I have been avoiding my own beloved blog as if it were a severe or less than friendly Aunty so I thought it best to write a ‘post in closing’ on the less than friendly events of “Australia Day.”
With a little distance, I think there are some important questions that need to be asked about events as unfolded.
First things first
The 40th Anniversary of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy was an extraordinary weekend that will be remembered by all who attended for all the best reasons. It was an historic convergence that saw over one thousand people come together, from all over the country, to celebrate the Indigenous Rights Movement here in Australia.
The Embassy and surrounds was abuzz with tents and flags and stalls and crowds of people – engaged, interesting, like-minded folk enjoying the atmosphere, company and occasion. At any one time there were speakers and live bands on the main-stage, discussion groups, workshops, information sessions and film screenings under the big marquees, and food available by-donation at volunteer-run stalls and the like. And more and else and joy besides. It was an event that Tent Embassy organisers should be proud of.
An amazing diagram
The cafe-restaurant that was host to the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader can be seen in proximity to the Tent Embassy in the (amazing) diagram below.
The bluey-purple triangles are clusters of tents as were pitched for the Embassy celebration. The colourful stream along the road is the final leg of the return route that we marched (as part of the main 40th Anniversary demonstration march), on the morning of the 26th.
Questions that need or want be asked
Q~ why have questions not been asked about the choice of venue for Abbott and Gillard’s engagement that day?
Q ~ why the closest possible venue to the Tent Embassy (especially given and after Abbott’s comments earlier in the day)?
Questions of ‘who leaked’ information regarding Tony Abbott’s whereabouts are a complete non-issue – no one needed to leak information – we marched en masse directly past the cafe-restaurant on the day (just before midday if my memory serves me correctly). Furthermore, because people were camped where they were (as illustrated above), there were people milling about a mere skip, hop, and a jump away, both after the march and throughout the course of the day. Farther furthermore, because the walls of the venue are glass anyone could, and may have, seen Abbott et. al. inside.
Q ~ who was responsible for assessing the level of risk or threat to the PM that day?
Most commentators and media sources now acknowledge that demonstrators were not violent – “angry” and “very noisy” – but not violent. It is now acknowledged that demonstrators did not attempt to enter (let alone “storm”) the venue. It is now acknowledged that demonstrators did not, at any stage, attempt to “attack” the Prime Minister. As Michael Brull (journalist for ABC’s The Drum) has written,
‘Considering there were no arrests, no damage, and no real threat to anyone except protesters aggressively handled by police, it is worth trying to understand why the protest has caused such a reaction.’
Q ~ what was it then, that was so threatening about the noisy but non-violent crowd?
Choose your own misadventure; a) You believe that the Australian Federal Police and Protective Services were genuinely panicked by a bunch of non-violent demonstrators chanting and banging on windows, or; b) You find it hard to believe that the Australian Federal Police and Protective Services were panicked by non-violent demonstrators chanting and banging on windows. If you chose the former, ‘things do not bode well for the forces, and even less so the Prime Minister’s safety.’ If you chose the latter, continue to chapter four.
Q ~ why were the Australian Federal Police and Protective Services operating at such a high or heightened level of stress?
Q ~ what reason or justification have the Australian Federal Police and Protective Services for treating the PM in such an undignified manner?
Unless we believe that the Australian Federal Police and Protective Services were panicked by a crowd of non-violent demonstrators it is difficult to understand their treatment of the Prime Minister. What reason or justification have they for sweeping her off her feet in such a manner that she stumbled (and very nearly fell)? What reason or justification have they for shoving her so unceremoniously into the awaiting car?
Q ~ would a male Prime Minister have been treated in the same undignified manner?
Oh Bree, you do ask funny questions sometimes. This is simply a matter of common sense – women need protecting. Prime Minister Julia Gillard was clearly in need of rescue. And (galantly) rescued she was! Hollywood-style according to The Herald Sun.
Q ~ how does one explain the notable, observable (see videos below) lack of coordination among or between law-enforcement units and or officers on the day?
There was a remarkable (as in “worthy of remark”), lack of coordination between law-enforcement units and officers in their response to events as unfolded on the day. There were particular cohorts and certain individuals who seemed to be acting independently of other without heed to resultant or subsequent sense of disorder.
These observations are important, because it was this sense of disorder, for which we were blamed.
To offer a few illustrative examples:
@ 0:48 ~ the AFP officer (in the dark jump-suit with sunglasses on) may be empirically observed to break the line police were attempting to form. I saw this particular officer do the same thing innumerable times on the day.
NB: this same officer physically assaulted the PM’s personal security officer (or ‘minder’), just as the vehicles were about to depart. There are a number of clips that capture this moment, all of which are available on the web.
@ 1:12 ~ the same AFP officer continues to make lone-ranger sorties into the crowd, this time to violently assault a demonstrator or two.
NB: note the sense of violent disorder that this officer’s behaviour creates. This, is the ‘violent disorder’ that has been consistently attributed to demonstrators – cited and shown as evidence they were violent.
NB: note also, officers have still not yet formed a coherent line (which is what they were attempting to from the moment the vehicles left). It is worth following their attempts to form a coherent line from hereon in. Their inability to do so is illustrative of the level (or lack) of coordination that characterised the whole response.
@ 2:23 ~ (still in the clip above) the aforementioned Senior Officer can be seen ’rounding up’ rogue, or at least ‘wandering’ officers.
@ 0:45 ~ in this clip, the same Senior Officer can be seen yelling and barking orders ‘drill-sergeant’ style, as he continues to attempt to pull the officers into line.
There is further footage available, some of which I’ve gathered into a playlist, here.
Phewph… I’m glad that’s over.
Hello little blog.