Between May and August 2011, Rockhampton saw some serious peace campaigning.
The occasion Exercise Talisman Sabre 2011, a joint military exercise between 8,500 Australian troops and 20,000 US troops, involving the nuclear powered, nuclear armed USS George Washington and its aircraft carrier battle group.
Among the diverse national networks, a few of us reckoned that the city of Rockhampton (political and commercial hub for central Queensland – and logistics base for Talisman Sabre) ought be a focus of determined advance campaigning.
Franz Jaegerstaetter House was established to act as a base for Rockhampton work. I was able to spend three months there. Graeme Dunstan spent 10 weeks coordinating the Peace Convergence campaign. Margaret Pestorius spent five weeks realising some of the ideas of the Christian/nonviolence networks, after developing objectives and criteria by which we can all evaluate success. Ross Parry, Andy Paine, Mark and Culley Palmer, and the travelling Dowlings/Lands put in more than one intense week seeing what can and can’t be done.
Between 8 July and 25 July, more than a score of activists spent between five days and three weeks carrying out public displays and nonviolent direct action.
The Peace Convergence campaign was very, very effective, and is written about in detail elsewhere.
Meanwhile the consequences continue.
One ongoing consequence is an anti-discrimination complaint by Margaret and I against the Rockhampton Regional Council (RRC).
We’ve made seperate complaints to the Anti Discrimination Commission of Queensland (ACDQ) because we’re alleging slightly different things. I’m saying RRC discriminated against me because of my political beliefs and activities. Margaret’s saying that RRC discriminated against her because of her association with me (and/or our shared beliefs and activities) – in the area of goods and services. The ACDQ has accepted our complaint for processing.
RRC wouldn’t let us go to the ball (the Talisman Sabre Gala Dinner to be precise). Police arrested Margaret for trying to use her ticket to gain entry.
A compulsory conciliation conference has been called by the ADCQ for Friday 16 September. What happens at the conference is confidential.
To support our complaints, I’ve created a number of public documents that illustrate, in detail, the relevant events in Rockhampton between 20 April and 8 July 2011.
The “Chronological Narrative” records in detail the successful conduct of a conventional “inform and persuade” nonviolence campaign. I’m holding out the idea that this kind of campaign is available across the networks to any reasonably trained and confident small group of activists that choose to do so.
(I learned a lot from Graeme Dunstan and Peace Bus about the dressing of public space, and what it means to pump up the volume. From my ongoing work in Cairns, I contributed the Bob Katter/Peace Preacher “character” and the Peace Trike. Together we put on a pretty decent show.)
I’m sharing the “Chronological Narrative” in this nest of pages. Along with supporting attachments, Appendix, addendii. The documents are extensively hyper-linked and referenced. There’s plenty of cool material.
I’m hoping that folk might find humour and inspiration here, and a solid case study showing just how effective small groups can be at wielding power and influence in the world. While (mostly) having fun.
Advice and suggestions about dealing with Brad Carter, Evan Pardon, and the Rockhampton Regional Council are welcome.
Advice about dealing with the ADCQ is also welcome.
The chronology sets out an early PR success, and a subsequent counter-attack by Police, Council, and media. Concerted efforts were made to belittle us as “public nuisance”, and even to portray us as an abusive “danger” to the public. Such attacks feature regularly in the Australian political scene.
I think that politically we deflected those attacks pretty well at the time they were made. In a nonviolent polity such attacks would not happen, and both the Police and the Council would be held to a higher standard of truth and due process in the discharge of their duties.
The Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 is an expression of Queensland’s aspirations for social justice and democratic rights. Over the next few months we’ll see how it plays out in holding Mayor Carter and CEO Pardon accountable for their abuse of executive authority.
3 September 2011
See CHRONOLOGICAL NARRATIVE for detail