Tuesday, November 15, 2005

A day at the races – the Canberra protest rally

My wife dropped me at the gates on 8.30, having passed a number of cars and streams of people headed for the gates of the thoroughbred park where the meeting was held. Finally made it in, managing to pass the Green Left Weekly lads who are normally avoided in Civic mall, and today must have through all their Christmases had come at once – or cue whatever secular yuletide feast they doth celebrate.

Lacking my Pedro badge, since I don't actually have one, I stopped and got this bad boy from the Socialist Alliance. Right on comrades.

Left: With thanks to the Socialist Alliance

So into the hall I went. The crowd seemed 50/50 white collar and blue collar, with the blue collar lads outfitted in their fluoro vests, hard hats, and tatts. Now, I don't know why this is, but a large segment of my trade brethren seemed to be unaware of the awesome sexual power that is not having BO. Clearly they lacked the application this day. You'd think being physical types they'd want to neutralize these odours. Oh well – moving on.

Got a seat mid way to the back, in front of one of the large screens, which was subsequently blocked by a old balding pony tail man – in fact he looked identical to Dharma's dad from Dharma and Greg – save white hair. There was a show bag of goodies from the Member's credit union (I forget their name), with a Your Rights badge, some literature, and a postcard for you to fill out your contact details on. They're thinkers these guys. They know what the networking score is.

Proceedings kicked off with a young local ACT Unions dude who was passionate, articulate, and energetic. He managed to get the first of the big claps and shouts of encouragement. Then Kate Lundy (rwwwoooorrr), massive applause. Then our Jon 'Stanners' Stanhope. His speech rawked, highlighting what evils were to come, except the poor f_cker's mike kept cutting out.

'You ..ill…b… shaf…till you…re…lue…in the…ace'.

All of us were crying to have the mike fixed, but to no avail. Dagnammit. I wonder if he knew?

Basically the event consisted of getting a live feed from the Melbourne rally, ably compared by Tim Fergusson of the Doug Anthony All Stars fame. He opened with a joke.

'John Howard, Kevin Andrews, Paul Ruddock, and Amanda Vanstone all fall out of a plane … that's it ladies and gentlemen, on with the show.'

We got a face fall of the Union sponsored ads with the woman whose boss threatens her over roster changes, the dude who has to go in on nights, and others. Celebrities with their two cents included Hawky (in a suit, not Terry Towelling thank f_ck), and our own Timmy from Big Brother (rwooor again – if you swing that way – nice to see he kept his funky hair). Beazo was good (promised to repeal), and it was a nice touch to bring up the role that unions have in workplace safety (and let's face it, unions are the only ones there protecting people in many organizations – with underfunded inspectors making rare visits to sites).

Still I wish 'Shame, Shame' woman sitting next to me took it down a notch. She was so excited I thought she was going to stick to the seat.

The literature was well thought out, spelling out what we are all going to loose. The speeches were tight, the choices of people (including the wife of a slain at work worker) were excellent.

But in short it the thrust was this. This is coming in. And in 2007 we get a chance to take it out. But only if you act now (join the union) can we hope to energise (join the union), come together (join the union), and defeat this cruel mockery of a legislation (workers of the world unite).

And frankly, it's a good idea. Union membership is an added expense it's true. And in this past period of industrial peace and harmonious workplace agreements it seemed that only f_cked in the head types that make trouble needed the union's help in an obvious way – forgetting the union's role in the negotiating on their behalf. And I was one of them. Hell, I joined because it looked like I had to go to court as a witness for one colleague suing another. But after that died down I figured I'd stay in cause the CPSU went into bat for me every employee agreement, and it was the least I could do. Besides, I could afford it and claim it against my tax (yeah, and for how long will that last?)

I enjoy my CPSU comms stuff – newsletter, emails, occasional call. And I've become more understanding of what it is we will face when the laws come in, and the role unions play. So yeah, if you can, join a Union lads.

Together, united, we can take back the parliament and restore what has been lost. At least, that seems to be the plan. I guess Labor is not counting on a floor crossing from Barners or any other disaffected coalition member. Probably because Heffo would get Tuckey to slam anyone who did's tits or nuts in the door.

By the way, Howard evaded again. According to News.com Howard said federal departments were advised that employees could take leave to attend today's rally. Yeah, at 4 pm yesterday via circuitous means after globally telling us we could not, and threatened us with repercussions if we did so.

Here's the relevant snippet from the article.

Media reports today said federal department workers had been directed not to take part in the demonstrations.

But Mr Howard said: "There has been no direction issued."

"People in my view are entitled to take part in a commonsense way."

See here.

God he's a lying sack of shit. If there was a lying sack of shit convention, where the biggest most full of shit award was given, we'd be singing 'Here he comes, Miss Sack-of-Shit' as he swayed down the aisle complete with his 'Miss Sack of Shit 1972-2005' sash and tiara, as he promised that he would stay true to the creed of 'Miss Sack of Shit' and lie his f_cking arse off about what his cruel government was up to.

Bevester, sometime visitor to here, was there with his wife and kids. They had a sign. I didn't get to see it there, but they kindly sent me a photo of when they were making it. They said they got some laughs and a few honks as they had it unfurled on the walk back to the car.



  1. I reckon "Shame, shame" woman actually delivered a speech at a rally (no mining in Kakadu) which Jon and I attended. She was shrieking through a foghorn, so the speech went like this:


  2. I like the Coward/Hunt sign!

  3. We even got stopped on several occasions to pose for photos with our sign. We were like royalty.

    Seriously though, the vibe was good there, and it was great to see so many people bothered to come along.

    Although, when I told people back at work that I went, I got "are you a union rep or somethin'" as a response a couple of times. No, you deadsh$ts, I just care about what happens to our friggin' country. So should you.

    Whilst driving up Northbourne Ave on the way there, I couldn't help noticing all the richy-rich-rich golf players out for a morning hit. It enraged me to think (a) they weren't going to the rally, and (b) they probably didn't need to anyway because nothing will change for them. But what happened to caring about society as a whole?

  4. By the way, Howard evaded again. According to News.com Howard said federal departments were advised that employees could take leave to attend today's rally. Yeah, at 4 pm yesterday via circuitous means after globally telling us we could not, and threatened us with repercussions if we did so.

    The means were circuitous enough that I didn't hear about it till the next day when I read your blog...

    Glad the rally was good. Poor Stanhope. He rawks (to use a Mikey-ism).

  5. Here's an interesting question - in the spirit of the now-famous Harrangueman "this is who I am and where I stand" post, who amongst us is a worker and a union member?

    I've been a bit leery of unions in the past. My dad told me some unpleasant stories about union meetings where members were pressured or expected to vote a particular way... and where those who dissented suffered, sometimes physically. That was in a time and place when union membership wasn't optional. And of course some unions at some times have been a bit too well connected with either organised crime or international communist organisations.

    In my current place of work union membership is optional, and to my mind a good idea, even if my union seems more often than not to be a bit limp when it comes to representing our interests.

  6. I agree. Involuntary unionism was a dinosaur. Alas, voluntary unionism comes at a price - namely being somewhat ineffectual when to cames to attempting to strike (esp when only 22% of you are members).

    But they do represent you when A) you get hassled by management and B) in workplace negoitations on salary and, more importantly, conditions of service.

    So by that rationale they're doing something for me that I can't do by myself. So I figure it's worth the cost.

    Note too that no unions are threatening strikes over this legislation - despite it radically changing the industrial landscape. Perhaps it's because they can't?

    And while unions were linked to international communism, their opposites too were linked in nefarious ways. Far right organisations like the new guard, and bigoted fascistic movements like the one led by Blamey (later Field Marshal and head of police in VIC) in Australia for example.

    Both the mild left and mild right have fellow travellers on their extremes. Except here in Oz it seems the mild right are morphing into something a lot more unpleasant and more remiscant of corporatism and other unpleasant ideologies of the 20-30's - with rampant racism replaced by a subtler kind (and an absence of overt physical violence).

    Read the links Mr Foggs supplied on Pseudo Fascism. It's somewhat worrying.


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