General

Perth protesters prove their point

CHLOE PAPAS

PERTH residents are not afraid to stand up for what they believe in, as illustrated at a rally outside a community Cabinet meeting in Fremantle recently. Protest images

The meeting, convened by Prime Minister Julia Gillard and the Federal Cabinet to discuss the proposed carbon tax, was open to up to 400 members of the Western Australian public.

Media coverage of the happenings inside the meeting was overshadowed by the hundreds of environmental, humanitarian and animal rights activists protesting outside.

The Stop Live Exports group, who are dedicated to ending animal cruelty and live exports from WA, turned up with signs, chants, costumes, and even a live sheep.

A representative from Stop Live Exports said the group was there for “a peaceful protest” and that they hoped to gain as much media exposure as possible to try to alert people to the cruelty and trauma that animals are put through during live exporting.

Greens MLC Lynn MacLaren came outside before the meeting to talk to the group and expressed her support.

Only days earlier, the City of Fremantle decided to begin phasing out live exports.

The Socialist Alternative, another group present at the rally, focused on gay rights and the rights of refugees.

Colleen Bolden from the Socialist Alternative says the conditions that many refugees live in are dire, and that many children are subject to circumstances much like those in a jail.

“They [the ALP] said [in the lead-up] to the 2007 election that there would be no more children in detention. But all they did is rename the facilities that families were housed in. They are still under guard; there are no doors on the buildings. There are about 1,000 children in detention right now.”

Despite primarily peaceful protesting by all parties involved, some conflict arose between a group of recreational fishermen, who were campaigning for an end to the marine sanctuary plans for the south-west coast, and an anti-nuclear protest group.

The two groups were standing together in front of a camera and crew preparing for a live news broadcast when an argument broke out.

Marianne Mackay, from the anti-nuclear group, was holding up a large banner, and allegedly a member of a fishers’ group pulled out a knife and slashed it down the middle.

Although there was much debate as to whether the man did have a knife, observers said he caused damage to property and used unnecessary violence.

Many witnesses stated that some people had been unpleasant to other groups earlier in the day. Alex Tie, a university law student who was observing the rally, said some “men were making racist comments towards the [indigenous representatives of the] anti-nuclear group, and made homophobic remarks towards the socialist group and Queer Collective group”.

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