Rally for the Refugees - Brisbane 2002

Gary MacLennan g.maclennan at qut.edu.au
Tue Feb 12 14:39:14 MST 2002

the refugee issue has been something of an issue on the Left here in
Oz.  It goes to the heart of the identity of this nation.  The white Anglo
colonial settler core has rallied the whole nation behind it in its
barabaric treatment of the refugees.  the poor unfortunates are locked away
in mind numbing prisons - called detention centres often for years.  A
recent spate of protests

I spoke at the pro refugee rally yesterday in the Square.  There were 200
people at it, mostly young student types.

I was representing the NTEU which meant I had really to make two speeches -
one giving the union line and the other giving the world according to Gary
Mac. The union secretary Howard Guille - a good friend - could not make it.

A former colleague of Mined the Rev Noel Preston spoke.  I thought he did
very well - but two people close to me said he sounded too much like a
preacher, which of course he is. I think that this is indicative of the
aggressive secularism which is becoming quite widespread in Australia.

I mentioned in my speech what my son had told me about the workers on his
job site believing that the refugees on the SS Tampa had blown up the WTC
Centre.  I also said that the Left were spreading a myth that the Country
was divided on the issue.  I said that the country was rock solid behind
the Govt and that included the working class. I stressed that we should be
under no illusions about the country we lived in. But that we must keep
fighting for a decent compassionate world.

I also dragged in the War on Terror saying that it was responsible for most
of the refugees.

Afterwards a young ISO cadre came up and told me that there was a good
working class bloke who said that I was wrong about the workers.  He seemed
a nice young man but I told him that even though I believed that the
working class was the revolutionary class one had to be honest about their
level of consciousness and on this issue as the polls clearly showed there
were behind Prime Minister Howard.  Besides I asked him look at the rally
and ask yourself who are here.  Where are the workers?

But ISO is locked into workerist sycophancy and dare not face the truth.
Afterwards we went on a short march to the Federal Immigration
Centre.  There were about 200 hundred of us marching.  I and others fought
very hard for the Right to March and I always feel that when the chance
arises we should march.

This was the first pro-refugee rally and march I had attended.  Without the
DSP and the ISO i.e. the Socialist alliance there would be no
campaign.  Things are that bad here.

Will write more about the State we are in after my return from Cherbourg -
a former Aboriginal mission outside Brisbane.



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