A Brisbane gathering?

I’m travelling to Brisbane at the beginning of December.

I have a date with the Local Court of NSW, sitting at Tweed Heads on Monday 3 December.   The charge “Trespass on prohibited Commonwealth land”.  [s89(i) of the Commonwealth Crimes Act.]

Tweed Heads on Monday 3 December

Finalising the NVDA @ HQJOC.

I remember 26 April 2012 as a fun day out at the HQJOC – Headquarters Joint Operational Command, the war-fighting centre from which ADF commands our troops in the war on Afghanistan.  (Are our special forces active in Syria?  If so they will be “commanded” from HQJOC).  I was arrested.

The Australian Quaker Centre at Silver Wattle is thirty minutes drive from HQOC.  In April 2012 – coinciding with Anzac Day – Silver Wattle hosted the second gathering whose business was “Putting An End to War”.

On Anzac Eve we joined a bunch of Canberra peace-makers in the candle-light vigil taken up by Graeme Dunstan, as one outcome of the 2010 gathering.

On Thursday 26 April, 10 of us initiated nonviolent civil disobedience against HQJOC, as we vowed to enflesh the promise of peace that God has made us in the covenant of life.


A gaggle of "Faith Based Peace Witnesses" bring the issue to Captain Frank and Inspector Bob outside HQJOC on 26 April 2012.


I’ve made a short you-tube of the action.  The soundtrack includes some of the remembrance part of the action, and a police video of my little speech to the throng of assembled Commonwealth and NSW Police.


I’m proud of myself for dancing into Police lines with only one thought on my mind “I will not touch them first, but I will try to get through”.  I did not touch them first.  I danced around with intent (like the Elm dance performed earlier).  Police were very cooperative in arresting and charging me.

Here’s the pdf put together that evening by the action group explaining what we did, and it has links to photos, documents and media reports.  Adrian Glamorgan put an eco-radio together in Perth, called understory.  There are likewise reports about the gathering as a whole, and the decisions made there around waging peace in Australia today.

David Johnson, resident fellow at Silver Wattle, in a reflective, prayerful moment.

As a litturgical action, with a single symbolic arrest, HQJOC has enjoyed positive effects, with very economical follow-up requirements.  There was only ever one minor charge, and so far the damage has been limited to an exchange of correspondence.

I’ve decided to plead guilty (in Tweed Heads for convenience and economy) and just do some local media in northern NSW, and deal with a fine (max $1100).  In Court I’ll be promoting Lord Hoffman’s comments on civil disobedience – using the material linked to here as evidence showing just how impeccably civil this particular disobedience was.

With both the judge AND the public I’ll be saying my actions are called for.  “Hasn’t this farce gone on long enough?  OF COURSE we ought to stop fighting US wars in Afghanistan, but our politicians are a disgrace.  You know that”.   Hence my actions are in the public interest.  I expect it will go well.

While I’m pleased with myself and everyone else involved in this action, I am also very aware that 2012 in Australia has been blessed with a variety of creative and powerful nonviolent actions, including the Swan Island Peace Convergence.  There is a sense of resurgence in the nonviolence movements, even if the times are tenuous and fraught with peril.

I’ve recently listened to the “faith based peace witnesses” invocation of the saints, spirits and powers of peace to witness our action, and I am feeling pretty strong and good as result.  I’d like to play them to faith based activists around Australia.

We now have firm dates for Exercise TS13 – 15 July to 5 August 2013
Is there any possibility of a gathering in Brisbane
on the weekend of 1-2 December where we could:
  • Hear from participants in Swan Island and HQJOC actions;
  • Think about and reflect on these and other NVDA learnings over the past 18 months;
  • Identify strengths, weaknesses, directions and needs for ourselves and each other;
  • Find out where various folk are in planning for TS13;
  • Think about some of the things we know are going to happen;

For instance Graeme Dunstan and I will face a trial in the District Court of Rockhampton sometime next year for the Tiger Ploughshares action, and would like to highlight TS13 and the war in Afghanistan.

Margaret Pestorius is organising some low-cost intelligence/communication equipment – good for trespass actions.

The day after the exercise ends is Hiroshima Day.

We need to do this because, while we were on the outside of HQJOC, meeting with those security forces whose job it is to make sure we don’t disturb the war, on the inside it was pretty much business as usual

A file photo of HQJOC "at work". The big screen carries an electronic map/video of a field of action, and let's Australian commanders fight as a proper US deputy.


Meanwhile, reviewing the material from 26 April has been very encouraging.  The audio recording that Brendan made has captured some lovely reflection and determination from a group of highly skilled activists.  I’ll be sharing them as I can.  It’s material we can use to help ask ourselves and each other “What am I called to do as a peace-maker in these times?”