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John Passant

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July 2012



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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)

I am not surprised
I think we are being unfair to this Abbott ‘no surprises’ Government. I am not surprised. (0)

Send Barnaby to Indonesia
It is a pity that Barnaby Joyce, a man of tact, diplomacy, nuance and subtlety, isn’t going to Indonesia to fix things up. I know I am disappointed that Barnaby is missing out on this great opportunity, and I am sure the Indonesians feel the same way. [Sarcasm alert.] (0)



Max Brenner 16 ruling a victory for free speech and pro-Palestinian protests

The letter below, from Socialist Alternative member Vashti Kenway, one of the Max Brenner 16, is about Monday’s wonderful victory against police charges of besetting and trespass in a public place (yes, trespass in a public place, I kid you not!) for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) demonstrations against the Max Brenner chain’s links to the Israeli Army.

Clearly the police charges were politically motivated, to silence the BDS campaign specifically and protests more generally. If the besetting charges had been successful then pickets and other industrial action could have been the next target.

Recently Socialist Alternative held a meeting at the Victorian Trades Hall Council (VTHC)on police racism and thuggery and the Police ‘union’ tried to stop it going ahead. When a big crowd turned out it went ahead and the cops withdrew from VTHC. Their colleagues in New South Wales have now withdrawn from the Labour Council.

It is possible, given the free speech success of BDS and the police annoyance at being rebuffed at VTHC and having them exposed once again as racist thugs, that Socialist Alternative and the campaigns we are involved in such as the Max Brenner protests, Equal Love, refugees and union community pickets, will come under much greater police attention and harassment. We shall see.

For the moment let us enjoy this victory for free speech while we can and prepare for the battles of the future to defend it.


Friends and supporters,

The substantive charges against the Max Brenner 16 (besetting and trespass in a public place) have been dismissed this morning in court. 5 defendants are however still in court fighting specific charges of resist arrest and assault police.

The decision on the substantive charges is nonetheless a big win for our right to protest in public places in Melbourne. We have beaten back their attempts to criminalize dissent and their attempts to silence a public pro-Palestine voice in Australia.

The magistrate Simon Garnet found that QV square is a public place and is subject to the same laws as other public lanes and spaces in Melbourne. He said in his final ruling: “In my opinion, the owners of QV and therefore QV management, by virtue of the Square and lane ways being subject to the S173 Planning and Environment Act agreement and therefore a ‘public place’… did not have the legal authority to apply conditions on members of the public who wished to enter QV square.”

He also ruled that to convict on the basis of the signs that QV management erected to dissuade protest would be a contravention of the Victorian charter of human rights. These signs said that people who wanted to demonstrate “against the political or social interests of a retail tenant of this shopping center” would be trespassing.

To quote the magistrate’s ruling directly “To interpret s9(1)(d) as submitted by the prosecution would, in my opinion, contravene their right to “freedom of expression” as enacted in the Charter. In addition, a refusal to leave after being requested to do so on the basis that the protesters were; “demonstrating disapproval of the political or social interests of a retail tenant of this shopping centre” is also not compatible with those human rights.

Defence lawyer Rob Starry, who acted for some of the accused, said the decision had wide-ranging ramifications. “This case is really a landmark case in the annals of the criminal justice system because what it represents is people have a right to express themselves politically,” he said.

Mr Starry said the decision could affect similar Occupy Melbourne protests and current industrial protests including the Toll blockade. “The Toll blockade is an industrial dispute, it should not involve the police unless there is a breach of the peace or other criminal behaviour but that has not been the case,” he said.

The defendants would like to thank all those who have shown us both moral and material support during the trial and we would invite you to join us:

This Tuesday (tomorrow) 8pm onwards John Curtain hotel (opposite Trades Hall on Lygon St) for a celebratory drink

This Friday 27th at 5:30pm to an action RECLAIM QV SQUARE. It is vital, given the court’s decision to re assert our right to demonstrate in Melbourne’s public places.

Students for Palestine has invited both those who support Palestine and other progressive activists to join us in taking back our public squares from Melbourne’s corporations.

Yours sincerely
Vashti Kenway

Herald Sun article

The Age article

Readers might also like to look at Why Palestinian protests target Max Brenner.



Pingback from Landmark Victory for Political Protest in Victoria – BDS Leads the Way
Time July 23, 2012 at 6:45 pm

[…] Max Brenner 16 ruling a victory for free speech and BDS Charges dismissed over chocolate-shop protest Charges against pro-Palestinian protesters dismissed Zionist Wertheim disputes the decision, fails to recognise political protest in public spaces is legitimate. Australia, BDS, Human Rights, Israel, Palestine, Politics   apartheid, Australia, BDS, colonialism, Human Rights, Israel, Palestine, Politics, Zionism      Israeli Apartheid and the Olympics » […]

Comment from alfred venison
Time July 23, 2012 at 10:04 pm

good news!

Comment from Michael Navaratnam
Time July 24, 2012 at 3:42 pm

good result for another kristallnacht…

Comment from Denis L White
Time July 24, 2012 at 7:58 pm

These days the right of political protest in public space in Australia should never be brought before a court, it should already be enshrined in the constitution as part of a bill of human rights in this country. Unfortunately such a bill doesn’t exist as part of our now outdated constitution. If the average Australian really wants this country to get its feet in the right place they should be confronting our political representatives with this issue and withholding their votes until constructive moves are made to include the UN charter of human rights as an integral part of the australian constitution.

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