A sad event that only harms the cause

Posted: January 26, 2012 in Uncategorized

I don’t like to say it, but I am glad that I missed the ceremonies at the Tent Embassy today. That way I managed to avoid the dramas at the nearby restaurant, The Lobby. Now am I defending the comments by Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, that were used as the incitement for a couple of hundred protesters heading to The Lobby to encircle the building and act in such a manner that security forces were needed to remove Prime Minister, Julia Gillard and Jugears Abbot? Most definitely not. But when will protesting groups get it into their heads that acting like thugs only does harm to your cause?

We saw the same thing back in the 1990s following the election of John Howard. There was promptly a protest on the lawns of Parliament House, driven by the union movement. I know – I was there. And like the majority of attendees, I was down the slope, watching the stage which included the rather odd sight of the then-Secretary of the ACT branch of the Community and Public Sector Union, dancing and singing. Like the majority of those attendees, I knew nothing about the drunken antics of a much smaller group of protesters who decided to literally bash down the doors into Parliament House, an even smaller group of them decided to break into a shop and loot it. At one point I did get a bit bored and had a wander around including going by the courtyard where the drama occurred. I couldn’t see exactly what was happening but something clearly was and the sheer volume of eskies and discarded beer cans made it rather obvious that whatever was happening was most likely alcohol-fuelled. However I never so much as even suspected an attempted invasion of Parliament House was occurring. But because I was there at that protest, for a long time I was referred to by non-supporters of the union movement at work as ‘one of those Parliament House invaders’. This behaviour by a small proportion of the attendees damaged the entire point of the demonstration against then-pending changes to industrial relations. It made the entire union movement look bad. Nor did it help for a small, radical faction to start pushing hard to have the union movement pay all legal fees for those charged for that invasion of Parliament House. The entire point of that demonstration was badly compromised.

I suggest that the 40th anniversary of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy and the worthwhile things it stands for, will now be overshadowed by the actions of a minority, compromising the potential good that could have come out of the event.

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