused over about 200 years…)

My Aboriginal paternal great-great-great-grandmother had a child with a white man. I don’t know the full details because for most of my paternal family history everyone thought they were Spanish to explain the olive skin tone. Because it was “shameful” to be of Aboriginal heritage, thanks to everyone who made the stolen generation such a huge part of this country’s history, THANKS, THANKS, LOOK WHERE WE ARE NOW.

So this new protest law in Victoria, the one that makes it way easier to be pushed aside and fined and arrested and banned if you’re protesting against something you believe to be unjust, (the capital city of that state being the most vocally protest-ee in the whole country) has been mentioned in various media to potentially be a reaction to some tunnel thing.

But I don’t buy that. No fucking way, mate. Mate. Mate.

It’s because of mining, and it’s to set a national (conservative) precedent to be against protests, to be against progressive ideas, and to be against the majority of the population, mate.

“The Greens continue to openly endorse civil disobedience classes as part of an untruthful campaign that claims to protect the rights of farmers, “ the M(inerals)C(ouncil of)A(ustralia) said.

I don’t believe a fucking word that anyone in any position of power says, and this upcoming re-election of the Western Australian senate seat should be fucking interesting (anti-West Australian taxes my fucking arse Tony Abbott, what exactly is wrong with taxing the rich to give to the poor, do you WANT your poorest citizens to be left without a decent education to rise them out of the backwater you assume the masses live in? Your shortsightedness is incredible and terrifying)…

“If I were to remain silent, I’d be guilty of complicity.”― Albert Einstein etc, right?