SUE JACKSON Therapist | Writer | Photographer | Activist

An avid blogger for the last fifteen years, I believe in the power of the word to change the world. I have participated in, and reported on, a range of protests during this period, including the successful East-West Link campaign and, more recently, our wonderful, home-grown Extinction Rebellion (XR). If you believe, like I do, that it is time for ordinary people to rise up in defence of the planet, I encourage you to explore this blog, share it with your networks, and – of course – take action.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Who's the Monkey? Tunnel Picket Tuesday


It occurred to me this morning, that preoccupied as I am with the picketers and the police, I have given little thought to a crucial element at the centre of this drama - the drillers. We picketers have suffered so many insults over recent months that I want to make it clear that comparing the drillers to monkeys is not meant as an insult.
When I was a child, the Melbourne Zoo - 'The Monkeys' as it was called back then - was a very different place. The monkeys were housed in tiny, concrete cages, where conditions were shocking. Observing the drillers today that image sprang to mind.

Just like the monkeys, the drillers too are stuck in a small, crowded, exposed space, whatever the weather. And on occasion it has been around 40 degrees. Their working conditions are appalling, surely a Health and Safety hazard. There are no toilets on site. They get no break from the workplace; once they have crossed the picket line in the morning darkness, they are encaged for the rest of the day. They are constantly open to observation and occasional taunting by the curious. Requiring a bodyguard to keep working, they live with the ongoing stress of drilling in a war zone.
Who would want their job?

Today our spirits were buoyant. The poll published yesterday, in the Herald Sun of all places, identifying that a mere 15% of Victorians favour the East-West Link over other transport options fuelled our guarded optimism. The Age also featured a poll the previous day that had the approval rating for the project running at only 24%. These low figures might be one explanation for the increased number of toots this morning and the increased friendliness and even murmurs of dissent among police.

Having a chat

The picketers decided to disperse early, and take a well-earned rest.
Wandering home through the shimmering light of the Edinburgh Gardens, I concluded that the main contender for monkey status is Premier Napthine himself. He is practised at beating his chest and trumpeting his supremacy. He counters challenges with aggression. But perhaps even he is beginning to realise that, especially if he can find a way to save face, the time has come to limp off into the jungle.


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