This week’s show is a May Day workers special. Andy asks Queensland Council of Unions general secretary Michael Clifford some existential questions about the role of unions in 2022, plus offer some musings of my own on what makes a working class analysis actually useful. And some great union songs!
“Irony is the bringing together of contradictory truths, to make out with a contradiction, a new truth, with a laugh or a smile. And I confess that, a truth must come with one or the other, or I count it as false and a denial of the very nature of humanity itself (chuckles).” – The character of Jane Austen, in the film ‘On becoming Jane‘, based on the novel by John Spence.
Interview with the US Ambassador to Australia, Caroline Kennedy on the US blockade of Cuba and related matters.
4PR: Can you please introduce yourself?
Caroline Kennedy: My name is Caroline Kennedy and I am the US ambassador to Australia. I am proud to carry on my father’s legacy of public service … you know, my father had hoped to be the first US President to visit Australia.
4PR: Instead we got Lyndon Baynes Johnson – all the way with LBJ (sardonically). I would like to make reference to a speech by your uncle, Robert Kennedy, made on a visit to apartheid South Africa in 1966. Let’s have a listen to a speech he gave at the University of Capetown on 6 June 1966:
I come here this evening because of my deep interest and affection for a land settled by the Dutch in the mid 17th century, then taken over by the British and at last independent, a land in which the native inhabitants were at first subdued, but relations with whom remain a problem to this day, a land which defined itself on a hostile frontier, a land which is tamed rich natural resources through the energetic application of modern technology, a land which was once the importer of slaves, and now must struggle to wipe out the last traces of that form of bondage. I refer of course to the United States of America. [Crowd murmurs and then applauds].
There is discrimination in New York, the racial inequality of apartheid in South Africa, and serfdom in the mountains of Peru. People starve to death in the streets of India; a former Prime Minister is summarily executed in the Congo; intellectuals go to jail in Russia; and thousands are slaughtered in Indonesia; wealth is lavished on armaments everywhere in the world. These are different evils; but they are the common works of man. They reflect the imperfections of human justice, the inadequacy of human compassion, the defectiveness of our sensibility toward the sufferings of our fellows; they mark the limit of our ability to use knowledge for the well-being of our fellow human beings throughout the world. And therefore they call upon common qualities of conscience and indignation, a shared determination to wipe away the unnecessary sufferings of our fellow human beings at home and around the world.
4PR: Why didn’t the United States impose sanctions on apartheid South Africa.
Caroline Kennedy:It did. You know, my uncle Robert gave his life for his beliefs.
4PR: The US did not initiate an economic blockade on apartheid South Africa until 1986, 20 years after your Uncle’s visit.
Caroline Kennedy:The disinvestment campaign in the United States took that time before it gained critical mass, you know.
4PR: The United States did not do so until black South Africans mobilized to make the townships ungovernable, black local officials resigned in droves thus making the whole country ungovernable. The former Democrat President, Jimmy Carter, wrote a book called Palestine, Peace Not Apartheid. Do you agree with it?
Caroline Kennedy: Well not all of it, I am a strong supporter of Israel, you know, and I believe an undivided Jerusalem must be Israel’s national capital.
4PR: Didn’t you say that when you sought the New York senate seat of Hillary Clinton after Obama made her Secretary of State?
Caroline Kennedy: I made that as a policy statement in response to a New York Timespolitical questionnaire in, you know, 2008.
4PR: What about the requests by Palestinian civil society that Palestinians have the same democratic rights as Israelis?
Caroline Kennedy: Israel is a democracy, you know.
4PR: Yes that is why progressive Israelis are being driven out of Palestine by right-wingers. Your father, John F Kennedy, made the following statement in his inaugural address as President of the United States in 1961.
John F Kennedy
Before the dark powers of destruction, unleashed by science, engulf all humanity in planned or accidental self-destruction, we dare not tempt them with weakness. For only when our arms are sufficient beyond doubt, can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be employed. But neither can too great and powerful groups of nations take comfort from our present course. Both sides overburdened by the cost of modern weapons, both rightly alarmed by the steady spread of the deadly atom, yet both racing to alter that uncertain balance of terror that stays the hand of mankind’s final loss. So let us begin anew remembering on both sides, that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.
4PR: Your father’s speech was followed by the CIA’s failed Bay of Pigs Invasion in 1961 and 1962 October Crisis with Cuba where he did not negotiate with Fidel Castro but formed a naval blockade around that small island off the coast of Miami.
Caroline Kennedy: I was only 5 years old at the time but it was always referred to later as the Cuban Missile Crisis. You know my father gave his life for his beliefs.
4PR: This crisis brought the two super powers to the brink of nuclear war. The US military deployed nuclear armed missiles in both Turkey and Italy pointed at Moscow. The naval blockade imposed by your father led to an economic blockade of Cuba which still exists to this day. Do you support that blockade?
Caroline Kennedy: Why, yes, of course I do. You know, I am a member of the Biden Administration and we are determined to bring freedom to the Cuban people. We oppose communism.
4PR: By assisting disaffected Cubans in bringing down a sovereign government that has the broad support of its people?
Caroline Kennedy: You know, my father knew less that Khrushchev about the Bay of Pigs.
4PR: Your uncle Robert Kennedy said that there is nothing criminal in a Cuban patriot leaving the United States with the intent of joining an insurgent group. There is nothing criminal in his urging others to do so. There is nothing criminal in several Cuban patriots departing at the same time.
Caroline Kennedy: You know,my uncleRobert said that nothing of what happened at the Bay of Pigs offends the neutrality laws of the United States.
4PR: Would you say that about US citizens going to fight with Al Queda in Iraq or Daesh in Syria?
Caroline Kennedy: You know, I opposed the invasion of Iraq from the outset.
4PR: Yes, you used that to distinguish yourself from Hilary Clinton who supported the Iraq war … this was when you were angling for the New York Senate seat after Hilary became the Secretary of State under Obama.
Caroline Kennedy: You know, the truth is I withdrew from that contest.
4PR: Are you aware that there is a ‘From Australia to Cuba with Love’ campaign that explicitly intends to assist in ending the US blockade of Cuba?
Caroline Kennedy: Why no, but I am new to the office of ambassador to Australia.You know,I would be happy to talk with the organisers.
4PR: Are you aware that since 1992 the Australian government has either abstained or voted against the US blockade in the United Nations? Let’s have a listen to what one of the organisers, Sue Monk, has to say.
SueMonk But back in the 90s, when the Soviet Union collapsed … Cuba’s major trading partner at that time … Cuba really nosedived. It was desperate and starvation conditions for Cuba. And similarly with COVID, Cuba has experienced a problem with food, transport, lack of access to material goods, and in particular access to syringes to distribute and implement their vaccination program. So again, it’s been a critical situation. And so one of the things that we discussed in our meetings was, how do we do something a little bit differently …. so that we’re not just continually fundraising, fundraising fundraising. We would never have to fundraise if the blockade was lifted, the single most thing that’s affecting Cuba’s development is the US blockade. So we wanted to refocus back on the US as the major problem for Cuba.
4PR: Is it fair for the US to maintain this blockade at a time when the global pandemic threatens to end the lives of so many people? Over 800,000 US citizens have already died. Why should the same fate await the Cuban people who have had difficulty in getting syringes to administer the vaccines developed by Cuba?
Caroline Kennedy: You know, I would be happy to talk with the organisers.
4PR: One quick question before you go, the Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has said that Julian Assange should be returned home. What is your position on this?
Caroline Kennedy: The Biden administration will not involve itself in matters before the courts. I understand the British High Court has ordered Mr Assange’s extradition to face trial in the United States on 17 espionage charges relating to his involvement with Chelsea Manning who released classified videos of US engagement in the Iraq war.
4PR: A war which you opposed from the outset, a war which was illegal, was not sanctioned by the UN, and which was based on a lie that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.
Caroline Kennedy: Yes, all of those things but we must uphold the rule of law particularly when Mr Assange and his organisation insists on undermining our democracy by releasing private emails of Hilary Clinton leading directly to the election of Donald Trump as President.
4PR: No better proof of the decline of the American empire. Oh, one last thing, former CIA operative Christopher Boyce warned the Australian people that the CIA was behind the sacking of the Whitlam government in 1975.
Caroline Kennedy: You know Christopher Boyce was convicted of espionage.
4PR: Just like the US government did to Chelsea Manning and are trying to do to Julian Assange. I think we should leave it there.
Please note: So there is no doubt, the answers given by the US Ambassador to Australia, Caroline Kennedy, were performed by a voice actor. All other voices are by the persons as stated.
“I don’t believe that China represents a military threat to Australia” – Associate Professor Marianne Hanson, Vice-Chair of ICAN Australia – the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear weapons.
“When the sun scorched the earth, a child was being born in the mountain, in a cradle of hard stone that poisoned him.” – Strike The Beast Hard by Ruben Galindo
Why go to war with China when you can buy a perfectly good bicycle from there for $100 and if you have $16 left over you can add a bike rack to carry your groceries home on.
Last Friday on International Human Rights Day, the independent and peaceful Australian Network (IPAN) organized a rally at Brisbane Square. One of the invited speakers was the former Attorney General and Environment Minister Mr Rod Welford who said that the new pact with the United States and the United Kingdom is ‘an election stunt‘.
Let’s go now to the announcement of the new pact called AUKUS made by the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison.
Scott Morrison (Prime Minister): “Today I announce a new partnership, a new agreement that I describe as a forever partnership, a forever partnership for a new time between the oldest and most trusted friends, forever partnership that will enable Australia to protect our national security interests to keep Australians safe. But I’ve got to say my greatest thanks to my partners in this forever partnership, this AUKUS partnership, to President Joe Biden, and the Prime Minister Boris Johnson. I introduce them today as great friends of freedom and great friends of Australia. And they truly are. They understand what goes to the heart of our relationship, the security and defence of peace and freedom. That is what is always has sustained us.”
4PR – Voice of the People
That was the Prime Minister of Australia speaking at a nuclear submarine / AUKUS Alliance press conference on the 16th of September 2021. So this podcast is going to summarize the response to that announcement and try to analyze what is going on with it. So let’s go now to the former Labor attorney General and Environment Minister in Queensland, Rod Wellford, when he’s speaking to a crowd on International Human Rights Day in Brisbane square last Friday, on the 10th of December,
Rod Welford – former Qld Attorney General
Friends, one year short of 50 years ago, on the second of December 1972, Australians elected a government that took the first tentative steps to building this nation to be a proud, peaceful and independent nation in the world. It was the essence of those three years of Whitlam government that brought us into a more international footing. We recognize China for the first time in our short history, the position that the Australian government has put us in is effectively to say that Australia should be on a war footing with China. It is an election stunt. And there’ll be plenty more election stunts like this, designed to play to the fears of the Australian people in the months ahead in the run up to next year’s Federal election. It’s our job, today, to encourage Australians, to help Australians see through that cynicism. And when they go to the ballot box next year. See that the only way to change Australia and to change the world towards a peaceful path is to re-establish Australia as an independent and a peaceful nation. And we will only do that if we change the government next year.
4PR – Voice of the People
Mr. Welford, who was a minister in the Beattie and Bligh Labor governments in Queensland made no mention of successive Australian Labour government’s lack of independence from the United States. Labor governments’ willingly supported Indonesian invasion of East Timor. The Hawk Labor government supported Australian involvement in the first Gulf war against Iraq in 1991. And Labor supported for murderous war in Afghanistan where war crimes were committed and (finally) Labor’s opposition leader, Anthony Albanese, threw his support behind the AUKUS / submarine deal, saying ‘a close relationship with the US is among the three pillars of a labour government’s future foreign policy‘.
Does Mr. Wellford ‘s opposition to AUKUS and to the purchase of the nuclear submarines, does that place him at odds with his own party over the US Alliance and over the purchase of these attack class submarines?
Union Choir sings
“You are not my enemy these governments do not speak for me. And I am one just one of many who wish you well.”
4PR – Voice of the People
That was the union choir singing at the anti-AUKUS and anti-nuclear sub rally last Friday. The next speaker was Kristen Perissinotto, the media officer of the electrical trades union, and she spoke about workers rights and conditions, the impact of war on climate, (impact) on First Nations people, and on refugees and people seeking asylum. Ms Perissinotto made a simple comparison of the cost of nuclear submarines, and that women’s safety, of refugees and creating jobs for workers. Let’s go to her now.
Kristin Perissinotto ETU
So speaking, of course, I know the coalition are all about the economy. So I’ll speak their language, one nuclear submarine will cost $20 billion to build, estimated, and (its) estimated our entire cost will be $100 billion. So I thought it would be fun to compare that to some of the spendings that the LNP have committed to in the 2021 budget. And the first one, an issue close to my heart, is the spend on women’s safety. So this was Scott Morrison’s alleged women’s budget in 2021. And he’s putting aside $1.1 billion for women’s safety. That’s $86 per Australian woman. And it’s also 1%, or less than 1% of the entire cost of the estimate for all of our nuclear submarines.
Kristin Perissinotto ETU
So the Liberals go on about how good they are for the economy, but they’ve only pledged $3 billion for new jobs. And I’m no economic expert, but I do know that people need a secure job in order to contribute meaningfully to the economy and continue to do so into eternity. So 3% of what we’re going to be spending on nuclear submarines will be spent on jobs.
Kristin Perissinotto ETU
$0 was pledged for supporting refugees and people seeking asylum, although a shitload more was pledged for keeping them out of this country. Even though like I said, with Australia’s involvement in the Afghanistan war, and all of our partnerships across the world, we have a lot on our hands when it comes to some of those refugees, and yet nothing spent on supporting refugees and people seeking asylum. So obviously, that is 0% of the price the we’re going to be spending on nuclear submarines.
Kristin Perissinotto ETU
And finally, the coalition’s investment in climate action, the LNP allocated $30 million for one renewable project in the Northern Territory, nothing for just transition to workers for workers, which is what something we desperately need nothing towards a clean recovery from COVID. And nothing towards a genuine effort to decarbonize. That is less than 0.1% of the cost of just one submarine spent on our climate.
4PR – Voice of the People
That was Kristin Perissinotto from the electrical trade union speaking at the rally. Next up was a spokesperson from the International Campaign to Abolish nuclear weapons, Marianne Hanson, and she warned the rally last Friday against the acquisition of nuclear powered submarines.
Marianne Hanson (ICAN)
Here’s one of the key problems. To date, no country which doesn’t have nuclear weapons, there are nine states that have nuclear weapons … apart from those states, no country in the world has been given this technology, nuclear powered submarines. We are therefore going to break this taboo. And if it does go ahead, this will set a very dangerous precedent.
4PR – Voice of the People
Ms Hanson told the rally that other states are trying to copy Australia and get access to the nuclear submarine technology.
Marianne Hanson (ICAN)
Already, we have other states in the world saying well if Australia is going to be given this technology and is permitted to go ahead and use what is highly enriched uranium in their submarines; now, the highly enriched uranium which will power the submarines is exactly the same material that is used in nuclear bombs. Uranium which has been enriched to 95 – 96%. It can be converted into weapons very, very quickly. And that’s the problem.
Marianne Hanson (ICAN)
Already Iran has out as I say other states, South Korea, even Canada sought to have this kind of exemption and all these states have been denied. Suddenly, in AUKUS, Australia is given this technology or were promised to have this technology So there are big problems here, for our reputation and presenting a very, very risky precedent.
Marianne Hanson (ICAN)
Now, the nine states that have these weapons have promised to eliminate them, but they are not living up to their promises. And that is why I can respond, the International Campaign to Abolish nuclear weapons … we managed to get a treaty in the United Nations. Our organization won the Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts. Of course, the government didn’t even bother to phone any of us to say congratulations.
4PR – Voice of the People
After we marched across to Southbank, Marianne Hanson pointed out to the protesters that Q super, the Queensland superannuation fund for most of the public servants, is very much involved in the nuclear industry, and that people should write to that organization and say that it should divest from all of the nuclear companies that it is involved with. So that leaves us till the end of the rally, there was a resolution put to the rally that we should not support the purchase of the submarines and that we should be getting out of AUKUS, this AUKUS pact that the federal government is putting, and this is the response by the Department of Defense in regard of the concerns put forward by Ms. Marianne Hanson at the rally. And by her organization, ICAN.
Defence Dept Spokesperson
AUKUS … offers great opportunities for defense to keep that capability edge in new and different ways, moving into the future. Prime Minister, in terms of the nuclear powered submarine venture, we will over the next 12 to 18 months, undertake that detailed work with US and UK partners. I know we we’ve been directed by government to absolutely maintain the highest standards of safety and security when it comes to the development of a nuclear capability …. that is important for the Australian people Prime Minister but it’s also important for our people who will operate these capabilities for decades to come. So I reassure you and the government and the Australian people of Defence’s absolute commitment to the highest international standards of nuclear safety and security.
4PR – Voice of the People
Similar assurances were given when Malcolm Fraser and the Hawk governments both decided that Australia needed to have a uranium industry and to enter the nuclear fuel cycle. And of course, Australian uranium ended up in some meltdowns in both Chernobyl and Fukushima, despite all the assurances given at the time about the high standards of safety that would be used. Finally, Janette McLeod put two resolutions to the rally. Jeanette McLeod is from the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. Here are the resolutions:
Janette McLeod WILPF
So the first resolution that we’ll put today is around the Brisbane City Council. As people probably know, the Brisbane City Council has had for a long time, with a bit of a gap in the middle, a nuclear free zone policy. And that policy is still in existence. So that’s, that’s the first thing. And then the second thing is that even though there’s this in Brisbane, there is nothing at the state government level regarding being nuclear free, which is, you know, pretty absurd. So, let’s put up a show of hands to say, Brisbane City Council, please actually actively keep your pot nuclear free policy, make sure that it’s actually implemented. Let’s not let any nuclear subs sneak up the Brisbane River. And further the state government, could you introduce a nuclear free policy for the whole of Queensland because that’s what we need. So let’s have a show of hands. Great
4PR – Voice of the People
So there we have it, an Australian government that’s hell bent on testing its relationship with biggest northern neighbor, China. Of course it takes some degree of insanity to test that relationship when Australia is at the economic mercy of the Chinese government. Just about every major manufactured good that we acquire here in Australia is manufactured in China. And also so many of our natural resources are traded with China. And so to enter into a military confrontation over the South China Sea where, it would seem to me , the main objective of the Chinese is to have access to the shipping routes and the shipping lanes that it’s huge trade services. So to try to to prevent them from doing that by concocting some kind of relationship with Taiwan doesn’t really make much sense at all. So this is Ian Curr signing off from 4PR – voice of the People let’s go out with a song. This is PEGALE DURO AL FIERO or Strike the Beast Hard
Frontera (Sue Monk, Sergio Aldunate, Lachlan Hurse and others)
Frontera (Sue Monk, Sergio Aldunate, Lachlan Hurse and others)
Translated from the Spanish …. When the sun scorched the earth a child was being born in the mountain, in a cradle of hard stone that poisoned him. – Strike The Beast Hard Words and music: Ruben Galindo Original arrangement: Grupo Moncada
Frontera (Sue Monk, Sergio Aldunate, Lachlan Hurse and others)
When the sun scorched the earth a child was being born in the mountain, in a cradle or hard stone that poisoned him. He opened his eyes to the world and saw nothing but misery, he touched the cruellest inferno where the fire attacked him; he grew up among the brambles where the smoke was like grape-shot. He rises up above the Andes with his warrior’s poncho seeking a path, a path that he desired, that he wanted as a child; he never complained about being American by blood, sowing his determination and with his hands pulling out the spur of evil. Strike the beast hard because if you don’t it will leave you hunger; strike it because they’ll kill you and they’ll cover you with earth, sing your thousand songs and set out walking with your wounds, and together we’ll go to the forest to sing, then, to life. They’ve given you very little bread for the sweat which you burned, you spent your whole life extracting riches for the beast; it’s not time for fear because the sun’s gone bad, the sky’s covered over with terror and the fire’s sputtering out. Now you’ve found the road that the light gave to your life, raise the child who follows you and teach him to sing, teach him that man has a lot of struggling to do, put your cope over him and set him on the road to struggle, jump from the Andes and shout over the earth.
Scott Morrison (Prime Minister), Marianne Hanson (ICAN), Janette McLeod WILPF, Rod Welford – former Qld Attorney General, Kristin Perissinotto ETU, Union Choir, Frontera (Sue Monk, Sergio Aldunate, Lachlan Hurse and others), 4PR – Voice of the People, Defence Dept Spokesperson
Welcome to the Paradigm Shift on FM 102.1 4ZZZ Fridays at noon. We challenge the assumptions of our current society, to resist oppression …more
Repression against Climate Activists
Paradigm Shift (4ZZZ Fridays at Noon) – December 3, 2021
This week we talk about the state repression of climate activism. I speak to Yusur Al-Azzawi from the Human Rights Law Centre about the study they’ve just published on the topic, and I also chat to two people who know it first hand – Juliet Lamont and Sergeio Herbert have in the last few weeks been given prison sentences for climate protests.
Welcome to the Paradigm Shift on 4 Triple Zed 102.1 where we challenge the assumptions of our current society to resist oppression and investigate alternative ways of living for a world based on justice, solidarity and sustainability.
Welcome to the Paradigm Shift on 4 Triple Zed, 102.1 FM, it is your local community radio station, bringing you all the arts and news that matters to your local community. My name is Andy and I will be with you for the next hour. And today on the show, we are going to be talking about the repression of climate activism in Australia. I did a bit of field research actually, for this show. This week, I locked myself on to the train tracks that were carrying first load of coal from ADANI’s Carmichael mine, ADANI are claiming it was just a test run. But it was a train and pretty much full of coal. It’s been a long campaign against that mine. And we don’t want to let it just go by let them export their call without people getting in the way of it.
Because that is what we need to do to avoid the climate crisis. People need to disrupt the system that is destroying our planet. And so myself and a few others, locked ourselves to the tracks were, arrested and are now in the legal system. I am on bail, hence the fact I’m not at my usual mobile studio, I record this and in fact, I don’t have my microphone because I left it there. So apologies about the sound quality. On today’s show, because I’m on bail conditions that say I can’t go back to the place that is essentially my home for half the year in central Queensland. That’s one of the things that we’ll be talking about in the course of the show, the use of things like bail conditions.
So anyway, what’s coming up, I spoke with Yusur Al-Azzawi from the Human Rights Law Center, they’ve just put out a study about the legal repression of climate activism in this country. And so I talked to her about the findings of that study. And then I talked to a couple of people who know firsthand the effects of climate repression, because they have in the last couple of weeks being sentenced to prison for doing climate activism. I speak to Juliette Lamont, who locked onto the same train as I did the other day. And yesterday was given a one month prison sentence suspended for nine months, thankfully, so she can talk to us on the Paradigm Shift. And I also spoke with the infamous Sergieo Herbert, who a couple of weeks ago, was sentenced to one year in prison for his 29th arrest for climate activism. He is out on bail with an appeal pending and so I spoke to him. The media does a lot of talking about Serge and not that much talking to him. And so I thought we’d get a bit of the the rationale behind why he does what he does. So that’s what’s coming up. Stay tuned. I think it is an important discussion and one that so rarely is talked about in discussion about climate change, we just talk about things, as they are not about what are the things behind the scenes that are making it harder for the people who want climate action to get their message across, when those who are pushing against it have so much access to political power and media power in this country. So it’s good to be digging behind the scenes of that. So let’s start off with Yusur Al-Azzawi from the Human Rights Law Center.
Could you start by introducing yourself?
I’m Yousef al AZZAWI, and I’m a senior lawyer at the Human Rights Law Center.
And the Human Rights Law Center has just released a report and is called global warning, the threat to climate defenders in Australia, can you tell us why this report has been made?
The report has really come about from an identification of what we see as an increasing trend of repression towards climate activists. And so we really wanted to take a closer look at the myriad of ways in which climate activists are being repressed. And to be able to pull it all together and look at what the whole picture presents. And so that sort of is really what drove it.
It seems to have been fortuitous, or unfortuitous, depending which way you look at it timing, the report came out just a couple of weeks ago. And then we’ve also had two people, two climate activists given custodial sentences in the last couple of weeks as well.
That’s right. And really what the report reveals is that at a time when the stakes for the planet could not be higher, climate defenders are increasingly being targeted, prosecuted, intimidated and harassed simply for calling for action. And I think in the context of events that have surrounded the report being released, we really see that that just couldn’t be more clear and evident at the moment. And I’m not sure if you if this sort of crossed your desk at all, but the same the very same time the report was being released last week, the ABC broke a story about a government agency down here in Victoria, taking out, sort of allegedly spying on a climate defender who had criticized them.
Yeah, that’s another one of the things that you cover in your report is surveillance.
Yeah, that’s right. So to sort of see this happening very much in real time. That’s why That’s precisely why we wanted to pull this report together for people to be able to see how these different threads are not isolated incidents, but rather a systematic and broad based attack on climate activism. And in terms of the surveillance. You know, Australian Governments and fossil fuel corporations have a history of engaging in surveillance and direct infiltration of charities, non for profits, grassroots organizations, who are protesting, and, you know, rarely are they held to account?
Yeah, oh, let’s go back to the start your report, its interesting that it was a report about legal issues by our lawyers. It doesn’t start with sort of something that happened in the courts or anything, but it starts with the influence of the fossil fuel industries in our parliament. Why did you start with that?
We really saw that as being the underlying motivator. You know, the unregulated political influence of the fossil fuel industry, including through really large and often secret donations to political parties, is what we see as driving political inaction on climate change and also the repression of those calling for action.
So, speaking of that repression, he then go on to have a few different sections about the legal restriction of climate activism. So let’s talk briefly about each of them. The first is state governments bringing anti protest laws.
So I mean, as you well know, Andy, the we’ve seen the introduction of harsh and at times unconstitutional anti protest laws in a couple of different jurisdictions across the country. These laws often directly target or disproportionately impact climate activists. In Queensland, of course, we’ve got the dangerous devices law. And in Tasmania, there is the what’s called the workplaces protection from protesters Act, which has actually been found several years ago, it was found unconstitutional by the high courts or parts of it were. And the Tasmanian Government is now up to its third attempt to bring that act into power. So it’s sort of tried to amend it after the High Court said it was a no go. That was unsuccessful. And just a couple of months ago, we’ve seen the government bring that. they’ve tried to amend that act again. And it’s really an unnecessary and disproportionate restriction on people’s right to peaceful advocacy. So it’s a bit of a bit of a watch and wait on the Tasmanian law at the moment. But as we know, the law in Queensland passed about two years ago now. And as you well know, activists are being charged under that law frequently as my understanding.
Yeah, there’s been quite a number of those dangerous attachment device charges now. So one of the other things that you talk about is the way law enforcement is used against activists.
Yeah, that’s right. So what we really see is that police are imposing onerous bail conditions on environmental activists which stifles freedom of association and political expression. And climate activists are also facing excessive penalties for peaceful protest, including suspended terms of imprisonment. So, activists across Australia are facing increasingly repressive bail conditions. And most criminal charges that do flow from environmental activism are summary offenses or your more minor offenses, but climate defenders increasingly receiving bail conditions that are commonly imposed in circumstances of really much more serious offending, like sort of organized crime or or that kind of thing. And, you know, some of the conditions that people might be facing include non-Association conditions, place restrictions, curfew conditions. And I think what’s really worrying and important to note about that is that a bail is designed to address risk. And yet the way we see it being used against climate activists increasingly is in a punitive way, and as a deterrent to activism.
Yeah, I’m glad that the report covered this because it is one of my kind of pet topics is the way that bail is misused to restrict the protests. And it’s sort of done outside of the courts, the police do this, and often the courts will override it. But in the meantime, you’re stuck on these punitive bail conditions. And there’s nothing you can done about do about it. And the media very rarely reports on any kind of nuances of the law, because the average person’s understanding of the law is so small and so it’s very hard to ever get any media to talk about the fact that police are misusing the law in this way to restrict activism.
Yeah, that’s right. And that’s part of what we wanted to do with this report is just bring to light that there are tactics at play here that are a deterrent are repressive and are also having a really chilling effect on freedom of speech, freedom of association, people exercising their right to protest
Song … “Down at the Metro mine down at the Metro mine who’s gonna lie on that hard rail line stop Peabody is coal digging crime, coalmining takes yr life laugh away. ….It’s a dead end job by saying get dust on your lung get a cold black and tongue and a dead plan back with your pay. Who’s got a pad looking shining? Who’s got a pad looking chiming, looking on tight to that Coltrane’s and not tell me who’s good …” – The Lurkers – Who’s got a padlock and chain?
That is an Australian environmental civil disobedience anthem. They’re from the Lurkers. That is ‘who’s got a padlock and chain’ yr on the paradigm shift on 4 triple Zed we are speaking with Yusur Al-Azzawi from the Human Rights Law Center about their recent study on the legal repression of climate activism in Australia. Let’s go back to that interview.
So the other section that he talked about here, which I think, again, is another one that not people who are involved in the environmental movement know about but outside of that a lot of people wouldn’t is the pressure that the government puts on our institutions for a civil society, the Nonprofits and Charities.
Yeah, that’s right. So a number of Australian government agencies, as we’ve spoken about have been captured by fossil fuel interests, which has then resulted in the suppression of accurate information to the public about climate change risks. And it’s perpetuated the spread of climate change, misinformation. And then alongside that, as well. You know, charities and nonprofits who engage in climate change, education and activism are an essential defence against such misinformation. But they too, are under pressure and attack. And very recently, in fact, the same day that this report launched, I’m not sure if you were aware of the proposed changes to the ACNC governance standards, which sort of basically was an attempt to stifle charities who engage in climate activism and by threatening them with deregistration. So that was sort of proposed change. range that was causing a really great deal of concern to the entire charity sector. And it would have sort of significantly expanded the offences upon which the ACNC which is the Australian charities and non for profits commission could do de-register a charity and it would include an employee of that charity committing really minor offenses like, you know, entering or remaining on property or things like that, that could see that the charity itself deregistered. So very happily, last Thursday, those that proposed standard was disallowed.
Yeah, there’s a range of attacks on the nonprofit’s of Australia that people don’t necessarily know about. And one of them is just set the ACNC head is Gary John’s who was once a labour politician, but who before he ever got that job, had carved out this persona of himself as a guy who complained about Nonprofits and Charities like overreaching their remit. That was all he did. And then the Abbott government appointed him as the guy who was going to oversee charities essentially like putting the wolf in charge of the sheep paddock.
The .. what we have at the moment is at the federal level, we have an implied freedom of political communication, which is … the flows from our Constitution, and has come out of a case. And that is the protection that we have, in terms of our right to protest. Really, that’s the main protection. At the federal level, we need really stronger legal protections for activism than just that. And until such time that we get it, we’re going to keep seeing climate defenders be targeted, prosecuted, intimidated, harassed, just for calling for change.
Okay, so the report was published two weeks ago. What do you hope that it achieves?
I hope that it helps people stitch the picture together. And to understand that we’re not talking about one or two isolated incidents, we’re seeing a systematic and broad scale attack on activism. And in being able to see the picture. We hope that people will understand and there will be sort of greater support for what really needs to change which, like I say, is strengthening our political integrity and strengthening our legal protections.
Okay, thanks very much Yussur and if people want to read the report, how can they do so?
you can head over to the reports website and just download it for free. So if you type in global warning, go threat to climate defenders. It will take you to a landing page on Google at the Human Rights Law Center website hit that page download the report for free and get on board.
okay thanks very much Yusur.
thanks so much Andy
Song …. lock on if your hard enough …” – Insurge – Lock on
that is InSurge there with ‘lock on’ a tribute to one method of civil disobedience favored by the Australian environmental movement. Before that we were speaking with Yussur Al-Azzawi from the Human Rights Law Center about their study into the legal repression of climate activism. And the second half of this show, we are going to be chatting to a couple of people who have tasted it firsthand very recently. They’re both been sentenced to prison sentences for doing climate activism. Thankfully, they’re both currently on the outside with us. So first off, we’ll speak to Sergieo Herbert, who was given a year in prison. Serge has been at it for a few years now with a particular tactic of civil disobedience. And I thought it’d be worthwhile talking to him to get a bit of the the person behind the caricature often painted in the media, which is quite critical of him. So let’s have a listen to serge. Can you start off by introducing yourself?
So, my name is Sergieo. I’m 22. I’m a climate activists. I’ve been a climber just for last five years, I guess I believe in civil disobedience and civil resistance. And that’s how I spend my time doing civil resistance to try to solve a climate crisis.
So many of our listeners will be aware that not long ago, you were given a sentence of a year in prison. You’re currently out on bail with an appeal pending? Can you give us a bit of an update of your legal situation?
Yes. So it’s on bail, currently awaiting appeal about, we’re appealing the severity of the sentence. That appeal will be the first will be in March, but it’s likely to take maybe six months or more. And yet, basically, if I fail, that appeal will have that 12 months imprisonment sentence. But hopefully, that sentence can be reduced, or it can not be a sentence. And otherwise? Well, I’m on bail, meaning that I have a whole bunch of really strict conditions. I have to I’m not allowed to go to another state to see my parents for Christmas. I have to report to the police station three times a week. I have a curfew from 6am to 6pm. And the police are allowed to appear at my residence every three times a week to check that I’m here. Yeah, otherwise, I’m about to be of good behavior. And someone had to pay a $2,000 bail to get me out as well. Yeah. And I’m also not allowed anywhere near the Newcastle area, about six different local government areas that I’m excluded from.
Now, you’ve been arrested a number of times, and you presumably suspected that a prison sentence was coming at some point. So I wonder why I keep going doing these kinds of arrestable actions.
Well, I guess I admire those in the past that have gone before me. And I see that yeah, imprisonment is part of civil resistance. So I’ve been processing that, I guess, since I’ve been involved in civil resistance. I’m sort of trying to figure out, yeah, trying to be okay with that reality. So, but ultimately, why I keep going, was because im dedicated to solving the climate crisis. And I know that mass participation, civil resistance to the point of imprisonment or worse is really required from everyone. So I guess I’m trying hard to demonstrate and try to do that in myself, in order to, I guess, pave the way for those to come after me. And people were thinking that I would get in prison sentence after five or six times of being arrested. However, 28 times seems to go by without anything. And even before that, there wasn’t actually much hinting at escalating toward a prison sentence. It’s this sort of did come out of nowhere, statistically speaking. So it’s like it, it may very well be that my appeal’s successful. And my continued civil resistance in the future, after my appeal, doesn’t result in a prison sentence until I’ve been arrested by the know, over 50 times. There’s people in Australia that have some activists in Australia that have been arrested lots of times in the past and haven’t been to prison. So I guess you’ve got to try your hardest. And that’s the risk. And I guess, you know, ultimately, I need to be me. And that means engaging in civil resistance.
Yeah, the media sometimes likes to paint you as just kind of a pest but there is a theoretical basis to what you do, isn’t there?
Yeah, so I use the non violence theory, I guess ultimately layered on top of what my friends call the civil resistance model. So non violence is primarily about bringing violence from the shadows or somewhere that it’s hidden in the system out into the public eye through civil disobedience.
So through doing stuff in public and and yeah, basically, drawing that violence out for for it to be seen by the public and then addressed if the public thinks He is unjust. This is ultimately what the predominant theory of civil rights campaign in America and in other places. And then the civil resistance model is really about using people’s bodies in their, in their innocence, en mass, sacrificially to transform a society, whether from a dictatorship to democracy, in the most extreme circumstances, the civil resistance model, which is a model where basically, everyday citizen converge on the capital city, basically, and sit, they sit on the road or sit in the ports, causing economic and social disruption en mass until their demand is met.
And obviously, that comes with massive imprisonment, massive violence. But ultimately, yeah, people take out as much time as they need from their lives, they put their lives on pause, just like people do when they you know, go to war, or do some other sort of extraordinary thing in their lives. And the civil resistance model was, you know, was built around. Yeah, basically, impoverished peasants reclaiming power from a violent ruling class. And that’s where, yes, we have some of that, in our context, a little bit different. But these are the theories that my work is based on. And I’m looking to find the way to use these mechanisms of change to solve the climate crisis.
As we’ve said, you’ve been arrested a number of times, and I’ve been doing this for a few years now with Extinction, Rebellion and Blockade Australia, do you think that this course of action is having an effect?
when I was in prison, watching the free to air TV, you know, the ads are full of greenwash, which means that definitely feeling some, some public opinion is shifting. And the other thing is, basically, all the car ads are about electric cars. And so the a large section of the of the corporate class, the owner class, is actually looking to begin their shift, at least in writing or, you know, with fancy words and PR campaigns, we’re still firmly in the grip of the fossil fuel industry as Australia, which is subservient to it.
But ultimately, I think that as we demonstrate what real resistance looks like, people are going to see how to take back power in this very comfortable land for the majority of us. There’s been massive, massive shifts globally, and nationally, of how people engage in democracy, we’re seeing much more civil disobedience in this country than we were previously, especially in regards to the climate change movement. And that civil resistance is maturing, developing.
And I know that the work that we’ve done in Australia has, has directly influenced and became a scaffold for other climate change movements in other countries. Because I’ve, I’m currently working in a sort of mentor kind of role in a bunch of different countries are looking to develop their movements. So it’s making a shift in terms of what’s acceptable in our society. And it’s also making massive shifts in the way that people engage and their values and they struggle for, I guess, survival in this case.
Over the last couple of years, the media has certainly taken notice of your actions, and there’s been quite a lot of criticism and personal attacks. What’s been the effect of that on you personally?
Yes, it’s very strange to be walking down the street and in essence getting death threats from people mumbling either to themself, or there’s someone they’re walking with. Behind you.
Yeah, I I’ve experienced a lot of, yeah, threats of violence, ridicule and stuff like that. It’s scary at first. But, you know, ultimately, I’m, I don’t know, I’m a young person trying to do the right thing. And so, I guess like, I don’t know, for me, I’m not doing this to prove how good I am more. To be honest. I don’t think I’m a good person.
And I think that me, doing this work is me trying to at least trying to do good things within a society that has, you know, made me that who I am, which is an imperfect person, you know, socialized to oppress and and recreate hierarchies and all these sorts of things that this society does. So yeah, I don’t get value from others, other people’s opinions of me I get value from my own opinion of me, this work is me fulfilling my purpose in life, which I’ve decided is to prolong the existence of consciousness in the universe. So my metric isn’t how many, you know likes I get on Facebook, or how many people are nice to me, my metric is, how many lives have I saved? How long? Have I delayed the eventual sizzling out of consciousness in the Universe? So honestly, I don’t give a fuck what people think of me.
the other side of that equation, I guess, is that when you were in prison, there was a lot of solidarity shown with you from around the country. What effect did that have?
Yeah, so I had been in prison in custody for about six days before I was able to contact anyone but my, my lawyer contacted me. And, yeah, told me that there was snap rallies being planned, and stuff like that all over the country. And that felt really good, I almost teared up, it was really significant.
And, yeah, I just value being part of such a powerful set of people with really strong values that have each other’s backs. And to be honest, it’s somewhat predictable.
The non-violence theory suggests that basically like the more violence that is done to a person or a movement, or the more people sympathize with those that were non-violent in the scenario, and back them up, or whether by joining them, or ridiculing their opponent. So that’s ultimately called the ‘backfire effect’. And we were able to see that. So it’s just a testimony to the fact that we are all human. And the normal traits of humans, you know, supporting the people that are getting abused and attacked is all still working. So basically, that’s good news, folks, it turns out, we can employ the nonviolence theory, and it should work. So …. it gives a little bit of confidence.
All right, so you’re on bow, you’ve got an appeal pending? What does the future look like for you?
Yeah, well, I guess ultimately, I if I’m arrested or breach any of my bail conditions, I will be Yeah, basically sent to prison during awaiting that appeal. So that’s definitely scary. I live with a bit of fear now. Which sucks. But yeah, so basically, I’m looking to be a mentor, and I want to be training the next surge, as we may say, of activists on the frontlines on the Vanguard, you know, I was able to develop really effective strategies that made it so you know, at least 28 times seems to be all good in the hood in terms of dealing with their oppression.
So yeah, I’m looking, I want to be training people I want to be basically like getting people to seriously sign up to face what I’ve faced, because I think that if we shy away from it, if we remain in fear of it, then they win, right? Then their oppression is effective. The way we make the repression, ineffective and this happens everywhere in the civil resistance model, is you sign people up, you sign people up to suffer that amount or more.
And you remove the fear through that. Once the fear is gone. Their violence, their control has no effect. It’s one of the most powerful things in a movement when the fear goes. And that happens from people transcending their fears into their courage, and a community staying strong, no matter the costs. So I’m looking to Yeah, I’m doing a courage in action training on Sunday. I’m going to be doing that weekly, and building up really powerful young people that can take on Australia in 2022 to force climate action and to not fear. Alright, thanks, Serge. Thank you so much.
Song … I hate the liberal party with a passion so I voted for the Labour Party man. But the lying little weevil turned just as evil ….” – Paul Spencer – Make some music
I am loving the chance to play a few civil disobedience anthems that is Paul Spencer there with ‘Make some music’ before then we were speaking with Sergieo Herbert, who is currently appealing his one year prison sentence for doing repeated climate actions. I think there are people out there who disagree with Serg’s politics or ways of going about it. But I think he certainly can’t argue with his dedication and his courage to keep doing what he does. And as somebody else who has done repeated civil disobedience actions over a number of years and who has recently been given a custodial sentence that fortunately she is not currently locked up because of …. is Juliet Lamont… she was arrested earlier this week for blockading Adani’s first trainload of coal from the Carmichael mine … was held on bail, and eventually given a one month sentence suspended for nine months. Let’s have a chat with Juliet. Could you start off by introducing yourself?
My name is Juliet Lamont. I am a mother of two daughters, and I’m an independent documentary filmmaker.
And Julia. Yesterday, you were in court in Bowen Magistrates Court to do with some climate activism. Can you tell us about what happened?
On Tuesday, myself and my 20 year old daughter Ila walked on to the rail corridor that had a train that was transporting Adani slash Bravus’s first coal. The train was stopped and we both locked onto that train in a you know, in a really kind of united show of force that we need to end coal now. And also in the belief that nonviolent direct action was a really legitimate and powerful way to make that protest. We were arrested and cut out of the lock on devices and then taken to Bowen police station after being arrested.
And after being arrested, you were then refused bail, not for the first time?
Yeah, I was refused. I mean, what was really interesting, though, is like even before I was processed, the Superintendent Craig Shepley, I think his name is or whatever his surname is, um, had said that they put bets on … in the police station as to whether I would do it again. And he had lost money thinking that I wouldn’t be that stupid. And the fact that I was there, and I had done that he was really angry and it said, you’re going to go to Townsville, you’re going to go back to prison for this. So I’d already made that judgment call before that even lay charges was I thought was in a year anyway, it freaked me out because I thought, oh my god, that if he’s got the power to do it at this point, I probably will be given a prison sentence.
Because a month earlier, you had done a couple of actions that had led to you also being refused bail then and you’d spent a week in the Townsville prison.
year. So I’d already been in Townsville prison because we’ve done two actions that were specifically and strategically targeted to happen during the climate talks in Glasgow. So I locked on with Kyle McGee to Hay Point terminal in Mackay. And we stopped operations there, and then a week later, and that was, that was a bail breach, because I was I had actually, you know, had said not to, you know, commit any further offenses and knowing that, but still really wanting to highlight and put, you know, pressure on the Scott Morrison government in Glasgow, I locked onto Abbott point again. And so that was a bail breach. So, yeah, then I was I was basically, till my first matter could be heard. I was incarcerated for seven days in Townsville Women’s Correctional Facility, which was, yeah, a warzone in amongst itself, really, it’s a high security prison for women, you know, have had very broken lives and really traumatized and it’s a place that it’s broken and sick, which was really sort of startling to see.
So after a week in the Townsville prison, then you went to court and were sentenced to time served and let out, and then you’ve done this latest action again, for Adani’s first call. And I you refused bail again. And then yesterday went in front of the Bowen Magistrates Court.
Yeah, yeah, it was really, um, in the way that it rolled out … because he decided that he needed a night to kind of deliberate, in my head, I thought, well, that’s the rap on the knuckles that I’m getting, which is another night in the watch house, I kind of got feeling thought that that would be his way of saying Juliet, you know, you’ve been punished and you know, don’t disrespect my authority. And I have I have the power to put your way. But I’m not going to do that. But the way that it played out, and his narrative in his rhetoric really was that I was a repeat offender that it was aggravated criminality. And I was never going to learn my lesson. And so the way that his judgment went was really, you know, leading me to believe especially when he said, I was going to be given concurrent, one month’s two lots of one month for two of the offenses. Yeah, I thought that I was going to prison. And then I was taken in handcuffs to the police station. And even the police didn’t know if I’d been released. Or if I was going, they didn’t know. So I had an hour of being back in the watch house in the lockup not knowing and the police couldn’t tell me either until the paperwork was processed. And then I realized, holy shit, I’m actually getting out of here. So that was a massive relief. But it was this weird feeling of I’d totally prepared to just be, you know, sent Townsville prison. So it was a kind of like, it was disbelief, it was relief as well. But yeah, I thought that there was kind of mixed emotions, because I’d psychologically prepared for that, you know, that was my fate, and how I was going to strategically deal with that place, because it’s pretty rough.
So you must have known that there was a real risk of going to prison, but you decided that doing these kinds of civil disobedience actions was a course that you wanted to continue to take, why did you decide that?
Well, I sort of feel like, you know, at the heart of every, every social change, you know, in women’s suffrage and civil rights movement, and, you know, same sex marriage, there’s been, like, at the heart of that, and the kind of driving engine of of that has been the use of non violent direct action. And that’s really effective, you know, the world being a more kind of equal and just price. And so my part in in involving myself in those tactics is because I think that they really work. But then the secondary part of that is, I also feel like, if I did nothing, I couldn’t look at my daughter’s in the eyes, knowing that we’re in this climate emergency. And I’ve just been at home, watching Netflix and you know, getting Uber EATS and, you know, living in this kind of fucked up really denial , in this consumerist culture. And so for me to put my body on the line and be prepared to sacrifice my freedom is, is a part of a moral code that I feel absolutely sort of is in every kind of atom of my being.
Okay, so you now have a one month prison sentence suspended for nine months. What’s next for you? Um, well,
I mean, I do sort of feel like I’m kind of still on the fence about whether I’m going to involve myself in any direct action in those nine months. You know, I sort of feel like that guy could potentially be prepared to serve a prison sentence. But, you know, if that doesn’t happen on the sideline for that I’ve got a Environmental film that I started seven years ago that starts in Russia. With the Arctic 30. And it’s kind of ends at Bimbi. It ends with the Adani stuff. And it’s a personal story, but it’s also about the campaign. So I’ve got about 350 hours of footage that I need to start kind of siphoning through. And yeah, and really focusing on making a really good powerful call to arms environmental documentary to get more people involved. So yeah, there’s that.
That is Juliet Lamont there, thankfully, she is still on the outside with us with a suspended prison sentence for taking civil disobedience against Adani coal mine, with her daughter Isla, and great little family moments there. During the week, we are just about at the end of the show, look, as ever, the Paradigm Shift is a bit biased in its reporting.
We’re on the side of the people who are standing up for our planet, against those who are destroying it for the profits of multinational companies. And so we need to work out a way to stop it, we’re going into ecological crisis, the governments of the world have agreed to this, the climate scientists of the world agreed, (to) it and yet we are keeping on a trajectory towards climate destruction. And so we need to work out how to intervene.
And I’m certain that that involves ordinary people having a say, equal to the disproportionate power of big mining companies. And how do we do that? Well, we’ve got to be smart about it, we’ve got to be tactical. And one of the ways historically, this has been done is civil disobedience, both because it gets you into the media discourse, but also, it physically stops that machine and is a symbol of the real life disruption that we need to do if we’re going to avoid catastrophic climate change. It’s not enough to make a plan, like the Scott Morrison government’s done, it’s not enough to talk about it, like our green washing companies, we need real life changes. And we need a way to get everybody on board with that, and give everybody the power to believe that these changes are going to make a difference. And so civil disobedience is one way of doing that. I believe in it.
And the government repression of climate activism is a sign as well, that civil disobedience is having an effect on in the corridors of power. So good on all the people out there are fighting to protect our climate. And if you’re listening, and you’ve been inspired by today’s show, well feel free to join in. There’s plenty of climate groups, both in Brisbane and around the country. That’s it for me this week. I’ll leave you with one last classic civil disobedience anthem. This is Anne Feney with “Have you been to jail for justice?”
Song ….” Was it Cesar Chavez? Maybe it was … some said Dr. King or Gandhi said them on their way? No matter who your mentors are? It’s pretty plain to see. If you’ve been to jail for justice. You’re in good company.” – Anne Feeney – Have you been to jail for justice?
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