SUE JACKSON Therapist/Writer/Photographer/Activist

Last year, as the unofficial blogger/photographer to the anti-East-West Link campaign, our battles were my blog's entire focus. But by Christmas, with the electoral win for people power and the dumping of the dud Tunnel, I was suddenly at a loss. What to write about now? Not sure yet. But there will be ongoing musings and images from this Australian life. So please leave a message. (No need to sign into an account. Simply comment as ‘anonymous’; then leave your name within the comment itself.)

Friday, September 26, 2014

GRAND FINAL: 'E-W LINK PROTEST' IN COURT MONDAY

I awoke this morning and like all true Melbournians was gripped by Grand Final Fever. But my excitement had nothing to do with the hallowed turf of the MCG. Rather it was focussed on an equally revered locale a mere 3 kilometres away.

Not the MCG

That is where, at the Supreme and High courts, if not the grand final then at least a semi-final in the battle between East-West Link Protest, the team of local citizen Tony Murphy, and his cashed-up opponent, the State Government, will be fought.
My excitement nearly bubbled over this morning when I heard news of a surprise late inclusion. Star player, QC Julian Burnside, high-profile Human Rights and Refugee Advocate, is slated to join Tony's other two able defenders Ron Merkel and Simona Gory in Monday's high stakes game.
I wish I had a photo to include of these luminaries in action but unfortunately photography is forbidden in Court. Instead I can insert one of Tony, no mere rookie himself but rather a seasoned performer, speaking eloquently earlier this year against the E-W Link in that 'true Parliament' - the Parliamentary steps in Spring Street:


As with all successful organisations, the East-West Link Protest team has a talented group working hard behind the scenes, performing a crucial role. One of them, Harriet Mantell, manager and selector, has been tireless in her efforts:


Harriet also keeps fans abreast of the state of play. It was from her that I learned that on Monday well-behaved fans (bells and whistles prohibited) will at 10am be rewarded with a glimpse of the key players at the Supreme Court - Appeal Court. At that time one of the chief referees, Justice Susan Crennan, will be handing down her decision on the appeals.
Despite trying hard to get my head around them, I still don't entirely understand the complex legal matters, but I do know that the issue of injunctions are crucial. We are hoping via them to ensure that the Government has to delay signing the contracts and that the compulsory acquisition of properties is postponed. This is of particular significance for Keith Fitzgerald, a stalwart senior East-West Link Protest player, spotted last weekend over the back fence of his home, scheduled for demolition, in Bendigo Street Collingwood.


One thing I do know about Monday's game is that not only the players, but supporters too, will need to dash. The State Government has only agreed to postpone signing the contracts until 12 noon, so that we have to vacate the Supreme Court and run to the High Court with only moments to spare. It seems unlikely that there will be any 'time on' allowed.
No doubt I am a one-eyed supporter, but something I am certain of is that whichever team wins on Monday, East-West Link Protest, with its large and expanding supporter base, will be the ultimate victor.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Capella: Here We Come!


8am on a dismal Melbourne morning found us outside the offices of Capella Capital in the CBD. Capella is part of the Government's preferred East-West Link consortium, spearheaded by LendLease which have also recently been graced by our picket.
As it is school holidays we were joined today by some loyal like-minded teachers and students using the break to demonstrate their solidarity.


By contrast, notable by their absence were the police. The building's doors were 'guarded' by a mere three officers, who uncharacteristically were very subdued and did not engage with us at all. As Anthony pointed out the Government has obviously advised the police to keep a very low profile. The last thing Premier Napthine wants, in his last shonky days in office, is to draw public and media attention to our determined and effective protests.


Anthony decried the selfishness of a Government, which in its dying hours and in the face of strong public opposition, would sign a contract saddling the community with huge compensation claims. We protestors needed no convincing of the Government's perfidy.


Particularly as police numbers were so low we decided to seize the moment and cross the road to express our opposition to one key member of the Government, Terry Mulder, Minister for Public Transport and Roads. He was in there somewhere:


Here we are lining up to for our class photo outside Mr Mulder's building:



Although not a lot 'happened' today - our opponents tend to make themselves scarce whenever they learn we are protesting - our sheer doggedness is a powerful statement. They may never put in an appearance, but we always do. On my way home on the tram I found myself humming: 'No Tunnel. No Way. We're gonna fight it all the way.'

Friday, September 19, 2014

Mural Painting Today Eastern Freeway Exit

'Before'
'After'
'During' - Some of the faces at our wonderful mural painting action:

Harriet
Mary: painting the town (and the tree) red
Anthony concentrating hard
Team Effort
Masterminds: Cathy and Bill
Multi-tasking
Yarra Mayor, Jackie Fristacky, enjoyed  painting the 'DUD' (in East-West Toll Rd)
Channel 9 photographer filming Tony at work
State Labor MP, Jennifer Kannis, with son Blake
Greg Barber, Greens State MP, with Keith
State Labor MP, Richard Wynne, (left) talking with a doubtful Stephen Jolly
Stunning Design and art work
Brendan: paint stirrer extraordinaire
Today's mural painting was a fantastic example of people power. Young and old, skilled artists and beginners, locals and people from outside the neighbourhood, familiar faces and new chums all worked cheerfully and collaboratively to produce an extraordinary piece of political art that will no doubt impress the thousands of motorists who exit the Eastern Freeway daily. They were watered and fed by a great behind-the-scenes team, who also deserve a big thank you. As to the dud Tunnel, there is no doubt that it is going to:



Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Lend Lease, Napthine's Favoured Frauds, & today's Tunnel Picket


We Tunnel Picketers met this morning in bright sunshine outside the Lend Lease office Docklands. This snap action was organised in response to yesterday's announcement that Lend Lease has been handed the poisoned chalice; the company is the Premier's preferred bidder for the East-West Link contract.


Anthony made the point in his eloquent address that this is a particularly congruent choice. Lend Lease has a bad reputation internationally, having admitted as recently as 2012 to extensive fraud in the US.
All the more reason you would think for the Labor opposition to distance themselves from this unholy alliance, and to take up their option, with Geoff Shaw's support, of blocking the signing of the contracts. Especially in view of the fact that just 4 days ago Federal Labor's Infrastructure Minister, Anthony Albanese, suggested that the East-West Link project was 'about as popular as the Ebola virus.'
There is another reason why today is a red letter day for Tunnel protestors. This morning in the Supreme Court the Judge will be handing down his verdict in the case of Tony Murphy vs the State Government.


As you can see from the picture above, the media at our picket grabbed the opportunity to interview Tony. He was clear that, win or lose, the case is very likely to go to an appeal, a prospect that could hardly please the Government or the preferred bidder.


Above is a picture of Tony talking with a member of the Police Prosecutions unit, who said that he would probably go to the Supreme Court to hear the outcome.
I have just heard via the grapevine that Tony's bid was unsuccessful, though I know none of the details at this stage.
I would like to take the opportunity to thank Tony, who in his unassuming and forthright manner and with the assistance of a fantastic legal team headed by QC Ron Merkel, took on the challenge of publicly opposing the Government. He did it on behalf of all Victorians with a passion for public transport, the environment and social justice. And I, for one, am most grateful. 


Thursday, September 04, 2014

Rogues' Gallery at Today's Tunnel Picket outside MP Jennifer Kanis' Office


We assembled this morning in Peel Street just up from the Victoria Market in front of State Labor MP Jennifer Kanis' office. Although a 'Say No to the $8 Billion Tunnel' placard adorns her front window, we remain unconvinced about her commitment to the cause. Like her fellow State MPs, Richard Wynne and Jane Garrett, whose offices have also been graced by our picket, Jennifer Kanis needs to walk the walk not just talk the talk. She needs to promise that should the Labor Party win the election they will rip up the Tunnel contracts.

Media at today's picket

This morning's protest was a trip down memory lane for me because as a student in the 70s I used to live opposite Ms Kanis' abode at number 159:

159 Peel Street

Noticing the police on their bikes outside my old home reminded me of the other vehicles that used to grace that exact spot. Through the long hot summers of my youth Italian-speaking farmers from Mildura parked illegally for days at a time along Peel Street. They sold boxes of grapes off the backs of their trucks, where they slept until all the grapes were gone. All night long they played cards and drank grappa as the grapes slowly fermented in the heat. I remember lying in my front room bedroom savouring this nightly inadvertent trip to the Mediterranean, achieved without ever having to leave Peel street. How shocked my young self would have been to see their cheerful, rule-bending presence replaced by police scrutineers ready to pounce on peaceful protestors.
But the police did provide me with some amusement too today. As I took their photos, they responded by taking mine.

Fellow photographer on left

Obviously both sides are collecting exhibits for their respective rogues' galleries.
The other thing that made me smile was that the majority of the police were on bicycles this morning. I wondered if they were currying favour with us; or perhaps they have finally caught the bicycling bug? Or maybe they just figured that should any of us offend, they would be poised for rapid pursuit down the nearest bike path?

Tony discussing the Napthine government's dishonesty with fellow cyclists

I have just received a text message from the Socialist Party saying that the Labor Party is starting to waver and encouraging us all to demand that Labor move a motion to stop the Napthine government from signing the EWLink contracts. 
To do so simply email Daniel Andrews at daniel.andrews@parliament.vic.gov.au