Thursday, 14 November 2013

A Cry for Help


Too late for Bastion Point? I hope not. The bulldozers moved in on Remembrance Day, but the breakwall's not built yet - it takes more than 3 days to build a
3 metre high, 130 metre long breakwall,
a road ON THE BEACH and a
200-car carpark
in a wilderness area
 - so there's still time.

Please PLEASE sign this petition if you haven't already.

This very dodgy piece of environmental vandalism came close to murder the other day, when earthmoving machines came within metres of a very brave, very passionate protester, and refused to stop. Here's the footage:

It remains a mystery how Option 3b (the most environmentally destructive) option of those tabled, was ever given approval. It smells, people - it smells very bad.

Mallacoota is a beautiful place - a tiny town on the wilderness coast of Victoria. A town where 88% of the community oppose the project.

Have a look at the Save Bastion Point website - read the story of the protracted battle for Bastion Point, and PLEASE - sign the petition before yet another piece of wilderness is destroyed forever in the interests of the mighty dollar.

Monday, 11 November 2013

What's in a name? Everything, apparently. Why I will not call VLAD an ‘anti-bikie law’

When I was a teacher, I always stressed how important it was to understand the ways language can be used, and the power that a skilled user of language can wield. I often started with that passage about Newspeak from George Orwell's 1984. Syme tells Winston that “the whole aim of newspeak is to narrow the range of thought.”

The idea is that if you have no word for ‘rebellion’, it’s a bit hard to talk about it or foment it - or even to imagine it. He who controls language can therefore control thought – and behaviour. Language is powerful.

Politicians evidently understand Orwell only too well. 

Scott Morrison, Australia’s new federal Immigration Minister, clearly understands that by changing the name of something, you can change the way it is perceived. Not for him Shakespeare’s wisdom: 
What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.      (Romeo & Juliet Act II sc.ii) 
Mr Morrison’s linguistic practice is more Orwellian. Staff in his department were recently instructed to change the label given to asylum seekers who arrive in Australia by boat. They are no longer ‘asylum seekers’ – they are ‘illegal maritime arrivals’. They have been dehumanised and transmogrified. Now they sound rather nasty and criminal, deserving of contempt, not compassion. Sneaky move, Mr Morrison - but you don't fool me with your wordplay.

Warwick McFadyen, a senior writer with the Age, put it beautifully in this article: ‘Say a phrase often enough and it attains a patina of truth’, he says.

That is why I will not now and not ever call Campbell Newman’s VLAD ‘anti-bikie law’. The media does us no favours by consistently calling VLAD ‘anti-bikie law’. It's dishonest. It's shamelessly misrepresenting something reprehensible as something desirable, and using the general public's antipathy towards 'outlaw' bikies to get support for an oppressive law. 

‘About time somebody stood up to those scumbag bikies’.
‘I’m not a bikie so I’m ok.’
‘If you’ve done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear.’

The dishonest labelling and marketing of VLAD as ‘anti-bikie law’ encourages public support for a law which actually has very little to do with bikies and everything to do with a power-crazy government wielding a sledgehammer, clumsily smoke-screened by the 'anti-bikie' tag – and besides, motorcyclists are a convenient target at the moment. 

VLAD is ultimately oppressive, and a potential weapon against ANY organisation that the government doesn’t particularly like. Today, bikies; tomorrow, soccer clubs/greenies/unionists or whoever happens to be on the Hit List du jour.

 ‘Anti-bikie law’ as a synonym for VLAD is a disgraceful and frightening example of linguistic legerdemain, and I will not have it in my vocabulary.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Queensland – beautiful one day...: a Rant

This is quite a horror story. Except it’s true.

Once upon a time, a little man called Campbell Newman became Premier of Queensland (a state with a colourful history of, erm, characters in its political sphere). The little man, with a zealot’s gleam in his eye, declared that he was going to address the ‘bikie threat’ in his state after a brawl on the Gold Coast one day.

By ‘bikies’, of course, he was referring to approximately one percent of motorcyclists. In the blink of an eye, henchman VLAD hit the front pages. Does Little Campbell have an ad-man giving legislation cool and punchy names that can be turned into cool and punchy acronyms? Vlad the Impaler, another colourful historical character, would be proud. Anyway - the Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment Bill 2013 (which makes no mention of bikies per se – remember that, coz it could attack an 'Association' near you any time it wants) is a scary bit of legislative kit that attacks basic freedoms that Aussies hold dear.

Little Campbell, in a shameless grab for the approval of the Common Voter (who we know must be a bit dim, given the fact that they voted the fascist in in the first place), declared there would be a special hell for bikies – their own uber-tough gaol and extra-special sentencing rules for bikies for the crimes they commit.

Now, I’m all for criminals being punished for their crimes. What I’m NOT for is ill-conceived legislation pushed onto an ignorant public and supported by an ignorant police force who can’t tell one bloody motorcyclist from the next.

Things have snowballed, as they tend to do.
  • Queensland police have been harassing ordinary recreational motorcyclists on their group rides, and now – unbelievably – there’s talk of setting up a police hotline that ‘law-abiding’ motorcyclists can call to register their rides and thus avoid harassment for riding their perfectly legal modes of transportation, paid for and registered to ride on the roads they’ve paid taxes for.  
  • A bloke wearing a Sons of Anarchy t-shirt was questioned by police, who thought the guy was an outlaw bikie, rather than a fan of a television show. (!!!???)
  • Police RAIDED a meeting of the Vietnam Veterans Motorcycle Club and a police spin-doctor (probably the cousin of the VLAD acronym guy) said that the raid was part of a strategy to BUILD RAPPORT with decent law-abiding motorcyclists.
  • If interstate service stations etc could kindly provide Little Campbell’s stormtroopers with video footage of naughty Qld bikies associating interstate, aforementioned bikies could still be ‘done’ in Queensland for illegal behaviour (presumably, going for a ride together and stopping for petrol.) The long arm of VLAD could stretch forever, really.
 If this isn’t scaring you yet – it’s not a story. It’s real, it’s true, it’s happening right now. What follows, however, is pure imagination:

Little Campbell was well pleased with the effect VLAD was having. Motorcyclists were fleeing Queensland in droves. Small towns all over the place were going broke because the streams of touring motorcyclists – who tend to shun highways for quieter, more scenic, more ENJOYABLE roads and out-of-the-way locations – were no longer visiting and boosting local economies. You know, all those cafes, bakeries, pubs and motels in all those interesting little places that get-there-fast motorists can’t be bothered going to…

But it wasn’t enough. There was still crime in Queensland. Little Campbell wondered why - after all, he’d got rid of the bikies. VLAD would have to work harder. Little Campbell sent him forth, into ethnic communities, which everybody knows are seething hotbeds of terrorism, organised crime and soccer. And VLAD also went into the universities, where dissent is traditionally seeded by the wicked intelligentsia. Schools, as the breeding grounds for universities, were not impervious to the long arm of VLAD (Schoolies Week on the Gold Coast got special attention, and not just because of the hordes of drunken nubile girls who attended it every year). Oh, and workers’ unions - they came in for super-scrutiny, because they’re full of bolshie bastards. Even the churches were not immune (well, some of them, anyway, especially if they wore identifying outfits/headgear).

Meanwhile, the corporate fraudsters, crooked pollies and other real criminals were having a field day. Everybody else in Queensland had a yellow star and was under constant surveillance by VLAD’s stormtroopers (who were not averse to taking a kickback or two themselves, if history has taught us anything). And Little Campbell saw the fruits of his labours and, well, that was that really. Queensland – beautiful one day, police-state the next.

When other premiers in other states saw what fun Little Campbell was having, they decided to join in. ‘Ban the bikies!’ replaced ‘Advance Australia Fair’ and that, my dears, is how the whole beautiful country went to hell in a handbasket. A select few lived happily ever after. 

Shades of Europe, circa 1935? You bet. Be afraid. Don’t let it happen here – PLEASE!

I’ll end this rant with a poem I scribbled, because I need to lower my blood pressure now, and fiddling about with rhyme and metre always calms me down.

A southern biker contemplates the Queensland ‘anti-bikie’ law

There was trouble up in Queensland for the word had passed around
That new laws regarding bikies would be tight
So a simple threesome riding all together could be stopped
By a roadside copper looking for a fight.

‘Outlaw’ bikers started squirming, some were fired from their jobs
Many quit their outlaw gangs in abject fear
Coz a charge that gets a normal bloke banged up for eighteen months
For an outlaw bikie could be fifteen years

So they chucked away their colours and they looked like all of us
Who go riding just for pleasure on weekends
But the cops can’t tell the diff between one biker and the next
And they started hassling me and all my friends.

To those who say that innocence should mean no need to fear
I suggest you take your heads out of the sand
Coz today it’s only bikies, just the thin end of the wedge
But tomorrow YOU might cop the heavy hand
Of the lawman on a power trip, a government regime
Bent on plundering the freedoms that we treasure
And the coppers could be hassling you for being with your mates
Protest NOW before the law curtails your leisure!

For more perspective and news on this scary development, go to:
and a new one:

Explanatory notes attached to VLAD: This is extremely interesting. I especially like this paragraph (my italics) for what it says about justification of the "jackboot-method" with which VLAD was inflicted upon Queensland.
Consultation has occurred within Government. Wider consultation has not been
possible because of the need to respond urgently
to the significant public threat these
associations pose in Queensland."