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.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Tunnel Picket Victory Celebration

Today's victory celebration on the corner of Brunswick Street, immediately opposite one of the picketers' most memorable clashes with the police, was joyous. There were lots of smiles and hugs and a  wonderful time was had by all.
Like all good parties it was well promoted. Thanks to Michelle:

We had stirring speeches. The one I found most moving was by the veteran activist, Ian Bird. In his tribute to the wonderful late public transport advocate, Paul Mees, Ian concluded that we protestors have 'put the dreaded East-West Link back in its box, with a stake through its miserable heart'.

Ian paying tribute to Paul Mees, with Jill and MC Mel

I should mention, that in recognition of the fact that the victory was the result of people power, there were in fact 24 speeches by community members, aka tunnel picketers. But before you groan I should add that the time limit for each was a mere 75 seconds, so the offerings were passionate but succinct. Get your stopwatch out because here is mine:
For me, we Tunnel Picketers are quite simply the Sea Shepherds of the anti East-West Link movement.
Committed to direct action like us, the Sea Shepherds tirelessly pitted their tiny boats against the might of the huge Japanese factory ships. While on land, a relatively small band of determined Tunnel Picketers managed to stop the drilling.
The Sea Shepherds had to be particularly canny, ducking and weaving in the vast Southern ocean to locate and confront the whalers. We had to do exactly the same, except we were on land.
As to the ultimate victory, many people believe that the battle for the stay of execution of the whales was won in the courts of Europe. But I think the Sea Shepherds played a huge role. Their grabbing of headlines, their radical impolite behaviour, their do or die attitude, was crucial in changing the zeitgeist. Sound familiar? So here’s to the Sea Shepherds and the Tunnel Picketers - 'serial pests' forever! 

At the party we took some group photographs, like the one above, to memorialise our victory. And we also sang a spirited rendition of our anthem 'No Tunnel No Way' with Laura, who composed it. We even had a pinata, of course an East-West Link one:

Andrew took delight in destroying this effigy of Napthine's car. Keith had a go too:

Anthony concluded the speeches by saying that while the Herald Sun had once described us as a 'motley crew', sometimes for him we had seemed more like 'Dad's Army'.

But however you describe us, what I have learned to my delight from being a tunnel picketer is that, as Anthony put it:

'No force in the world can stop the power of the people when they are organised around the right ideas.'