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John Passant

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January 2012



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It is right to be angry; it is right to protest – land rights now!

So the Bobbsey twins of racism, Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott, got a little back today of what the thugs who protect them and their ilk dish out to Aboriginal people every day.

Lunching at the appropriately named Porkbarrel Café for an awards ceremony, Gillard and Abbott became the target of a large crowd of demonstrators from the nearby Tent Embassy 40th year commemoration.

Earlier that morning 2000 of us had gathered at the Australian National University for a welcome, some talks, rap and dancing before marching up to Parliament House and then on to the Tent Embassy at Old Parliament House. 

It was a fantastic march. At the front where I was we were chanting ‘What do we want? Land rights! and ‘When do we want it? Now!’, followed by ‘What have we got? Fuck all!’, all the time raising our clenched fists to the heavens in a show of defiance and solidarity.

As the head of the march reached a fork in the road we voted unanimously to go up to the New Parliament House. A bit further up, I turned around to see a sea of people, with aboriginal and other flags fluttering and banners raised, all accompanied by a  cacophony of sound.

There was joy and laughter, and love and hugs all around, but anger too.

The anger was directed at both Labor and Liberal governments who had done nothing but invade the Northern Territory; nothing to really address the life expectancy gap; nothing to end poverty and disease among Aboriginal people; nothing about sovereignty and paying the rent; nothing about land rights.

We reached the Tent Embassy, exhilarated.

Witnesses reported that during one of the speeches a woman interrupted to say that Tony Abbott had said the Tent Embassy should be moved on. He was fifty metres away with his twin in racism, Julia Gillard.

Why doesn’t he come here and tell us that, they asked? Then someone suggested if he wouldn’t come to them, they should go to him. It spread like wildfire through the crowd.

Soon about 200 of the demonstrators moved from the Tent Embassy commemoration to the café to tell Abbott what they thought of him.

There was a bit of banging on the glass walls. 

The chants started as ‘Shame, shame’ and ‘Racists, racists’ and then became a steady “Always was, always will be Aboriginal land.’ This is a truth the one percent and their paid mouthpieces, Gillard and Abbott, cannot acknowledge let alone address.

The cops reacted as they always do when confronted by angry Aboriginal people.

The riot squad and the Prime Minister’s protection unit brutalised the crowd to clear a path for Gillard and Abbott, the two politicians of the Northern Territory invasion, the two politicians of hate, the two politicians of dispossession, the two politicians of aboriginal genocide.

Some of the demonstrators banged on Gillard’s car as it left and slowed down its exit.

It shows you how divorced from ordinary people Gillard and her Labor Party are that instead of coming out and talking to the protesters, she got her hired goons to attack them. I guess when you don’t have any case to make for having bettered Aboriginal lives then you need to use force rather than reason.

Then the cops tried to wreak their vengeance on the crowd – an Aboriginal crowd and their supporters – for having dared to protest against these two representatives of the mining companies that are stealing Aboriginal land. Together in a line, they walked slowly towards the protestors chanting ‘Move, move, move’ and in one case, shoved a pepper spray bottle into a demonstrators’ face.


A group of women sat on the road. They named 3 family members who had died in police custody.

As they said, the same brutality the cops had used against the protestors was the sort of brutality used against their family members.  They were sitting down and not moving to protest against racism and use of arbitrary force that led too to deaths in custody.

The demonstration was  a reminder that polite conversation isn’t going to shift entrenched capitalist interests and their representatives in the Parliament. It might give you fake constitutional changes but not land rights, not sovereignty, not a treaty.

One way to win land rights is for more and bigger and more radical demonstrations for justice to draw in more and more people committed to the struggle and eventually to bring in workers as workers to change the world and recognise sovereignty and negotiate a treaty.

These are the sort of protests that should greet Gillard and Abbott wherever they go.

And when it comes to Aboriginal land rights there is no question of lesser evilism here. Neither Labor nor the Liberals are going to grant land rights unless there is a concerted mass movement on the streets expressing its anger with the lack of progress.

Anything is possible if we can mobilise people. Tahrir Square toppled a dictator.

In Australia Equal Love has put gay marriage on the agenda, but not yet won it, through a long hard campaign building up to the demonstration of 10,000 outside Labor’s National Conference in December. The struggle continues.

Now for land rights. Today’s protest was a first step in that direction.

You might also like to read my article Australia Day celebrates racism and genocide.

There is also Of course Julia Gillard is a racist which I wrote in June 2011, prompted by Labor’s proposed Malaysian non solution for refugees.



Comment from billie
Time January 26, 2012 at 6:38 pm

Thanks for this account

Comment from Benjamin Solah
Time January 26, 2012 at 6:47 pm

Great account John. So right on ‘being polite’ not getting us anywhere, and as if banging on a few windows compares to protesters being punched in the face, or as you point out, deaths in custody.

Comment from John
Time January 26, 2012 at 8:55 pm

Thanks Ben and billie.

Comment from Cate
Time January 26, 2012 at 9:27 pm

You ‘invaded’ the “inaugural national emergency medals ceremony” – it did nothing to combat capitalism and everything to ruin the day for those working in emergency services. Pick your event better next time.

Pingback from Gillard & Abbott were never threatened by aboriginal protestors | Independent Australia
Time January 26, 2012 at 9:50 pm

[…] aboriginal demonstrators today in Canberra. Present at the demonstrations in Canberra today was John Passant — who paints a very different […]

Comment from John
Time January 26, 2012 at 10:05 pm

Thanks cate. Perhaps if they hadn’t invited the racists along and if Abbott hadn’t made provocative remarks about removing the Tent, and if the shit bag had come out to address the crowd rather than hide behind hthe armed thugs of the state. Oh, black people are demonstrating. Call in the riot police… racist shits continuing the genocide. Any awards to the NT invaders, by the way?

Comment from John
Time January 26, 2012 at 10:05 pm

We didn’t invade it. The crowd was outside wanting Abbott to come and address them.

Time January 27, 2012 at 2:12 am

[…] En Passsant was a participant in the demo and reports on what he saw and experienced. […]

Comment from Amy
Time January 27, 2012 at 3:31 am

Anger breeds more anger. It gives racists more ammunition to say “Look at that!”
Paying any attention to a moron like Abbott is not helping the cause. none of us can get upset and throw a tantrum like children. Ruining an event for people who had done heroic things in the community is even worse than the commotion. I really hope that when the dust settles you will see this was a huge mistake in getting your voice really heard.

Pingback from Club Troppo » Missing Link Friday – Australia Day etc
Time January 27, 2012 at 8:24 am

[…] John Passant reports on the tent embassy protest: "Soon about 200 of the demonstrators moved from the Tent Embassy commemoration to the café to tell Abbott what they thought of him …" En Passant. […]

Comment from peter piper
Time January 27, 2012 at 8:41 am

Ha ha..wel done; you have just given the next electionn to Mr Abbott. You ruined a grerat event, had the embarasment of the terrified PM being shown on the BBC news, and a pic of an asian cop subduing a blue eyed a “aborigine”. Great hatrick

Pingback from En Passant » Stop the media lynching
Time January 27, 2012 at 10:35 am

[…] Here is a link. […]

Pingback from Punch and Judy: on Australian racism « A mEtHoD tO mAdNeSs
Time January 27, 2012 at 11:30 am

[…] eyewitness, John Passant, points out in his article [here], neither politician attempted to confront the crowd, “It […]

Comment from milburn
Time January 27, 2012 at 1:30 pm

Dumb, dumber, dumbest. Passa’s hat trick. Oi, oi, oi. Flailing about like mullets on the line you guys took the bait (from Julia’s office I hear) then interrupted an apolitical event (shame on you all) to press home your out-dated, sorry little message of self-pity. Then, you have the temerity to brag about it. Pissants!!!

Comment from John
Time January 27, 2012 at 5:28 pm

You give too much nouse to Gillard and her office.

You are right of course. Protests never achieve anything.

Protests across the Arab world. The occupy movement in over 800 cities in over 80 countries. Strikes and demonstrations across Europe against austerity.

The toppling of dictators and governments.The shifting of the debate in the US so that even Obama, Wall Street’s man, is talking about taxing the rich.

In Australia gay marriage is only on the agenda because of the magnificent demonstrations Equal Love and others have organised.

Nah, protests never achieve anything.

Comment from ng
Time January 27, 2012 at 5:45 pm

A very good piece, John, thanks. I have not seen a country as racist as Aust. in my life, and the extent to which it refuses to deal with its history and realities of the present…and it is not only the land rights…it is all those factors that make up the so called standard of living from which aborigenese are excluded…how come a country that calls itself ‘developed’ and gives human rights lectures to other is still unable to deal with a disease like trachma? Why are so many aborigenese locked up in prisons in WA and elsewhere? What a filthy country indeed…with those two disgusting racist Schweine for polticians…Unlike you, though, I am very pessimistic about the future, and the role of protest in this society….protesters have been characterised as a filthy mob, and the media have made it up as if protesting is illegimitate…they are shocked by this simple and small protest, they should go to Berlin to see what protest means…small mindedness and parochial is this city and this large empty continent. day by day encroaching on the civil rights futher and futher under the excuse of security and what not…and silence every where …no body cares .I cannot see in couple of hundred years this colonial dump ever changing…look around yourself and see how people are willingly and happily suffocating in their own stupidity and filth and calling it their ‘standard of living’ . Stupidity defines this nation .

Comment from Damien
Time January 27, 2012 at 7:03 pm

Great piece John……if only we could have a tv station with this point of view presented……turning on the telly to hear the moralists blathering about ‘tolerance’ and not doing silly things such as protest on ‘Australia Day’ was vomit inducing…..and you just knew they would get establishment types like Warren Mundine to condemn the protests…his forlock tugging hasn’t done anything for the rights of Aboriginal people as far as Ican tell!Gillard and Abbott got exactly what they deserve.

Pingback from Protest at the Pork Barrel Cafe, Invasion Day 2012 « KADAITCHA
Time January 27, 2012 at 8:08 pm

[…] – Darrin Hodges touting housie Mundine as a valid representative of Indigenous Australians. It is right to be angry; it is right to protest – land rights now! Aboriginals, Australia, Human Rights, Politics   aboriginals, Australia, colonialism, […]

Pingback from From #MTRsues to Joolya’s Shoe | slackbastard
Time January 27, 2012 at 8:20 pm

[…] Speaking of Trots, John Passant can has has some pretty fiery rhetoric of his own here. And now a blast from the very distant past: The Age (Tuesday May 7, 1901) tells how the anarchist […]

Comment from Dee Lowe
Time January 27, 2012 at 10:55 pm

the traps have been the implementers and enforcers of the ruling class since 1788, they were still going on murdering aborigines campaigns in northern queensland in the early 1970s … deaths in custody is just a ‘modern’ version … the time has long passed that people should just say ‘please’ for what they are entitled … it is time to join in and stop inequality and intervention …

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