Airshow anti-war protest takes off

Issue 

BY TRISHA REIMERS & SUE BULL

GEELONG — Amid huge local controversy, more than 200 people protested against a war on Iraq outside the Avalon International Airshow on February 15. The protest was organised by the Geelong Anti-War Coalition.

The air show generates $70 million in revenue and draws 400 exhibits from 21 countries. Its most important displays are planes that could be used in a massive strike against Iraq, massacring thousands of innocent civilians. The event's organisers were so fearful of disruption by the protest that they had provided a separate field, toilets and flashing signs to help demonstrators find the counter-event.

The local ALP member for Corio, Gavan O'Connor, announced that he was personally boycotting the airshow. O'Connor came in for quite a bit of criticism from Labor colleagues. Most strikingly from Michael Crutchfield, member for South Barwon and recent Geelong mayor who said that O'Connor's protest was, "disappointing, reckless and damaging."

Many of the protesters brought homemade placards that declared, "Warplanes kill kids" and "War is expensive but peace is priceless." One of the highlights of the day was when protesters made a human peace symbol in the middle of a field while chanting, "Peace is possible, war is not the answer."

John Krantz, secretary of the Geelong Trades Hall Council spoke. He told the crowd that he didn't have much time for the airshow boss, as he hadn't been able to strike a decent wages and condition deal for the temporary workers at the Airshow and the workers were being ripped off.

From Green Left Weekly, February 19, 2003.

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