Why Ploughshares in Rockhampton?

Here’s some information and thinking about where I’m up to in what I call “resistance to Talisman Sabre”.  For me, Talisman Sabre is a tactical opportunity to pursue the path against war and for peace.

In December 2005 I met with Jessica Morrison, Adele Goldie and Sean O’Reilly as part of a citizen’s inspection of Pine Gap.  Jim Dowling, Donna Mulhearn, Terry Spackman were there too, but Jessica, Adele, and Sean had all been at that year’s Peace Convergence.  Jessica and Adele had been arrested, and the Pine Gap bus took in their trial in Rockhampton on its way from Brisbane to Alice Springs.

So the events of Peace Convergence were discussed a lot as we made the long trip to Pine Gap.  We all think about how to contribute to the peace movement, and how to create synergies that amplify our power – even while we are few and widely dispersed.  In fact, because we are few and widely dispersed, we HAVE TO amplify our power and create synergies.

The Pine Gap 4 stood trial in the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory in June 2007.  Jessica, June, Sean, and Adele were there (Adele as a defendant).  We were part of a 30 strong community of Christian, Gandhian and Secular peace activists supporting each other through a process of trial, activism, love, and empowerment.

The trial was a peak experience for all of us.  We achieved a lot.  I’d been expecting to go to prison for around a year afterwards, so I hadn’t made any plans to go to the 07 Peace Convergence.  Neither had Adele.  But June and Jessica had.  Among the trial community they told us of their plans to trespass into the Training Area, and attempting to disrupt the military by their undetected presence.

As it turned out, Judge Sally Thomas refused to imprison us, even though the prosecution argued for a custodial sentence “with actual time served”.  We’d made a lot of friends in that Courtroom over 12 days.  So I was literally free to go to Peace Convergence 07 to see for myself how it was happening.

It was colourful and grand.  There were some problems managing conflict.  You can read my assessment of TS07 here: http://www.cairnspeacebypeace.org/?page_id=304

Adele was there too, and we limited ourselves to support roles.  So that afterwards we could go back to “normal” life for a while.  As it turned out the Crown appealed our sentence (they really wanted us to do time).  So we all went to Darwin in February 08, and ended up making a little legal history as our Counsel the Hon Ron Merkel won us an acquittal on the first ever use of the Defence (Special Undertakings) Act 1952.  (In January 2009 the Australian Parliament amended the legislation to deny future activists the legal opportunities we disclosed).

Although I had a heart attack and bypass surgery in 2008, I made a commitment to create Martin Luther King Jr House at Yeppoon in June 2009, trying to learn from 07 and improve the trespass strategy.  With mixed results.  We majorly improved the effectiveness of trespass actions, but had problems managing conflict.  You can read my assessment of it here: http://www.cairnspeacebypeace.org/?page_id=273

You can find a lot of activist’s stories and media coverage here: http://nonviolencestories.wordpress.com/2009/10/03/mlk-meets-talisman-saber-09/

I’ve also enjoyed a busy activist life in Cairns for 18 years now, and in Brisbane for 16 years before that.  My understanding has evolved for all of that time, and I’ve reached a point in my life where I’m ready to carry forward into a ploughshares action.  I think it will be effective, and you can read the first public declaration of that intention (published in December 2010) here: http://www.cairnspeacebypeace.org/?page_id=438

So here we are in 2011, and my intentions are to once again put theory into action and see if I can’t improve the organisation of nonviolent action at the 09 Peace Convergence.  I’ve contributed three months of my life, first to do advance work in Rockhampton (networking and public relations), then to support and carry out NVDA.

If I’m successful, I’ll spend a few years in prison, which is in effect a life sentence.  My convictions and faith make that OK for me.  I feel like I’m doing the right thing.

I also feel like I’m making a contribution to the peace movement, and to the Peace Convergence.  I’m finding a very positive reception in Rockhampton, with lots of recognition and interest.  By the time TS11 starts we’ll have a public awareness where many people in Rockhampton and district will have a range of views and options available to them that haven’t been available before.

I really wish that people critical of what I and Graeme are doing were here to see the reality on the ground in Rockhampton.  Meanwhile read the blogs. www.cairnspeacebypeace.org and www.peacebus.com/PeaceConvergence/Blog2011.html

Those who are interested enough to read the assessments, and the published material will quickly realise that I’m working consistently, in an accessible manner, to develop and assist in building an effective peace movement.

I welcome informed and constructive criticism.

2 comments

  1. Bernard Tonkin says:

    thanks brian just read why ploughshares in Rockhampton, thanks heaps – thats my criticism at this stage,,

    Bernard Tonkin

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