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.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Exultation, Media & Greens MP Ellen Sandell in Royal Park this morning

Delighted Keith Fitzgerald

Keith was visibly shaken as he talked to the media this morning about his delight at Labor's win. After 15 months rugged campaigning, with 5am picket lines and battles with the police in the inner city streets, the axe has finally been removed from over his head. He and his sister look forward to resuming their normal lives secure in their home of 69 years in their beloved Collingwood. And Keith was not the only one thrilled about the turn of events.

Two more seasoned campaigners

Fred, our mascot, could hardly contain himself. He has been dogged throughout the campaign, resisting the urge to chase birds and sniff trees, so that he could hold the line at our pickets. But this morning he was leaping on people, wagging his tail and was keen to be the first to congratulate Ellen Sandell. Ellen was rightly delighted with her win. And it meant a lot to us that her first action in the new post was to cycle to Royal Park to join us and to express her gratitude to all the community members who have so vociferously and effectively opposed the East-West Link.

Congratulations Ellen Sandell! 

When asked by an interviewer about how she sees her role as the first Greens MP in the new government, Ellen replied: 'My main job is to keep Daniel Andrews to his word.'  Yay!

Greg Barber, Greens MP Upper House

Greg Barber joined us too. He is still hoping that Samantha Dunn, who has campaigned for Doncaster Rail, might make it into the Upper House. Greg is clear that he is going to insist that not only the contracts entered into by the Napthine Government for the East-West Link, but all the others traffic infrastructure projects be brought out into the open. This suggestion received a round of applause from the protestors.

Tony Murphy

Tony suggested that while there is cause for guarded optimism, we still have work to do. It will be most important that there is a strong community presence at the Court Case on 15 December, when the valiant Yarra and Moreland councils mount their legal challenge against the odious project.

Dashing to the car park to head off to work, I stopped for a moment to watch this tiny bird in one of the park's grand eucalypts. I'm sure she was trilling: 'Hallelujah!'

Monday, November 24, 2014

'We will sit and occupy these homes in Bendigo Street. We haven't even started yet.'

Stephen Jolly: Socialist Candidate for Richmond

On this gorgeous crisp Spring morning Stephen Jolly addressed the crowd assembled outside the homes slated for demolition in Bendigo Street Collingwood. And yes, that is the Herald Sun you can see in his hand. Yet again today the rag has attacked the anti East-West Link movement, and as their journalists smell the wind shifting towards a Labor victory on Saturday they become ever more strident. But Stephen suggested that, whichever party wins, we need to remain firm, to ensure that the residents of the 102 properties which were compulsorily acquired by the Linking Melbourne Authority last month have the decision rescinded. Should the winning party fail to do that, in tried and true inner-city Melbourne tradition: 'We will sit and occupy these homes. We will be living in Bendigo Street for as long as it takes. We haven't even started yet.'

Keith Fitzgerald being interviewed by Channel 9 reporter

Keith, whose parents moved in only weeks before VE Day in 1945, has lived in Bendigo Street his entire life. He has been a stalwart of the anti East-West Link campaign, a fact that was lost on none of those in today's large crowd:

Our numbers were a little reduced because some people had opted to stay on in Royal Park. They had assembled there at 6am to thwart the Linking Melbourne Authority surveyors who arrived soon after.
With the election imminent feelings are running high and we saw many old, some new and some returning faces at today's protest:

Welcome back Mel!

Tony Murphy, who has authorised a leaflet which was distributed at the protest, reminded us of the crucial role that the Greens and Stephen Jolly will play should they be elected on Saturday.

Tony Murphy 

Ellen Sandell for Melbourne, Stephen Jolly or Kathleen Maltzahn for Richmond, Tim Read for Brunswick and Sam Hibbins for Prahran all come with a passion and integrity that State Parliament sorely needs. 

But whatever the electoral outcome (and it's only 4 more sleeps):
'No tunnel. No way. We're gonna fight it all the way.' 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

'Could you please ask your surveyors to exit Royal Park?'

Cathy was handed this notice yesterday by the East-West Connect contractors she met in Royal Park. Just in case you can't read it, it says: 'If you have any questions about the East West Link project please call 03 9828 5135'. So, meeting at 6.30 this morning at the park and spotting a group of surveyors already at work, Jill did exactly as requested. Her question was a simple one: 'Could you please ask your surveyors to exit Royal Park?' The somewhat bemused Lendlease employee on the other end of the line said that although she personally did not have the authority, she would certainly pass on the request. Surprisingly, when I left Royal Park for work at 8am, we were still awaiting our reply.

But our wait hadn't been entirely in vain. We decided to take things into our own hands and ask the workers to desist. As you can see, with hardly a murmur, the employees of JAC Land and Engineering Surveyors packed their equipment back into their cars and stopped work.
We talked to them about the Government's lack of mandate for the East-West Link and how unjust it is for work in Royal Park to be commencing in advance of the outcome of the Supreme Court hearing scheduled for 15 December. And some of them at least seemed receptive.

The contractors from JAC and another group, whom we couldn't identify except by their brand new Hilux cars, eventually drove out for coffee or simply waited in their vehicles in the car park. Although they had ceased work, their continued presence made us wonder if they had either called for reinforcements or were simply aiming to out wait us so that they could resume work.
Whatever their intentions, those of us who could, were keen to stay on. Thinking ahead, Pauline had even packed her knitting:

And Fred wasn't going anywhere:

We talked about the possibilities of drawing up a roster for regular contractor-spotting patrols and keeping up a vigil to prevent work resuming. It is terrible that the perfidy of the government and the consortium make these actions necessary, but heartening to think that a mere 10 protestors (including Fred) were able to delay work for a couple of hours at least this morning. And spending time at the beginning of a new day in this beautiful park, right in the middle of the city, smelling the damp grass, breathing in the air and listening to the birds, made me realise all over again why resistance to its destruction is a no-brainer.

The 'lungs of the city' this morning

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Parliament Station Rally Leafletting today

This morning found us outside Parliament Station in the CBD. It was a revelation to me; I'd never realised before that the Station was so widespread with exits in four separate locations. And at each one of them enthusiastic supporters of public transport were there, handing out leaflets for the upcoming rally on 15 November.

The timing of our rally is designed to coincide with the Victorian State election, which follows a mere two weeks later on 29 November. We have no doubt that transport will be THE key election issue, and our widely-based, diverse coalition of Public Transport community groups are determined to influence the result. Leafletters were there this morning to alert commuters to the rally's imminence as well as the opportunity it represents to take a stand on improved and expanded public transport.

We believe that the winners of the election will be those who have committed uneqivocally in advance to a 3-fold agenda: On assuming power, they will scrap the East-West Link, rip up the contracts and invest in Public Transport.

There is massive and growing opposition within the community to the splurging of public funds on white elephants like the East-West Link. Although there are exceptions, notably the Greens candidates and the Socialist Party's Stephen Jolly, most politicians need to catch up, to be prepared to ignore the pressure of big business and instead to listen to their citizens. Otherwise they will be the biggest losers.

So join us outside the State Library of Victoria at 1pm on Saturday 15 November. We will be having our say. Come and have yours!